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 may 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.
20% reduction in parking spaces from 448 to 359: Based on the following provisions regarding alternative transportation.
- UM shuttle bus service (or private) is provided
- Bridge across Paint Branch to allow pedestrian trail access to campus
- Bicycle storage facilities with a minimum of 40 bicycle parking spa ces.
- At least two spaces are to be provided for Zip Cars.
Height of the building will be will be 6 stories. One level higher than the max height of five.
Retention of Above Ground Utilities: There has been some debate about the placement of power lines underground. The Route 1 sector Plan calls for all utilities to be placed underground. More specifically in section P6 of the Development District Standards the plan reads as follows.
To reduce the visual impact of existing overhead utility lines and associated poles along Baltimore Avenue within the development district by consolidating utility pole usage, relocating utility poles, or placing existing utility lines underground.
A. All new development within the development district shall place utility lines underground. Utilities shall include, but are not limited to, electric, natural gas, fiber optic, cable television, telephone, water and sewer service.
However, to install underground utilities in a piecemeal fashion as development takes place is unrealistic. Currently there is no coordinated plan in place to do this even though the sector plan has been approved for six years now. The hope is to incorporate undergrounding into a rebuilding of Route 1, in which case it is possible to create a special taxing district to pay for the relocation of the power lines. Until a plan is in place developers are required to pay a “fee in lieu” that would go towards theses costs. The county’s initial recommendation of a $5000 payment for this project was clearly far too low so the council increased the amount to a pro rata share not to exceed $200,000 to be placed in an escrow account to be managed by the city. This condition will expire in 2018 if a procedure has not yet been implemented.
A consultant for the city once estimated the cost for placing utilities underground at $5,000 per linear foot. Undergrounding the 500 feet in front of this project would cost $1.2 Million and all of Route 1 in College Park would cost an estimated $50 Million.