Proposed student housing at Book Exchange - From Route 1

In last week’s work session, the developer of the Maryland Book Exchange development briefly presented a new drawing of a proposed development with a 4 stories step-down in the back of the building (facing Yale avenue).

The planning staff is however saying that the step back changes are not sufficient, since the Route 1 sector plan asks for a 2-3 stories step back facing residential neighborhood.

In the meting, the Council also had a number of questions about the architecture proposals. For example, my colleague Mr. Afzali and Mr. Wojahn asked why the roof above the four floors had to be designed to make a sharp incline from the rear property line. This makes the building just as tall in that area as it is otherwise.

The developer offered to bring the architect of the project this week to answer these questions. We will discuss this in worksession, and then, in special session, will likely consider our position on this matter.

We understand many in north College Park, in particular in District 1 have mixed feelings about the entire development. The developer came to the North College Park Civic Association meeting about a year ago to present his plan, and many residents present at that meeting actually supported the idea of having a student housing at the site. A student housing close to campus can reduce traffic on Route 1 thus this development may potentially provide some benefits.

That being said, it is also important to make sure that the developer meets the setback requirements of Route 1 sector plan, something the residents present at the NCPCA meeting did not discuss. Many members in the council also think that it’s important to consider the concerns of Old Town College Park residents, such as the impact of student density there. The council also had concerns about some architecture related issues, when it rejected the application in Fall last year.

If you feel either way about the development, please let me know or stop by at tonight’s council session. The council session will start at 7 pm.