The University of Maryland is rebranding a 150-acre area surrounding The Hotel as the Discovery District for business and research as part of a push to revitalize the campus and College Park’s Route 1 corridor.
The Discovery District encompasses the university’s M Square research and innovation districts, according to a university news release. It also includes the Metro-accessible community along River Road.
The name change comes in response to the “excitement and the energy that come along with The Hotel,” as well as “the new surge of activity in the research park,” said Ken Ulman, the chief strategy officer for economic development for the university’s College Park Foundation.
“There’s a reason why we worked with the city and county to rename Paint Branch Parkway to Campus Drive,” Ulman said. “We want to be very clear that the area around the Metro and the area around The Hotel is all a part of the university’s Discovery District.”
The university explored several options for renaming the area, but ultimately decided on Discovery District because “you can discover a new idea to start a business, you can discover great retail and restaurants and gathering places to cool pop-up parks and educational opportunities,” Ulman said.
New signage for the district is already up along Route 1, near the Metro and on Campus Drive, he added.
“We wanted this to be a name that everybody can see themselves in, and we’re really excited about the new name,” Ulman said. “We wanted to really own the area.”
The name Discovery District also says a number of things about the entire city, said Eric Olson, the executive director of the College Park City-University Partnership.
“It’s discover[ing] new ways of doing things in science and in industry,” Olson said. “But it’s also about [coming to] discover all the offerings here in College Park… I think it speaks to a number of different attributes of College Park.”
The new name also shows businesses, particularly in science and technology, the attraction of relocating to this city, and is “consistent with everything we’re trying to do to try to grow businesses out of the research from the university,” Olson said.
One of the newest buildings in the Discovery District will be a 75,000 square-foot office building in the M Square research park, developed with Corporate Office Properties Trust. The building, which is already under construction, will focus on the needs of technology and research organizations interested in locating in College Park, according to the news release.
The district is also adjacent to the Riverdale Park Station, according to the news release, which houses 120 town homes and a Whole Foods Market scheduled to open in April, Ulman said.
“The folks developing Riverdale Park, they’re really excited about the name Discovery District, and they intend to include that name in their work as well,” Ulman said.
City Mayor Patrick Wojahn said the renaming will tie this city’s M Square research park and the innovation district to the campus.
“I think it emphasizes the desire to incubate and the opportunity for new ideas to come up and turn into new businesses,” Wojahn said. “I look forward to working with the university to make that happen.”