Concerned, but not yet opposed: UMD Golf Course proposal splits College Park Council

Correction: This article has been updated to correct an error that misattributed votes by Councilors John Rigg and Robert Day.College Park City Council, with Mayor Patrick Wojahn in the tie-breaker role, voted five-to-four to send a letter outlining serious concerns with, but not-yet opposition to, a controversial proposal to build intramural fields on the University of Maryland Golf Course. Minutes earlier, Wojahn cast a similar tie-breaking vote to defeat a motion to send a letter to university officials explicitly in opposition to the proposal. The votes disappointed dozens of city residents in attendance who encouraged City Council to flatly reject the proposal during debate over the issue at its Dec. 11, 2018 meeting. The proposal now heads to the University of Maryland’s Facilities Council, which will consider the proposal at a closed-door meeting scheduled for Dec.

Cars drive along a moderately-congested Greenbelt Road, a six-lane suburban throughway overlooking a green horizon.

With Beltway Plaza redevelopment in play, a new vision for Greenbelt Road emerges

As long-term plans to redevelop Beltway Plaza gain inertia, economic development and planning officials are developing planning and policy strategies to reshape Greenbelt Road to be a more pedestrian, cyclist and transit-friendly corridor. Guiding those actions for now is a report compiled over the summer by the Urban Land Institute, released October 2018. 

“The Greenbelt Road corridor is at a crossroads. Like many suburban commercial areas, it has lost some business to newer, outlying shopping centers and grapples with some disinvestment and traffic congestion,” reads the report. “Many community members express a desire for a greater variety of retail, but there is no singular vision for how the area can attract that.” The full report can be read here.

Biznotes: University View breaks records with sale; Tech firm picks College Park

The University View student apartments in College Park have sold for $235 million, a record-breaking transaction. The property was previously owned by Greystar Real Estate Partners LLC and Rockpoint Group, which acquired the property in 2016 for $114.7 million.Property records for the sale have not yet been processed and the buyer was not disclosed in the announcement. The sale is believed to be the highest-priced single-asset student housing transaction in U.S. history. University View is a 1,570-bed, 507-unit, two-building mixed-use student housing facility with nearly 9,220 feet of retail space. It is located across Paint Branch from the University of Maryland at 8204 Baltimore Ave. in College Park.

Beltway Plaza mall mixed-use redevelopment in the works

UPDATE – Dec. 11, 2018, 5 p.m. – The conceptual site plan for the proposed redevelopment of Beltway Plaza was accepted for review by county planning officials Dec. 10, 2018, kicking off a 70-day review timeline. Proposals to redevelop Beltway Plaza Mall into a mixed-use, open-air neighborhood with homes, offices and retail are moving forward. Renderings of the conceptual redevelopment proposal are embedded below this article. Officials with Quantum Companies, the Bethesda-based company that owns the mall, have submitted paperwork with the Prince George’s County Planning Department seeking approval of redevelopment plans that would allow residences to be built behind the mall along Breezewood Drive.

Council rundown: College Park City Hall takes shape; Term committee created; UMD golf course update

College Park’s City Hall could be replaced by a multifaceted four-story building overlooking a corner plaza at Baltimore Avenue and Knox Road, according to conceptual design details unveiled Tuesday evening. The presentation was conducted by Scott Vieth, principal at Baltimore-based Design Collective, the architectural design contractor hired for the project. It occurred during College Park City Council’s regularly-scheduled Nov. 21, 2018, legislative meeting, and reviewed findings gathered in public feedback sessions. Vieth said residents wanted a city hall that was inviting and which provided multiple ways to approach it.

Council rundown: College Park eyes election overhaul, Beltway plans, Jewish cultural center plans

College Park City Council has reached a broad consensus on the structure of a proposed ad-hoc committee to review a proposed change to the city’s election cycle. All nine of College Park’s City Council seats, including the mayor, are elected every two years. The proposed committee will have one specific task centered around a singular question, according to a draft resolution: solicit public feedback on whether or not College Park elected officials should serve for four years, elected in staggered terms. College Park City Council discussed the composition and appointment process for this committee during a Nov. 13, 2018, worksession at City Hall. Such a change would require the city’s charter to be modified.

Loh’s resignation shocks Prince George’s officials

Wallace Loh’s decision to resign as president of the University of Maryland has angered local elected leaders. They hailed Loh’s work to bridge a gap between the university and the communities that surround it. Loh’s resignation comes as the University of Maryland grapples with several scandals within the school’s athletic department, including the death of athlete Jordan McNair during a football practice and a scathing ESPN report alleging a toxic culture within the school’s football program. “I’m disappointed and upset,” said College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn in an interview. “It’s a real shame.

Yellow Line service could return to Prince George’s County

After years trying to get “Back 2 Good,” Metro officials now want to bring Yellow Line trains back to Greenbelt.

The resumption of Yellow Line service to Greenbelt is one part of a multi-pronged approach Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority General Manager and CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld plans to recommend to the agency’s board this week as part of its proposed operating budget for the next fiscal year. The proposal still needs to be approved by Metro’s Board of Governors. “The past year has been about demonstrating to customers that we are getting Metro ‘back to good,’” said Wiedefeld in a press release. “Now, we have to get better than good as we work to attract and retain customers. While there are a number of improvements such as pass discounts and automatic train operations that we can do within the new cap on subsidy growth, the service improvements I am including in this budget will need the region’s support and the Board’s approval.”

Metrorail’s designers originally envisioned Yellow Line service terminating at Greenbelt. However, this scheme has been only been implemented once, between 2012 and 2017, as part of Metro’s “Rush+” service program.

College Park Council wants vote on 4-year terms by 2019 election

A push to expand College Park elected offices to staggered four-year terms, up from two-year non-staggered terms presently, is gaining steam. At its Oct. 16, 2018, worksession, College Park City Council discussed the proposal, which would require the amendment of the city’s charter. During the meeting, a consensus emerged to establish a Charter review committee to solicit feedback on the proposal from the public and report back to City Council with options for city officials to consider. College Park’s Charter allows the charter to be amended by a vote of Council alone.