Adelphi neighborhoods to get new master plan

Prince George’s County officials are developing a new master plan to guide development policy near the planned Adelphi Road Purple Line Station in College Park – despite the contractural uncertainty around the transit project. At its Oct. 29, 2020, meeting, Prince George’s County Planning Board approved a measure authorizing planning staff to launch a master planning process for a 163-acre area surrounding the future transit station. The study area is centered on the intersection of Adelphi Road and University Boulevard, and includes parts of Hyattsville, College Park, and unincorporated Adelphi. That area is home to several mid-century suburban tract housing developments.

Report shows how College Park has changed since 2011

A draft report from the College Park City-University Partnership lays out a 10-year-vision for the college town designed to boost the share of year-round residents in the city, increase transit usage among residents, and recruit new tech firms to College Park’s Discovery District neighborhood, among other goals.  

This is the second long-term planning document of this type to be produced by the City-University Partnership, a nonprofit created in 2011 to boost economic development in College Park and to bridge the town-gown divide by creating a forum for city and university officials to develop common policy goals. 

The report envisions a College Park that, in 2030, “is a growing, thriving, equitable and sustainable community” peppered with start-up companies, walkable neighborhoods, and high-performing local k-12 school options. To achieve this, the report identifies four policy areas for city and university officials to focus on: Housing and development, transportation and mobility, public health and safety, and education. Within each, the report identifies several goals for city and university officials to pursue. 

The full 130-page report can be found in this week’s College Park City Council worksession agenda packet. The report, while focused on setting policy goals for the next 10 years, is notable for an extensive, data-driven exploration of socio-economic changes that have played out over the past decade in College Park. 

Demographically, College Park saw population grow by 7.4 percent between 2011 and 2018, about average compared with other cities.

Fish processing plant proposed in College Park

A D.C.-based fish wholesaler wants to open a fish processing plant, fish market, brewery and aquaculture facility in northern College Park’s Branchville neighborhood that would employ more than 350 workers. But the company has hurdles to overcome, including potential opposition to industrial development from residential neighbors, a lack of financing, and the fact that it does not own the land nor has not reached an agreement with the property owners. The site in question is the former Stone Industrial property near the intersection of 51st Avenue and Branchville Road. Bordering a suburban neighborhood, the Stone Industrial property once housed a plastic-tubing manufacturer. In 2018, the business closed and the property was sold to Finmarc for $6.2 million, which is still actively pursuing a plan to redevelop the site into a mix of townhomes and apartments.

College Park Metro Marriott approved by Planning Board

Prince George’s County Planning Board approved detailed site plans for a new hotel near the College Park Metro station. The action took place at its Sept. 24, 2020, meeting. 

The plans were approved by a vote of three-to-one, with Planning Board Chair Elizabeth Hewlett voting against. Hewlett said she voted against approval because she wanted three additional parallel parking spots recommended by county planning staff to be included in the plans. The measure approved by the Planning Board omitted those three spots, with Commissioner William Doerner saying the transit-accessible destination did not need additional parking.

College Park preps for special election, considers charter changes for candidates

College Park city officials are preparing for a special election to fill a forthcoming vacancy from City Councilor P.J. Brennan, who represents District Two. Brennan, who was first elected to City Council in 2013, announced his resignation is late July. The resignation was prompted by an upcoming move to a new home in the Calvert Hills neighborhood of College Park, outside his district. Brennan’s vacancy is effective Sept. 30, 2020.

College Park takes side in Supreme Court case

College Park City Council officially took a side in a forthcoming Supreme Court case that asks if religious beliefs exempt organizations from civil rights laws. The case, Fulton vs. The City of Philadelphia, was brought by Catholic Social Services, a religiously-affiliated nonprofit adoption agency, and worked in contract with the city of Philadelphia to place children in foster homes. In 2018, the group lost this contract after the city learned the nonprofit refuses to place children with same-sex parents. Catholic Social Services sued, claiming its loss of the government contract was a violation of its religious freedom to, in this case, believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

Low demand for College Park coronavirus relief

College Park set aside $1.7 million to assist residents and businesses dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. But so far, few have availed themselves of the grant program. According to city manager Scott Somers, the city has only processed 28 small-business assistance grants totaling $47,400 plus 18 family assistance program grants totaling approximately $6,200. “I was surprised at how low that was,” Somers said during College Park’s Aug. 4, 2020, City Council meeting.

950-bed mixed-use student housing approved for College Park

The Prince George’s County Planning Board unanimously approved detailed plans for a 9-story, 950-bed, 282-unit student housing complex in southern College Park. The move clears the way for Athens-Georgia-based Landmark Properties to apply for building permits for the mixed-use project, which will also include 6,670 square-feet of ground-floor retail. The project, which will demolish an existing office building, is the second major redevelopment in the pipeline in College Park’s southern Baltimore Avenue corridor. Dubbed the Standard at College Park, the complex will be built on a 1.9-acre parcel of land between Hartwick Road and Guilford Road. In an April letter, developers told the Calvert Hills Civic Association they hoped to open to project by Spring 2023, which would be an ambitious schedule even without a recession and a persistent regional construction labor shortage. 

An excerpt from the application materials for The Standard at College Park shows the site location, about a half-block west of Baltimore Avenue and Hartwick Road.

Tiny Trolley Trail gap to be bridged in Berwyn

Sometimes, it’s the little things. A small gap in the Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail in College Park could soon be filled per a plan under review with Prince George’s planners. The gap is currently located to the north of the Trolley Trail’s intersection with Berwyn Road in College Park. The plans will bridge what is currently a small gravel parking lot which has stood in the way of the trail. Though, to be fair, the lot hasn’t been much of an obstacle.

College Park approves $1.7M coronavirus relief fund

College Park City Council unanimously approved a $1.65 million coronavirus relief package designed to aid businesses and provide direct aid to city residents affected by the pandemic’s disruptions. 

The vote took place at College Park’s May 26, 2020, City Council meeting, held virtually. The measure is expected to be funded through federal disaster aid reimbursements. 

The biggest line item in the relief package is a $1 million small business assistance grant program. Only College Park city businesses with 25 or fewer full-time may apply. The program provides up to $15,000 per business for to offset losses from business interruptions or decreased customer demand caused by the emergency measures imposed to try to stem the spread of the disease. The grants are further restricted to commercial entities with no more than 10 outlets.