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Planned Student Housing Development Encounters Resistance in College Park | Business

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Planned Student Housing Development Encounters Resistance in College Park
Business, News

Liz Farmer from The Examiner reports that a proposed development for more student housing in College Park is meeting heavy opposition from local officials who would rather entice more young professionals to the area.

The proposed 334-unit apartment building and ground-floor retail space would be built on the 2.6-acre site across the street from the University of Maryland on Route 1 now occupied by the Maryland Book Exchange and its parking lot.

The apartments would be geared toward housing students, while one-third would be marketed toward visiting professors, researchers and graduate students, said developer Ilya Zusin. About two-thirds of the retail space will house a new book exchange. But the project, which would add hundreds of students to Old Town College Park, might not get built at all if officials succeed in blocking the proposal.

City Councilwoman Stephanie E. Stullich said Tuesday that “building more student housing has been a priority” but noted major new and planned projects will add more than 4,300 beds in off-campus housing within the next few years.

“We’ve seen such an increasing dominance of student housing that we need more development to serve other parts of the population to support a more diverse mix of business,” she said.

According to campus housing data, the campus has roughly 11,500 beds. Undergraduate enrollment totals about 26,500. But Zusin said his site — just south of sorority and fraternity row — is better suited for students than young professionals. He believes building more housing on Route 1 will entice students living near the College Park Metro Station to move closer to campus.

“Young professionals then may be attracted closer to the Metro,” he said. “But that’s not going to happen if you have students living there.”

Zusin expects to submit his proposal to the county planning board next month. It then heads to the Prince George’s County Council, where Councilman Eric Olson opposes it.

Olson, who represents the district that includes College Park, said in an e-mail he agrees the site “is an excellent redevelopment opportunity” but that College Park needs a better housing balance.

If the proposal is thwarted, Zusin said he can challenge the decision in court — but that would cost time and money.

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