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University of Maryland announces ‘Discovery District’

University of Maryland, College Park, President Wallace Loh. (File)

University of Maryland, College Park, President Wallace Loh. (File)

The University of Maryland has dubbed a roughly 150-acre area near the College Park campus, which includes development along Baltimore Avenue as well as projects along River Road, as the Discovery District.

The branding of the area as the Discovery District is part of $2 billion in public and private investment called the Greater College Park Initiative.

“In the Discovery District, our faculty, students, and businesses will work to turn knowledge into jobs. The District’s facilities and amenities will quicken the pulse of research, innovation, and learning, creating economic and social benefits for Maryland and beyond,” University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh said in a statement.

According to the university, the majority of the new district is the former research park. But there are also new amenities, such as The Hotel at University of Maryland as well as an arts and entertainment district spearheaded by War Horse LLC’s Scott Plank.

The $180 million hotel project will house four restaurants and is expected to be the anchor for the Discovery District.

Other projects in the district include the Whole Foods-anchored Riverdale Park Station that also includes 120 townhomes. St. John Properties is building 110,000 square feet of research and development space. Corporate Office Properties Trust has started construction on a 75,000-square-foot office building designed for research and technology firms.

“We are thrilled to be part of the Discovery District and honored to continue our successful partnership with the University of Maryland. With world-class academics and research, as well as the new amenities that the Discovery District has to offer, we are well-positioned to attract the area’s top businesses and organizations to College Park,” Stephen E. Budorick, president and CEO of COPT, said in a statement.

The state and university continue to try and spur investment in and economic development around the state university’s flagship school.

Efforts outside the newly announced district include Bozzuto, Willard Retail and the University of Maryland College Park partnering on the redevelopment of a Quality Inn site into a $100 million mixed-use development.

Early last month the Department of Commerce approved a Regional Institution Strategic Enterprise Zone covering 470 acres, including much of the Discovery District, around the campus.

That designation provides existing businesses with access to tax credits if they invest a minimum of $5 million and create 50 jobs. The zone also allows business to receive a tax credit for up to 75 percent of local real property taxes.

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