WASHINGTON, DC: College Park Earns the Cool Factor
Turns out that place with all the students at the Beltway and Rt. 1 is getting some of the most cutting-edge, mixed-use projects from some of the region's biggest developers. (Look for LEED certified, two-story beer pong tables.) Of course, the University of Maryland, with almost 40,000 students, a $900M endowment, and a world-renowned reputation for research, is the rock for College Park. On campus recently, we snapped the 50,000-seat Chevy Chase Field at Byrd Stadium (who knew it was so easy to walk in here?) where the new Big Ten logo is on full display—Maryland joins the historically Midwestern sports conference this year after 59 years in the ACC. Construction activity is strong on campus, too, with work on several new and existing buildings.
Off campus, Monument Realty (here's principal Michael Darby last month with White Star Investments' Craig Bernstein and CohnReznick's David Kessler) believes College Park is worth a development gamble. The firm that's built trophy office and residential in DC recently bought (with Real Estate Capital Partners) two lots to construct a 235-unit apartment complex on Baltimore Avenue just north of campus. At the time, Michael told us the firm was attracted to College Park since there's several diverse groups of people who'll be searching for housing (and high-end housing, at that), from undergrads to grad students to professors.
Institutional investors have taken notice of College Park, too: in 2012, student housing REIT American Campus Communities bought an 80% interest in The Varsity, a 901-bed housing complex with 20k SF of retail (left), also on Baltimore Avenue. ACC's buy valued the building at $122M. Clark Enterprises has big, bustling mixed-use of its own: University View (right), a 1,573-bed complex with 8,000 SF of ground-floor retail. (Company founder Jim Clark is a Maryland alum, and UM's engineering school bears his name.) The complex's retail mix resembles that of a downtown DC project, with sweetgreen and Zipcar. Clark also controls land next to University View, where over 1,000 more beds may eventually deliver.