we agree with david morton that route 1 in College Park has the “locational charm of a highway rest stop.” Indeed, much of the reason College Park isn’t listed among America’s great college towns—Berkeley, Ann Arbor, Charlottesville—stems from its unfortunate location. The city’s commuter-friendliness to much of Maryland’s population centers and its physical division brought on by the poorly funded and perennially congested Route 1 have conspired to create a town that University of Maryland students continually revile.
However, the same unfortunate location and dismal conditions that Morton describes in his article have actually laid the foundation for efforts that will transform College Park over the next decade.
According to market research, there are nearly 8,000 for-sale residential units under construction, approved, proposed, or planned within the College Park area. This fall, the university is soliciting bids by private developers for the half-billion-dollar East Campus construction project, which will add millions of square feet of office, retail, and housing to Route 1 directly across from the university’s main entrance. University administrators expect that this project, along with the massive new research park already underway near the College Park Metro station, will catalyze even more development along Route 1.
Students are playing an active role in this transformation. In April, more than 100 students attended a design charrette sponsored by the student government, where they collaborated with architecture students and faculty to envision the College Park of the future. The city has done its part with progressive mixed-use zoning and a soon-to-be-adopted “form-based” zoning code. Last summer, we launched a new Web site, RethinkCollegePark.net, to serve as a clearinghouse of information and public participation outlet for students, administrators, city residents, and developers about all the coming development activity.
College Park may be a “shell of a city” now, but current trends mean it won’t remain so for long.
Rob GoodspeedDavid Daddio
College Park, Md.