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After Opposition, UMD Will Pause Development of Guilford Woods

Students marched down McKeldin Mall at the University of Maryland earlier this month to protest a proposed development project at Guilford Woods. Photo by Josh Kurtz.

The University of Maryland College Park will pause plans to develop Guilford Woods, a 10-acre wooded lot on the south edge of the campus, President Darryll J. Pines announced on Thursday.

Some student groups and community members had rallied in opposition to the development, called Western Gateway, that would have cleared part of the parcel to make way for housing for 300 graduate students, 81 market-rate townhouses and other amenities.

Instead, the university will focus on redeveloping Old Leonardtown, an existing residence hall, into a mixed-income residential community with a focus on graduate student housing.

“To focus on the Old Leonardtown project, the university will pause current planning on the Western Gateway development to continue to listen, learn and adapt plans to address the critical need for graduate housing,” Pines wrote in a Thursday email to students. “The administration will continue to study this area to address environmental concerns related to the proposed development.”

The letter was co-signed by Tamara Allard, president of the Graduate Student Government.

Lawmakers who opposed the development cheered Thursday’s announcement.

Sen. James C. Rosapepe (D-Prince George’s) commended Pines for his “embrace [of] a bold effort to solve the graduate student housing shortage in ways which will protect tree cover, make rents truly affordable, and protect the residential character of College Park neighborhoods.”

Currently, UMD has about 750 graduate housing units for more than 10,000 graduate students who must otherwise find housing in one of the country’s most expensive real estate markets.

To increase graduate student housing in the near-term, Pines said that the university would work with Maryland Economic Development Corporation and Capstone On-Campus Management to convert some garden-style apartments for graduate student housing.

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After Opposition, UMD Will Pause Development of Guilford Woods