Council to Discuss Revised Detailed Site Plan of the “UMD Hotel”

The Hotel - From Route 1

The Hotel – From Route 1

At tomorrow’s Council worksession, the City Council will discuss the revised detailed site plan of “The Hotel” at the corner of Route 1 and Paint Branch Pkwy.

The applicant, Southern Management Corporation, Inc., filed a Preliminary Plan of Subdivision and a Detailed Site Plan with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) last fall. The Mayor and City Council reviewed the Preliminary Plan and Detailed Site Plan (DSP) at their Work Session last November 25 and recommended approval with conditions at their regular meeting on December 9, 2014. The Planning Board reviewed the Preliminary Plan request on December 11, 2014 and approved it with conditions.

For the Detailed Site Plan, the applicant requested and was granted a continuance by the Planning Board on February 19, 2015 in order to revise their plans to comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA) height regulations. The DSP request is scheduled to be reviewed at the March 26, 2015 Planning Board hearing. TheMNCPPC Technical StaffReport came out on Thursday, March 12, 2015.

The applicant has revised the DSP to lower the height, modify the architecture and increase the size of the parking garage.

According to the new plan, the Hotel’s height will be 198′ AMSL, instead of 233′ AMSL( a difference of -35′). To comply with FAAIMAA regulations, structures cannot exceed 198′ Above Mean Sea Level (AMSL). The Hotel will have 300 rooms, instead of 295. The Parking Garage will have 902 Spaces (instead of 806). The number of bicycle parking spaces will remain at 130.

Height and Massing Originally, the applicant was proposing to construct a 13-story (161-foot tall or 233-feet AMSL), 295-room hotel tower with a 5-story conference center and a 7-story, 806-car parking garage. The applicant has reduced the height of the hotel tower to 10 -stories for a maximum height of 128’6″ or 198-feet above mean sea level (AMSL) and has placed hotel rooms over the conference center. This leg of the building is 7 stories, with 5 stories over the conference center. A 9-level parking structure is proposed over first floor retail-oriented toward Greenhouse Road.

The FANMAA regulations state that no part of a structure may exceed 198′ AMSL at this site. City staff has received determination letters (one for each corner or the building and one for the construction crane) from the FAA stating that the proposed building will prove no hazard to air navigation.
Parking The applicant is proposing to add 5 hotel rooms for a total of 300 rooms and increase the number of parking spaces in the garage by 96 for a total of 902 parking spaces. The hotel/retail center is designed to initiate the development of the University-defined Innovation District. If parking in the garage is designed to be shared with future development in the area, City staff is not opposed to the increase of structured parking spaces.

Bicycle/Pedestrian Facilities The applicant has added a pedestrian connection and crosswalk that addresses a City staff concern and is now showing a location for a future bike-share station. City staff supports these additions and encourages the applicant to continue making the site as pedestrian- and bike friendly as possible. The applicant did not follow the City Council and City staff suggestion concerning adding 89 bicycle parking spaces to comply with the shared parking formula. The applicant has not added any bicycle parking spaces from their previous submission even though they have increased their vehicular parking by 96 spaces. City staff feels strongly that the additional bicycle parking standard should be met at this location given the proximity to the University and the City-University initiative to promote bicycling in this section of College Park. City staff continues to recommend providing a total of 219 spaces based on the shared parking formula in the Sector Plan.

Signage The applicant has revised their signage package to reduce the number of signs proposed and reduce the overall square footage of signage except for the electronic message center (EMC) sign which has been increased in size. City staff is not opposed to the new sign package except for the proposed EMC sign. Originally, the applicant proposed two electronic message signs, each 133.36 square-feet to be located on the north and south elevations at a height of 80 feet to be visible from US 1. This highway is very busy with University buildings and activities located along both sides of the roads. City staff did not support these signs which can only be permitted through a modification to the Sector Plan because City staff was concerned that the flashing messages, to change every 5 seconds, could prove distracting to drivers on US 1 and create unsafe conditions. In fact, the speed limit was recently reduced to 25 MPH to address the number of pedestrian-vehicular accidents that have occurred recently in this area. Now, the applicant is proposing a 390 square-foot EMC sign to be located on the north elevation at a height of 72 feet. Since this sign is proposed to be three times larger and still targets US 1 traffic, City staffs concerns remain. If the applicant would consider: relocating the sign, possibly to the west elevation of the parking garage, substantially reducing the size back down to the originally proposed 133.36 square feet, and lowering the height of the sign to a pedestrian/bicycle user level, then City staff may support this type of sign.
Previously, three logo signs for Southern Management Corporation were proposed on the North, South, and West elevations. Now the applicant is only proposing two logo signs to be located on the West and South elevations on the upper floors. City staff is not opposed to these signs at these locations

City Recommendation
Based on the revised submittal, City staff has revised their recommendation as follows: City staff recommends approval of Detailed Site Plan (DSP) 14022 subject to the following conditions:

1. Prior to certification, the Applicant shall revise the site plan to provide an additional 89 bicycle parking spaces for a total of 219 spaces ( 1 space per 3 vehicular parking spaces as computed under the shared parking formula) for a 806-space garage.

2. If facade modifications are made by the Applicant or are required by the Planning Board, prior to certification, the applicant shall provide copies to the City of College Park Staff for review with the Urban Design Section ofM-NCPPC.

3. Prior to certification, the Applicant shall revise the sign plan to eliminate the 390 squarefoot electronic message center sign located between the 51h and 6th floors at the north elevation. An electronic message center sign could be acceptable if the size is reduced and relocated to the west elevation of the parking garage at the hotel entrance on South Hotel Drive.

4. Prior to certification, the Applicant shall revise the landscape plan to:
a. Provide a detail to show how trees will be planted on the green roof. b. Provide a planting plan and plant schedule for the northwest comer green roof. c. Replace the Japanese Blood Grass species which is invasive with a non-invasive species. d. Replace the Pin Oaks with another species due to pH and branching concerns. e. Revise the plant schedule to accurately reflect the landscape plan, Sheet LS-1.

5. City support of the modification request to allow an increase in parking spaces is subject to the parking garage being a shared parking facility within the larger innovation district.

6. Prior to Planning Board approval of the DSP, the Applicant shall sign an Agreement with the City of College Park in substantially the form attached, including the following:
a. The applicant, its successors and assigns, shall reimburse the City for all costs of maintenance and operation of pedestrian street lights within the SHA right-of-way and shall enter into an Agreement, requiring reimbursement, which shall be recorded against the Property.
b. Prior to obtaining a building permit, the Applicant shall: 1. Pay the sum of$45,000 to the City of College Park for the installation and operation of an 11 dock:/6 bike-share station on or near the subject property. n. Designate the City of College Park Planning Director as a team member in the USGBC’s LEED Online system. The City’s team member will have privileges to review the project status and monitor the progress of all documents submitted by the project team.

North College Park Crime Map: March 8-14, 2015

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Protecting Your Residence While You are Home or Away

residence safety

Barbara Caskey to Retire This Year

Barbara Caskey

Barbara Caskey

After 20+ years as Principal of Hollywood Elementary (40+ years in PGCPS), Barbara Caskey is retiring this year.

The City is going to recognize her and celebrate her contribution to the College Park children at the May 26th City Council meeting. Parents and community members are encouraged to attend the celebration reception and make comments. Please spread the word.

Tonight’s NCPCA Meeting: Branchville Crossing, FBI Development, 5K Race

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 the North College Park Civic Association will have its March monthly meeting. Here are the major items the members will discuss:

Proposed Development Branchville Gardens/Crossing– Cruz Development representatives will discuss their proposal to develop Affordable Housing -Multifamily Apartments on Rte 193 adjacent to the Branchville Fire Dept.

Update on Proposal to Develop FBI Headquarters at Greenbelt Metro Station – Developer’s representative Garth Beall will provide an update on the status of the project.

Mother’s Day 5K Race– Representatives from the College Park Foundation will discuss plans for this year’s race.

As usual, the meeting will take place at Davis Hall, at 7:30pm. See you all tonight.

Council Asks Camden Management to Discuss Residents’ Concerns

Recently, we met with a group of residents from the Camden apartment to discuss a number of issues the residents have been facing over several months. At last night’s meeting, the City Council sent a letter to the Camden management inviting them to a future Council worksession. Please see below that letter.

Mr. Richard Key
Regional Vice President, Atlantic Regional Operations Center
Camden Property Trust
1420 Spring Hill Rd, Suite 200
McLean, VA 22102

Dear Mr. Key:

On behalf of the City of College Park, I am writing to bring to your attention a number of serious concerns we have recently heard from residents of Camden College Park. These concerns have been ongoing for several months, and while residents have attempted to work out the issues with on-site property management, they have not been successful.

Concerns include the following:
1. Lack of adequate security. In October 2014, Camden residents experienced a rash of breaking and enterings in their apartments, some during the daytime, due to broken security gates and other lapses in security. The Camden College Park Residents’ Association then wrote a letter to management asking for security improvements and the presence of a security guard, but management failed to act. The residents report that only after a homicide occurred on New Year’s Eve 2014 did Camden agree to meet with residents. However, residents report that, after residents requested management to install deadbolts, Camden management first wanted to charge residents $50 to install these deadbolts and then informed residents that they are not permitted by City Code, even though they are, and refused to install them. Management has also delayed in installing requested secure entry pads on the doors leading from the garages into the hallways.

2. Problems relating to renovation of balconies. In October 2014, Camden management began renovating several balconies around the complex. During the construction work, balcony doors were replaced with plywood and tarps, sometimes for several months, which still exist on many of these doorways. These apartments are not adequately insulated, leading to cold air seeping into the apartments and higher electricity bills for residents. Residents report that a sealant used to do the repair work released fumes that went into their apartments, making several residents sick and dizzy, with headaches. Upon inspection by College Park and Prince George’s County, code enforcement staff found that no permits had been applied for or received for this work, and issued a stop work order.

3. Regular false fire alarms. Residents report that, approximately every two weeks, false fire alarms sound in some parts, but not all, of the building. These alarms have woken several residents and kept them up for several hours. According to the residents, management has told them that, when they hear an alarm, they should call management to determine if it is a real fire or false alarm. Also, some residents are concerned that these alarms can only be heard in portions of the complex, possibly leaving them vulnerable if there actually were a fire.

4. Lack of Consistent Communication. Residents expressed concern over the lack of communication and responsiveness regarding the problems they report. Residents have regularly requested the property manager to attend the Residents’ Association meetings to respond to their concerns, but the property manager only has attended one meeting.

Camden residents have a right to expect a high standard of living and appropriate responsiveness from their management. Residents report that several of them have felt that they have no choice but to move out due to these ongoing problems.

You and representatives of Camden management are invited to attend an upcoming City Council Worksession to discuss these concerns further with representatives of the Camden Residents Association and to develop a plan to address them. Please contact Janeen Miller, College Park City Clerk, at 240-487-3501 to discuss your availability.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation and your time.


Andrew M. Fellows

cc: Mr. Muhammad Ali, District Manager, Camden Properties
Council Member Mary Lehman, Prince George’s County Council, District 1
Mr. Cory Sanders, President, Camden Residents Association
Mr. Bob Ryan, Director, College Park, Department of Public Services

Council to Weigh in Bill Banning Styrofoam

Council women Mary Lehman and Dannielle Glaros in the Prince George’s House Delegation have sponsored a bill CB-5-2015 to ban the polystyrene or styrofoam.  This is something that other localities like Montgomery County and D.C. have enacted .

Styrofoam is known to be one of the most enduring materials we produce. For all its faults, a bleached white paper napkin will decompose in a month. Even a plastic-coated milk carton will decompose after a few years. But Styrofoam, made of a polystyrene-based petroleum product that does not biodegrade, will last forever.

The City Council will consider a resolution supporting the bill at tomorrow’s Council meeting.

WaPost: UMd. Goes on Real Estate Spree in College Park

The University of Maryland is aggressively acquiring real estate along Route 1 in College Park, pushing to create a lively main street that better connects its flagship campus with the town and provides an atmosphere on par with the school’s academics. University officials, through a private foundation, have leased or acquired more than $20 million in commercial properties — including a shuttered local bar — and begun negotiating agreements with other landowners that could bring hundreds of apartments and a string of new restaurants and shops to College Park. Both the university and the town have been sometimes criticized as so lacking in amenities that graduates often leave as soon as they are able. Only 3 percent of faculty live there.

Under the direction of university president Wallace D. Loh, the effort is being guided by Omar Blaik, a private consultant who played a key role in the University of Pennsylvania’s efforts revitalizing West Philadelphia, and Ken Ulman, the former Howard County executive who was hired as a contractor by his alma mater eight weeks ago following a failed campaign for lieutenant governor. “I’ve always believed that the University of Maryland can and should be central to the economy of our state,” Ulman said. “And Dr. Loh said, then come create a town for our university.” The plan to acquire and redevelop commercial properties to the university’s liking mirrors strategies by Penn and Yale universities and other urban schools looking to combat shortcomings — real or perceived — related to safety, transportation or entertainment. It also represents a dramatic departure from the university’s plans for the area before Loh’s arrival in late 2010. Previously the school envisioned a 38-acre, $700 million town center project that would have created a commercial hub away from downtown College Park, further distinguishing the university from the city. College Park Mayor Andrew M. Fellows said much of the university’s planning at the time was done behind closed doors until the last second, further stressing town-gown relations. “We read about it in the newspaper. They didn’t tell us what they were going to do,” he said. By the time the university completed its town center plan and began negotiations with one developer — and then another — real estate values dropped dramatically, and the plans were dashed. As disheartening as it may have been, the town center’s collapse prevented the university from building something that might have appeared overly insular. Nearly five years later, urban living is in vogue and instead of building a more isolated enclave, the university is focused on helping to develop the city center it already has. We invite you to learn Why High-Achieving Servant Leadership Is The Way To Lead An Organization With Kurt Uhlir of Showcase IDX.

Already underway is a new hotel the school is building with Southern Management Corp. across Route 1. The 276-room hotel “will be the nicest hotel between D.C. and Baltimore” said Carlo Colella, vice president of administration and finance. It will include four restaurants, Chef Mike Isabella’s Kapnos, Potomac Pizza, Bagels ‘n Grinds and a new location by the owners of Franklins, the Hyattsville restaurant. In addition, Maryland has acquired three sites through the University of Maryland College Park Foundation along the corridor connecting the campus to the center of town, with plans to redevelop them. The most prominent is a bar most recently known as the Barking Dog that closed in 2013 and which had prompted concerns about underage drinking, Colella said. In its place the university plans to build ArtHouse, a dining and entertainment combination in partnership with MilkBoy, proprietors of a similar venue in Philadelphia, that would host live music and film screenings.

Officials said the university has also signed a contract option to buy the Quality Inn hotel down the street, which it would replace with a mixed-use development with residential units above additional retail. In addition to its development plans, the university has taken a more active role in other efforts at upgrading the standard of living in town, including the lowering of the speed limit on Route 1 and creation of a new charter school, College Park Academy. “I think it’s a pretty exciting time for College Park,” said Prince George’s County Council member Dannielle Glaros (D). “The partnership with the city, the town and the university is probably the best I’ve ever seen in the last eight years.” “The doors are way more open. The conversations happen way more frequently with the university. And actually we are all sort of working on the same projects,” Glaros added. Even if the plans for a better main street are successful, other issues remain. The proposed Purple Line would mean five stops through a campus that is more than a mile from the nearest Metro station. But Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has been skeptical of the project’s costs however, and recently criticized spending overruns at another University of Maryland project, in Bowie.

And then there’s the question of whether the new development will actually stir the kind of interest school officials hope it will. Ulman’s company is to be paid up to $247,000 for his efforts, what would be a more than 40 percent raise from what he made in Howard County. His focus is on attracting companies and entrepreneurs — think the next Under Armour founder — to office and incubator space, including some that will be added as part of the school’s hotel project. He said he is already seeing a lot of interest from young tech executives. “They’re asking when is this thing going to be developed? When can I move in?” he said. The broader goal for the university is that the town should accentuate the experience for students, faculty and entrepreneurs. The student body at College Park is sometimes criticized by town residents for unruly behavior. Blaik said providing some higher-end surroundings can contribute to higher-minded behavior: “When you provide students with grown-up entertainment and things to do, they are more inclined to want to act like adults.” This story has been clarified to show that that the foundation is leasing, not acquiring, some of the properties it is redeveloping.

North College Park Crime Map – February 27 – March 7, 2015

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City to Hold Public Forums on Lowering Voting Age and Strategic Plan

At the Worksession on last Tuesday, Council expressed the desire to have a public forum on the question of whether 16- and 17-year-olds should be allowed to vote in City elections. This has been scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 28.

Additionally, the public forum on the Draft Strategic Plan is scheduled for Thursday, March 24, at 7:00 p.m. This is just one more way that members of the public can comment on the draft plan.

The City will advertise both events in our usual ways.

If you have any questions or concerns please let me know.

City to Hold Complete Streets Workshop

The City will be holding a workshop on Complete Streets – about how to make our streets more accessible to all users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, and people with disabilities – on April 8 at 7 pm at City Hall. More details below. Please spread the word!

Please save the date:
Wednesday, April 8 at 7:00pm
College Park Complete Streets Workshop
City Hall Council Chambers

The City of College Park invites you to an informative presentation and hands-on workshop to re-imagine active transportation within our city. Complete streets provide equal access to all modes of transportation from driving to biking to walking. They also provide safe access to all types of users including children, seniors and the handicapped. Complete streets provide important safety features such as sidewalks, bicycle lanes and crosswalks as well as green elements such as trees and rain gardens. Join us on April 8th to see how we can make our streets more accessible and more pleasant for everyone to enjoy.

Please feel free to extend this invitation to neighboring municipal officials, staff, and residents, especially bicycle advocates and anyone interested in walkable streets.

For more information contact:
Steve Beavers , Community Development Coordinator , City of College Park . Tel: 240-487-3541 . Email: sbeavers@collegeparkmd.gov

City Seeks Comments On 2015-2020 Strategic Plan

The City Council and staff have been working with The Novak Consulting Group to develop a new five-year strategic plan.  Some of you may have participated in the focus groups or survey for the environmental scan , which identifies College Park’s strengths, challenges, and opportunities.
The City Council has approved a draft 2020 Strategic Plan Framework, and would like for your members (and all residents and stakeholders) to provide feedback.  The City’s Vision and Strategic Plan will guide our services and investment, so it is very important to Council that the plan reflects the vision of the community we want, and contains the goals and priorities to achieve it.
Please consider hosting a “Meeting in a Box” to provide feedback on the document.  You can also attend a Public Forum on Tuesday, March 24 at 7 PM, and of course email the Mayor and Council.  You can access all of the documents and additional information about the strategic plan right here.

City Publishes 2014 Resident Satisfaction Survey Results

Thanks to the nearly 800 residents who completed the 2014 Resident Satisfaction Survey! This was the highest number of responses of any year with the exception of 2002 (944 responses).

We appreciate your feedback and suggestions on City services, the quality of life in our neighborhoods, and improvements for the City.

You can view the overall results and the survey report which identifies how some responses varied by age group, neighborhood, and student status. Additionally, we have provided the written responses to the questions on what residents like and dislike most about their neighborhood, and Wordles (“word clouds”) of other written responses.

Please see the following 2014 Resident Satisfaction Survey documents:

This is a staff report summarizing the results and providing some analysis of the results broken down by neighborhood, age group, and student status.

2014 Resident Satisfaction Survey Summary Data 
This document provides a chart with a weighted average between 1 and 5 for most questions.
1 = Excellent; 2 = Good; 3 = Neutral; 4 = Fair; and 5 = Poor.

A table with the number of responses for each category (excellent, good, neutral, fair, poor, and don’t know), the percentage, and the weighted average is also provided. 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.

2014 Resident Satisfaction Survey Questions
These are the actual questions from the survey.

Written Response Summaries
For summaries of the written responses to the questions, “What do you like best about your neighborhood?” and “What do you like least about your neighborhood?” please see the following documents (the responses are broken down by individual neighborhoods within each district):

District 1 Least about your neighborhood

District 2 Least about your neighborhood

District 3 Least about your neighborhood

District 4 Least about your neighborhood 

To see Wordles (“word clouds” that give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the written responses) of each question requiring a written response, click on the files below:

Businesses you leave College Park to patronize
How to improve City services
How to improve public safety
Desired recreational activities
Desired sustainability programs
Where you receive information about College Park

City Proposes Changes to Refuse and Recycling Routes

Recently, the Knox Box apartments were torn down and, because of that, our staff has seen an average reduction of over one ton of refuse on the Monday routes. As a result of this reduction in Monday pick-ups, the Department of Public Works staff is proposing to re-align our refuse and recycling routes.

The proposed changes to collection routes are as follows: (1) Autoville and Cherry Hill will move from Wednesday to Monday; (2) Oak Spring East (Branchville Road to Huron Street) will move from Wednesday to Monday; (3) Sunnyside will move from Wednesday to Tuesday; and (4) A portion of Hollywood East (Edgewood Rd. from Rhode Island Ave. to 51st Ave., Nantucket Rd., Niagara Rd., Ontario Rd. to 51st Ave. will move from Wednesday to Tuesday.

With the change of routes on Wednesday, Public Works go from two refuse trucks and two recycling trucks going out on Wednesdays to one each. This allows staff to be available for other duties on Wednesdays.

Please see below a map of the new route and let me know if you have any questions.

Council to Consider Allowing 16 and 17 Yrs Olds to Vote in City Elections

At tomorrow’s worksession, the City Council will consider a proposal to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in City elections.

Recently Takoma Park and Hyattsville have passed laws allowing 16 and 17 years olds to vote. They are the only two cities in the entire country that have passed such laws. Some other countries, such as Scotland have similar laws.

Supporters of the proposals argue that providing 16- and 17-year-olds the ability to vote is likely to increase their level of political participation throughout their lives. However, critics point to other studies that suggest 16 and 17 years old teenagers often lack the several elements of psycho-social development that characterize adults as mature, including the capacity for autonomous choice, self-management, risk perception, and the calculation of future consequences.

Because the current county voter list only includes residents of 18-years and older, the City will need to register the 16- and 17-olds in a separate database.

The Council will discuss the logistics of this proposal, this week and whether to put it forward for Council consideration and a public hearing.