The University of Maryland has initiated the demolition of the Old Leonardtown community, paving the way for a new graduate housing development in the area.

The Leonardtown community currently offers apartments to 625 undergraduate students, according to its website. The proposed development will consist of about 800 apartment units and is still in the early development phase, the development’s website said. The project aims to expand housing options for this university’s graduate students, university president Darryll Pines said.

Rent prices for the development range from $975 for a 5-bedroom, 3-bathroom to $1425 for a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom, according to a Feburary University System of Maryland finance committee report.

The project could be completed as soon as spring 2026, Pines said.

Terrapin Development Company and Mosaic Development, the developers for the project, did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Diamondback.

The proposed project comes after years of calls from students for this university to address its graduate housing shortage.

The Graduate Hills and Graduate Gardens apartment complexes are the primary university-owned housing options for graduate students. Both complexes have operated at full capacity this year with 475 apartment units filled, according to ApartmentFinder.

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To address the shortage, this university allocated another 94 spaces for graduate students in Courtyards in 2022, Pines said. Those rooms in a primarily undergraduate apartment complex provided a short-term solution to the university graduate housing shortage, Pines added.

But this year, the Courtyards graduate apartment section received more than 130 applications, despite having about 50 available spaces, according to an April 3 email from Courtyards management to graduate apartment selection applicants.

Pines said the university wanted to redevelop an area close to campus into affordable graduate housing, which led to the Old Leonardtown project.

Autumn Perkey, the Graduate Student Government’s president, said that while College Park’s graduate housing is “in a better place,” she holds significant concerns over the Old Leonardtown development’s affordability for graduate students.

“The problem with that [project] and the pushback I’m currently dealing with is how can we make this affordable?” Perkey said.

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The government and politics doctoral student said she has been a staunch affordable housing advocate for three years. She has also been involved in efforts to streamline the housing process for graduate students.

This university provides an average stipend of about $34,000 for a 12-month graduate assistantship, according to a 2023 graduate school memo.

Perkey estimated that the average graduate assistant has a budget of about $2,200 a month, which includes rent.

“They’re telling me a bed in a two-bedroom unit is going to cost $1,445,” Perkey said. “I went, ‘that is not good.’”

McKenna Shay, a library and information science graduate student, lives in Courtyards and emphasized that this university needs more affordable housing. Shay said that many off-campus housing options she explored during her undergraduate years were too expensive.

Isabel Cedeno, a landscape architecture graduate student, also highlighted that she faced several challenges in the housing process.

Cedeno said that many housing options are more than $1,000, leaving her uncertain about her future plans.

“It was stressful, just not knowing where you are going to be next year,” Cedeno added.