By James Consoli
For The Diamondback
A new apartment complex called the Aster is opening this summer for the University of Maryland and College Park community to enjoy. The space will provide 393 apartment units, a Trader Joe’s, retail stores and more.
Located at the intersection of Route 1 and Calvert Road, just south of this university’s campus, the development will offer restaurants, academic study spaces, social hangout areas, an exercise facility and other amenities.
“It brings a high quality of apartment living [to the area],” said Michael Williams, the economic development manager for the City of College Park.
Despite being less than a mile away from this university’s campus, the project is not targeted entirely toward students.
College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn, along with other community representatives, had another focus in mind for the direction of this development.
“It is critical to encourage more non-student residents to live in College Park, to ensure that our downtown commercial areas do well even in the summer when not as many students are around,” Wojahn said. “One thing I think College Park has struggled with over the years is that historically it’s been more of a commuter campus. People will live all around the area and commute to go to school, to go to class or to teach or do research, and then [they] disappear in the evening.”
The Bozzuto Development Group, a diversified real estate company, is assisting the mayor with keeping people in the city year-round. Bozzuto has partnered with the Terrapin Development Company, Willard Retail and J.P. Morgan investors for this project.
“The vision for Aster College Park — aligned with the mission of Bozzuto, which is to create sanctuary — is to bring a unique environment to those who work and live in College Park through our vibrant amenity and retail experience,” said Nick Umosella, a development manager for the Bozzuto Development Company. “By working closely with all of our partners and engaging with the community, we are working to ensure Aster is the most ideal fit for the neighborhood.”
However, this project’s construction has not been the most ideal experience for members of the community.
“For me personally, it has been a really bad experience, especially since I have a lot of construction going on in front of my building,” said Tanishq Kaushik, an information management graduate student at this university who currently lives in College Park Towers, an apartment complex just north of the Aster development. “From what I’ve experienced, people work at really odd hours … They even work on weekends.”
But Kaushik was not just fed up with the construction.
“Apart from that, I have also noticed a lot of traffic around campus,” Kaushik said. “The bus schedule and the bus routes were completely changed, and that was a major inconvenience for me.”
However, the project’s development has been moving swiftly with the goal of opening this summer.
“In the last quarter of ‘21 and in this current quarter in ‘22, it has been full speed ahead in terms of the project and the workers [being] there,” Williams said.
“I think it’s gonna have a positive impact on the local businesses because of course, a lot more people will be living here. That means the local businesses grow, they’d have a lot more customers, but at the same time it might bring a sense of inconvenience too because this area will be a lot more crowded,” Kaushik said. “So I think there are both pros and cons of having these new apartments around here.”
Maria Lanasa, a sophomore agricultural and resource economics and operations management and business analytics major, doesn’t think the construction of this new development will be all that bad for the community.
“Generally, I think new construction is a sign of economic growth,” Lanasa said. “So, I think in this area, it’s good to see that College Park is expanding — especially post-COVID.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated Bozzuto Development Company’s name and scope. This story has been updated.