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.

Q2 sees prime Route 1 properties trade hands

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, it’s been a busy few months for property sales along the Route 1 corridor in Prince George’s County. Several major commercial and multi-family properties have traded hands in the second quarter of the year, according to state property records. The biggest transaction of the quarter in the Route 1 corridor belongs to Varsity Apartments in College Park, which traded hands for $146,022,026 in a sale recorded March 27, 2020. The 900-bed property was bought by Greystar Properties from American Campus Communities. Greystar Properties also plans a 343-unit student housing development on Knox Road in College Park.

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.

Just in time: Mount Rainier closes $1.5M property sale

Just in time to avoid the possible collapse of the commercial real estate market, the City of Mount Rainier completed the sale of 3200 Rhode Island Avenue for $1.5 million to IFG Group Development and Construction. The property is approximately 33,000 square feet of vacant land the city bought more than 10 years ago for an inflation adjusted $1.1 million. IFG Group plans to build a $30 million mixed-use apartment complex. The transaction was scheduled to complete this past Friday. By Monday, the money had not yet shown up in the city’s accounts, causing some concern.

Mount Rainier sells land to developers; $30M mixed-use project planned

It finally happened: Mount Rainier is selling a key downtown lot to a mixed-use developer for $1.5 million, city officials announced during a March 3, 2020 Council meeting. The buyer, IFG Group LLC, plans to build a $30 million, 110-unit mixed-use development on the site, with a targeted opening date of 2025. 

More than 12 years ago in December 2008, Mount Rainier bought several parcels of land at the intersection of Eastern and Rhode Island Avenues for an inflation-adjusted $1.1 million. The property has mostly sat disused, though there were well-meaning attempts to turn the lots into a pocket park. For years, city officials had hoped to redevelop the land. But impacts from the Great Recession plus the city’s own inexperience in real estate development hampered plans. 

Councilor Luke Chesek said during the meeting that the city learned a lot from its previous failures to sell the land.