Group to Play ‘Taking Roots: The Vision of Wangari Mathi’

This award-winning, 80-minute film tells the inspirational story of Wangari Maathi, an environmental and political activist, who founded the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, Africa. This environmental, nongovernmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women’s rights.

In 2004, Maathi became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.”

Co-sponsored by: College Park Committee for a Better Environment (CBE) and the College Park Community Library.

REGISTRATION: Requested but not required. Call, Janis Oppelt at 240-888-6972.

Tonight’s NCPCA Meeting – Hollywood Streetscape, Drainage Mapping and County Rain Check Program

NCPCA - It's Your Neighborhood Association

NCPCA – It’s Your Neighborhood Association

Today is the second Thursday of the month and hence the day when we’ve our monthly NCPCA meeting. Here are a few items members will discuss:

Proposed Streetscape Improvements for Hollywood Commercial District– City Planning staff will provide an update on conceptual designs and take feedback on the designs.

Drainage Mapping with the Environmental Finance Center– Staff from the Environmental Finance Center at UMD will take input from residents on areas where drainage is a concerns and locations where stormwater practices are lacking.

Prince George’s County’s Rain Check Program– A county representative will talk about the Rain Check program and how residents can receive a rebate for implementing water-capturing projects on their residential and commercial properties.

The presentation about the proposed Branchville Crossing Development has been rescheduled for our March meeting.  Cruz Development’s headquarters are in Boston and due to the massive snowfall the presenters are unable get out of Boston.

Council Supports State Bill to Review High Water Bill

At last night’s Council meeting, the City Council unanimously supported a State bill to establish an independent review commission, to review WSSC bills that are at least 25% higher than an average WSSC bill and when the consumer has already submitted a written request for a refund.

The commission will be consisted of a WSSC representative, a representative of the Office of People’s Counsel, and three WSSC customers,

Recently, there were a number of concerns about unusually high WSSC bills. Unfortunately, there is currently no independent review of these bills.

The College Park Woods Swim Club faced such a situation. Creating an independent review process ultimately will benefit the commission and the consumer.

The Old Bar May Become a Restaurant and Art Space

The now closed bar, Barking Dog on Route 1, may turn into a place for a new restaurant and art place, the Diamondback has recently reported. College Park’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is expected to provide performances, while a PA based firm will provide food for the restaurant. The new business may start as early as next spring.
Barking dog - Art House - Restaurant
(rendering by MSR Design / Diamondback online)

North College Park Crime Map – Feb 4-7, 2015

[mappress mapid=”210″]

Theft from Auto






[2/06/15]THEFTA05:3306:339300 Blk CHERRY HILL RD
[2/06/15]THEFTA08:1309:009100 Blk 51ST PL,

City Publishes 2014 Residents Survey Results

City has published the results of the 2014 annual residential surveys.

You can view the results here.
Resident Satisfaction Survey was available online in English and Spanish from November 1, 2014 to December 19, 2014. Paper copies of the survey (in both languages) were available at City facilities, Attick Towers, and Spellman House.

The 2014 survey contained 43 questions and 10 opportunities for the respondent to write in responses. Most of the questions were the same or similar to questions asked in the 2012 survey. In 2014 a total of 772 residents completed the survey (five in Spanish), compared to 324 responses in 2012. This was the highest number of responses of any year with the exception of 2002 (944 responses).

For each question, it provides a chart with the responses (usually a weighted average 1 through 5, or the actual number of responses for that item) and a table with the actual number of responses for each category (excellent, good, neutral, fair, poor, and don’t know), the percentage, and the weighted average.

All responses are weighted to give an average number between 1 (excellent) and 5 (poor). Ideally, the responses would be between 1 and 2 (excellent and good). This can be slightly confusing because higher numbers (i.e., 3 and 4) indicate lower levels of satisfaction. The “don’t know” responses are not included in the weighted averages.

The Council will discuss the survey results during the February 17, 2015 worksession.

Here are two charts that are related to public safetey

how safe do you feel

rate public safety

The Hotel at UMD to Scale Down it’s Design

The Hotel - From Route 1

The Hotel – From Route 1

The developer of the proposed “The Hotel at the UMD” at the corner of Route 1 and Paint Branch Pkwy has decided to scale down the development by 3 stories to comply with the federal aviation regulation.

You can learn more about the change here on the Washington Post.

According to the Post, the developer said it has cut back three floors to bring the building into compliance after learning about the height restrictions from the Federal Aviation Administration in November.

The Southern Management had planned to build a 13-story hotel and conference center, but the proposed building height encroached about 35 feet into the airspace of College Park Airport traffic.

The Mayor and the Council also made objections to the development and recommended to redesign the Hotel and comply with existing regulations.

North College Park Crime Map, January 26 – February 3, 2015

Stolen Vehicle






[2/03/15]STLVEH06:4907:519200 Blk LIMESTONE PL,







[1/27/15]THEFT16:3217:104700 Blk CHERRY HILL RD,
[1/30/15]THEFT10:5911:549700 Blk 49TH PL,

Theft from Auto






[1/28/15]THEFA114:2615:064700 Blk CHERRY HILL RD,


Target Express to Open Neighborhood Market in College Park

Target Express store in Minneapolis

Target Express store in Minneapolis

At last night’s worksession, staff told us that the chain store Target will open its smaller “express” version in the  Landmark development (formerly the Book Exchange) in College Park.

According to this report, the discount retailer, which opened its first TargetExpress store last July on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis, and was planning to open two such stores in greater Washington and one in Chicago, on top of five other openings previously announced for 2015, bringing the total to 9 stores. Beyond this year, Target is also looking into expanding the TargetExpress concept in greater Philadelphia and in Los Angeles, as well as additional such stores in metro Washington, San Francisco and Chicago.

Target says it’s Express stores offer guests a convenient stop for essentials with a quick trip experience that is distinctly Target. TargetExpress locations typically offer an edited assortment that is locally relevant to meet urban guests’ quick trip wants and needs at an everyday value. For example, this store could include TargetExpress features such as grab and go food options, a full Beauty department and a Pharmacy.

The specific offering at the College Park TargetExpress will be determined as construction gets underway.

The student housing (with 829 beds) Landmark development is expected to have 13,844 SF of retail. It’s expected to open in  Summer this year.

Council to Review Development Tax Credit Program

At tonight’s Council worksession, the City Council will discuss reviewing City’s current tax credit program. Staff and the City Attorney are recommending modifications to the Ordinance to ensure the Program meets its goals of incentivizing high-quality redevelopment projects.

Since its adoption in November 2012, the City’s Revitalization Tax Credit Program has received four applications.

The idea of a tax credit program was initially conceived in 2009, as the City aimed to create financial incentives that would encourage redevelopment and revitalization of its key commercial districts. Due to the increased costs associated with infill development (e.g. land assemblage, lease buyouts) that are not typically present in more suburban development, the City looked to offset these costs through real property tax credits and increase the attractiveness of development opportunities in College Park. However, at that time the City did not have the authority to establish revitalization districts or grant property tax credits.

The City requested a change in the Annotated Code of Maryland to allow the creation of such a program, which was approved in June 2011. In October 2012, a City Ordinance was introduced to provide the framework for the College Park Revitalization Tax Credit Program.

The guidelines for the Program include six revitalization districts:

  • US 1 Corridor Development District Overlay Zone
  • College Park-Riverdale Transit District Overlay Zone
  • Hollywood Commercial Development District Overlay Zone
  • Berwyn Commercial and Industrial Districts
  • Branchville Industrial District, and
  • Greenbelt/University Commercial Corridor

In order to qualify for a tax credit, projects are required to receive approval of their detailed site plan or building permit by City Council while meeting a number of eligibility criteria as set by Section 175-9 of the Ordinance. Projects that meet all requirements may receive a five-year tax credit on real property taxes based on the increased assessment attributed to the improvements. The tax credit is in an amount equal to 75% of the increased assessment in the first year, 60% in the second year, 45% in the third year, 30% in the fourth year, and 15% in the fifth year. While projects that are under construction, completed, or have an approved detailed site plan or building permit are prohibited, a waiver provision was included to grant these projects consideration in certain circumstances. Tax credits granted under the waiver provision are subject to possible reductions in the amount and/or duration by City Council.

Since the Program’s launch, staff has received applications from four development projects: College Park Place, The Enclave, Monument Village, and The Varsity. Following is a summary of each project’s application status:

College Park Place Submitted in July 2014, the applicant is seeking a tax credit for phase 1 (hotel and retail) and phase 2 (multifamily housing). Since the application filing date, both phases of the project received Detailed Site Plan approval. The tax credit application is scheduled for review at the January 20, 2015 City Council worksession. Upon its completion, College Park Place is expected to have an increased assessment of more than $50,000,000 that will contribute nearly $170,000 annually in real property taxes to the City.

The Enclave Submitted in September 2013, the applicant sought a tax credit for phase 1 (completed student housing and retail) and phase 2 (approved, but not yet built student housing). Staff determined that phase 1 was ineligible, while phase 2 was eligible; however, it was discovered that the owner was delinquent on their City and County property taxes and the application was placed on hold. Upon its completion, The Enclave’s second phase is expected to have an increased assessment of $10,000,000 that will contribute $33,500 annually in real property taxes to the City.

Monument Village Submitted in November 2013, the applicant sought a tax credit for the mixed-use, multifamily housing complex that was approved in 2008, but had yet to begin construction. The project was eligible for a tax credit through the waiver provision with the maximum amount of $387,392.06 over a five-year period. City Council elected to reduce the credit in half to $193,696.03 over a three-year period. Upon its completion in 2016, Monument Village is expected to have an increased assessment of more than $51 ,000,000 that will contribute more than $170,000 annually in real property taxes to the City.

The Varsity Submitted in April 2013, the applicant sought a tax credit for the mixed-use, student housing complex that was completed in 2011. The project was eligible for a tax credit through the waiver provision with the maximum amount of$717,488.60 over a five-year period. City Council elected to reduce the credit to $500,000 over a five-year period. With an increased assessment of more than $95,000,000, The Varsity contributes nearly $320,000 annually in real property taxes to the City.

Staff and attorney are advising to make the following changes:

  • Section 175-9 – Eligibility Requirements (A) o The proposed change would exclude student housing from the list of eligible improvements in order to further incentivize other development types.
  • Section 175-10 -Eligibility Criteria (E) o The proposed change would require projects to exceed the LEED certification required by Prince George’s County. For example, the US 1 Corridor Sector Plan requires all development within the walkable nodes to obtain a minimum LEED-Silver certification in its appropriate rating system. The change would require the project to obtain LEED-Gold or higher certification in order to meet the criterion.
  • Section 175-11 -Credit amount and term: The proposed change gives the council the flexibility to reduce or eliminate the credit amount and/or duration as well as to alter the sequence of the tax credit based on city budget constraints.
  • Section 175-13- Waiver (A(2)): The proposed change would eliminate this waiver provision to make any completed project ineligible for a tax credit.
  • Other Consideration was given to requiring an applicant to also apply for a tax credit through Prince George’s County; however, staff felt that was an unnecessary requirement since the two programs are not jointly operated.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Council to Discuss Annual Development Activities in College Park

At tomorrow’s worksession, the Council will discuss the annual economic development report. Highlights of the report include:

  • Since 2005, the City’s main commercial corridor, Route 1, has been transforming from an auto-dominated thoroughfare into a series of walkable nodes inside the Beltway, landing $1 billion in private investment.
  • The economic growth has caused the population growing nearly 30% since 2000 and shows no signs of slowing down as numerous housing developments are set to open in 2015 and beyond.
  • More than any previous year, 2014 represented this decade-long emergence of College Park into an investment magnet, adding more than 1,500 housing units, 93,000 square feet of retail, and 525 hotel rooms by 2017.
  • The Boulevard at 9091 (in north College Park)  became the first project in Prince George’s County to receive funding through the EB-5 foreign investment program, which is a tool used in many other jurisdictions to finance major developments.
  • 20 retailers opened their doors this year with notable additions including two independent coffee shops and a Korean BBQ restaurant.
  • Several major leases have already been signed for 2015 as College Park’s growth is beginning to attract a more diverse set of restaurant and retail offerings than ever before.
  • The City continued to support its locally-owned business community through $55,000 in grant funding that was matched with more than $135,000 in private investment.
  • The City’s attractiveness to investors is highlighted by the presence of a significant economic generator in the University of Maryland and its combined base of 50,000 employees and students. While the initial housing growth centered around meeting student demand near campus, more recent developments are aimed at attracting professionals working at the university or commuting to employment centers in the metro areas of Baltimore and the District of Columbia.
  • The next decade is certain to be just as exciting as the preceding one, with the construction of the Purple Line rail system, establishment of an innovation district on the former East Campus site, potential FBI relocation to Greenbelt, and redevelopment of the City Hall site in Downtown.

Development Activities 2015

College Park Developments at a Glance

Our staff has put together this drawing to show all major development activities in the city (planned or under construction). Three of them are in north College Park. They include:

(1) The Boulevard at 9091 Baltimore Ave : Multifamily housing / retails. Early 2015 ground breaking
(2) Monument Village: Townhouse, apartments and retails: 9122 – 9128 Baltimore avenue. Under construction. Spring 2016 completion.
(3) Marriott Town place Suite at 9620-9624 Baltimore Avenue (2015 groundbreaking)

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks.
Development Buildings_small