A Maryland developer has dropped plans to develop a so-called "academic village" on one-third of the property that is currently the University of Maryland golf course.
Developer Brian Gibbons withdrew his plans in a formal letter to University of Maryland president Wallace Loh, according to the Washington Post. Gibbons cited the increasing backlash to the plans, including criticism from political leaders jockeying for points ahead of Maryland's 2014 gubernatorial election, as the reason for dropping the plans he was originally slated to present Thursday with formal renderings and plans.
“As someone who loves the university, it was never my intent for this concept to become a political football or have the university become embroiled in political theater,” said Gibbons, a 1984 graduate of the university, in a letter sent Wednesday.
Gibbons' plan called for the development of a "Terrapin-themed" parkway that cut through what is Maryland's golf course. Along the parkway, which Gibbons claimed would ease commuter traffic along main university artery U.S. Route 1 (it wouldn't; D.C.-area traffic is a disaster that can't be fixed by a single road), academic office space, student housing, stores and an arts center were to be built if the plan was approved.
The University of Maryland golf course opened in 1959, four years after then athletic director James Tatum reported in a study to president Dr. Wilson Elkins that “there is no way of having a complete course of Physical Education without having at least some facilities for the teaching of golf.”
The course was constructed on 150 acres of land on the other side of the then-under-construction Maryland Route 193. The university terminated a lease with the federal government for some of that acreage, which was being used by the U.S. military as an anti-aircraft site. The George Cobb-designed par-71 course cost $100,000 to build, with funding coming from money received by the university for the football team's appearance in the 1952 Sugar Bowl and the '54 and '56 Orange Bowls. Green fees on the course -- restricted originally to students, faculty, staff and alumni -- were $1 at its opening. Annual membership fees for faculty and staff were $12, with an extra $8 earning an unlimited membership for their families.
In 2010 and '11, the course hosted the Web.com Tour before it moved to the renovated, PGA Tour-owned TPC Potomac.