Greater Greater Washington

Development


Imagine an infill station at Lamond-Riggs

Northern DC has a huge swath of relatively dense, urbanized areas with little direct access to Metro, including the Petworth, 16th Street Heights, Brightwood, Manor Park, and Lamond Riggs neighborhoods.


Kansas Avenue and Blair Road could benefit from a nearby Metro station. Image from Google Street View.

The reason for this situation is the lack of any line running underneath Georgia Avenue, which once had a streetcar. There are commercial corridors along this route on Georgia Avenue, Kennedy Street, Upshur Street, and Blair Road.

While it is not economically feasible right now to dig underneath Georgia Avenue, DC plans to restore the streetcar connecting these neighborhoods to the first station along Georgia to the south, Georgia Avenue/Petworth (which technically is in Park View, just south of Petworth).

However, The eastern reaches of this area would not benefit as much from this new transit line. Instead, the opportunity exists to add a Metro station along the Red Line in the Lamond-Riggs neighborhood at Kansas Avenue and Blair Road:

This station would lie about halfway between Takoma and Fort Totten, which are just under two miles apart. It would directly serve the Blair Road retail corridor, and if placed on the southeast side of Kansas Avenue, the New Hampshire Avenue corridor would be directly served as well.

What makes this site particularly amenable to a transit station is the plethora of suitable approaches. Peabody Street heads west and in less than a mile hits Georgia Avenue in the Vinegar Hill/Fort Stevens area. New Hampshire and Kansas Avenues head southwest into the heart of Petworth, an important neighborhood in the heart of northwest, densely populated and undergoing a true renaissance. New Hampshire Avenue also heads north through Takoma Park towards Langley Park, and this new station could serve as a hub for bus lines along New Hampshire.

Blair Road already connects this area to the Takoma station area, and linking transit-oriented developments can have a synergistic effect on the areas, like along the Orange Line in Arlington or the downtown areas in DC. To the south, Blair Road becomes North Capitol Street and crosses Riggs Road/Missouri Avenue near Fort Totten, another area which is rapidly growing.

As Takoma and Fort Totten grow with more walkable, transit accessible developments, a station placed in between them could induce a string-of-pearls transit-oriented development environment that could become the focus of the northern part of the District, improving transit accessibility and the potential for growth and development. And it could be done without spending a single dime laying more track.

I imagine the first criticism of this station would be that it increases the time it takes to get downtown. For some, yes. However, there is an express train from Silver Spring to Union Station known as the MARC Brunswick Line. For many residents in Lamond Riggs, Manor Park, Takoma, Brightwood, and Petworth, it will most certainly shorten the amount of time it takes for them to get downtown.

However, considering the benefits of added growth and increased economic viability, adding one or two minutes to get downtown might be worth it. It certainly was at the New York Avenue station, which opened just six years ago and has induced billions in economic investment, even during troubled economic times.

What would this station be called? Track Twenty-Nine suggested "Kansas Avenue" some time ago, however I am partial to naming it after the neighborhood, Lamond-Riggs, or perhaps Fort Slocum after the nearby park and Civil War fortification. Though perhaps not well known right now, Lamond-Riggs has the potential to become a keystone for development along the northern edge of the District.

Crossposted on Imagine, DC.

Dave Murphy is a Geographic Analyst for the Department of Defense and a US Army veteran. He is also a part time bouncer. He was born in Foggy Bottom and is a lifelong resident of the DC area. He currently resides in the Eckington neighborhood of Northeast. 

Comments

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I love it! Lamond-Riggs is a promising neighborhood that could use a boost like this. Denser, more transit-oriented development could help make the DC portion of the eastern Red Line into a viable middle-class answer to the western Red Line.

by Tom Veil on Feb 24, 2010 3:05 pm • linkreport

Brilliant! I couldn't agree more. While I think the opportunity for economic development at this site is less than New York Ave, I still think it is very worthwhile and could support small/medium sized buildings and density. It would create more of a central neighborhood vibe and eventually be able to support some retail operations. Not to mention that Northern DC residents need more metro rail options.

by KVB on Feb 24, 2010 3:08 pm • linkreport

This could be a great opportunity - but I worry about the challenges of building the actual station itself. It would require relocation of at least the two CSX tracks, if not the two Metro tracks as well (depending on if it's a island or side-platform station). The actual station construction would seem to be more challenging than the New York Avenue station for that reason.

by Alex B. on Feb 24, 2010 3:16 pm • linkreport

There is also room for a station on the green line under Grant Circle between the GA Ave/Petworth and Fort Totten stations, but that would be for an area of 'relatively' low density row housing only.

by NikolasM on Feb 24, 2010 3:52 pm • linkreport

yeah-this would be great and I wonder why it wasn't part of the original design. 2 miles apart is too far between stops on the same line through a dense city. A stop at Ft. Slocum would enhance E-W travel across the northern part of the city too. Currently busses go out of their way to stop at Ft. Totten which adds much time to those trips. A stop at Ft. Slocum would be less circuitous.

by Bianchi on Feb 24, 2010 4:07 pm • linkreport

Not that I would mind a few extra minutes for a stop at future "Lamond-Riggs", but this so-called "Express Train" only runs during rush hours. It doesn't bother me as much on the Penn Line, but I couldn't actually use any other MARC line because of the limited service. MTA needs to increase service on all the lines, one day.

by Mike on Feb 24, 2010 4:17 pm • linkreport

In fact, Bianchi, IIRC, the original original planned route for the Green Line followed Kansas Avenue instead of New Hampshire and would have intersected the Red Line at just this spot. Why they didn't keep the station when the Green Line was rethought I don't know.

by tdcjames on Feb 24, 2010 4:32 pm • linkreport

Alex B brings up an excellent point that I overlooked. Because of the CSX tracks on the outside, everything would likely have to be reconfigured somewhat.

NicholasM brought up Grant Circle, which is pretty close to the heart of Petworth, although there is very little retail there and I don't know if a lot of development would be welcomed in that area. It sure is low hanging fruit though.

by Dave Murphy on Feb 24, 2010 6:12 pm • linkreport

You've mentioned this before and while I think this would be great for me personally as the station would be about 3-4 blocks from my house, there is no way to recapture the $120MM+ cost of this through significant increased intensification, unless you create an urban renewal district and forceable redevelop the property. (I know this area reasonably well as I ride through it every time I go to the Giant Supermarket at Riggs Road and Eastern Ave., just across the city-county line in PG. And the hill up Peabody, carrying groceries, is a b****.

There is a block wide industrial district along the tracks (it's on both sides on Chillum Place north of Kansas Ave.). Except for the old Baptist Home (I don't know who owns it now) at NH and Peabody, there are no large parcels to speak of that are capable of redevelopment. Some industrial parcels, sure, but they aren't that large, and there is some need to retain industrial land to service the city. Except for some garden apartment buildings, everything else is single family detached.

Metrics about build out opportunity have to be tied together to these kinds of proposals. Compare this proposal to NY Ave. or Alexandria's Potomac Yards... There is no comparison.

I can't think of a worse spending of $120MM (or more) on transit than this. Well, a bunch of Downtown Circulators deployed like the Capitol Hill one...

And note, for a variety of reasons I've come around to your separated yellow line proposal. Over long time frames, it can have great potential in terms of redevelopment and intensification and reduction of VMT/vehicular travel, but more importantly it is about redundancy and adding capacity.

by Richard Layman on Feb 24, 2010 6:49 pm • linkreport

Would have been nice to have a station at Kansas Ave + Blair Rd in the first place; its going to be hell to ever build anything between Brookland & Forest Glen because of the tracks that run beside the metrorail.

There is only one bus route in the area K2 and its a hell of a walk to the F1/2, K6 or if you really feel like walking the 62/3. I fully support putting a station there bus it would also make it convenient to the Rescue League which is about 2/12 blocks away.

All areas don't need to have potential for development to build a station somewhere, sometimes it should just be done for the good of the people that reside around there. If it was for potential for development half of the current stations should never have been built during the 70s & 80s.

As for Georgia Ave someone should have suggested when the system was first designed to have a line going straight up to Georgia Ave. A main street like that and you have only one station on it and its quite close to another station they could have at-least built the station further from Columbia Heights

by kk on Feb 24, 2010 7:03 pm • linkreport

In regards to the CSX tracks, I'm not sure I understand why everyone thinks they're a problem. You know, they had to move those tracks to build the Metro in the first place.

It's simple. First, you build a new CSX track on one side, attach it to the track-to-be-removed at each end. Second, you remove the old CSX track. Third, you build a new Metro track adjacent to the new CSX track. Fourth you remove the old Metro track. Fifth you build the station.

Et voila.

I agree that it wouldn't be as easy as it would if the CSX tracks were off on one side, but it's not an impossible undertaking.

by Matt Johnson on Feb 24, 2010 7:27 pm • linkreport

@ Matt

I think some of the problems will be

1 the buildings on both sides of the tracks

2 the land ownership of the tracks (probably CSX)

3 Land owners of surrounding buildings

4 Not as easy as you stated

"First, you build a new CSX track on one side, attach it to the track-to-be-removed at each end. Second, you remove the old CSX track. Third, you build a new Metro track adjacent to the new CSX track. Fourth you remove the old Metro track. Fifth you build the station."

Where does the room to add the new tracks come from when there is no room present.

You would have to build a new bridge add a track; there isnt enough room currently present to move anything around to have enough space for a platform unless you go the Rhode Island Ave route and build it above the current tracks like 400 feet in there air.

Currently if you look at the tracks when the rails get close to a station they spread apart and then there is enough room , where would they spread apart at around Kansas Ave without tearing down a building the only empty space is near Oglethorpe Street near the June crash site.

by kk on Feb 24, 2010 8:13 pm • linkreport

@kk
The whole idea behind creating a transit-oriented neighborhood would be to replace vacant industrial buildings with residential, retail, or office buildings. So purchasing the land and removing some of the buildings might not be an entirely bad thing. The Red Line's initial construction involved: tearing down buildings, purchasing land from B&O (predecessor to CSX), displacing people, and not being easy in general.

The point is, is that all of these things were issues in the late 1970s when the initial Red Line segment was being built. Sure, there are things in the way. You can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs.

My point was not "it's easy", my point was "it's technically feasible."

by Matt Johnson on Feb 24, 2010 8:26 pm • linkreport

Yeah, it's certainly feasible, Matt - but it adds cost and that area would need a ton of development to make that up...

by Alex B. on Feb 24, 2010 9:40 pm • linkreport

Were there the right demand, a Blair road bus in that area would make more sense. I guess many people on this blog weren't in DC in the late 1980s before the Virginia Square area was redeveloped. You would never know the area looked anything like the Kansas and Blair Road area of today (except that there wasn't light industrial, but retail and a lot of single family detached housing). If you can't do that kind of redevelopment (and in DC except for neighborhoods that abutted the central business district, you can't, and it helped wrt the CBD and M Street SE that the neighborhoods had already been half destroyed through urban renewal), at the current densities, this kind of investment is insane, because it won't ever be recouped. Even an Oklahoma Ave. station is more worthwhile because of the opportunity to redevelop the RFK site, and because the housing density in that area is 2x greater (it's all rowhouses) than the R1 density that mostly typifies Ward 4 east of 3rd St. (between 3rd and Georgia the blocks are intermixed with rowhouses and single family).

I would definitely benefit personally from a station like this and yes that area lacks adequate transit, but popping in a Metro station isn't the first solution that ought to be considered. (FWIW, Suzanne loves the 63 bus. FWIW/2, before the subway was opened, there was a bus, the J1/J2, running on 3rd St. Obviously, it ran there for quite some time, because I have a transit map from 1960 that shows the line. And every once in a while you see a WMATA bus drive down 3rd St., but I never have a camera to document it...)

But yes, I am biased towards a. the separated blue line (so I think this is a distraction) and b. even your yellow line proposal.

Both cost tons more, but the blue line especially should be, as far as I am concerned, the city's #1 economic and transit priority to maintain the long term competitiveness of the city as a place to work and live, as well as to maintain the ability of the WMATA system to serve the metropolitan area's transportation needs.

by Richard Layman on Feb 25, 2010 6:15 am • linkreport

I think this could be a good idea as long as there would be a zoning change to allow for more development.

While we're in the neighborhood, I really think that a spur metro line to brightwood from either Takoma or Petworth would potentially give a big bang for the buck. From Missouri north the Walter Reed (Brightwood more or less) has a lot of potential. The Curtis site, The Safeway parking lot, a few midsize parcels and the 60+ acres of Walter Reed are a big opportunity. Also, the area to the west of Georgia has a lot of low rise R5B appartments that could really be reworked. A Metro Spur line could justify increasing the density and provide current residents with the population needed for the retail they desire.

by leeinDC on Feb 25, 2010 8:06 am • linkreport

Great idea, it can be put in right after the Oklahoma Avenue station!

by T. Aloisi on Feb 25, 2010 9:09 am • linkreport

This is a great post, and a great idea with a lot of merit. I'd suggest a second post on how much it would cost to do it and how it could be paid for. I love talking about ideas, but it helps to be grounded in reality of just how things could get done. Some of the commenters, such as Richard, talked about how much and how to do it. I don't imagine the first criticism to be that this will add travel time. (Two minutes is really nothing.) I see the first criticism as "how are you going to pay for it?"

(The station would also be very close to the Fort Circle, if it were ever a real trail network, as well as along the Met Branch.)

by drstockman on Feb 25, 2010 9:43 am • linkreport

In San Francisco, proposals to add a BART infill station at 30th/Mission have been flying around for a while. Recent cost estimates put the station at $500m. Is this price tag worth it for getting a couple thousand new daily riders? Possibly. It would close an important gap between stations that are over 2 miles apart, spur higher-density development around the station and create jobs. But, its detractors say that the money could be better spent extending the line a couple miles in suburbia.

I always believed the yellow line should have been built the length of 7th/Georgia Ave to Silver Spring, then cut across MoCo along the MARC tracks to hook up at Rockville. Although streetcars are a far cheaper option to subway/heavy rail, they are no faster than bus service, and in some cases, slower because of design constraints (i.e., can't weave around traffic). I ride MUNI every day and can attest to the fact that the LRVs crawl along the streets, stopping every 2 blocks and mingling with traffic. The subway, albeit faster because of its dedicated ROW underneath traffic, has its issues because of design flaws...5 lines converge in one tunnel. If a train breaks down, the entire system comes to a halt. Streetcar systems need to be separated from traffic (e.g., center median with signal control, tunnel with adequate sidings) and have stops a fair distance apart to make the experience more "rapid transit," than just transit. In the end it all comes down to...what's the most convenient and efficient way to get from point A to point B?

by sf4fun66 on Feb 25, 2010 1:02 pm • linkreport

"I can't think of a worse spending of $120MM (or more) on transit than this. Well, a bunch of Downtown Circulators deployed like the Capitol Hill one..."

I can -- if I substitute the word transport for transit -- with the $117 million project to shorten a bridge that will be torn down in about 10 years just so the apostste to the extending the legacy plan stadium would not have a viaduct next to it.

http://wwwsouthcapitolstreet.blogspot.com/2006/06/47-118-million-interim-project.html

by Douglas A. Willinger on Feb 25, 2010 1:37 pm • linkreport

This statement is not accurate, about the timing: "considering the benefits of added growth and increased economic viability, adding one or two minutes to get downtown might be worth it. It certainly was at the New York Avenue station, which opened just six years ago and has induced billions in economic investment, even during troubled economic times. "

The NOMA development occurred during the real estate boom/bubble. A few projects are being finished off, but there is not much market demand at all for new projects now.

by emrj on Feb 26, 2010 12:52 pm • linkreport

The NOMA (New York Ave.) station will pay off incredibly. You can already argue it has. I say it's the reason that H Street is doing so much better, as the announcement of that station led people with choices to become willing to buy-live north of H Street, when before they weren't.

But that's a perfect comparison to Kansas-Blair. The equivalent of one block width of redevelopment opportunity for a few blocks that Dave M. touts isn't much opportunity at all.

(This is the same problem that Brooklanders arguing for "decking" the station or undergrounding the CSX tracks--the width of land recovered on top is so minimal that it doesn't generate much in the way of added value development opportunity, far less than the billions required to do the infrastructure change.)

IF you changed the underlying zoning of the neighborhood around this new station, like what Arlington did (well, they didn't do that exactly, but they developed a special PUD process allowing for massive land use and intensification changes depending on recommendations made in sector plans) allowing for something like a 20X scale change in building and population, then it would be something like what happened at New York Ave. (Although the NOMA impact is probably 1/2 to 1/3 to 1/4 of the impact in Arlington, because they allowed much more density than is legal in DC.)

The impact on the east side of the tracks is three fold:

1. $350MM increase in value of the extant housing (about $200,000/dwelling unit/on average);
2. $2B in redevelopment (eventually) although some of the plans preexisted the Metro plans, between the railyard (2nd St.) and 3rd St., including some on the east side of 3rd St.
3. Increased development beyond what the market would have done in the industrial area north of M St. and south of Florida Ave from the railyard to 6th St.

and then there is the impact on Florida Market and some redevelopment, spurred by the subway access, will occur at some point.

And that doesn't take into account any of the development west of the tracks in "NOMA." Now the new development over there is supposed to end up totalling $60B. But some of it would have occured anyway, as the downtown gets built out and spreads east and south as a result (this is why I am willing to reconsider the height limit, although it's too late to bring back the neighborhoods that have already been reproduced).

Sure things in development are delayed these days But it will rise again, and eventually all this stuff will be built out. This is DC after all.

What's happening now with the real estate downturn is no different than what happened in 1989.

by Richard Layman on Feb 26, 2010 2:01 pm • linkreport

I think this idea is very interesting. The station could be placed between Kansas and New Hampshire Avenues and it could be named "Metro Victims Memorial Station" (or something similar) in honor of those who lost their lives near that very same spot. It could produce a good amount of redevelopment and strengthen the transit options throughout that part of the city.

Hopefully this is on Metro's radar.

by Petworth Queen Forever on Mar 11, 2013 3:36 pm • linkreport

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