Metro is aiming to take advantage of some of the boom in development near public transit by finding development partners interested in building on properties it owns near five of its stations: Brookland, Navy Yard, Fort Totten, Grosvenor-Strathmore and Morgan Boulevard.
The deadline for developers to submit proposals to Metro isn’t until March, but the transit agency provided interested companies concepts of the kind of development it is seeking.
Metro’s concepts aren’t binding, and anything that gets built would have to meet zoning rules, as well as local requirements for affordable housing, environmental construction and the like. In addition, any development deal will have to be approved by Metro’s board of directors.
But the concepts provide insight about the sort of ideas Metro is expecting to receive and willing to consider, and some of the concepts have already generated substantial discussion in the neighborhoods around the stations. Three of the stations are in D.C., one is in Montgomery County and another is in Prince George’s County.
More than 100 real estate industry players showed up at a November informational meeting on the properties, and Stan Wall, director of Metro’s office of real estate and station planning, said he expects multiple proposals for each property.
Here’s a sample of what Metro has drawn up for the five stations:
At Brookland, the Red Line station in Northeast D.C. that services Catholic University, Metro’s concepts have already begun generating controversy.
The agency envisions developing a 1.1-acre northern parcel and a 1.6-acre south parcel along 10th Street NE. A 35-space Kiss & Ride drop-off would have to be replaced, but a lot for bus bays and bicycle racks, closer to the station, would not be affected.
For the southern parcel, Metro suggests a new ground floor Kiss & Ride built below an apartment or condo building three-to-six stories high, with between 125 and 150 units. Metro proposed two concepts for the north parcel. One (shown below) calls for a five-story residential building, and the other suggests a three-story, 40,000-square-foot office building.
Brookland is already home to one of the biggest developments under construction in the District, the mixed-use Monroe Street Market, which could reinvent the neighborhood in much the way housing and retail projects around the Columbia Heights station changed that neighborhood.
The Brookland concepts have already generated opposition from neighbors, with some calling the grassy and tree-lined area on the eastern end of the southern parcel the “Brookland Green.” D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie (Ward 5) has expressed reservations about Metro’s ideas, and a post about the project on the Greater Greater Washington blog generated dozens of comments.
Last week Wall asked developers interested in the Brookland project to also consider how they would preserve the park space.
Of the five sites, a project at Morgan Boulevard station has the potential to be most transformative. It is the largest of the properties, at 37 acres, and is one stop on the Blue Line from where Maryland and Prince George’s County officials are planning a $645 million regional hospital campus.
Metro is requiring that any project here replace 608 parking spaces as well as provide another 372 spaces that are currently located at the Capitol Heights station, an expensive requirement.
But Metro issued its Morgan Boulevard development proposal after receiving an unsolicited proposal from a major developer, Trammell Crow Co. Trammell Crow is already a major investor in Washington area real estate and it has a specialty in medical offices, which would be a natural use for this station, given its proximity to the planned hospital.
Trammell Crow is being advised by attorney David Winstead, who recently said the company wasn’t prepared to discuss its plans for the site. But Winstead’s involvement, given his former position as commissioner of public buildings at the General Services Administration, could also indicate Trammell is trying to lure a federal agency.
Metro’s first concept calls for eight blocks of development, built in phases. In all, it would include 700-1,200 residential units, 200,000-300,000 square feet of retail and 200,000-300,000 square feet of office space.
The second concept proposes much less development on the southern half of the site. In all, it calls for 560-900 residential units, 100,000-150,00 square feet of retail and 40,000 to 100,000 square feet of office.
This is the only station on the list in Montgomery County and there is good reason Metro thinks it might find development interest. The 4.5-acre property on Rockville Pike is close to the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270, and a foot bridge links it to Strathmore music hall.
Metro envisions mostly residential development at Grosvenor, with some street-level retail. There are a lot of variables at play here, including a bus loop, a storm water management facility and a Park & Ride garage that Metro wants to expand.
The agency issued two development concepts, both of which would allow for 475-600 residential units. Wall told interested parties in a written response to questions that the agency welcomed other suggestions, but cautioned that any ideas “be designed in a manner as to not interfere with transit access for pedestrians, bicyclists, bus riders or those arriving to the station in private vehicles.”
Though it has access to the Red, Green and Yellow lines, the Fort Totten station in Northeast D.C. has not seen as much as development as other stations in the District. That has begun to change, particularly with construction underway on what will be the city’s third Wal-Mart store, as part of Fort Totten Square, an apartment and retail development nearby. That project is expected to be complete at the end of 2014.
Metro is targeting development for a 3.4-acre parking lot at the intersection of First Place and Galloway Street, and envisions between 250 and 300 residential units in buildings as high as seven stories. Whoever builds it, however, will also have to figure out where to put a minimum of 422 parking spaces, either underground or in a garage. The agency released concepts for how to configure plans under both scenarios.
Metro did not issue development concepts for the site it owns near the Navy Yard station on the Green Line in Southeast D.C., but it did indicate some strong preferences for developers considering the property, located at Half and L streets SE.
First, Metro suggested interest parties acquire private property next door, which would make the agency’s property more valuable. Second, Metro encourages a project with ground-floor use (all the better to attract Nationals fans passing through).
Metro has tried selling or leasing this site previously, to no avail. One of the challenges for developers is replacing the air conditioning facility that is there now, and which Metro must have replaced regardless of what is built there. But with a new brewpub open, Whole Foods and Harris Teeter grocery stores on the way, Wall thinks this is the time to make it work.