The Washington Post

Maryland developer drops plan to build ‘academic village’ at U-Md. golf course

Mario DiFranco watches as Michael Key puts on the 18th hole at the University of Maryland Golf Course in College Park. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

A Maryland developer said Wednesday that he is abandoning his proposal to build an academic village on part of the University of Maryland golf course.

In a letter to U-Md. President Wallace Loh, developer Brian Gibbons cited growing opposition from political leaders, as the reason he no longer plans to submit either a concept plan or a development proposal to the university.

“As someone who loves the university, it was never my intent for this concept to become a political football or have the university become embroiled in political theater,” Gibbons said in the letter sent Wednesday.

Gibbons, a 1984 U-Md. graduate, was expected to unveil an official concept plan and renderings Thursday.

Gibbons, chairman and chief executive of the Owings Mills-based Greenberg Gibbons development firm had discussed a concept plan to build a “Terrapin-themed” parkway from the university to Interstate 95 that would cut commuting time and reduce traffic on Route 1.

The project was to include housing for faculty and staff members, university-related office space, a cultural arts center, stores and green space. The development would have taken about 50 acres of the land, Gibbons said in an interview last month.

But several county and state elected officials voiced opposition to the plan. A number of Prince George’s County Council members called on Gibbons to drop the proposal, saying that the 150-acre golf course is a valuable community facility and that the project would divert attention from downtown College Park, where the city and the university have focused redevelopment efforts.

On Tuesday, Maryland gubernatorial candidate Douglas F. Gansler (D) and other officials appeared at the golf course with a group of golfers and area residents working to save the course, off Route 193. Gansler said Gibbons’ plan would be harmful to the university’s prestige and to years of planning and investment in the Route 1 corridor.

(The Washington Post)

In the letter to Loh, Gibbons said he plans to devote his energies to analyzing the challenges in the Route 1 corridor and consider any opportunities there.

Luz Lazo writes about transportation and development. She has recently written about the challenges of bus commuting, Metro’s dark stations, and the impact of sequestration on air travel.



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