Category Archives: East Campus

Last? East Campus Meeting

UPDATE: Portions of the presentation from this meeting are now available, including the PowerPoint with a look at the architecture. Check our Events page–if you missed the meeting, you have another chance. Time to start thinking about the $180 million dollar question: do taxpayers wish to foot the bill (through a TIF) for East Campus infrastructure in exchange for future tax revenues? Will the traffic and school impacts be worth it?

Did you miss the June 19th East Campus Open House? That’s OK, it was not really ready for prime time: significant building changes were made just before the meeting, no presentation or informational session took place and out-of-date architectural renderings were shared. The Gazette, Rethink College Park and Diamondback all offer reports.

But we’ll hope for the best as the East Campus public input process lurches forward with the next meeting on Monday, July 14. This Steering Committee meeting provides an opportunity to see Foulger-Pratt/Argo’s Detailed Site Plan (DSP). No conceptual site plan is needed and the DSP will be submitted for development review shortly. Then, especially if you live nearby, you can become Person of Record PDF (actually anyone can).

Folks, this is where the rubber meets the road. The committee will likely be looking for more detail on these issues:

  • LEED certification
  • Storm water management
  • Sustainability
  • Parking update
  • UMD shuttle status
  • Traffic study
  • the TIF necessary to make the project possible
  • East Campus’ impact on area infrastructure
  • and last, but not least, architecture. That’s a whole ‘nother post.

Please attend the meeting, talk with your rep about any concerns or email your rep. Unfortunately, nothing new has been posted to the East Campus site, but you can review materials from past meetings here, just click on the meeting’s topic. Previous posts here, Rethink College Park’s work here.

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Filed under College Park, Community, East Campus, Events, Public Input

From Our Inbox: East Campus & College Towns


East Campus Steering Committee meetings have had a number of careful observers. Many agree that three divergent tracks–the university’s goals, the community’s concerns and the developer’s interest in the bottom line–have not coalesced. This may be attributable to a backwards process. The Steering Committee’s work has been akin to a rushed, project-specific visioning process, something that clearly should have preceded the RFP and selection of a developer. Progress has been made with the campus on sustainability issues. Unfortunately, they are simply joining the parade, rather than leading it. But the project’s character will make or break it. One of our readers addresses this below.

The Foulger-Pratt/Argo team doesn’t seem to understand how college towns work, but after listening to the presentations I think it might go beyond the question of what kinds of stores people like to frequent.

My impression is that the team consists of generally well-informed and well-intentioned regional suburban developers. They are very conscious of market trends, Continue reading

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Filed under Community, Design, Developers, East Campus, Local Economy, Public Input

East Campus Input Needed 2/27

The East Campus community review process began in August as a series of topical meetings to solicit input and build support. But the process evolved resulting in these principles intended to guide the planning, design and development of East Campus. While the principles are more specific than the University’s first attempt, many worthwhile citizen (and some campus) suggestions were discarded, although there may be hope for sustainability issues. This stage of the community review will conclude on Wednesday, February 27 at 7:30 pm. Please read through the document below and attend the meeting or email your rep with input. Previous posts here, Rethink College Park’s work here. Updated per 2/21/08 revision.

East Campus Principles
The University of Maryland (“University”) and Foulger-Pratt/Argo (“Developer”) are committed to creating a vibrant mixed-use town center (“Project”) on the East Campus to help the University attract top-notch students, faculty and staff, revitalize the physical environment, and enhance the quality of life in College Park and along the Route 1 Corridor.

To that end, after receiving input from the East Campus Steering Committee (“Committee”) representing the University, College Park and surrounding communities, the University and the Developer:
• acknowledge that East Campus constitutes an open, public forum and the First Amendment’s protection of free speech is fully applicable;
• embrace the key principles listed below as a guide in developing the Project;
• commit to exploring the list of specific strategies bulleted below, incorporating these where feasible, and returning to meet with the Committee at appropriate stages of Project planning and design for further consultation;
• understand that the Project must balance competing interests to be both community responsive and economically feasible;
• pledge to effectively utilize public and private financial tools and programs to finance the Project, and that public investment funds, paid for out of Project revenues or tax revenues, will be used to help pay for utilities, infrastructure, parking, public amenities, public art, and environmental enhancements; and
• will submit the Project to all applicable local, state and federal laws and regulations, as well as to a University review process. Continue reading

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East Campus Committee Update & Meeting

The final East Campus community input meeting takes place Monday, January 28 at 7:30. The group will discuss principles to guide the East Campus development. We strongly encourage members of surrounding communities to attend and to pass any questions to a community rep. Committee contact info here.

Foulger-Pratt/Argo, the developers of the East Campus project, made a number of presentations to the Committee and public during the fall and finished with a discussion of their traffic study in mid-January. These presentations focused on their schematic design and assumptions for various parts of the project: design, environmental impact, uses, parking, traffic impact, etc. The word schematic is the operative principle here; the developers have not presented much in terms of the actual design of the site. The lack of hard facts on the development posed problems for the Steering Committee since there has not been enough information to really give much feedback or approval of the total project.

In response to this dilemma, Douglas Duncan, UMD’s Vice President for Administrative Affairs and the University’s lead on the project, altered the scope of the Committee’s work to have the Committee provide principles to guide the planning, design and development of East Campus by Foulger-Pratt/Argo. After a plan is available, the Committee will re-group and review the project, likely when the developers are ready to submit their plans to the M-NCPPC.

There have been some glimmers of hope: Continue reading

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Filed under College Park, Community, Developers, East Campus, Public Input, Route 1 Corridor

Campus & Community

The developers of East Campus are charged with creating an instant college town that will allow the University of Maryland to attract the faculty and students necessary to become one of the country’s top ten research universities. However, the project’s potential to act as a development catalyst for the area in a multiplicity of ways: architecturally, environmentally, culturally and socially, while succeeding commercially, is very important. Other universities, including a number of UMD’s top ten peers, are growing and some approach it as a long-term commitment to their neighboring communities. Although there are obvious differences, the planning process itself is worth examination as the East Campus Steering Committee continues to meet.

Harvard University’s Allston Initiative is a largely private, university endeavor. However, in a sense the university has partnered with the City of Boston in reconfiguring the 200+ acres it holds in Allston. From their website:

The Allston Initiative is the planning effort to create the framework for the University’s physical development in Allston. Our goal is to plan in a way that best supports Harvard’s academic mission and growth needs while ensuring that the new campus is an integral part of the broader urban community.

They hired a world class team to design and plan the Allston campus. Originally created in the late 1980s, the Allston master plan has since been amended a few times. The construction takes place over the next 25-50 years and includes moving professional schools from across the river, science lab buildings, undergrad housing and community areas.

The main task force, which has existed for many years, will follow along the entire development trip and meets at least once every month. Additional task forces focus on specific areas: professional schools, science and technology, Allston life, etc. The Allston Initiative adopted the university’s green campus initiative and accompanying programs.

Columbia University’s Manhattanville Initiative is also private; the university owns the 17 acres and is developing the parcels itself. The overall time frame is 20-30 years. Columbia already owns and manages a vast real-estate portfolio and hired a team including Renzo Piano and SOM to come up with a plan to present to the City and the neighborhood

The plan is to create a mixed-use community with academics at the center, not an expansion of the enclosed campus. Development would happen in phases, gradually moving north towards 135th street and west to the river. The community input process has been going for at least 5 years and Columbia’s relationship with the neighborhood is tense at best Continue reading

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Filed under Community, Developers, East Campus, Environment, Public Input

East Campus: Our Local Economy & Independent Merchants

The East Campus Steering Committee will meet Thursday to discuss uses (residential, retail, hotel & office) and market feasibility. Agendas and materials for this and past meetings are also available, just click on the topic. You may find the market study, though somewhat flawed, and lessons learned from Silver Spring worth browsing. The preliminary plan indicates lots of chains and that’s worth careful examination in terms of character and contributions to our community. This pertinent article is reprinted with kind permission from The Hometown Advantage Bulletin, a free email newsletter published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. To read back issues or join the mailing list, visit here.

While many parts of the country are overrun with chain stores, San Francisco remains a stronghold for locally owned businesses, according to a new study, which also found that those local stores generate sizable benefits for the city’s economy.

The San Francisco Locally Owned Merchants Association (SFLOMA), one of the sponsors of the study, hopes it will spur residents to choose locally owned businesses more often and encourage cities in the region to re-examine policies that favor chains.

So far, “the response to the study and its publicity has been very encouraging,” said Rick Karp, owner of Cole Hardware and a co-founder of SFLOMA. In an editorial about the study, the San Francisco Chronicle concluded, “The message is clear: It’s time to shop local.”

The study, titled “The San Francisco Retail Diversity Study,” was conducted by Civic Economics, the firm that produced two ground-breaking and frequently cited studies—one in Austin and another in Chicago—that measured the economic impact of locally owned businesses versus chain stores.

The San Francisco analysis builds on this earlier research. It examines retail spending in a region that includes the city of San Francisco and three adjacent suburbs: Daly City, Colma, and South San Francisco.

It begins by calculating the market share of independents and chains in several categories: bookstores, sporting goods stores, toy stores, and casual dining restaurants.

In all four categories, the study found that independents capture a much larger share of consumer spending in the region than they do nationwide. Locally owned bookstores in the San Francisco area, for example, capture about 55 percent of book sales. Internet retailers account for 19 percent of the market and chain bookstores, including Borders and Barnes & Noble, have about 15 percent. Nationally, independent bookstores account for just 10 percent of book sales.

Independent sporting goods stores in the San Francisco area likewise capture 56 percent of sales in that category, while independent restaurants have almost two-thirds of the casual dining market. Locally owned toy stores account for 44 percent of toy sales, while specialty toy chains, general merchants like Target, and internet retailers capture the rest.

In all four categories, the study found that independent retailers were much stronger in the city itself than in the three adjacent suburbs. Local bookstores accounted for less than 12 percent of book sales in the suburbs. Independent toy stores fared even worse with just 3 percent of the suburban market.

The second part of the study analyzes the impact on the city’s economy of shopping at locally owned businesses versus chains. It finds that $1 million spent at independent bookstores creates $321,000 in additional economic activity in the region, including $119,000 in wages and salaries paid to local employees. That same $1 million spent at chain bookstores generates only $188,000 in local economic activity, including $71,000 in local wages and salaries.

Independent toy stores, sporting goods stores, and restaurants likewise create substantially more local economic activity for every $1 million in sales than their chain counterparts, according to the study.

Much of the difference in economic impact is due to two factors. One is that the chains have some of their management, marketing, and other functions carried out at corporate headquarters and therefore employ fewer people locally per unit of sales. In the toy category, for example, for every $1 million in sales, independent stores create 2.22 local jobs, while chains create just 1.31.

The other factor is that the local retailers spend more of their revenue buying goods and services at local businesses such as print shops, accounting firms, web design companies, banks, and so forth. Chains have little need for these local goods and services; many of the dollars that flow into their outlets instead leave the region.

The final part of the study looks at the effect on the city’s economy if residents were to shift the balance of their spending between chains and local businesses by just 10 percent. Continue reading


Filed under Community, Developers, East Campus, Local Economy, Public Input, Retail, Traffic

East Campus: Getting to Green

leaf.jpgThe University, its development team and East Campus Steering Committee meet Tuesday, September 4 at 7:30 pm in 0100 Marie Mount to discuss environmental issues for the project. (Committee contact info here.) The University has been a leader in this area and should continue by integrating its environmental objectives with this project’s goals. This should be straightforward as the University has already made environmental stewardship a key component of its Master Plan. President Mote also recently signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. Taken together, these set the stage for East Campus to demonstrate environmental and architectural innovation, creating a mixed use development with a carbon neutral footprint.

The East Campus Request for Proposal (RFP), however, is squishy at best on what measures might be employed: “The University’s Environmental Stewardship Guidelines which are incorporated into the Master Plan should be taken into consideration in the development of a concept, and if selected, a project.” Similarly, the objectives for the East Campus plan merely call upon the developer to “exhibit sensitivity to the environment.” While the development team included some green practices in its initial conceptual plan, Committee members have no solid information thus far. Hopefully, specifics will be forthcoming and posted in advance of the Sept. 4 meeting to allow the public and community representatives to provide informed comments. Make the jump for great resources Continue reading

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Filed under East Campus, Environment, Public Input, Public Transit, Sustainability, Traffic, Transportation

East Campus Community Input Begins

mall.jpgTonight the first meeting of the East Campus Community Review Steering Committee will take place. Perhaps the University’s ambivalence about this process is reflected in the schizoid nature of the committee’s name: is this a community review group or a steering committee? The University has studiously avoided calling the group an advisory body and no notice of these meetings appears on the East Campus website, yet Pres. Mote’s letter of invitation anticipates “a lively dialogue and a collegial exploration of ideas,” while stating that committee members will learn a great deal about the project and be able “to provide input and to build broad support for it.” Uh, guys–maybe this would be more likely if adequate public notice was provided?

The University of Maryland, like UConn, Hendrix College and other campuses, has decided that a top university needs a great college town. Those of us who attended other land grant universities would not disagree. Apparently, downtown College Park, although improving in some ways, does not fit with the University’s vision. However, College Park’s lack of fine restaurants, retail options and other amenities is attributable, in part, to the same dilemma that has made for a less than vibrant campus culture: its proximity to Washington, DC. Continue reading

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Filed under Community, Developers, East Campus, Infrastructure, Public Input, Route 1 Corridor, Traffic