By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor
Back in 2007, the University of Maryland had big plans for its East Campus District. It wanted to transform the 38-acre site into a vibrant environment that would ultimately lead to the revitalization of College Park and the U.S. Route 1 corridor. The recession, however, delayed its plans. Now, the plan is back on track. The University of Maryland has partnered with a new developer, The Cordish Cos., and hopes to break ground on its ambitious project by this time next year.
The East Campus project is located across from the university’s central campus, bordered by Route 1 and Paint Branch Parkway, and is slated to cost at least $900 million. It will create a vibrant, pedestrian-oriented town center with high-quality, affordable graduate housing, Class A office space, hotels, shops and restaurants.
The project has been on the university’s books for more than a decade. When the economy forced the university to sever ties with the Foulger-Pratt-Argo Investment joint venture, it decided to wait out the storm and try to get the project done in phases. It selected Baltimore-based Cordish as the new master developer through a competitive request for proposals process that began in April 2010, and attracted proposals from interested developers around the nation.
At a cost of $171 million, Phase I will include about eight acres of development, with 70,000 square feet of retail, residential units and an outdoor town center. Three to four additional acres will be reserved for parking. The University of Maryland is also working with David Hillman, CEO of Vienna’s Southern Management Corp., to develop a four-star, 266-room hotel that will include 23,000 square feet of conference space and 18,000 square feet of additional retail space.
Phase II will include more retail and housing, most of which will be reserved for graduate students, on 22 acres of development. It will start only after Phase I is complete. No retailers have been signed yet, but the university hopes to attract higher-end restaurants, a mix of shops and a music venue.
An end date for the entire project has not been determined.