The new apartment complex, The Varsity, is equipped to house hundreds of university students, but developers and elected officials believe the project will bring a jolt of life to all of College Park, specifically U.S. Route 1.
“We are seeing the future of this corridor come alive,” said Prince George’s County Councilman Eric Olson (Dist. 3) at a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday afternoon.
The complex is located to the north of the University of Maryland. Although the 258-unit high rise has enough beds to accommodate 901 students, College Park Mayor Andrew Fellows said he believes this complex will actually take cars off the road because it’s within walking distance of campus.
"A Step Above"
Fellows also believes the architectural look of The Varsity is a step above other sites along U.S. Route 1. “We hope it’ll set the standard,” Fellows said.
The high rise is fancy on the inside, too. Floor plan options range from one to four bedrooms, and each unit includes one bathroom per bedroom. Leasing costs range from $950 to $1,500 per month.
Back in March when The Varsity was still under construction, the senior superintendent of the building company said the complex would include tanning booths, a game room, a conference room and workout areas.
“This isn’t our father’s or our mother’s dorm,” Olson said.
The complex also includes street-level retail space.
Although the retailers are within a student-housing complex, the mayor said he expects the rest of the community will be attracted to the establishments, because they’re different from what’s currently available in College Park.
Those retailers include Looney’s Pub, ChiDogO’s, Bobby’s Burger Palace, Austin Grill Express, Yo Love, Royal Farms and Frame Menders. There’s one space left, which developers expect it to be leased out in the next 45 days.
Fellows said the city will continually foster open communication with the businesses to ensure access is encouraged to the entire community, and not just students.
Cost and Revenue
The Washington Post reports that it’s a $97 million high rise, and that the University of Maryland at College Park Foundation provided $15 million in a bridge loan to help developer, Potomac Holdings of Bethesda, to get financing.
Prince George’s County put forth approximately a $1 million waiver for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, according to the county executive press secretary Scott Peterson.
But Olson said it’s negligible how much the county had to put into the development compared to the revenue the city and the county will get from the property.
Peterson said that the property is expected to bring in $923 thousand in county taxes, and a total of $1.7 million in county, city and state taxes in fiscal year 2012.