By Michelle Larkin
For MitzpehThe American Flag Building, or AFB, is in the talks to be demolished to make room for more apartments off campus. Photo by Michelle Larkin
AFB, short for “American Flag Building,” is an apartment building that houses many Jewish students at this university. It is set to be demolished by the College Park City Council for the development of new student apartments in the area.
Located at 4206 Knox Rd, AFB is following the many “Knox Box” apartments on the same block that have been demolished. The prominently-Jewish apartment building is expected to be replaced by a high-rise building called “Aspen Realty,” according to Ari Israel, a junior electrical engineering major who currently resides at the building.
The building is within walking distance from not only Dunkin’ Donuts, Chipotle and Starbucks, but a two-minute walk to the Hillel building, a building that is dedicated to enhancing the lives of Jewish students on campus.
AFB has been a staple in the Jewish community for years, as Shabbats, prayer services and Jewish parties commonly took place in the building.
“In the apartment, there’s always Sabbath meals going on every Friday night,” said Kira Loshin, a senior mechanical engineering and computer science major who resides at AFB as well. “Sometimes we will all have a meal together, and people know this building as a place like that.”
Israel also mentioned that the destruction of AFB is going to be “tough and weird” for the Jewish community when it does happen. “It was right near Hillel and we could all live in the same building, but now the community is forced to divide,” he said.
Many residents at AFB voiced their thoughts on the planned demolition of the building to the College Park City Council last December. Council members voted in favor of tearing down the building in a 6-2 ruling to “meet the city’s conditions” and “make the high-rises better for the community,” according to an article from The Diamondback.
Zachary Goldberg, a junior government and politics major, was one of the residents who voiced their disapproval of the ruling. At the city council’s virtual meeting, Goldberg told the council, “I beg you, please do not tear down our building… do not get rid of affordable housing in College Park.”
Goldberg said that he and other residents went to the meeting to hopefully “delay the plans and try to make an argument that AFB is really the only last low-rent housing development on this side of campus.” Unfortunately, the plans to tear down AFB were already approved.
AFB is a more affordable option in the Knox area compared to complexes like Terrapin Row and College Park Towers. Rooms at Terrapin Row can range from $1,249 to $1,549 monthly, whereas rooms at AFB range around $999.
“By tearing down AFB and replacing it with another luxury building, there will be no option for those who can’t afford something like that,” said Loshin. “This shows that there is a greater housing crisis in College Park.”
Sahar Farajun, a junior electrical engineering major and another AFB resident, also described how destroying AFB will be unfortunate for those who can’t afford to live in the area. “It stinks how there will be no affordable rent near campus anymore,” he said.
The specific plans to demolish AFB are unknown, but residents say they were not given an option to renew their lease at the apartment building for the next semester.
Most of the current residents at AFB have signed a lease at College Park Towers, which is a 1-minute walk from AFB, for the upcoming fall semester, according to Israel. Others have decided to sign a lease at the Domain or South Campus Commons.
“I’m a bit nervous about the decision of destroying the apartment building and what it will bring to the Jewish community,” said Israel. “I just hope it doesn’t tear us apart completely.”