The College Park City Council is moving forward with upgrades to the city’s Hollywood neighborhood, which is located in North College Park.
The city’s downtown and Route 1 have both received major attention from the University of Maryland and the council in terms of revitalization. However, the Hollywood neighborhood — home to many permanent College Park residents — will also receive some upgrades, according to District 1 Councilman Fazlul Kabir’s website.
The project aims to turn public dollars into private investment, Mayor Patrick Wojahn said. The primary area of focus for this “streetscape” design is at the corner of Rhode Island Avenue and Edgewood Road, Kabir said.
“The goal is to spruce it up a little bit and attract additional private development,” Wojahn said. “Get potential developers to come in to make the area better.”
These enhanced features could include additional sidewalks, street furniture, better lighting and a fitness trail, he said. The council has been discussing plans for this sort of project for “quite a while,” he added. He said he remembered putting money into the project in 2009.
Larry Bleau, a Hollywood resident, has lived in the area for 24 years. Bleau said the “street lighting needs to be improved,” as well as “pedestrian access.”
The city has already hired a landscape architect to design a plan to utilize this public area, Wojahn said. The community has also provided input, and the city is working to finalize a design firm that can hopefully finish the plans by the middle of next year, he added.
Although it is difficult to say exactly how much the project will cost and when it will be completed, Kabir said he estimates it could fall between $1.4 and $1.8 million and be finished within the next three years.
“We have been struggling with this area for quite some time … and we’ve been thinking about how we can revitalize it,” Kabir said. “We need to make the place … more attractive. … We don’t really have control over the private properties, but we do have a responsibility to make the public space more attractive so the business owners will change.”
Bleau also said he can see these improvements transforming the public area into a “gathering space,” but also warned about potential downsides.
“You also have to watch out for drawbacks, like loitering there,” he said.
The city is applying for grant funds, state bonds and other sources to “minimize the [project’s] burden on College Park tax payers,” Wojahn said. Despite the project’s potential cost, Wojahn said he believes this project is worth the public’s investment.
“I think having a commercial area in North College Park that we can be proud of [and] that reflects what the city and residents want to see [is] important,” he said.