By A.R. Cabral
College Park is undergoing a facelift to transform the strip-mall thoroughfare through the city into a hub of dynamic residential life.
At the helm of this mission is the Terrapin Development Company (TDC), a real estate and economic development company, co-owned by the University of Maryland (UMD) and University of Maryland College Park Foundation.
“That robust vibrant place, you know, when people think of great college towns, they think they are immersed in innovation, arts and culture and vibrancy,” said Ken Ulman, TDC’s president. “We had a real need at the time to reinvest in Baltimore Avenue and Route 1.”
Ulman became the university’s chief strategy officer for economic development in January 2015. When the TDC was established, in July 2017, Ulman stepped up to run the new company. According to Ulman, a good deal of the company’s already-completed work has evolved from the University District Vision 2020, a plan developed by the College Park City-University Partnership (CPCUP), in 2011. The central objectives of the plan were to improve public safety, transportation, housing, sustainability and pre-K through 12 education.
CPCUP has developed a subsequent 10-year plan, the University Community Vision 2030. This new plan seeks to build on the progress made over the last decade with an expanded focus that wraps in affordable housing and residential stability.
“I’m as bullish as ever that we are the best of all worlds,” Ulman said about College Park. “Very few places do you have the opportunity to live in a wonderful place and go to a wonderful school, then jump on the Metro and have all of these opportunities of the nation’s capital.”
The TDC has a number of projects on the front burner, including the new city hall, at the corner of Knox Road and Baltimore Avenue, which will provide office space for city and university staff, and two housing projects geared toward the UMD community. The Southern Gateway apartment project, which will be located between Guildford Drive and Baltimore Avenue, will include 393 units for graduate students, university faculty and young professionals. The first floor’s 70,000 square feet of retail space will house a mix of retail, including a grocery store and a Crunch Fitness gym.
TDC is also on track to develop undergraduate student housing at the intersection of Knox Road and Sterling Place. According to the developer’s website, this building will also include ground-floor retail.
Even as TDC’s projects are largely geared toward the university community, Ulman works to include city residents in planning stages of the company’s work.
“The TDC has also been very purposeful about reaching out to the community, civic associations, the city council [and] city government when they pursue different projects,” said Mayor Patrick Wojahn. “They are consistently looking for feedback.”
As TDC looks forward to additional projects in College Park, Ulman expressed his appreciation for the city. “I have a great affinity for this place. I understand the unique opportunity we have in the place between the University and the surrounding community,” he said.