By: Rebecca Cooper
The latest step in the redevelopment of College Park will be a $110 million mixed-use development on property currently home to a Quality Inn and Plato’s Diner along U.S. Route 1.
The University of Maryland chose a collaboration between the Bozzuto Group and the newly formed Willard Retail Group to develop the property in partnership with the University of Maryland Foundation, which is slated to acquire the Quality Inn site at 7200 Baltimore Ave. in 2017.
The group plans to build a 300-unit luxury apartment building with more than 100,000 square feet of ground-floor retail on the 4.5-acre site. The developers will have a long-term ground lease on the foundation’s property as part of the deal. The site is bounded by Route 1 and Guildford Drive, and the project will include an extension of Calvert Road that will give the new project a direct route to the College Park Metro station.
Bozzuto is seeking a high-end grocery tenant as a retail anchor, according to CEO Toby Bozzuto. The store could be a roughly 30,000-square-foot Trader Joe’s-sized store or a larger 50,000-plus-square-foot traditional grocer, Bozzuto said. No deals have been signed, though it’s fair to predict it will not be a Whole Foods, given the proximity of a new store from that grocer under construction at the nearby Cafritz project.
The College Park project pulls inspiration from the Monroe Street Market development in the Brookland neighborhood of Northeast D.C., Bozzuto said. That project, another Bozzuto development located across the street from Catholic University, has a mix of residential units above a Barnes & Noble college bookstore, a Busboys & Poets, and a handful of other restaurants and retailers.
Bozzuto also envisions a mix of restaurants, including some fast-casual, as well as neighborhood-serving retail. Willard Retail — a new firm formed by former principals of JBGR Retail, which was absorbed into The JBG Cos. last year — will manage the retail portion.
“We’re trying to create a sort of next generation of retail experience that everyone can enjoy,” Bozzuto said. “Not just bars that tend to congregate around a college campus.”
The firm was inspired by the direction College Park is taking in its redevelopment of property around Route 1, now often called Baltimore Avenue. A four-star hotel is opening a few blocks away, and Under Armour vet Scott Plank plans to redevelop two university buildings nearby, one into an arts and entertainment venue with a culinary bent.
“We bought into the excitement and energy of College Park,” Bozzuto said.
The fact that his partners were able to combine the two parcels into a larger site, which would allow a larger, more transformative project, was the reason they beat out competitors in the RFP process, he believes. The architect on the development is Design Collective Inc.
“Instead of going with just one building, we’re creating something grand and a bit audacious for College Park,” Bozzuto said.
The residential will be divided into what appears to be two separate buildings, in order to allow for a more open pedestrian street through the middle of the site, though they will be connected via an elevated walkway. The size of the site allowed the developer to spread out a bit and cap the height of the buildings to reduce the project’s scale, something Bozzuto believes is needed along the Route 1 corridor in College Park.
The effect is almost that of a mini-urban town center — something that the University of Maryland had originally envisioned building on a more insular site on campus before it switched its development focus to the Route 1 corridor.
The Maryland Foundation hopes to close on the property early next year, with groundbreaking planned for 2018. The future of Plato's Diner is unclear; the restaurant has been closed for the past month after a fire, and the proposed buildings appear to displace the existing diner building.
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