College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn said he has seen College Park completely transform since he moved to the area in 2003.
Now, the University of Maryland, in conjunction with the city, announced a new multimillion-dollar arts and entertainment hall in the Innovation District, slated for completion in spring 2017, according to a March 30 university news release.
Some of the features of the 15,000-square-foot site — located on 4425 Paint Branch Parkway, adjacent to The Hotel at the University of Maryland — will include a “premier restaurant with an indoor-outdoor stage,” a teaching kitchen, outdoor classrooms and stages for various types of performances, according to the release. An expansive courtyard, which is the first phase of the two-phase project, is scheduled to open fall 2016.
“It’s going to be alive with activity all times of the day,” said Ken Ulman, chief economic development strategist for the university’s College Park Foundation. “We really envision this as a place for students, residents of the community and faculty to all come together.”
This university is partnering with War Horse LLC, a Baltimore development company formed by Scott Plank, brother of Kevin Plank and a 1988 alumnus with a degree in urban planning. Together they will create a “focal point” of the Innovation District and the entire campus, Ulman said.
War Horse plans to invest about $6 million to remodel the “dormant,” university-owned building, Ulman said. This building, along with new adjacent construction, will be transformed into the innovation hall.
Scott Plank, a former Under Armour executive, has worked on similar concepts in Baltimore’s Belvedere Square Market and in San Francisco, according to the release. However, this will be the first time the company will
institute its concepts in a collegiate community.
This new project adds to the growing list of developments geared toward the Greater College Park 2020 Vision. The initiative has a three-pronged approach focusing on campus developments, public-private research collaborations and downtown projects.
“This new food and entertainment hall is a great example of innovation and collaboration that represents the future of College Park,” Eric Olson, the executive director of the College Park City-University Partnership, wrote in an email.
Wojahn said he is excited about this project and believes it will be a great feature for the university and city residents.
“Part of our vision is to encourage and foster innovation in the city,” Wojahn said. “Making sure the new businesses coming out of the university have an opportunity to develop and grow in College Park and make sure that … residents in College Park can see the benefit of it.”
This development will also be an opportunity to attract more visitors outside of the city into the area and “will add to the vibrancy of our university community,” Olson wrote.
“This really shows how far we’re coming along in College Park,” Wojahn said. “When I first moved to the city in 2003 there were hardly any places where people go to sit down to have a good meal. Now we’re going to be a center of innovation. … It just shows how much this city is changing.”