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.