A new Chick-fil-A location may be coming to Route 1 in College Park, but city officials say it’s too early to tell if the project will happen.
Representatives from Chick-fil-A have approached the city about the site at 8907 Baltimore Ave., where the Cass Trailer Sales is currently located and across from Rita’s, Mayor Patrick Wojahn said.
Though it’s very early in the process, Terry Schum, the city’s planning director, said at this time the city has no way of knowing how quickly this project will move through the application process.
The potential developer is working on submitting a storm water concept plan to Prince George’s County, which is the first step in the process of making a proposal to develop a property, Schum said.
“It’s a very early heads up to [city and county officials] that there may be a project coming their way,” Schum said. “Sometimes projects never materialize beyond this, sometimes things happen, and people don’t go forward.”
Chick-fil-A has previously tried to bring to College Park a store besides the on-campus location in Stamp Student Union, said District 2 Councilman P.J. Brennan. A proposed restaurant would have been located in the Shoppers strip mall, but the nearby community opposed it, Brennan said.
The county will handle this proposal, Schum said, and if the proposal is approved, the city council and various civic associations will review a detailed site plan for community feedback.
This developer is still several months away from putting together a full application to submit, Schum said, but some city council members, as well as Wojahn, are already discussing the site’s potential impacts.
Wojahn said he has some concerns about the site’s proximity to the Veterans Memorial, located at the corner of Greenbelt Road and Route 1.
“I hope they will come together and work with us,” Wojahn said. “I would want to make sure they respect the appearance and the feeling of the veteran’s memorial, and not let it be something that interferes with the appearance of the memorial and the city holding its ceremonies there.”
Other councilmembers including Brennan expressed concerns about the memorial, and said developing a fast-food restaurant at this location goes against the city’s ultimate vision of walkability.
A city plan prohibits drive-thrus south of Delaware Street in order to promote walkability, Brennan said.
“I know it’s hard to envision in today’s context … but the future vision for the city is all the way up to that particular area is supposed to be a vibrant, pedestrian-accessible experience,” he added.
Brennan sees some potential benefits of the chain coming to the city, he said.
“The Chick-fil-A development … would certainly be an improvement to the site,” Brennan said. “They could be a good addition to our city. I’ve even noticed when I’m at the University of Maryland, when I go to [the] food court it’s one of the popular places to get food. There’s always a long line there.”
While there’s currently no way of knowing if the Chick-fil-A will actually locate and when it could open, Brennan said if it’s approved, things can move “pretty quickly.”
“Every project has its own timeline,” Brennan said. “Depending on things like community support, the use of the site … [and] the ability to get it approved through the city’s planning board.”