By Hugh Garbrick
For The Diamondback
College Park’s status as a food desert will soon be revised as the city prepares for demolition of the Clarion Inn located on Route 1.
The Clarion Inn, located at 8601 Baltimore Ave., officially closed during the first week of January, said District 2 Councilman P.J. Brennan, in order to make way for Lidl, a German-based grocery store known for its discount prices.
The store is estimated to open within the next one to two years, Mayor Patrick Wojahn said.
Residents such as Rose Greene Colby are referring to the grocery store as a “cross of Aldi and Trader Joe’s.” Greene Colby, who also serves as president of the Berwyn District Civic Association, said she’s looking forward to the accessibility of the location.
“People are looking forward to the walkability,” Greene Colby said. “When you can walk to a store, you go more often. When you have a walkable destination, you might go two or three times a week.”
The city is still awaiting another permit, said Ryan Chelton, the city’s economic development coordinator, but demolition is expected to begin “very soon.” Chelton was unable to provide a specific date for construction to begin.
Lidl will fill College Park’s need for more fresh food options, as many nearby grocery stores sit at least a mile from the city’s downtown area, which can make shopping for students more difficult.
“[It’s] probably going to fulfill a lot of students’ needs and it will be practical enough in terms of distance,” said sophomore Casey Kindall, a psychology and criminology and criminal justice major.
Although Lidl would fill a gap for some students and residents in the nearby area, Patrick Wojahn, the city’s mayor, said there is room for improvement.
“I would still love to see a grocery store closer to campus, but I think that it would be nice to have one accessible to students,” Wojahn said. “I think having one that’s closer to the residential neighborhoods is important too.”
Accessibility and walkability are two goals the city council is working on improving within the city, Wojahn said, adding that Lidl and the recent Whole Foods development, located in the Riverdale Park Station, are “following that trend.”
The city is also planning to install a bike-share station near the grocery store to increase “pedestrian-friendliness,” Chelton said.
“I think it’s certainly going to benefit us quite a bit,” he said.
Despite the relative convenience of the location, Greene Colby said some residents are worried about increased vehicle traffic in the area. However, Brennan assured appropriate traffic and impact studies were conducted to ensure the chosen site was appropriate.
Residents are anxious for the store’s opening, Greene Colby said, adding “the sooner, the better.”