UDC’s efforts to engage the community about its campus plan for the next decade are getting a reset. The university is hosting a virtual meeting on the 2021-2030 Campus Plan at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 5th.
The public engagement process for the next UDC Campus Plan had a rough beginning in February. Many who attended the first meeting were frustrated by the absence of a draft plan and by limits on the geographical area that would be discussed. Attendees were told that Connecticut Avenue was outside of the campus planning area even though UDC holds the master lease to the former Walgreens at 4225 Connecticut and recently purchased the former Fannie Mae building at 4250 Connecticut Avenue. Plus, the UDC law school is at 4340 Connecticut Avenue. All three buildings account for around 90 percent of the unused retail space in Van Ness, and Connecticut Avenue retail is the main way the community interfaces with UDC.
UDC officials agreed the process needed to be reworked, and the next community meeting in March was postponed. Then, Covid-19 hit and canceled the spring community engagement process entirely. UDC sought and was granted a six-month extension from the Zoning Commission, which otherwise would have expected to receive the 2021-2030 Campus Plan in August.
Important elements of this planning process include rehabilitating buildings in poor physical shape, the use of swing space, and student enrollment. Information presented by consultants from Cozen O’Connor at the February 18th meeting showed that UDC did not meet the enrollment goal laid out in the 2011-2020 campus plan: 6,000 students per year. In 2010, when the plan was drafted, UDC had around 5,800 students. By spring 2019, 4,270 students were enrolled.
As UDC reboots the community engagement process, it is also seeing a changing of the guard. Erik Thompson, who has been UDC’s vice president of real estate since 2016, left earlier this month to join Goucher College in Towson as vice president of campus operations. And Troy LeMaile-Stovall, UDC’s chief operating officer, is the CEO and executive director of TEDCO, effective September 7th. Both Thompson and LeMaile-Stovall played important roles in the UDC-Van Ness Main Street partnership working to activate the university’s unused Connecticut Avenue retail space.