The City of College Park is planning to rebuild a City Hall that is “bursting at the seams,” said Terry Schum, the city’s planning director.
City staff and officials occupy offices in College Park’s City Hall as well as the former Friends School on Calvert Road, which is in “desperate need of repair,” Mayor Patrick Wojahn said.
Despite its downtown location, College Park City Hall is not an iconic site on Route 1, Wojahn said. The City Council approved the redevelopment plan last year; however, the plans are still in the predevelopment phase.
“It would give the city and our downtown area something with prominence,” Wojahn said. “Every prominent city has a civic space in their downtown area, and in terms of our downtown area, we need that.”
The city is also partnering with the University of Maryland to create a joint office space and a public plaza, according to the current concept design plan. The idea presents a single building with “separate spaces and identities” for different offices.
The university, through the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, owns some of the storefronts along Route 1 and will combine those foundation properties with the city’s to move forward on redeveloping the entire block, said Ed Maginnis, the university’s assistant vice president for real estate.
Maginnis said this partnership will not only move university staff downtown, which will bring a new customer base, but will also add a retail mix to the surrounding area.
“Beyond the fairly obvious advantage or symbolism of having the university and the city cooperate so well, this is fairly complex,” Maginnis said. “Being able to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to work shoulder to shoulder for you for a project that benefits both of us,’ that’s a big deal.”
Wojahn also said the city is exploring options to keep City Hall open during construction in order to keep costs down, but Schum said there is “no way we can stay here and do the kind of project we envision.”
The city continues its
redevelop along Route 1, and both Wojahn and Schum said this is an opportunity to expand and create an active public space.
“For several years the city has been discussing what to do with City Hall,” Wojahn said. “We don’t have any room to spare, and as our city has grown, we need more room.”