When I saw it, I could hardly believe my eyes. Seven links down on a basic Google search for “Mazza Granmarc” there it was staring back at me from across cyberspace: the leasing website for the first purely private student housing project to open in College Park in five years. It’ll be the only (private) dedicated graduate student housing project of its kind in the city and one of the few economic development projects College Park was able to capitalize on during the real estate boom. That’s thanks in part to Rethink College Park’s tireless advocacy for it and our productive friendship with the Graduate Student Government. It was a fight that took us from City Hall, to Annapolis, and then on to Upper Marlboro.
No the project isn’t perfect. It’s about a mile and a half from campus and, as we pointed out in June 2007, it includes a whooping 637 parking spaces for a 630 bed (231-unit) complex. The project will have a 8 foot wide pedestrian/bike connection to the Paint Branch Trail to its rear and frequent Shuttle-UM service to campus. There will also be a retail section that will front Route 1, but we are unsure of the timing on that. At $43 million, we still believe Mazza was the right choice. It brings decent, affordable housing to a forgotten segment of UMD’s student population and puts them much closer to the University than they would have been otherwise… and in a transit/bike-friendly complex to boot.
Our guess is that a good bit of the garage will be empty and the bike parking will be inadequate. The latter issue is a problem we’ve noticed next to the University View. We’ll dive more into these two issues in short order.