Greater Greater Washington

Development


Prince George's hospital site starts and stops with Metro

Prince George's County and Maryland leaders say that bringing jobs to the areas around Metro stations is one of their top priorities. They can follow through on this promise by making sure that the $600 million regional medical center planned for the county lands at a Metro site.


Photo by shindoverse on Flickr.

When Metro came to the region starting in 1976, suburban counties handled it in different ways. Arlington zoned the areas by its stations for lots of new residences and offices while keeping lower densities farther away.

As a result, more than half of the county's property tax assessment value comes from only 11 percent of its land areaits two Metro corridorsand it enjoys consistently low property taxes as a result. While the Rosslyn-Ballston Metro corridor added tens of thousands of jobs and homes, traffic levels remained largely unchanged, while rates of riding transit, walking and bicycling spiked.

Continue reading my latest op-ed in the Washington Post.

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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Nicely said. The County should put its money where its mouth is, not just ask other people (Feds, the State, Metro) to put their money where the County's mouth is. Fwiw, Montgomery does the same thing, notably with bike facilities.

by Jnb on Sep 8, 2012 10:20 am • linkreport

Nice op-ed, but do hospitals really count as transit oriented development? I agree most if not all of of Prince George's development should be around Metro, but a hospital shouldn't take up valuable land that could just as easily be filled by office and mixed-use development. Take Forest Glen station- completely underutilized, and I believe that the majority of people going toward nearby Holy Cross hospital use the bus anyway, not Metro. Hospitals just don't seem to offer many jobs- what they do get are patients. I seriously doubt they would take public transportation for a medical emergency.

So, I don't know how the distance the hospital has to abide by to be considered "close" to a Metro station, but it shouldn't be adjacent to one.

by Jason L on Sep 8, 2012 1:01 pm • linkreport

The problem with putting PG oriented destinations at metro stations is that so little of PG county inhabitants can enjoy metro. PG County has a bit of the same problem that Fairfax has. Metro barely makes its way onto its territory.

In other words: Putting a hospital on a metro station is great for people who already live within metro's reach, but that's mostly people not in PG County. If you live in Accokeek or Bowie or Laurel then having a hospital on metro is useless. If you live in Eastern DC, then it's great.

by Jasper on Sep 8, 2012 2:33 pm • linkreport

Also, if you live on the Green Line, putting it on the Blue or Orange Lines doesn't do a lot of good (and vice versa).

by Jon on Sep 8, 2012 2:55 pm • linkreport

Jasper, I'd have to disagree.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/nation/census/2010/?custommap=0,4,2,0,38.89511,-77.0363,11,0

Click on 'Density' and zoom in on Prince George's County. The Washington Post has very low standards for what is considered "dense," so all of Prince George's County (with the exception of Aquasco and Nottingham) is covered in green. However, when you hover over each district individually, you can see that the majority of residents live within Metro's reach, mostly because of it's proximity to DC. Although people might not live near Metro over there, it would be wrong to assume that Transit Oriented Development wouldn't be accessible to the majority of residents there. Laurel is an exception, as it is dense but out of Metro's reach. But really, TOD is intended for those living close to an urban core, not those who choose to live as far away as Laurel.

by Jason L on Sep 8, 2012 3:05 pm • linkreport

@ Jason L: A better map for density is this one:
http://projects.nytimes.com/census/2010/explorer

I take your point. My point was more a set-up for metro extension.

Green Line to Waldorf via Andrew's and BWI (or Baltimore) via Laurel and Ft Meade. Orange Line to Bowie and Annapolis and Blue to Upper Marlboro.

by Jasper on Sep 8, 2012 4:06 pm • linkreport

@ Jasper

How exactly would the Green Line get around Andrews without spending a $billion? Waldorf should be off the table since it was decided to travel the route that was chosen unless it goes under Andrews otherwise it is making a u turn around andrews for little gain.

by kk on Sep 8, 2012 5:11 pm • linkreport

The hospital should be where it would be central to most of PG County since Metro only serves PG County inside of the beltway if its at a station good if not so what.

by kk on Sep 8, 2012 5:13 pm • linkreport

The hospital should be where it would be central to most of PG County

Agreed but how do you define central to most of PG? I'd say the most logical way to is define it as easiest to get to for the greatest number of residents, rather than say, in the geographic center of the county. PG's population skews toward DC and its metro stations, so its likely that a metro station siting would be most convenient for the greatest number of residents.

Also, distance "as the crows flies" is not the best way of looking at distance. Rather, we should look at travel time to get there by various modes. That would favor siting it near multi-modal transportation -- highways, metro, and bus lines.

by Falls Church on Sep 8, 2012 6:48 pm • linkreport

I agree most if not all of of Prince George's development should be around Metro, but a hospital shouldn't take up valuable land that could just as easily be filled by office and mixed-use development.

The problem is that there are no developers chomping at the bit to put fancy office buildings and mixed use development at PG's metro sites (other than New Carrollton). Developers want to see some development at the metro stations before risking their money.

The government can be the entity that gets the ball rolling by locating well paying jobs at metro stations, which creates a demand for upper middle class folks to move near the stations. At New Carrollton, the IRS was the first big entity to locate there, then CSC, now MD's Housing Dept. HQ is next up, and finally we're seeing plans by private developers to put up more buildings at NC because critical mass has been reached.

Similarly, locating a hospital at another metro station could get the ball rolling somewhere else. That said, agree that the hospital should not take up the MOST valuable TOD land, so it should be more like a 5-10 min walk from the station rather than right on top of it.

Personally, I'm in favor of Landover. It is the most underutilized station in the system, has tons of greenfield and brownfield space around it, and is close to 50, the BW parkway, 410, and the beltway. It's also close to the old hospital in Cheverly that everyone was already used to going to. It's also one station from New Carrollton which has Amtrak and the future purple line.

by Falls Church on Sep 8, 2012 7:00 pm • linkreport

@kk:
An extended Green Line could get around Andrews without too much trouble.
Continue the existing line SE to Allentown Rd (Rt 337); turn and travel SW until meeting Branch Ave (Rt 5) and turn South following Rt 5 to Waldorf. This keeps the line along the perimeter of the base but not on the base property. Although it is not a straight shot, neither would it be much more curvy than other places on the Green line - for example, between Congress Heights and Southern Ave, or between West Hyattsville and Princes George's Plaza. The segment along Allentown might have to be underground for a short while, especially where it passes Malcolm Grow Medical Center and Bells United Methodist Church. The station serving the base could be at the intersection of Branch and Allentown.

by ZZinDC on Sep 8, 2012 7:26 pm • linkreport

@ kk: What ZZ said. Building this extension would add a second hospital to the line! Good idea!

How exactly would the Green Line get around Andrews without spending a $billion?

Didn't say it was gonna be expensive. But congestion is bad there, especially on MD-5, and road widening does not seem an option anymore. The WW bridge was just widened. No chance of that getting more lanes. Hence metro. Andrew's seems a logical destination because the FEDs are wanting to put more employees on metro, so they might pony up some money.

by Jasper on Sep 8, 2012 7:55 pm • linkreport

@Jason L

Hospitals just don't seem to offer many jobs- what they do get are patients.

Washington Hospital Center (which has 926 beds, about 3 times the size of the proposed hospital) has over 6,000 employees.

by dan reed! on Sep 8, 2012 8:18 pm • linkreport

It's important to keep Arlington's plan in context though.

The Rosslyn-Ballston coordidor had been a commercial district well before the Metro came. Ditto Crystal City. (and Pentagon City was a warehouse district). The sole Arlington station that was primarily characterized as low density suburban residential, East Falls Church, is still that way - with some development finally coming that way, but relatively far afield from the station proper (and some of it in a different jurisdiction).

by Kolohe on Sep 8, 2012 9:57 pm • linkreport

Also adding to the responses about why not put it it geographically-central Prince George's, the plan is already to put it near the Beltway. The need for a hospital is not in Bowie or Laurel or Upper Marlboro right now but in the inside-the-Beltway, near-Metro part of the county.

Given that, any Metro site will be just as car accessible as the sprawling mall sites they are reportedly considering as top priorities, plus it has all the accessibility from Metro.

And Prince George's has a lot of underutilized Metro sites right now. They're not going to squander their only chance on a hospital. They need to start putting most of their big projects at stations, including this one.

As for the distance from the station and whether to put in jobs vs housing, a great report maybe 2 years ago by SF planning group SPUR found that the DC Metro covers much more of its costs because it has a lot of jobs right at Metro stations outside the core (Pentagon, Medical Center, Suitland, King Street, etc.) That means a lot of trains carry significant traffic both ways instead of just one.

It also found that people are less likely to walk much of a distance from a station to the job than they would from home to the station. So that's an argument for jobs right at the station.

Prince George's in particular has many more residents than jobs, so they need more jobs more than more housing.

A site at Metro would only serve people on some lines, true, but a Metro station is also already a logical destination for many bus lines, which people could use, or maybe there are buses to a different station on the same line. If it's on Orange-Blue, people can take one train and transfer.

And if they put it at New Carrollton, it will get the Purple Line; the Purple Line should ultimately extend farther as well. Or if BRT works in Montgomery, they could put in BRT lines.

The county does need more higher-quality intra-county transit, but the only way they will be able to make that a top need is if they have more job centers along corridors that need transit, just like Montgomery already has done in concentrating jobs in Silver Spring, Bethesda and Rockville and creating a strong case for fast and high-quality transit between them.

by David Alpert on Sep 9, 2012 9:57 am • linkreport

@ David Alpert

"A site at Metro would only serve people on some lines, true, but a Metro station is also already a logical destination for many bus lines, which people could use, or maybe there are buses to a different station on the same line. If it's on Orange-Blue, people can take one train and transfer."

Not exactly true that all metro stations have buses serving them. Morgan Blvd has only PG County buses servicing it so that means buses typical only during business hours Monday thur Friday. Up until a few years ago Pentagon City did not have many buses servicing it at all. Forest Glen is also one that does not have many buses servicing it.

Landover and Cheverly both only have one bus route that runs outside rush hour the A12 and the F2. If you were trying to reach those stations from other parts of PG County you would most likely need to take the train or drive. Neither of those stations offer. There is no way or reach Landover station via bus anywhere north of Capital Plaza where the A12 terminates and for Cheverly the F2 runs north to Takoma if you are going from the south there are no bus on weekdays after about 7 and none on weekends.

I challenge you to find any station outside of New Carrolton, Southern Ave, PG Plaza, Addison Road that has good bus service everyday. Then from those stations find one that has connections via bus to other nearby (PG County) stations

by kk on Sep 9, 2012 11:17 am • linkreport

As Jasper mentioned, there isn't a strong case for placing a hospital at a transit station. Of course while it would be better if the hospital is (rail) transit accessible, this shouldn't be a requirement. Hospitals in general have a very high client to employee ratio and due to the nature of their business most clients (i.e. the patients) wouldn't choose to take Metro even for out-patient visits (see: Forest Glen/Holy Cross).

While I definitely feel that any new major job centers should be at transit stations (especially in Prince George's which has a plethora of Metro stations), such as the new FBI hq and the Maryland housing agency hq at N. Carrollton, the most important requirement for the new hospital should be close proximity to as many residents as possible.

by King Terrapin on Sep 9, 2012 11:29 am • linkreport

Do hospitals really count as transit oriented development? I agree most if not all of of Prince George's development should be around Metro, but a hospital shouldn't take up valuable land that could just as easily be filled by office and mixed-use development.....Hospitals just don't seem to offer many jobs- what they do get are patients. I seriously doubt they would take public transportation for a medical emergency.

Putting hospitals by Metro is far more important than just more office space. First off, hospitals are massive employers. Doctors, nurses, aides, janitors, dietitians, physical therapists, bookkeepers, administrators, coffee shop and gift shop, etc... That's not to mention all the ancillary jobs that are serviced by hospitals -- suppliers of every sort coming in and out all day long, and possibly going into other local businesses...not to mention the businesses that will locate nearby to service the hospital Hospitals are a 24-hour operation. If you want to create an urban feel, a hospital is pretty vital. It also attracts all sorts of other residential and related development because of the large numbers of people who will want to live nearby.

Then, there's the terrible misconception that the only people who use a hospital are emergency patients. I don't even understand how this relates to your [...] observation that more people go by bus to hospitals -- do emergency patients prefer waiting for buses, which will stop every other block, or the Metro? However, let's deal with the real meat of this: By a very large majority, most people who walk into a hospital for treatment each day are not going through the Emergency Department. Even those arriving by ambulance, or ambulates -- emergency treatments are in the minority. What about visitors? If there's ample parking, you might get a lot of drivers, but if there's good Metro access, I think you'd see a lot of riders who would prefer that to paying $20 for parking.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Sep 9, 2012 11:44 am • linkreport

By the way -- Great op-ed. [Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

[The] argument that a hospital on the Metro in PG would not be more accessible for PG [...] really makes the case for how vital it could be in re-orienting PG around transit. If there is a hospital that is on the Metro, all of a sudden the Metro offers something more to PG residents beyond just a quick way to work into DC. Perhaps that will create more demand for transit-oriented development. It's about planning. Obviously, building the Metro itself is of limited utility -- but if we start locating useful development around a few stations, the whole system becomes much more useful. That's been missing in PG. David's piece argues for a real commitment to change in PG. [Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Sep 9, 2012 11:51 am • linkreport

GWU hospital,University of Maryland hospital and John Hopkins's hospital did not have to move to be successful.PG hospital need not move. It has an excellent location being close to BW parkway, Rt.50, the beltway and Cheverly Metro.

Building a new hospital would only add large expenditure to build access infrastructure.That money can be saved by building an additional facility at the existing site.There is no guarantee that a new location will be self sufficient, and the absence of high end stores in PG county is an indication.

In this time of tight money it will be a responsible thing on behalf of the politicians to reconsider their approach to PG health care.

When PG county will thrive, so will the PG hospital.

by Khan. on Sep 9, 2012 12:22 pm • linkreport

Speaking of transit how many people visiting GW Hospital use the Metrorail, Metrobus vs private car and cab compared to the Georgetown, Washington, Childrens, Sibley, VA or other hospitals without rail access.

Transit wont help all people even those who live in transit rich areas as those who have to come or leave as patients or workers between 10pm and 6am. There is almost no service in PG County after 10pm on most bus lines and most of the stations are not where people live in PG County

If a hospital is built near a Metrostation people will still drive due to many reason not living in area with transit coming there when transit isnt running etc so there will be a need for a parking lot.

The ideal solution would be two hospitals for PG County one in northern part of the county and one in the south but that will never happen.

Concering WMATA specifically why was there never a station built at PG Hospital Center. All they had to was divert the Orange line for about a mile or two whereas Cheverly has nothing around it on three sides. PG Hospital is near Landover Rd, Cheverly Ave, Keniworth Ave all of which have residences and business along them it would have been a better location than where Cheverly is.

Which station do people think should be chosen.

1 I would say Landover or Cheverly from a developer prospective since nothing is around both. This could lead to a new town or Landover Hills, Cheverly, Glenarden annexing the land.

2 Morgan Blvd if and only if the Purple Line could be extended to Largo and if any Metrobuses are diverted there.

3 Landover Mall site if one could buyout Sears, extend Purple Line there or to Largo stopping there.

by kk on Sep 9, 2012 12:43 pm • linkreport

@Khan -- That is, of course, a wholly separate argument, as to whether a new facility is even needed. Alpert's op-ed is premised on making the case for a Metro site..for a new hospital that is already being planned. From reading David's piece, it seems that a new facility is a fait accompli. I've only seen the hospital from the parkway, but I'd guess it's a pretty good distance from the Metro. However, if the hospital ran frequent shuttles to and from the Metro, that might not be a big deal. Could the County upgrade the facility at less cost? I'm guessing it would be certainly more effective to build a state-of-the-art from scratch. Depending on the degree of renovation needed, it might even be cheaper to build a new facility, but it might not be necessary. As for location -- a facility that is closer to the people is usually better -- and there are sites that would be by Metro and major highways...which is the point that David was making. It doesn't answer the question as to whether a new facility is needed, but it presumes that argument is already over and done.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Sep 9, 2012 12:46 pm • linkreport

@ Khan

Most of the area outside of PG County does not have highend stores so why does that matter. How many Gucci, Prada, Vertu, Saks, Neiman Marcus, Emporio Armani stores do you see in the area ? The only place is Tysons Galleria and some stores along Wisconsin Ave in Chevy Chase

by kk on Sep 9, 2012 12:49 pm • linkreport

KK

I meant Bloomingdale and Nordstorm.

by Khan. on Sep 9, 2012 12:57 pm • linkreport

Fischy,

It may be late,I am hoping for a reconsideration.This may reflect on our Governor.We don't have the figures for upgrading the facility at the present site.

by Khan. on Sep 9, 2012 1:02 pm • linkreport

Love the picture of the George Washington University Hospital. The front entrance, shown in the photo, at the Foggy Bottom-GW Metro station and the university redeveloped the old hospital site across the street as a high density mixed-use complex of offices, shops, a courtyard, street plaza and residential units.

by GWalum on Sep 10, 2012 10:43 am • linkreport

@Falls Church -well said; I completely concur.
@FischeyEd - I used to work at both the GW hosp and at Wash Hosp Cntr. There is a shuttle from Brookland to WHC but even that short ride with short headways for the shuttle was a PITA and a deterrent/barrier to using metro. Absolutely any hosp in PG should be on the metro, and it should be designed to be as short a walk as possible.

by Tina on Sep 10, 2012 11:24 am • linkreport

Not only would locating the hospital at a Metro station be useful for employees (many of whom are older and/or lower-income, such as housekeeping, any number of tech positions, snack bar and gift shop attendants, volunteers, student nurses doing clinicals, and the like), but it would be great for numerous patients and visitors. When I got deathly ill this past winter, in the middle of the night, I, indeed, took a cab to GW with a neighbor who graciously offered to go with me. When morning rolled around and I was stable but still in need of IV meds and fluids (and monitoring) for a few more hours, she could just hop on the Metro and go home and finally catch some sleep, and come back and help me home via Metro several hours later when I was finally released (besides still suffering from dehydration, I was totally sleep-deprived and appreciated a helping hand to get home - and keep an eye on me because sick, dehydrated, sleep-deprived people aren't the most stable people on their feet). When another friend spent over a week in the hospital, I appreciated the ability to hop on Metro and go see her, rather than have to take a lengthy, circuitous bus route or an expensive cab.

Beyond situations like these are the minor injuries. I've been to the hospital 4 times over the last 5 years for emergencies.* Once was the previously-mentioned illness (damn you norovirus), the other three were times that I injured myself badly enough to need medical attention, but not so badly that I couldn't navigate an elevator or a few blocks walk on the weekend or later in the evening, when doctor's offices are closed (okay, the time I *actually* broke my ankle, I got someone to drive me to the Metro and made sure use the elevators and sit down for the ride (it was a minor fracture)...when I recently needed stitches in my forehead (damn you pointy furniture and bouncy dog toys), I just took a towel and ice pack with me). Stitches, a really bad sprain or minor fracture, or other problems still allow you to reach the hospital by Metro, often more conveniently than by car or cab (can you imagine me trying to drive with an ice pack and towel just above one eye? And don't even get me started with trying to get a cab in my neighborhood...well, period, but...particularly on a Saturday evening).

And then there's the fact that many people go to hospital *centers* for things other than emergencies. Many doctors have their offices in or nearby hospital centers. People go to hospitals for everything from dialysis to chemotherapy to physical therapy. Maybe they, like me last year, need an MRI, which only the hospital has the equipment to do. I have friends who are cancer survivors who need to go in to a hospital for a CT scan every 6-months to year, and others with chronic diseases who need regular testing that only a hospital can provide.

In short, emergency patients who will arrive by ambulance or a cab because they can't even navigate public transit are a small fraction of those who will go to a hospital, and a Metro nearby is a major asset for the lion's share of people who show up at a hospital, to work, visit, or receive treatment.

*Yes, I am well-aware that I am abnormally accident prone. So are my friends, family members, and neighbors. Yes, I have been told that my pointy metal-and-glass furniture and love for athletic endeavors is only making this situation worse. One of these days, the sheer number of permanent and semi-permanent injuries I have will take me out of the sporting world, but that day is not today. It might be Sunday (the next time I play sports), but it might also be when I take my dog for a walk in 20 minutes. If I were a frat boy, I guess I'd say YOLO.

by Ms. D on Sep 10, 2012 9:43 pm • linkreport

I just want to point out there is no Prada in the dc area. I fully support a Prada in the area however. Ggw should look into that.

by Adam Torres on Sep 10, 2012 11:45 pm • linkreport

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