Construction continues on College Park apartment complex project amid COVID-19

A "no trespassing" sign on the fence surrounding the construction site where Plato's Diner used to be. (Joe Ryan/The Diamondback)

Construction on a mixed-use apartment complex across from ZIPS Dry Cleaners is set to continue in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, said Jeff Kayce, senior vice president and managing director for the development company in charge of the project.

The project, dubbed the “Southern Gateway,” will include 393 housing units and more than 60,000 square feet of retail. It is estimated to cost about $140 million. 

“Southern Gateway at College Park is one of our most significant redevelopment opportunities, and we’re really excited about it,” Kayce said on March 30. 

Partnerships with the city, Prince George’s County and the University of Maryland were key to helping the Bozzuto development company move forward with the project, Kayce said. Bozzuto closed the construction loan for the project in late March, allowing them to purchase the land for the complex, he added. 

Although Gov. Larry Hogan ordered all non-essential businesses to close on March 23, construction is considered an essential business. Bozzuto has taken “significant” measures to ensure that its construction continues safely across all of its properties, including the Southern Gateway, Kayce said. 

[Read more: Construction on Route 1’s next apartment building to start this spring]

The Prince George’s County Planning Board and the College Park City Council have also found ways to meet virtually, so that the approval process for development projects can continue. 

However, the coronavirus pandemic has still had an impact on Bozzuto’s day-to-day operations, Kayce said. The majority of employees are telecommuting — and for those who work on-site, the company has had to make adjustments to ensure their safety. 

“But I wouldn’t say that we can just stop progress,” he said. 

But in some ways, the coronavirus pandemic could benefit Bozzuto’s construction process. Since demand for construction materials could be lower, some people are expecting the cost of materials to go down, said Ken Ulman, president of the Terrapin Development Company, a real estate entity that co-owns the property. 

While the long-term impact on development remains uncertain, Ulman said he’s optimistic that College Park will continue to evolve 

“I still think our fundamentals are strong,” said Ulman. “The University of Maryland has been around for over 150 years — it’s going to come out of this, I think, stronger than ever.” 

[Read more: A mixed-use development near the College Park Metro is slated to open in 2022]

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