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.
Apparently, the city’s patience with #1 Liquors is wearing thin. After nearly a decade of begging, prodding, and cajoling tactics, councilmembers are starting to contemplate eminent domain proceedings on College Park’s most infamous homestead holdout. According to the Diamondback the city would like to acquire the parcel in order to create “a park”:
The council voted last night to try to buy the property or to try to get it condemned if its owner refuses to sell. Some View residents said they would miss the store’s convenient location and were skeptical of plans to create such a tiny park.
The lot is a questionable location for a new park seeing as the City-University partnership is creating the 5-acre North Gate Park just south of the liquor store where Paint Branch Stream passes under Route 1. But the plan may be the city’s only real means to get rid of the squat one-story building in the emerging North Gate Development District. The store would be surrounded on three sides by major development in the area that includes the University View’s nearly complete complex and Mark Vogel’s planned 700-bed Varsity Student Housing project. The area is but one small glimmer of hope in College Park’s otherwise grim real estate environment. Perhaps the store owner would have been wise to take an offer for a ground floor retail spot in the University View’s new building. They would have had a captive audience of literally thousands of students in complexes either planned, approved, or already built.
Incidentally I just did a lengthy post at TheCityFix.comabout eminent domain and a recent New York State court case that has catapulted the controversial issue back into the public spotlight. As I explain in the post, the tool can benefit communities, but it has several pitfalls. Councilwoman-elect Christine Nagle put it well in her quote in the Diamondback article where she expressed her disagreement with the city’s plan to remove businesses it “just doesn’t like”:
“We’re just starting Route 1 redevelopment,” Nagle said. “How many little parks are we going to have? Every time someone doesn’t make a deal?”
The Diamondback reports that the City Council gave a thumbs up to View III. The completion of the University View trifecta will begin at the end of next summer. This will bring an additional 992 beds and 19,000 square feet of retail space. By my estimate all three building provide in the neighborhood of 2600 beds for students just steps away from the main entrance to campus.
The Maryland Board of Public Works approved the $80 million for Oakland Hall on Wednesday. Construction is scheduled to start August 2009 and be completed by April 2011. Some of us at RTCP have wondered why Foulger-Pratt/Argo Investments (the developer of East Campus) is not paying for this new dorm since it is slated to replace the beds lost from Leonardtown.
On Tuesday the College Park City Council approved a preliminary plan for expanding University View to include the 13-story building called the Freshman Connection. On the bright side this expansion will cover the hideous parking garage currently fronting University View.
As we reported Sunday, the University View plans an absolutely massive phased expansion – 434 units (1,416 student beds) and a whopping 30,000+ S.F. of retail. The 1st phase is planned to take place by 2010 (directly in front of the University View) with the other phases (including a parking garage) materializing by 2012.
Special thanks to Councilmember Stephanie Stullich for getting ahold of these for the general public. Looks like we’re finally getting somewhere around here…
As we’ve noted, the student housing landscape in College Park has changed dramatically in the past 6 months. Developers are falling over themselves to propose new projects.
Otis Warren/ Steve McBride (best known for building the University View) were at the City Council meeting last Wednesday. They are now proposing a 12-story, 154 unit (516 bed) student housing project directly in front of University View with 12,200 S.F. of ground floor retail (expected completion 2010). The site had previously been planned as an office building. This newly proposed building (previously called the University View Overlook) would house UMD’s Freshmen Connection program.
Warren/McBride are abandoning plans for a luxury condo building just north of the View (8400 Balt Ave). They acquired the Koon’s Ford Quicklane in front of that site and now are proposing a 9-story phased student housing project with 280 units (900 beds) and 18,040 S.F. of retail (expected completion 2012).
Also, the County Planning Board accepted the city’s downtown parking garage plan (w/ retail) for review and the commission now has 70 days to take action.
Wednesday night’s City Council Meeting was choc full of development issues. Briefly, here’s what you missed if you didn’t want to brave the cold (or turn on your TV).
–> The council indicated their initial satisfaction of the proposed 220 unit College Park West Development on the Lasik’s site. JPI, the developer, had the blessings of a community group who appreciated JPI’s improved community cooperation since their last project (Jefferson Square) across the street.
–> The council approved, with some minor conditions, a 4-5 story office building at 9909 Baltimore Ave. The site tucked in an odd place, but we still think it’s a shame it turned out to be such a standard office park and won’t be prominent from Route 1. (kind of like the M-Square project which the city is so quick to criticize). Granted M-Square is adjacent to the metro and the 9909 site is on the beltway.
–> District 1 councilman Krouse (see his letter to the community) tussled with the developers of the massive (we covered it yesterday) Greenbelt Town Centre project at Greenbelt metro station. Many were outraged to hear the potential of a 18 story building and the developer now plans “balloon tests” in the coming weeks to demonstrate the scale of the project to nearby North CP neighborhoods. This new revelation comes after over 7 years of planning. The developers were challenged to find another example in the DC area where a single family home community was subjected to such high density by a WMATA redevelopment.
–>Otis Warren of the University View came in for a chat over a number of things. He repeated his intention to complete the project as originally proposed (see image to the right) although he’s holding out the possibility that the building proposed for the grassy area in front of the University View may end up being more student housing or a hotel instead of the originally proposed office building. He guessed about 350 student beds could fit in the project should it go forward. Retail would still front Route 1 on the ground floor.
Warren expressed surprise that the council had reservations about his proposed 12-story condo at 8400 Baltimore Ave given their friendly reception to it in December. He also disclosed a failed deal with the university to build a garage and grad school housing on campus on lot 11 directly behind the View. While not binding, the campus master plan envisions that lot for a mega parking garage.
We’ll defer to the Diamonback’s article about a number of interesting quotes on this and other topics, which some at the meeting probably didn’t want reprinted.
Presentation by developer on College Park West Detailed Site Plan
Proposed 220 multifamily housing units & 25,00 S.F. of retail (Map) on the former site of Lasik’s Restaurant and Hillcrest Hotel. The lot is a huge 4 acres. Lasik’s was a locally run restaurant and liquor store which fell victim to arson in December 2004. Hillcrest Hotel reportedly rented rooms by the hour before it was closed by the State Attorney in July 2003 and torn down in October 2005.
Review of Preliminary Plan of Subdivision for Branchville Road (PDC Campfire)
On a seperate note, we’d like to commend the city on vast improvements to their website. If information is public, but isn’t online, it basically doesn’t exist. If information is online but inaccessible, it basically doesn’t exist. This much more logical layout will hopefully help the city government be more responsive to its citizens. Also, it doesn’t hurt so much to look at it anymore.
Maybe the most reviled building in College Park, the University View has been the subject of much criticism ever since its doors opened last fall. Indeed the building is a bit overwhelming, but the benefits of putting 1,100 students right at the university’s front gate are hard to ignore. Also, the complex actually hasn’t been completed yet. Original plans called for a 177,000 square foot office building immediately in front of the View’s Parking garage – aptly named the “University View Overlook”. Since the lot is zoned “mixed use” and falls under the Route One Sector plan, the planned building will come directly up to the sidewalk and include 5,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor.
College Park Planning Director, Terry Schum, told us that there is no timing requirement for building the office complex and since the developer no longer has the university as a potential tenant (they were originally going to lease the space) the project is currently in limbo. And there is always that pesky #1 liquor store…