New Discovery District Venue to Combine the Creative and Culinary
By Lauren Brown
Head Chef Sandi Nunez throws a disc of pizza dough at The Hall CP, located just behind The Hotel at the University of Maryland. Besides the restaurant, the new venue also includes a performance and private events space dubbed the Longhouse, coffee shop, outdoor patio and multiple bar areas.
Concerts and Gymkana performances in the evening. Lectures and yoga classes on weekdays. Tailgate parties and e-sports competitions on the weekends. Good food all the time.
That’s the bustling, lively mix of activity expected at The Hall CP, an 8,000-square-foot multipurpose space and restaurant that opened this month behind The Hotel at the University of Maryland in UMD’s Discovery District.
The Hall CP is a powerful new anchor for Greater College Park, the $2 billion redevelopment of the Baltimore Avenue corridor designed to make the community a vibrant place to work, live and play.
Scott Plank ’88, owner of the Baltimore-based development firm War Horse Cities, envisions a magnet for creativity in the arts, technology and entrepreneurship.
“It’s a venue that we hope to activate like a college campus—there’s always someone awake or doing something,” he said.
Located in a radically transformed former car wash and garage for university vehicles, the building feature modern design and Maryland colors as well as high-tech lighting and sound systems to accommodate a variety of events.
The restaurant is run by Chad Gauss, owner and executive chef of the Food Market in Baltimore, and Dennis Sharoky, CEO of the Coal Fire restaurant group. It mixes grab-and-go food, like pizzas, smoothies and coffee, with the finer dining environment of a sit-down restaurant and bar.
The 13,000-square-foot backyard will have flexible open space plus ping-pong and cornhole, while the university is building an adjacent pocket park with seating, swings and pavilions.
Plank, a former Under Armour executive whose brother is company founder Kevin Plank ’96, brought on a full-time programmer at the Hall to book outdoor and indoor events, community meetings, block parties, live-streamed conversations, and more.
“One of the reasons we’re so excited about The Hall CP is the creation of an active place that brings people together,” said Ken Ulman, the university’s chief strategy officer for economic development. “An innovation district is about more than buildings. It is about creating nodes of activity in a dynamic environment.”
The Hall CP dramatically alters the identity of Discovery District West, now home to the Hotel, a WeWork co-working space, and tech startups and incubators, says UMD President Wallace D. Loh.
“To have a Discovery District as the hub for innovation, research and economic development, you have to have amenities to attract people, much of which has not existed here,” he said. “Now, the whole center of gravity of campus is going to shift: one traditional center at the Stamp, and the Hall down here.”
Amenities like the Hall, the Hotel and the coming light-rail Purple Line are critical to avoiding “brain drain”—new UMD alumni leaving the area, Plank added. “We want every Maryland grad to settle here and drive the culture and economy.”
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