A study released Feb. 5 could provide a glimpse into the future of development for midtown College Park.
The study concentrated on three sites the College Park City-University Partnership identified as having the most potential for redevelopment: The Campus Village Shoppes across from The Varsity, fast food restaurants along Route 1 and the office building next to University View, said Madlen Simon, an architecture, planning and preservation professor and associate dean at the University of Maryland.
“Now that downtown is really developing,” Simon said, “midtown is the next place.”
The study also suggested creating a pedestrian trail along Paint Branch Creek, constructing a new road connecting Regents Drive and Route 1 and changing the orientation of the buildings on Route 1 to give residents more access to Paint Branch.
College Park Liquors, D.P. Dough and other businesses are currently located at the Campus Village Shoppes site. Simon said one-story developments like the ones there now are not the best use for the location, which is a gateway into the city.
The study proposed creating mixed-use developments there instead, which could include both residential and retail space, alongside a public gathering area.
Residents felt the same way about the chain restaurants lining Route 1, District 2 councilman P.J. Brennan said.
“They’re also interested in seeing some of those dilapidated properties — like the old fast food restaurants that are there — turned into something more attractive,” Brennan said.
The study is just a suggestion, but it’s intended to inspire developers thinking about redeveloping in midtown, Brennan said.
“When the time comes for those developments, there will be some conceptual idea in place for people to build from,” Brennan said.
Simon, along with real estate development professor Margaret McFarland, was a lead faculty member for the project. Two professors, five graduate students and one lecturer met weekly last semester to complete the study, Simon said.
Residents of midtown, university officials and the partnership were all consulted to determine what each party wanted from redevelopment, Simon said.
Increasing connectivity between this university and the midtown community, promoting a healthier community and establishing a greater sense of place in midtown were the areas of focus for the study, Simon said.
“[The residents]wanted to be connected rather than cut off,” Simon said. “They wanted to have healthy recreation and they wanted to have local business.”
These are in line with the partnership’s goals of housing and development, sustainability and transportation, said Eric Olson, its executive director.
While the proposed ideas in the study were interesting overall, mayor Patrick Wojahn said, some options need to be explored to determine their feasibility.
Traffic studies would have to be done to see what the impact of the proposed developments would be, Wojahn said. It’s uncertain if the market could sustain the level of retail some of the proposed developments suggested, and residents would also need to give more of their input on the projects, he said.
“There’s a lot that still needs to be assessed and thought through,” Wojahn said.