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Council to Discuss Downtown Re-Development Concept Plan

At tonight’s meeting, the Council will discuss a City-University partnership plan to develop College Park’s downtown area.

On September 26, 2013, the College Park City-University Partnership engaged Design Collective, a Baltimore- based architecture and planning firm, to facilitate a workshop with area stakeholders to define a redevelopment vision for an approximate 8 block area along Route 1 in Downtown College Park, from College Avenue to Guilford Road.

The Partnership is working to develop a plan for redevelopment of the downtown College Park portion of the Route One corridor after the University of Maryland inherited a significant amount of commercial property in this area, including the Little Tavern property, the stores at the northeast corner of the intersection of Knox Road and Route One, and several of the properties between Knox Road and Lehigh Road just west of Route One, behind the former Barking Dog.

Workshop participants represented, among others, the University of Maryland, the City of College Park, property owners, developers, and local businesses. In tomorrow’s special worksession, the Council will discuss the findings of the workshop and consider options regarding the concept for redevelopment of downtown College Park. Things to consider include:

(1) identifying redevelopment objectives for near term development for the 3 blocks west of Route 1 between Southgate and Applebee’s. (Buildings immediately facing Route 1 between Southgate and Knox Road, in Area 1, will likely remain while other buildings may be demolished. Buildings between Knox Road and Guilford Road on the west side of Route 1 will likely be entirely demolished);

(2) identifying redevelopment objectives for medium term development on the block west of Route 1 between Applebee’s and Guilford Road (the Quality Inn site);

(3) identifying redevelopment objectives and/or expansion options for near term development of City Hall and the City Hall site (recognizing that City Hall expansion needs are an immediate priority);

(4) identifying redevelopment and/or improvement objectives for longer term development on the blocks east of Route 1 between College Avenue and Guilford Road;

(5) identifying transportation, connectivity, circulation, and multi-modal (pedestrian, bicycle, transit, safety, etc) improvements needed to support redevelopment objectives;

(6) identifying retail strategies (for ground floor) and land use strategies (for upper levels) for each block, and supporting redevelopment objectives; (7) identifying height, massing and neighborhood transition strategies for each block;

(8) identifying Sector Plan and/or zoning constraints that may impact the development vision; and

(9) identifying and confirming all unresolved items that may need further discussion. The concepts currently under consideration would be intended create a mixed-use, walkable downtown district, with ground-floor retail and office and residential uses on upper floors. One option under consideration is to create a north-south street parallel to Route 1 between South Gate and Guilford Road, which would provide service access to the retail uses and to parking garages (hidden from view) to serve the development.

Workshop participants also supported improved pedestrian safety along and across Route 1, with more clearly marked crosswalks and additional pedestrian signals, and limited curb cuts on Route 1 itself except to access neighborhood streets.

Improvements to Route 1 would also include on-street parking during non-peak hours, wider sidewalks adequate for outdoor dining and safe pedestrian circulation, and bike lanes or cycle tracks along the road.

There may also be opportunities for a civic green or other civic gathering space. City Hall will either be rebuilt or renovated onsite, or relocated elsewhere to provide for redevelopment opportunities at the existing site.


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1 Comment

  1. Pat

    Interesting. Personally I think that “buildings immediately facing Route 1 between Southgate and Knox Road” are the ones that should be demolished first. Without clearing the entirety of blocks that abut Rt. 1, any “redevelopment” is going to be marred by those ugly buildings that still remain.

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