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The Latest on Greater College Park

City, County, University Leaders Gather to Talk Economic Development, Quantum Ecosystem, Purple Line

By Maryland Today Staff

two guys sit on a stage and talk in front of an audience

UMD President Darryll J. Pines discusses Greater College Park, the quantum ecosystem and COVID-19 with Washington Business Journal publisher Alex Orfinger on Thursday.

Photos by John T. Consoli

Eight years after launching a grand vision to reimagine how a university and a city can work together to strengthen their shared community, local leaders and University of Maryland administrators gathered Thursday for a broad-ranging discussion of dynamic projects and objectives—completed, under way and in the planning stages—in and around College Park.

The Hotel at the University of Maryland, one of the anchors of Greater College Park, was the latest stop for The Washington Business Journal’s “On the Road” series, which hosts in-depth conversations in locations of dynamic growth around the region.

The $2 billion public-private partnership has revitalized the Baltimore Avenue corridor and communities surrounding UMD with new businesses and retail, expanded housing options and better transportation infrastructure.

The event kicked off with a chat featuring UMD President Darryll J. Pines and WBJ publisher Alex Orfinger. In it, Pines described plans to build on UMD’s research and federal partnerships to nurture a “quantum ecosystem” featuring a growing number of locally based firms engineering technology breakthroughs around a branch of physics that deals with matter at the smallest scales.

The No. 1 example, he said, is the quantum computing firm IonQ, which employs 200 people in UMD’s Discovery District, a 150-acre research park and hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.

“We’re at the emerging fringes of a new industry, and if everything goes well, it’ll explode,” Pines said, describing the state of Maryland’s commitment to translating science from universities and federal labs into economic growth in the model of California’s Bay Area and Boston.

In the panel discussion that followed, community leaders lamented delays to—but expressed enthusiasm for—the state’s light-rail Purple Line, which will extend 16 miles from Bethesda to New Carrollton, with five stops on or near the university.

“There's a light at the end of the tunnel,” said one of the panelists, Ken Ulman, president of the Terrapin Development Company and the university’s chief strategy officer for economic development. (The others were David Iannucci, president and CEO of Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp.; Kenneth Young, College Park city manager; and Susan Whitney, District 2 city council member.)

five people sit on a stage and talk
Ken Ulman (second from right), president of the Terrapin Development Company and the university’s chief strategy officer for economic development, talks with other panelists Thursday.

As tracks extend across campus in anticipation of the transit line’s scheduled completion in 2027, the benefit it will bring to the campus and the region are becoming clearer, he said. The Aviation Landing mixed-use project next to the College Park Airport and across from the College Park Metro station, for example, is tied closely to the promise of easy mobility and economic development the nearby Purple Line should bring.

“As people see the Purple Line (construction progressing), they say, ‘Wow, look at what this area is about to become,’” Ulman said.

Here are some other recent developments in Greater College Park:

  • New student housing opened this fall at Hub College Park, the Standard at College Park and Aspen Heights College Park this fall.
  • Little Blue Menu, which offers Chick-fil-A favorites as well as options like wings and burgers, opened for carryout and delivery on the former site of Applebee’s.
  • The Old Leonardtown apartment community was demolished to make space for new graduate student housing.
  • Shop Made in Maryland—which will sell art, jewelry and other goods produced by in-state artists and designers and host classes and offer training for artisans to grow their business—and Dog Haus Biergarten—known for its hot dogs, sausages, burgers and beer—are slated to open this fall in the new College Park City Hall building.
  • Aster College Park, a mixed-use community featuring nearly 400 residential units and retail like Trader Joe’s, plans to add other retailers like Arepa Zone, Bandit Taco and Inspire Nails in the coming months.
  • Atworth, which will feature 451 apartments and retail adjacent to the College Park Metro station, is almost finished ahead of a planned Spring 2024 opening.
  • Construction continues on Union on Knox, which will include apartments for nearly 800 students and 21,000 square feet of retail. The project, along with a new outdoor park area near UMD’s south gate, are slated for a Fall 2024 opening.

    Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.