Constituents Quiz Olson on Cafritz, East Campus, M Square
The District 3 councilmember addressed several key development topics Monday at Plato's Diner.
East Campus, transit-oriented metro development, and the Cafritz project were all hot topics at Monday morning's coffee chat with Prince George's County Councilmember Eric Olson’s (District 3), held at Plato’s Diner in College Park.
The construction of the development know as East Campus—a 39-acre parcel of land located at Paint Branch Parkway and Route 1—has once again been put on hold.
The site was conceived to be a town center for students, including graduate student housing and a grocery store. The University of Maryland’s first shot at developing the property fell through in 2009, and recent efforts to build the property out in two phases have been delayed.
“For the time being, they are pulling back,” said Olson, who said he does not necessarily see this as a bad thing.
In the meantime, Olson said, UMD will be taking a look at the surrounding community and parts of downtown in need of revitalization and redevelopment.
Olson also spent some time talking about the need for more transit oriented development in District 2, particularly around the two metro stations, College Park and New Carrollton.
“If we are going to get more jobs and housing where people don’t need to get in their cars, we need to do that around Metro stations,” Olson said.
M Square is projecting around 7,000 new jobs over the next few years, he said. A developer has an agreement with the Washington Metropolitian Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to build a hotel near College Park, said Olson, along with about 300 units of apartment housing to help support M-Square jobs and hopefully to bring in more retail development.
“We’ve got to stop talking about transit oriented development and get it,” said Olson.
The Cafritz Development
Olson briefly touched on the Cafritz development. He did not support the project for many reasons, Olson said, chief among those being a lack of transit options at the location.
He explained how the the Prince George’s County Planning Board staff recommended that the project be “disapproved” by the planning board for failing to meet several conditions.
This ultimately led to Calvert Tract, LLC withdrawing its preliminary plans from consideration at the Jan. 17 planning board hearing.
However, late last week, lawyers for the developers sent a letter to the board announcing their intent to refile the plans. Exactly when that will happen is still unclear.
College Park Academy Charter School
Part of a partnership between the city of College Park and UMD, the College Park Academy Charter School is set to open at St. Mark’s in Hyattsville next fall.
Once at full capacity, the school will teach grades six through 12 and give students the opportunity to graduate with not only a high school diploma but also an associate’s degree.
The St. Mark’s location, said Olson, is only temporary. The school has signed a two-year lease at the location while the city and UMD look at buildings in College Park as potential sites.
“We’re still working on where it will finally land,” Olson said.