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Metro considers Armed Forces Home land for new bus garage

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The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is considering the relocation of a bus storage facility from 14th Street NW to property owned by the Armed Forces Retirement Home, according to officials familiar with the discussions.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized by the transit agency to discuss the plans.

The transit agency’s Northern Bus Garage, at 4615 14th St. NW, stores nearly 150 buses, but in 2009, Metro officials said the brick facility was outdated and badly in need of rehabilitation or replacement.

Two miles east, the Armed Forces Retirement Home has a 272-acre grassy campus between New Hampshire Avenue NW and North Capitol Street where Abraham Lincoln vacationed at a summer cottage.

Military veterans who live there enjoy housing, tranquil walking paths and a nine-hole golf course, but the organization has long struggled to afford operating and capital costs. It previously plotted a mixed-use project that would have brought new housing as well as revenue, but the deal fell apart during the financial collapse.

More recently the home has held fundraisers and community events, such as an Oktoberfest celebration aimed at bringing in new revenue.

A spokeswoman for the home declined to comment. Metro spokeswoman Caroline Lukas said in an e-mail that agency officials “are always open to considering sites for bus garages as we have for many years, but it is too premature to comment on anything specific at this time.”

D.C. Council member and Metro board member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), whose ward includes the existing bus garage and borders the home, would not confirm a location, but said that if a new facility is built, it should not just provide bus storage.

“Any location should contain a job training component or facility if possible, as well as serve as a catalyst for economic development, and I hope that Metro will come to the board with some recommendations in the coming months,” she said.

Neighbors of both the existing bus garage and the home frequently voice their concerns about the properties. The buses create noise and pollution at nearly all hours. The home and its expansive grounds are fenced off from neighbors on all sides.

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