East Campus, More Than a Decade in the Making, Closer to Reality

University expects that ground will be broken for the mixed-use project by this time next year.

When Robert Specter first joined the faculty at the six months ago and searched the files of his predecessor, he found documents detailing visions for the from as long ago as 1999.

More than a decade later, he expects ground to be broken for the mixed-use development by this time next year, he told a room full of developers, property owners and brokers, officials and residents at a real estate roundtable Thursday morning.

“There’s been a lot of talk and a lot of energy and a lot of money put into East Campus already,” said the university’s vice president for administrative affairs and chief financial officer.

Despite selecting a developer, Foulger-Pratt Companies and Argo Investment Company, in 2007, negotiations were interrupted in November 2009. University officials cited the economic downturn as the reason.

Baltimore-based The Cordish Companies is the new master developer, with David Hillman of Southern Management Corp. in Vienna, building the hotel. The current plan for the 38-acre plot of land southeast of the intersection of U.S. Route 1 and Paint Branch Parkway is to build in two phases:

Phase 1 will include about eight acres of development—70,000 square feet of retail, a parking garage wrapped in retail, an outdoor town center and housing. There will also be a 266-key hotel, including a conference center and 18,000 square feet of additional retail space. Three to four additional acres will be reserved for parking.

The price tag for the hotel, housing, retail and infrastructure of phase 1 will be about $171 million, Specter said.

The second 22-acre phase will include more retail and housing.

Most of the housing will be for graduate students. Supplying more housing to attract graduate students is imperative in helping the university advance its status as a top research university, Specter said.

Though no definite retailers are set to fill the spaces in East Campus, Specter said the university hopes to attract higher-end restaurants, a mix of shops and a music venue.

A completion date for all of East Campus, an estimated $900 million project, is yet to be determined, though Specter said the second phase would not start until phase 1 is complete and retail there is “healthy.”

When completed, Specter said his vision is for East Campus to be “a living, energized place,” and .

M Square

Specter also shared current plans for three, , the University of Maryland’s research park near the College Park Metro Station.

Both the College Park and the Riverdale Park city councils approved the plans last month with conditions that the developers, Corporate Office Properties Trust, make the project more pedestrian-friendly.

Clay Gump, a College Park resident who works at the research park, has similar concerns.

“I don’t think the development for M Square is what it could be,” he said, and suggested that the project include a greater emphasis on connectivity.

“Everybody in my building drives to lunch because there’s no place to go,” he said.

Specter said that he expects the project to evolve with a greater emphasis on connecting the property to nearby resources.


The university is also collaborating with developers for the Cafritz proposal, which includes a mixed-use development just south of the College Park border. At the encouragement of College Park, Riverdale Park and University Park residents and councils, the , connecting with university land.

The roundtable, held at the , was the first in nearly two years, largely because of the economic climate in College Park, City Planning Director Terry Schum said.

“I really think it got too depressing to pull people together … obviously today is better,” Schum said.

Cp neighbor March 16, 2012 at 03:41 AM
I'm not sure which downtown is dilapidated and crowded. College Park has a vibriancy and is a very enjoyable place. I can walk from the garage, to dinner, to the historic district. If I'm up for it, I can bike to Fishnet in Berwyn. The bits that are empty (california tortilla is the only one I can think of) are going to refill soon - based on this meeting. oh, I guess the little tavern building too, but I hope that as a historic building it gets saved.
Danny March 16, 2012 at 11:48 AM
national harbor is also a sketchy comparison, because it had been planned since the early 1980s before ground was actually broken around 2006. it went through many iterations (bay of the americas, port america) and even bankrupted a previous developer.
CP Resident March 18, 2012 at 03:11 PM
I don't know how anyone can look at the buildings in downtown CP and not see how run-down they are. Yes, the interiors of the stores have been updated but the buildings themselves are crumbling. It's just a completely unattractive scene, and also a waste of what could be smartly used space (underground parking, ground-level retail, upper-level office and/or residential) The Jasons/Noodles/CVS shopping center is fairly new but there's nowhere near enough parking and the parking lot they have is poorly designed and tough to navigate. The newer strip mall across the street has tons of vacancies, and nothing in there has lasted more than a year - some as few as 6 months. And then there's that weird little building with the green roof - why is that still there, it hasn't been occupied in at least a couple years. As an aside, the "historic district" you mention is a joke. Historic districts are supposed to preserve old, unique architecture. The College Park "historic district" doesn't contain anything that many other DC suburbs don't contain; it was founded as an attempt to keep houses from going rental - it should be called the "hysteric district" instead, because people go into hysterics when they think that students might be moving in.
Barry March 18, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Well said CP Resident. I agree with the hysteric district as well. Was disapointed when the council voted against the book exchange development.
Clay Gump March 19, 2012 at 01:50 PM
"Hysteric District" That is damn funny.


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