Our Work

Bridging Town and Gown

Client
  • University of Maryland, College Park
Client Type
  • Higher Education
Location

College Park, MD

Practice Areas
  • Transformative Real Estate

University of Maryland,
College Park

Since 2009, U3 has worked with the University of Maryland to transform College Park into a thriving college town.

 

In 2009, the University of Maryland, College Park faced an identity crisis. While the campus of the State’s flagship institution provided a bucolic setting, the University’s home, College Park, was less welcoming. After many years without a strategic vision and greater town/gown cooperation, College Park did not reflect the 21st aspirations of the University and its ability to compete with its peer institutions.

Working closely with The University of Maryland, College Park’s (UMD) new President, Wallace Loh, U3 helped the institution develop and implement a thoughtful campus edge strategy designed to strengthen College Park and help the university attract and retain top talent. Critically, U3 was able to unite UMD leadership behind this new vision for the campus and earn the trust of the College Park community after years of inaction and indecision with previous partners.

It was clear from the beginning that the success depended on finding common ground between the campus and the community. Our strategy reconciled institutional data related to housing, academic programs, and student life against the College Park market and community. We brought together representatives from the university and the city, and oversaw real estate transactions that activated the campus edges to reinforce the institution’s mission while strengthening the surrounding neighborhoods. Under the Greater College Park plan, Downtown College Park has become a node for new development projects.

Challenge

Overcome distrust between the university and the city of College Park to improve the built environment attract more residents, faculty and staff and students.

Solution

A thoughtful campus edge strategy designed to engage and support the community while creating a real estate development vehicle to transform College Park into a thriving college town.

IMpact

A more vibrant Downtown College Park, with new retailers, restaurants, and increased foot traffic and the creation of the Terrapin Development Company, a new joint venture real estate development entity whose mission is to transform Greater College Park into a vibrant, diverse and walkable community that attracts the best faculty, staff and students, and galvanizes a culture of research and entrepreneurship.

Beyond strategy, our team worked closely with UMD to implement this vision. U3 Advisors directed the process to build a new university-affiliated hotel and conference center. U3 helped select a site, define the program, draft the RFQ, and identify potential developers and operators. In 2017, the 297 room Hotel at UMD opened – providing the University and College Park with a new amenity. Other projects that have resulted directly from U3’s work include the MilkBoy Arthouse, a new student housing project, and a major mixed-use development. Since our collaboration began in 2009, there have been nearly $500 million in real estate transactions in College Park directly related to U3’s work.

Perhaps most importantly, U3 helped create the Terrapin Development Company (TDC) to support these investments and to make the university more competitive in the local real estate market. Co-owned by UMD and the UMD College Park Foundation, the TDC can conduct transactions “at market speed” while leveraging their significant institutional resources. As the first organization of its kind in the country, TDC has proven to be an incredible success and has become a model of development for other institutions.

U3’s efforts led UMD to embrace the community and invest their resources on- and off-campus, establishing College Park as an authentic “college town.” As a result, alumni donations have increased, admission is becoming more competitive as the school attracts a higher caliber of students, and UMD has become an even more prominent research institution. More residents and retailers are moving to the area, and efforts are underway to encourage further economic and academic development, such as the creation of the new Discovery District innovation district.

U3 continues to work in College Park with the newly established College Park City Community Partnership. Together, we are developing a sustainable vision for the city’s continued evolution.