UPPER MARLBORO – The promise of transit-oriented development at the College Park Metro is on its way to fruition after the county planning board approved preliminary plans for apartments just south of the station.

A 440-unit multifamily housing development is now in the works after the Prince George’s County Planning Board approved the preliminary site plan for the building during an Oct. 19 meeting. Gilbane Development Corporation will head the project as well as several revitalization tasks in the vicinity.

“This is actually a very exciting project because it is an opportunity to see a quality development at one of our Metro stations,” said Thomas Haller, the legal representation for Gilbane. “It is also an important project because the most recently adopted (plan) for College Park, which was adopted in 2015, recommends a substantial residential component in the area. This is the first residential that will be constructed and a total of about 5,000 units are recommended for this area.”

The new development is proposed to house 440 apartment homes and 13,000 square feet of retail space, built on the parking lot just south of the College Park Metro off of River Road. Made possible through a partnership with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the building will reside just east of the railway, Metrorail and future Purple Line path and will be the first residential development in the area.

The planning board unanimously approved the preliminary plan with approximately 15 conditions agreed upon between the county planning division, Gilbane and the city of College Park.

“This is really a good opportunity, so we’re looking forward to it,” said Elizabeth Hewlett, chair of the planning board.

The development of the apartment complex also includes redeveloping and landscaping the area in between the property and the Metro station known as Brooks Parcel. The vision for the patch of land, north of the proposed complex, is a public pedestrian plaza that will also be home to an M Bike station and the bikeshare program the county choses to install in the coming years.

Haller said, although the landscaping of the Brooks Parcel is detailed as a condition of approval of the project, Gilbane felt the redevelopment job is an important one for a community feel and the happiness of future residents.

“It’s very important for us because the residents of our facility, the people that frequent the commercial, are going to be able to walk from our building directly to the Metro station and this property will be a great opportunity for them to sit and wait after they’ve had lunch or during lunch,” Haller said.

Other tasks detailed as conditions for approval by the planning board staff include updating the nearby bike and pedestrian tunnel with lighting and paint, replacing and relocating old and damaged signage in the area, and adding crosswalks through nearby streets.

Commissioner Will Doerner also made two other suggestions for the developers to consider as they go further along in the approval process. He suggested they consider adding a tool station for bikers near the bike share docks and that they consider adding wayfinding maps near the stations as well.

“That would be an obvious place for someone with a bike, who owns a bike, to kind of go and look and see if they could repair their bike,” he said. “I haven’t seen anything when I’ve been riding up there and it’s a terrible incident when you have a flat or something goes down and you just need to fix your bike really quickly.”

Haller noted that Gilbane is well aware of the need for bike tool stations and that a similar concern has come up as they continue to develop near a metro station in Hyattsville. He also said the history of this area of the county will play a large role in the development of the building and said the maps with local sites and places to visit are a great idea.

Other conditions for final approval include plans for short-term and long-term bike parking, restriping the street at River Road and River Tech Court and have a final internal sound study completed to ensure outside noise is not overpowering.

“While it has taken a while to get residential in this area, the timing is perfect because the Purple Line is getting ready to commence construction and the Purple Line will be under construction about the same time as this facility will be under construction,” Haller said.

As featured in The Sentinel