November College Park Development Update

The College Park Development Update is a bi-monthly newsletter prepared by the City of College Park Planning, Community and Economic Development Department covering development activity in the City. Please feel free to distribute this information as you see fit. Questions or comments can be directed to Economic Development Coordinator Michael Stiefvater at (240)487-3543 or msteifvater@collegeparkmd.gov.

The Enclave at 8700—formerly Starview Plaza—launches website

Just weeks after the launching of The Varsity website, The Enclave at 8700, formally referred to as Starview Plaza, has launched its website. The Enclave at 8700 is located just south of Metzerott Road and will feature a mix of 2, 3, and 4 bedroom suites. Flashy pictures and a cheesy slogan, “Explore the Evolution of You,” echo the marketing campaign of The Varsity (however, The Enclave has yet to launch its own YouTube page).

Also of note is The Enclave’s attempt to attract students from other area universities such as Catholic, American, and Howard: “College Park, Maryland is conveniently located between Washington, DC and Baltimore, both of which are only a quick Metro train ride or drive away…University of Maryland joins 171 other nearby colleges and universities in Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia all of which are welcome to stay at The Enclave at 8700.”

The website’s renderings and recent pictures from the site indicate ground floor retail at sidewalk level, large windows, and opportunities for outdoor seating. This should provide a great recipe for the beginning of active street life and pedestrian activity along Route 1. Like The Varsity and already complete, Mazza Grandmarc, The Enclave will offer students an opportunity to walk or bike to campus via the Paint Branch Trail or ride a shuttle down Route 1. Because of this, the developers of The Enclave were able to arrange a 20% reduction in parking spaces for the site.
starview half
starview1

Questions Arise with the Varsity’s Wall

Construction continues on The Varsity and Starview, College Park’s next-in-line for undergraduate, off-campus student housing.  The progress is beginning to show how the new buildings will improve Route 1’s streetscape.
The Varsity:varsity full
Starview:starview full

The Varsity has begun installation of a wide sidewalk stretching south from the main entrance toward the bridge passing over Paint Branch Trail. The new sidewalk is much wider than the current sidewalk and provides a buffer of about 12 feet from the heavy traffic on Route 1. Land has also been cleared for the long-awaited Northgate Park located to the south of building along Paint Branch Creek.
varsity sidewalk 2

However, questions remain about the imposition of a wall fronting Route 1 that will separate pedestrian traffic from the retail entrances located on the ground floor of the Varsity. Councilman Bob Catlin has informed us that the reason for the wall is to prevent these retail establishments from falling within the Paint Branch flood plain. This Diamondback article makes reference to similar concerns raised by council members at the time of the project’s approval several years ago.

A recent site visit indicates that the wall is 5 to 6 feet tall and stretches the entire length of the building fronting Route 1, potentially disengaging pedestrians from the building and the retail that locates there.

varsity wall 2
varsity steps 2


As the Route 1 corridor continues to develop, pedestrian traffic will be an integral part of the streetscape and retailers will depend on passing foot traffic for a significant portion of their business. Long, blank walls discourage an active street scene and break down lines-of-sight between storefronts and pedestrians—all negative elements that undermine the advantages of ground floor retail.

It appears that there will be three staircases leading up to the first-floor storefronts, but this may not be enough to entice passerby if they are unable to see the actually see what’s going on inside. Active and entertaining streets create a lively pedestrian environment, and active streetscapes and successful retail corridors are made possible when stores and outdoor seating are directly accessible and visible to passing pedestrian traffic. Visually appealing window displays and an abundance of activity entice pedestrians into stores.

An active, enticing streetscape:
Potential Streetscape

Walls serve as barriers to this visual appeal. They prohibit the instinctive curiosity pedestrians possess that causes them to stop, peruse, enter, and patronize. Hopefully, the Varsity will draw an abundance of strong anchor tenants that will create a “destination location” and overcome the wall’s design flaws.

Fundamentals of CP Student Housing Still Strong

Street Pattern

Of the seven active construction projects (listed on our area projects by number page) in College Park right now, five of them are student housing. The other two are University-led office buildings in M-Square. Indeed, there is an unprecedented amount of dirt moving on Route 1 right now; proving that while the national economy may still be floundering, CP student housing fundamentals are still strong. If you include South Campus Commons #7 (which was just completed near Van Munching Hall) we’re witnessing the completion of about 3,600 public, private, and public-private (partnership) student beds over the course of about 3-4 years. That’s an incredible number when you consider that the first six Commons buildings and the first phase of University View only amounted to 2,925 beds.

This surge in construction has led some to speculate that perhaps we’ll witness a student housing bubble since all of these units are dedicated student housing and totally separate from the larger area rental market. These developers who are breaking ground don’t seem to think so. We think it’s too early to tell, but a bubble wouldn’t be such a bad thing for student rents. Otis Warren’s planned University View phase III (8350-8400 Baltimore Ave. in image above) which will house about 1000 beds is apparently stalled because of market conditions (they leased out their 8400 Baltimore Ave office building for another year). UMD is also holding tight on Commons #8. If either of these projects get moving again in 2011 or soon thereafter, it will be a clear indication that developers and financiers still see profit potential in student high rises.

Here is a construction rundown: Continue reading Fundamentals of CP Student Housing Still Strong

Starview Groundbreaking

Maybe the credit freeze is finally thawing a bit. The StarView Plaza will hold a ground breaking ceremony Monday Dec 14th at 11:30am.I wonder if somebody kept the pole from the Starlite? Good times.

Press Release from StarGlobal Ventures.

In the midst of a recession where many development projects have come to a complete halt, recession, Star Global Ventures (SGV), formerly Star Hotels is pleased to announce that it will be moving forward on its Hotels, highly anticipated seven story upscale student housing and retail complex. Star Gl al Ventures is hosting a groundbreaking ceremony to commemorate this remarkable achievement on Monday, December 14th at 11:30 a.m. at 8700 Baltimore Avenue in College Park, Maryland.

To RSVP to this event, please send an Email to  maria@starglobalventures.com by December 11th, 2009!

StarView Plaza – Press Release Final Copy

Atrium for StarView Plaza abandoned

[flickr]2693387340[/flickr]

As reported in the Diamondback last week the Starview Plaza has dropped its plans for the atrium due to costs. Its replacement will be a open air grassy space.

Mukesh Majmudar, developer of the StarView Plaza, scheduled to open late next year on Route 1, said he could no longer afford the atrium, which he once said would provide private amenity space and reduce energy costs by moderating the building’s temperature.

It is too bad they could not scale back on the 355 parking spaces and keep the Atrium in place.

Starview to be Expanded

starview-front

The DIAMONDBACK is reporting that the City Council approved plans to expand the Starview project to add another story. This will increase the project by 105 beds. Groundbreaking should be within 30 days. The change was requested when the builders determined the structure could support another story. The maximum height was supposed to be 5. Then the district council approved six. Now they are planning a seventh? Who is building this thing Donald Trump? 


Council OKs Starview Plaza with less parking and $200k for Underground Power Lines

starview-front
Starview Plaza Front Entrance

First a little background. The Starview Plaza is a mixed-use 2.4 acre facility with 147 units and 548 beds geared towards students and  It is to be located on Route 1 just south of the Jiffy Lube. Some of us maLEED Silver y be old enough to remember the homely Starlight Inn at this location where one could take in a lovely dance show while enjoying a beverage. While we don’t know if the Starlight plans to reopen, there is close to 10,000 sq/ft of retail available in the facility. Personally I would be happy with a Starbucks. The developer is also seeking LEED Silver Certification and will incorporate a green roof on the structure.

On September 9th the District Council in a 5-4 vote approved the modified site plan for the project with a few notable modifications.

Continue reading Council OKs Starview Plaza with less parking and $200k for Underground Power Lines

Starview Renderings Released

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DSP Site Plan

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View from Route 1

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Back of the development and green roof.

The City and University are close to arranging a deal to turn a property they own jointly into a student housing project. The property is located just south of Jiffy Lube and has stood vacant with a “Coming Soon” sign for the better part of six years. The project is planned to have  LEED Silver Certification, 146 rooms, 355 parking spaces, 550 student beds, and almost 10,000 SF of ground floor retail on Route 1.

The planning board wisely agreed to a 20% reduction from the required amount of parking for a project of this magnitude. They also agreed to allow 6 floors (1 over the maximum of 5 envisioned by the sector plan. These two variances allow for a financially feasible project with a underground parking structure. The planning for this project is ongoing and presumably it will be called before the county council by Eric Olson.

Read the full Detailed Site Plan here

See more renderings here

Beleagured Starview Project

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.