Dear Members of the Community,
The Cafritz development team is writing you this letter in order to respond to some of the feedback we received from you on July 18th at the community work session in University Park. Before we dive into the specifics of the development, we want to take this opportunity to thank the Town of University Park for hosting such a productive meeting, and to thank all of you for being so engaged in this process. We are thrilled with the level of your involvement in the planning phase of this development for many reasons, however, the two most important to us are the following: First, your participation underscores your passion, which is the primary quality we seek in our community partners; Second, your passion and engagement in this planning phase of the development will enhance the development because it will allow us to incorporate many of your ideas into its ultimate design.
For ease of reading, we have arranged our responses to your feedback by topic below.
CSX Vehicular Crossing. Like you, we believe that a vehicular crossing over the CSX tracks would be a terrific addition to the development. Accordingly, we have made this a top priority and are actively working with CSX to make this happen.
Route 1 Traffic. We have commissioned a traffic study which lays out a series of measures which, if implemented, should function to more than offset the anticipated increase in traffic caused by the development. One of the primary attributes of this development is its transit accessibility, including its proximity to the existing Metro Station at College Park and the existing MARC Station at Riverdale Park, the property’s location within the envelope of existing transit services, and the prospect of a future Purple Line stop located directly adjacent to the site on the other side of the CSX tracks. We plan to take full advantage of this transit infrastructure by making it as easy as possible for residents and visitors to utilize these forms of mass transit to reduce single occupant vehicles. These measures involve a combination of physical improvements and transit measures:
- The construction of physical improvements at the Route 1 and MD 410 intersection;
- Pedestrian enhancements such as additional sidewalks and hiker/biker trails to include an enhanced trail to the College Park Metro Station;
- The installation of an additional traffic signal at the development site entrance;
- The synchronization and optimization of existing traffic signals; and
- The implementation of a Transportation Demand Management program that will encourage the use of bicycles and public/local community transit through:
- The inclusion of bike racks/bike share and bus shelters within the development,
- The creation of commuter assistance programs (e.g., shuttle services and ridesharing programs like carpool/vanpool), and
- The provision of subsidies for Metro, MARC, MTA, The Bus, UM Shuttle and/or University Park Shuttle services for residents of the development.
Cut-Through Traffic. We fully understand that the residents in the neighborhoods immediately adjacent to the development are concerned about the direct impact that the development may have within their neighborhoods, specifically the potential for cut-through traffic. We are taking steps to ensure that this development will not result in any increase in cut-through traffic. For instance, we have purposefully not created direct vehicular access to the north of the development into the Calvert Hills neighborhood. We have also created several entrance design options which allow for access to Route 1, but prohibit direct access to Van Buren Street at the signalized intersection for the project. Additional measures to negate cut-through traffic are also being considered and we look forward to working with the stakeholders to continue these conversations.
Next Steps. We are actively working with CSX and its engineers to make the CSX crossing a reality and will provide you an update in the future. We are arranging a meeting with the Maryland State Highway Administration to discuss the design concepts for the site access, signalization and improvements at the intersection of Route 1 and MD 410. We will update you on our progress on all of these fronts as soon as we can.
The first phase of the proposed development, plans of which were presented at the work session, encompasses most but not all of the site area between Route 1 and the hiker-biker trail. The vast majority of the proposed commercial uses are in Phase One including the 35,000 SF Whole Foods Market, a 45,000 SF Full Service Health Club, additional supporting retail, small shops and restaurants, as well as 22,000 SF of office space. We expect that these offices and retail establishments will have an immediate positive economic impact on the community, because they will broaden the community’s economic base, create over 370 new jobs and bring a high level of retail to the community.
Following time honored planning standards, the retail and offices are planned in multiple one and two story buildings fronting directly on historically proportioned streets and sidewalks. Streets are aligned with the existing neighborhood grids and the blocks are proportioned to reflect the scale found in surrounding commercial districts. Parking is dispersed across the site, typically behind the buildings.
While we are contemplating the Mixed-Use Infill (MUI) Zone, the street grid, street width, sidewalks, streetscape, setbacks, materials, fenestration, proportions and building massing all are envisioned to comply with development standards based on the current Riverdale Park Mixed Use Town Center (MUTC) Zone Development Plan. Although the Riverdale Park MUTC Plan does not have standards for this specific site, our proposed plan, even in its first iteration, follows the spirit and intent closely. Going forward we will draft Development Standards in general compliance with the Riverdale Park MUTC that will dictate the look, scale, and feel of our streets and buildings.
It is important to understand that we intend to deviate from the Riverdale Park MUTC Plan development district standards in one way. The current MUTC Plan encourages development to create a Route 1 street wall, with buildings tight to the Route 1 sidewalk. We intend to deviate from this pattern primarily because, in order to be compatible and respectful to the existing houses across the street, we are proposing a landscape buffer zone as our transition from Route 1 to our proposed multi-level retail/office buildings. In keeping with the spirit of the Riverdale Park MUTC Plan, our buildings will be tight to the internal sidewalk to create a comfortable and lively pedestrian experience, along our internal streets and not Route 1.
The development plan provides for Stormwater Management (SWM) facilities, and is sustainable. We will utilize innovative SWM practices such as environmental site design (ESD). Practices such as pervious paving, connected street tree planters and bioretention will be used to provide water quality control around the site. Additionally, the site will include a riverine SWM area along the eastern boundary which borders the CSX tracks. This facility will provide a variety of ESD controls, and will also provide 100 year control for drainage leaving the site to the east under the CSX lines and to the south along Maryland Avenue. These controls, combined with other facilities including Nine Ponds, will have a significant positive impact in relieving drainage and flooding issues within Wells Run. Finally, sustainable design practices will be utilized during both the design and construction of the site which will focus on reducing the dependency on automobiles, implementing transit and pedestrian oriented design, and using energy efficiency techniques.
The residential component of this development is still a work in progress. We have agreed to phase this component of the development in order to allow more detailed review and opportunity for community input. The development is in an area which the General Plan classifies as the Developed Tier and lies within the boundaries of both the Riverdale MARC Center and the Route 1 Corridor growth areas. The site is within walking distance to two (2) existing transit stations, the College Park Metro Station and the Riverdale Park MARC Station, and is directly across the CSX tracks from the proposed Purple Line Station. Considering the General Plan’s designation of this site, and its close proximity to existing and planned public facilities, the development of this site, at medium to high residential densities, is completely consistent with principles of sustainable development. Presently, our plan envisions a variety of housing types, including 100 luxury townhouses, 640 multifamily units, 224 senior housing units, as well as the potential for 30 graduate and/or faculty housing units and a 120 room boutique hotel.
We understand that this letter does not address all of the issues raised during the Town of University Park work session, and that as we move forward in this planning phase, you will want to provide us with additional feedback. Our intention is to work to address all of your concerns over time. One tool that we think will be particularly helpful in this regard is our website, www.cafritzpop.com. The website will be updated periodically, and each update will include new questions/answers in the FAQ section, additional images, and progress reports. Further, to the extent the website does not address a specific question or concern that you may have, please feel free to contact us through the website and we will do our best to respond to you as soon as we can.
Once again, we thank you for your interest and participation in this process, and we look forward to continuing to work with you as we move forward with this development.
The Cafritz Development Team