Developers have been calling the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to inquire about the transit agency’s properties — many of them surface parking lots in developing neighborhoods — and the agency has responded.
In an effort to take advantage of some of the boom in development near public transit, Metro launched a search Monday for companies interested in building on properties the transit agency owns at five of its stations: Brookland, Navy Yard, Fort Totten, Grosvenor-Strathmore and Morgan Boulevard.
Many of the properties, outlined in a 135-page document the agency posted online Monday, are in neighborhoods where private sector development is already underway or expected shortly, potentially boosting the value of Metro’s parking lots or land. Three of the stations are in D.C., one is in Montgomery County and another is in Prince George’s County.
The largest of the properties, 37 acres at the Morgan Boulevard station in Landover, is one stop from where Maryland and Prince George’s County officials are planning a $645 million regional hospital campus.
In Brookland, Metro is seeking partners for property across from where developers Jim Abdo and Bozzuto Group are developing a $200 million mixed-use project, called Monroe Street Market, with Catholic University.
Another site, an air conditioning facility near the Navy Yard Metro station, is near Nationals Park and across the street from a vacant warehouse that the federal government said it plans to sell and where some residents are pushing for a food market to open.
With the area’s boom in apartment construction, developers have increasingly been calling Metro to ask about buying or leasing the agency’s properties, according to Stanley Wall, Metro director of real estate and station planning. The Morgan Boulevard property, he said, received an unsolicited development proposal and Wall said he wanted to take advantage of the interest.
“Given that there is so much momentum at this time, we’re trying to take advantage of that,” he said.
Building on top of a Metro station isn’t always easy because it often requires a developer to replace whatever parking or access facilities are there presently, either by building them underground or in a garage.
Disagreements between the agency and developer have thwarted some past public-private development plans. A previous effort at the Navy Yard, for instance, was cancelled. Others, like a development agreement at the Takoma station, have been delayed for years.
To head off problems, Wall said the agency has pre-planned multiple scenarios for Metro’s facilities at each of the stations, giving developers a road map that satisfies Metro’s needs for each property.
“We’ve actually created a couple of development scenarios for each site, so that way you can solve for transit before figuring out what the developers might need,” he said.
Any agreement between a developer and the agency for the five properties would require approval from Metro’s board of directors.
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