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Book Exchange Development Scales Back – But Is This Enough?

New Design: Yale Avenue East Elevation

The developer who recently purchased the Maryland Book Exchange property in downtown College Park came to the Council last fall requesting our approval of a proposed mixed-use development, with five stories of residential properties on top of one story of retail and parking. 

The Council recommended disapproval of the project (by a vote of 6-1-1) because the project was inconsistent with the requirements of the Route 1 sector plan and incompatible with the surrounding residential area. Based primarily on the fact that the developer had not allowed for a stepback into the residential area behind the property (reducing the height of the building to 2-3 stories), the County Planning Board postponed making a decision on the development until January 19 and recommended that the developer amend the plans to address the stepback requirement. 

In December, the developer met with City staff and presented a revised proposal, which the developer said was meant to address this requirement. The new proposal is a four-story gray building (see above), even though the step-down requirements provide for a 2-3 story building when it backs into a residential area. 

Moreover, since this meeting, the University of Maryland has sent a letter to the developer disapproving of the developer’s proposal to tie into the University’s stormwater management system – this will require further revisions by the developer. 

The Council will discuss the new design at tonioght’s worksession. City staff is recommending that there are not sufficient changes to the project to justify changing the Council’s position. What do you think? Please drop a comment below or email me to fkabir@collegeparkmd.gov

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