Getting the Hall Rolling
New Discovery District Venue to Combine the Creative and Culinaryby Lauren Brown | Rendering courtesy of War Horse Cities
Concerts and Gymkana performances in the evening. Lectures and yoga classes on weekdays. Tailgate parties and e-sports competitions on the weekends. Good food all the time.
That’s the lively mix of activity expected at the Hall CP, an 8,000-square-foot multipurpose space and restaurant that opened in January behind the Hotel at the University of Maryland in UMD’s Discovery District.
The Hall CP is a powerful new anchor for Greater College Park, the $2 billion redevelopment of the Baltimore Avenue corridor designed to make the community a vibrant place to work, live and play.
Scott Plank ’88, owner of the Baltimore-based development firm War Horse, envisions a magnet for creativity in the arts, technology and entrepreneurship.
“It’s a venue that we hope to activate like a college campus—there’s always someone awake or doing something,” he says.
Located in a radically transformed former car wash and garage for university vehicles, the building features high-tech lighting and sound systems to accommodate a variety of events.
The restaurant is run by Chad Gauss, owner and executive chef of the Food Market in Baltimore, and Dennis Sharoky, CEO of the Coal Fire restaurant group, which mixes grab-and-go food with the finer dining of a sit-down restaurant.
The 13,000-square-foot backyard will have flexible open space plus ping-pong and cornhole, while the university is building an adjacent pocket park with seating, swings and gazebos.
Plank, a former Under Armour executive whose brother is company founder Kevin Plank ’96, brought on a full-time programmer at the Hall to book outdoor and indoor events, community meetings, block parties, live-streamed conversations and more.
“One of the reasons we’re so excited to partner with Scott is there are many innovation districts where there is one building drawn in as the center of activity,” says Ken Ulman, the university’s chief officer for economic development. “But it’s much harder to program the activities to create a ‘sticky’ situation for the community.”
The Hall CP dramatically alters the identity of Discovery District West, now home to the Hotel, a WeWork co-working space, and tech startups and incubators, says UMD President Wallace D. Loh.
“To have a Discovery District as the hub for innovation, research and economic development, you have to have amenities to attract people, much of which has not existed here,” he says. “Now, the whole center of gravity of campus is going to shift: one traditional center at the Stamp, and the Hall down here.”
Amenities like the Hall, the Hotel and the coming light-rail Purple Line are critical to avoiding “brain drain”—new UMD alumni leaving the area, Plank adds. “We want every Maryland grad to settle here and drive the culture and economy.”
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