Northgate Condo Project Site Goes to the Auction Block

Defunct Northgate Condominium Elevations

Sign of the Times

According to sources, the site of Monument Realty’s Northgate Condo project has gone into foreclosure and will hit the auction block this Wednesday, May 5th. The 1.05-acre parcel lies just north of University View and Taco Bell on Route 1. The 17-story, 204-unit, $68 million Northgate project was originally approved in June 2006 as high end condos with ground floor retail. Mark Vogel, the developer of the Varsity and University View, flipped the property and approved plans to Monument Realty for $4.2 million, but the project became stalled in 2007. That was when the Federal Aviation Administration began investigating concerns that the building represented a “presumed hazard to air navigation” based on the height of the building and its location in the College Park Airport’s flight path. The height of the building was eventually limited to 12-stories, but with changing market conditions, Monument began to signal their intention to turn the Northgate project into student housing. Nothing ever came of it.

Defunct Northgate Condominiums
Earlier Rendering.

The Detailed Site Plan has lapsed on Northgate Condos and the future owner of the property would have to re-enter the planning process. Since the Route 1 Sector Plan update will pass later this month and change the underlying zoning that governs what can be built on this parcel, the future owner will have considerable difficulty building anything over 4 stories. The zoning will be Mixed-Use Residential: “Properties that contain a mix of uses that are predominantly residential.” Given financial realities that developers face, RTCP believes such a height limit will preclude ground floor retail on this property and in redevelopment in much of the Route 1 Corridor from this parcel northwards until the Hollywood Rd Area.

UPDATE:

We spoke with County Councilman Eric Olson’s office and apparently Resolution PGCPB 09-170 item II #7, pg 4. will allow construction between 4 and 10 stories instead of 2-4 on this parcel.

Updates from Councilman Catlin

A June 4th comment:

“The City’s parking garage will have its groundbreaking on June 19th. The Mosaic at Turtle Creek condos should be filing its detailed site plan this summer. The Garden Suites Hotel has filed for its building permits. JPI East apartments, townhouses and retail, has applied for its building permits, Mazza GrandMarc Graduate Apartments hopes to begin construction late this year, Northgate condos (owned by Monument Realty) has had some success in appealing an FAA decision that limited its height from the approved 18 stories to only 12 stories. The FAA now says that 15 stories can be built at the site. It may become student housing. Starview student housing is proceeding with a LEED Silver student housing project. Mark Vogel has been able to put Merchant’s Tire under contract to go with other adjoining properties he purchased earlier, to build student housing. Finally, East Campus is working hard to file its preliminary detailed site plan in early July with Park and Planning. Work is proceeding with the County/City on a $180 million bond issue to be financed with a TIF. Other projects are in the early discussion stage, too.”

–> Check the city’s ever-more organized, extensive and detailed Economic Development Update (May) for more.

Airport Regulations Stall Northgate Project

College Park Aviation Policy Area

Northgate CondominiumsThe Northgate Condominum project, a proposed 17-story condo building to be located just north of the University View on Route One, has been stalled thanks to restrictions relating to one of College Park’s proudest attractions – the oldest operating airport in the world.

The city’s April Economic Development Update reported that “Certification of the Detailed Site Plan has been stalled by a finding of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of a presumed hazard to air navigation based on the height of the building” and that “The Mark Vogel Companies, the project applicant, recently sold the property to ‘Mr. Northgate I LLC’ for $4.2 million in December 2006.” We got some additional information directly from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Obstruction Evaluation/Airport Airspace Analysis division. They told us that Monument Reality, the owner of the project, requested termination of the study, and that they expected the application may be resubmitted.

The FAA officials were adamant to assure us their determination alone couldn’t stop a project from being built. However, a quick review of county law indicates it may complicate the project considerably. After conducting a detailed study, in 2002 the county adopted specific regulations around general aviation airports in the county. The law created a host of regulations for property contained within zones around each airports known as “Aviation Policy Areas.” As can be seen in the illustration above, the entire northgate area is contained within an APA-4 or APA-6. The law specifies specific height restrictions for these zones:

Sec. 27-548.42. Height requirements.
(a) Except as necessary and incidental to airport operations, no building, structure, or natural feature shall be constructed, altered, maintained, or allowed to grow so as to project or otherwise penetrate the airspace surfaces defined by Federal Aviation Regulations Part 77 or the Code of Maryland, COMAR 11.03.05, Obstructions to Air Navigation.
(b) In APA-4 and APA-6, no building permit may be approved for a structure higher than 50 feet unless the applicant demonstrates compliance with FAR Part 77.

Airplane Flying Over UMD campusThe Northgate building as proposed would be roughly 180 feet tall. What is “FAR Part 77,” you ask? Well, it is nothing more than the FAA’s airspace obstruction analysis process, which determined the building to be a hazard to begin with. As the law is written,the developer may be able to keep the existing proposed height of the building and enact mitigation measures (like the flashing red lights on University View) even if the FAA determines the project is a hazard. In correspondence between RTCP and Monument Realty, they indicated they were “confident the project would go forward” by the end of May.

On a side note, as we perused the FAA website we came across another application for Mark Vogel’s Hilton Hotel proposal, which has been put out for public comment (“circularized,” in FAA lingo) with an attached memo reporting it has been decided it was a “presumed hazard.” If you know more, post a comment, but we’ll make some inquiries and report back what we find.

> For more details, see: Prince George’s County Planning Board Airport Legislation and Regulations

Route One ‘Northgate’ Highrise Planned

Northgate Elevation

Another residential highrise similar in size and design to the University View is planned for a Route One site located just north of campus. The Northgate project won final approval from city and county officials in June, and the 17-story project will contain 204 condominium units and is estimated to cost $68 million to construct. We hear the project was subject to lengthy debate by the City Council over the size, design, and amount of parking provided. Under approved plans the building will be connected by a trail to the pedestrian bridge located behind the University View. Other specific details are included in the Planning Board’s resolution (PDF) approving the detailed site plan. Click on the images below for a closer look at what is planned.

Northgate AerialNorthgate Project Elevations