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Development deal for land near New Carrollton Metro station

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By Ovetta Wiggins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 23, 2010

Metro's board of directors approved an agreement Thursday that will allow Maryland and the transit authority to develop 41 acres they own around the New Carrollton Metro station, a first step in transforming the area into an urban center.

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Last month, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) stood outside the Naylor Road Station and announced plans for a state agency to relocate near a Metro station in Prince George's County.

Each action is noteworthy in Prince George's, which has 2,200 acres of undeveloped land around its stations -- more than any other jurisdiction in the region.

But the decisions together signal a significant change in Prince George's, which for years has run into obstacles trying to lure developers and government entities to the county and working with Metro to create quality mixed-use development around its stations.

"It's a major shift," said Cheryl Cort, policy director for the Coalition for Smarter Growth. "We're finally getting the attention . . . And we're hopeful that now with better support from Metro and the state . . . Prince George's can make good on these important assets."

Under the agreement approved Thursday, Metro will work with the county and the Maryland Department of Transportation to select a private team to redevelop 41 acres adjacent to the New Carrollton station. The bid is expected to be issued this summer and a development team should be selected by fall, according to state officials.

Kwasi Holman, president of the Prince George's County Economic Development Corp., credited the coordination between the state, Metro and county in recent months and the inclusion of the state property as being critical to transforming the area into the "crown jewel" of the county's transportation system.

"There has been office development at the site, but it sorely needs retail and restaurants to create the lively place that it should be," he said.

The development on the property will be part of sweeping changes for New Carrollton, transforming an area of single-family homes and six-lane roadways into an urban center with 6.1 million square feet of office and retail space and 5,500 residential units.

Earlier this year, the Prince George's County Council, which sits as the District Council on zoning matters, approved a new transit district development plan and zoning overlay for the New Carrollton Station.

During O'Malley's announcement about the relocation of the state agency, he identified 14 transit stations throughout the state, including four in Prince George's, that would be designated as sites for transit-oriented development. New Carrollton, Naylor Road and Branch Avenue Metro stations and the Laurel MARC station received the designation, which includes priority consideration for state offices and financial opportunities through the state Economic Development Corp.

Many welcome the partnerships, but others say history with Metro and the upcoming county elections make them wonder if there will be a continued focus on development around the stations.


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