Commerce Bank dead, ‘Starview Plaza’ Reborn

The Commerce Bank project (just across from Plato’s Dinner) was rejected unanimously by the City Council almost a year ago and not approved until it removed a drive thru window from its plans. Now, we are getting news that the bank pulled out and now the developer is walking away…

Beleagured Starview Project‘Starview Plaza’ (located just north of CP Car Wash), a project which has languished for years as a joint venture between the City-University Partnership, a private developer, and other public partners, has been reborn as a five-story student housing project with 540 beds and ground floor retail. According to the Diamondback, the developer is taking LEED Silver Certification seriously. The project joins a growing list of recently proposed student housing projects – the trend differs dramatically from what we saw just 6 months ago.

13 thoughts on “Commerce Bank dead, ‘Starview Plaza’ Reborn”

  1. No big surprise on Commerce. They were one of the most aggressive banks out there when it came to growth / the opening of new “stores” (Commercespeak for “branches”). Then the CEO gets investigated and into some trouble and the bank gets bought out. So the death of the deal in CP is no reflection on local economic conditions.

    That entire block (East side of Rte 1 from Guilford, north up the hill to calvert) is in desparate need of redevelopment. A nice row of street level shops / storefronts with a level or two of offices or apartments/condos up above would look great. Narrow parcels though. Parking would have to go underneath I suppose.

    I hope Starview does not “turn its back” on the creek in the rear of the property. No cold concrete block walls up against the creek / woods please. And of course, underground utilities!

  2. Good news re: Starview Plaza. I’d like to see renderings too.

    As for the Commerce Bank plot – a small, quality, grocery store would be a boon to the biking/pedestrian set. Otherwise, I’d welcome an upscale diner!

  3. No renderings yet. They will come. Folks working on Starview will be most concerned about he project falling into the creek. Jiffy Lube (just north) had some fixes (county paid for them I think??), but I’m sure more will be needed to shore up the river bank along the very wide Starview site.

  4. Upscale diner? I don’t even know what this means, but I think it’d be pretty silly to open up another diner across the street from Plato’s. It’s definitely not “upscale” (ever seen the bathrooms?) but it’s certainly a little nicer than your average greasy diner.

  5. J.L.:

    “Upscale” means:
    – clean-ish
    – large portions
    – relatively cheap prices
    – serves alcohol
    – open 24 hours
    – has hipster cred

    – the Diner, Adams Morgan
    – Cafe Hon, Baltimore City

    The competition would be good for Plato’s (and Little Giant too). Nothing silly about that. I do agree that the lavatories at Plato’s are little sketchball.

  6. I went to Plato’s Thursday 9/13 (actually it was the early morning hrs of Fri the 14th) after midnight after the West Virginia game. I was turned away because they were “about to close” (not like the place was full)

    Now, I come from the Diner capital of the world (“Joisey”….the public corruption – er um I mean the garden – state) and Im standing there thinking “What the frig kind of diner in a college town closes around midnight after a huge football game?”

    Speaks volumes about all that College Park isnt but could be as a college town.

    oh and by the way …….had to drive to wendy’s drive through on greenbelt rd……as if losing the game didnt already suck enough

  7. “Otherwise, I’d welcome an upscale diner!” says one person.
    And then, another person helpfully defines upscale:
    “Upscale” means:
    – clean-ish
    – large portions
    – relatively cheap prices
    – serves alcohol
    – open 24 hours
    – has hipster cred.

    Well, golly. Knowing that I am among my intellectual ( and financial) superiors here I didn’t want to trust my own ideas about what these words mean so I went to

    adj. Of, intended for, or relating to high-income consumers: an upscale neighborhood; upscale fashions.

    a small, informal, and usually inexpensive restaurant.

    So, an upscale diner would be a small, informal, and usually inexpensive restaurant for high-income consumers.

    Can you guess what’s coming next? Here it is— I don’t have a high income so I’m really interested in the ‘usually inexpensive’ part of the definition. Not everybody works on Wall Street or for developers or architects. I want a place where I and a companion can go for a bite and not spend a lot more than $20. This is doable at Plato’s and I’m not that upset that the bathrooms are not pristine as I go there to eat, not to cruise the bathroom.

    There are a lot of people around here like me. And you rethink-college-park-and-make-it-cool-for-yuppies guys want to see a lot of upscale (code for EXPENSIVE) restaurants and housing to be constructed and this is supposed to be good for me? I am poor, not stupid. Don’t you think there would be the services you desire if there were the income levels to support them? Why don’t you make efforts to get jobs in the area–jobs with high wages and good benefits?

  8. I guess I misunderstood what you meant by “upscale diner.” I was thinking more along the lines of a Silver Diner type place, which Plato’s is pretty similar to. I don’t consider the Diner in Adams Morgan to actually be a “diner” in the traditional sense, and I don’t think they would target the same clientèle that Plato’s does.

    However, I would point out that Plato’s meets all of your criteria for upscale except for the “hipster cred” one. (It is open 24 hrs on weekends.)

  9. J.L.,

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Plato’s has a decent amount of hipster-cred. They have Greek beer on the menu! I also love competition, since it benefits a non-yuppie consumer like myself.

  10. I have also heard that Commerce Bank has pulled out of its approved project on Greenbelt Road in nearby Berwyn Heights, too.

  11. It makes me wonder why so many students desire to have an “upscale” diner in place of Starview Plaza during such a housing crisis. I know countless students who are looking for affordable housing for the coming year and finding it almost impossible. My sorority house is being renovated next year, displacing over 50 students alone who need to find alternative housing. I have friends who are being kicked out of campus housing and are being forced to find alternative housing within the next few months. I have friends who banked on living in the Commons their junior and senior year and within the past month and a half have found out that there is no room for them. When will the University intervene? When will they realize that students need help when it comes to finding a place to live?
    I am glad to see that LEED Silver Certification is going to be building a new housing complex for students. It is located relatively close to campus, and hopefully the UMD transportation system will run through there.
    However, I feel that more UMD Resident Life-run buildings should be built. Many students cannot afford to live off-campus. If there were more dorms and apartment style buildings on the UMD campus, I feel that many more students would benefit. In some ways I feel that the on-campus and off-campus housing seems to be divided by social class. Extremely expensive rooms, such as the View, are mainly habited by a high social class. Those who may not be able to afford the View (lower class), and other off-campus housing, seem to want to stay on campus and save money. I feel that if the University could build more on campus housing, this could eliminate a division between high brow and low brow housing.
    In addition, businesses in the City of College Park also benefit from more on and off campus housing. For one of my courses this semester I interviewed the ASM at the local Starbuck’s off Knox Road. He explained that more housing in the area would benefit his business in two ways: more customers would come through the store and generate more sales, and more students would apply for jobs at the store. By talking to the Starbuck’s ASM, I realized the housing crisis affects more than just the University. It affects both businesses and residents of the area. From speaking with him, I got the understanding that he feels “the more the merrier”.
    I feel that more safe, affordable, and accurately located housing would benefit the University, the students, and the city of College Park. Developing the Starview Plaza is a step in the right direction in trying to provide more rooms for an abundance of students who need a place to live.

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