University of Maryland to weigh land sale for 300-room East Campus hotel

The University of Maryland is close to a deal that could bring a 300-room hotel to its East Campus, a redevelopment prospect university officials have been trying to get moving since before the recession.

The finance committee for the University System of Maryland Board of Regents is slated to meet Nov. 21 to consider letting the university sell a 3-acre portion of East Campus to the University of Maryland College Park Foundation Inc. The foundation would then strike a deal with David Hillman, CEO of Vienna-based Southern Management Corp., to build the new hotel.

The facility, across Route 1 from the university’s main campus, is also slated to include at least 10,000 square feet of conference and meeting space, a full-service restaurant and bar, retail space and other amenities.

The university wants to sell the property to minimize its exposure to the hotel project, according to documents that the University System of Maryland released in advance of Thursday’s meeting. The project, initially conceived as a 22-acre town center development, has been impacted by the economic downturn and market changes. The university has since decided to redevelop larger portions of its campus as part of a “systematic project-by-project development strategy,” according to those documents.

“This strategy allows the University to operate more nimbly in the face of changing market conditions and be responsive to opportunities without restricting itself to a single solution for the development of East Campus and the revitalization of U.S. Route 1 and downtown College Park,” the documents noted.

Selling off just a portion of the East Campus will allow the university to maintain control over other portions of the land and transfer the responsibility for the hotel project to the foundation.

The university issued a request for expressions of interest from hotel developers over the summer. The foundation entered a letter of intent with Hillman on Sept. 12, but needs board approval for the sale.

The university did not disclose a sale price for the property but received assessments of between $1.2 million and $2.4 million per acre and said it expects the property will sell for market value.


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