The Western Gateway site is adjacent to the UMD campus, nearest the Robert H. Smith School of Business and School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation; it is within ¼ mile the Adelphi Road/UMGC Purple Line public transit station, and about the same distance from The Aster College Park mixed use community with 70,000 square feet of retail, including a grocery store.
This location is identified by the Prince George’s County Plan 2035 as part of a “local center” where transit oriented development (TOD) should be supported.
The site is in the same location as an earlier project approved by the Maryland Board of Public Works and the Prince George’s County Planning Board, Mosaic at Turtle Creek. That project was similar in scale (300 units) to the Western Gateway project and resulted in a rezoning of this property to R-10 (Multifamily High Density Residential). The project, however, did not close, primarily due to the Great Recession (2007-2009).
The land remains in the UMD inventory. In the current UMD Master Plan, it is identified as one of the “Outlying Properties” with future use generally described as “The University will continue to explore the potential of Public-Private Partnerships to help catalyze appropriate local economic and physical development and strengthen relationships with existing businesses and institutions” (UMD Facilities Master Plan, 2011-30, page 110).
The UMD land in the Western Gateway project is located immediately south of almost 5 acres of property already owned by Gilbane. The immediate adjacency and the economic advantages of assembling these parcels creates the economic feasibility for Gilbane to make a significant capital investment to graduate student housing. This synergism makes the Western Gateway project possible; the mutual commitments of UMD and Gilbane to stewardship of our natural and financial resources ensures that it will preserve as many trees as possible and will result in a net increase of 1.5 acres of forested area in the County by replacing more than the number removed for the project. Also, the project will include a state-of-the-art stormwater management system on site, capable of handling a 100-year rain event.
The University has chosen to enter into agreements with Gilbane in part because the company is a leader in TOD. They came to UMD only after establishing TOD bona fides by competing for, and winning, TOD development rights to both the West Hyattsville and College Park stations on WMATA’s Green Line. Now, with the coming of the Purple Line, Gilbane is pursuing this TOD project with easy access to the Adelphi Road/UMGC Purple Line station.
Graduate student housing at Western Gateway is situated between the University’s two graduate student apartment communities, Graduate Gardens and Graduate Hills, which adds 300 housing units and provides centrally located community space for residents. While there are other sites that could accommodate graduate student housing, there is no other location that has an existing co-investor willing to participate in a public-private partnership; this partnership enables new much-needed graduate student housing without expending tax or tuition dollars.