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REIMAGINGING ROUTE 1 AS PROMINENT ARTS AND CULTURE DISTRICT

COLLEGE PARK, Md.—Imagine a street with a world-class art gallery and movie theater, where visitors and local residents stroll, shop and dine at sidewalk cafes alongside students and artists.

Now, imagine that street is Baltimore Avenue—also known as Route 1—College Park’s major artery connecting residents, business owners, workers and the students, faculty and staff at the University of Maryland. As the university and city consider plans to reinvigorate Baltimore Avenue, the College of Arts and Humanities’ Center for Synergy is asking the community to rethink the area and to imagine the impact arts and culture can play on its revitalization.  

The center plans to convene the greater College Park community for a Think-A-Thon planned for October 11. It recognizes that the university is a major anchor institution in College Park and Prince George’s County. This supports the vision of turning College Park into a top 20 college town by 2020.

The event is intended to help university administrators, College Park officials and other city stakeholders, including residents, artists and students, gather information for a future redesign during an afternoon brainstorming session. All are invited to share ideas about how art and culture can address community challenges and help turn College Park into a national destination for living, learning and arts.  

"The Think-A-Thon is another reason that College Park is a smart place to live," said City of College Park Mayor Andrew Fellows. "We've always been thoughtful—now we've begun to do so collectively, by creative and collaborative design."

Actively engaging the community as a stakeholder gives the regional redesign a holistic approach, said Center for Synergy Director Sheri Parks.

“We’re working very synergistically with the City of College Park,” said Parks. “Arts and culture are central catalysts in the transformation of communities into highly livable environments that benefit everyone.”

The center is leading the university’s conversation as it relates to the infusion of arts and culture in a redesign, and seeks to engage community input in a series of pre-Think-A-Thon events leading up to the larger event.

Omar Blaik, CEO and founder of Philadelphia-based U3 Ventures, plans to attend the session to listen and learn what community members want. Blaik is an experienced consultant who helped transform swaths of Philadelphia around the University of Pennsylvania. He is now working with the University of Maryland in the larger East Campus redesign project with the goal of turning College Park into a vibrant campus that is integrated with its community through retail, dining, business, arts and culture.

The College Park Think-A-Thon is scheduled Oct. 11 from 2 to 5:30 p.m. at the College Park Community Center, 5051 Pierce Avenue, College Park, MD 20740.

For more information or to register, visit www.arhu.umd.edu/thinkathon.

Media interested in attending the event are asked to contact Nicky Everette at 301.405.6714 or meve@umd.edu.