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Tenants living on Guilford Drive, College Park will not be allowed to renew their leases in July due to Purple Line-related zoning changes.
Moses Bakst, a junior electrical engineering major, is currently paying $700 a month and does not have plans for where he is going to live next year. The Knox Boxes offer one of the few affordable housing options available in College Park.
Amid construction of newer luxury apartments in the city and rezoning of land due to the Purple Line construction, the Knox Boxes will no longer be up for lease, and have potential to be redeveloped, exacerbating the lack of affordable housing options for students that has plagued College Park for years.
The group of homes near Guilford Drive and Rossburg Drive could be redeveloped because of their proximity to Route 1. This would be part of the 2022 Countywide Map Amendment that would implement the 2010 Approved Central US 1 Corridor Sector Plan, according to an email from Calista Black, the public affairs and marketing officer at Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
“[Students] are not around to cause lasting change so they do things like kick us out of our apartments,” Bakst said. “Just to create these construction pits that help no one and close off streets … and then after all that, charge double the price for luxury, enclosed buildings.”
Although there is a need for affordable housing in the county, Prince George’s County has the most affordable housing units in the Washington region, David Iannucci, president and CEO of Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation, said.
The Knox Boxes, located at 4210 Guilford Drive, are independent of other apartments in the area, Zechariah Hahn, a junior mechanical engineering major who lives in one of the apartments, said. Now, he is looking for a place in College Park Towers because it’s cheaper than some of the other housing options.
“The new housing projects going on are very upscale,” Hahn said. “Which does not seem to match the demographic of people around UMD, which is college students.”
The price of housing increases when cities are not building enough housing to keep up with the population growth, said Nicholas Finio, an assistant research professor in the architecture, planning and preservation school. In College Park, housing prices, including rentals and single-family homes, have increased since 2010 due to a lack of supply and increased demand.
Willow Lung-Amam, an associate professor of urban studies and planning, said every municipality needs to include provisions for affordable housing in their plans. Municipalities need to access state and federal funds and tax credits to provide programs, like housing trust funds, for affordable housing.
“It’s also … to make sure that we’re living in an equitable region,” Lung-Amam said.
Atworth, an upcoming apartment complex located near the College Park metro station, will include 451 units ranging from studio to three-bedroom apartments, a parking garage, retail space and a one-acre public park, according to Gilbane Development. It is expected to be completed in spring 2024.
The complex is designed to be an affordable housing option for families that want to live near the Metro, according to the website. Gilbane Development received $56.3 million low-rate loan from Amazon’s Housing Equity Fund for working families earning 80 percent of area median income.
“We need to be able to provide more housing for people of all incomes,” Lung-Amam said. “We need real housing interventions at the federal level down to the local level.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story and its headline misstated that Knox Box lease renewals were affected by Purple Line-related zoning changes through the Sectional Map Amendment. The rezoning occurred due to proximity to Route 1. This story has been updated.