By Maggie DeBlasis
By next year, downtown College Park will be the home to two new housing developments that are replacing the university’s Knox Boxes and former Maryland Book Exchange.
Over the summer, Toll Brothers Campus Leasing announced it had bought 22 of the 29 original Knox properties. Demolition of the decades-old Knox Boxes should begin later this month, according to Michael Stiefvater, College Park’s economic development coordinator.
“These two complexes mark an exciting time for downtown College Park,” Stiefvater said. “The City and University hope these developments are the precursor to other downtown redevelopment projects that bring more housing options for professionals along with more diverse restaurant and retail offerings.”
Toll Brothers Campus Leasing is hoping to open up the new Terrapin Row in August 2016, said marketing manager Todd Dumaresq.
“College Park is lacking in new off-campus housing that is walkable to campus,” Dumaresq said. “Terrapin Row will fill that void and create an entirely new community that is safer for students and includes beautiful housing with amenities.”
Some of these amenities include stainless steel appliances, flat screen TVs and in-unit washers and dryers, among others.
However, the notice drew outcries from residents who thought it not enough time to make other arrangements.
“I don’t remember exactly when they sent us the official warning that everything was going to get knocked down, but we were already in the process of finding a new place by then,” said resident and senior psychology major Dan Lerner. “Then they offered everyone $750 to move out by … the end of August, so we just decided not to move in at all once we found a place.”
As stated in their leases, residents were given 90 days to move out of their houses. With the help of the third-party property manager Greystone Asset Management, Toll Brothers helped find other housing options for those displaced and offered incentives like $750 and $500 Visa gift cards to leasers who moved out before the end of August.
“My roommates found other housing, [but] I was out of the state and couldn’t really participate in looking at houses,” said Selena Roper, a senior sociology major. “It took them a few panicked days, but everything worked out.”
Farther down Route 1, what was formerly the Maryland Book Exchange is now the construction zone for CA Student Living’s Landmark apartment complex. Boasting amenities like a fitness center, a studio option, a fully furnished option, and a ‘Zen courtyard,’ the development is ahead of schedule, according to Regional Leasing and Marketing Director Courtney Lynn.
“We’re definitely amazed,” she said. “It’ll be completed definitely no later than summer of next year … and we’ve already leased almost 20 percent of the building.”
Junior psychology major Alexis Pappadeas is one of those lease signers, living with 11 of her friends in the new building instead of a house nearby as they had originally planned.
“Honestly, the process of leasing with The Landmark was so easy; all of the documents were online, and the leasers were very responsive and answered all of our questions,” she said. “Also, we all felt a lot safer living in an apartment rather than a house off campus.”
Both of the developments will have retail spaces on their ground floors, but since no agreements have been cemented, neither Lynn nor Stiefvater could confirm anything more than that they hope to bring a wider variety of vendors to the College Park area.