Greater Greater Washington

"Pre-development planning" wanted for New Carrollton

WMATA is breaking new ground with its New Carrollton Metro station area development plans by doing its own planning, in concert with MDOT and the developer. If successful, this would become a model for future joint development projects.

When WMATA does a joint development project, it's not as easy as just selling a piece of land for someone to develop. Joint development projects usually happen around Metro stations, where there will continue to be considerable Metro operations.

A lot of buses may stop at the station, and Metro may want some bus bays. There might need to still be parking for riders, though that parking could become shared between commercial and Metro where commuters park during the day and shoppers park at night or on weekends. Pedestrians and cyclists need good ways to reach the station. At New Carrollton, planners also need to design in the Purple Line terminus.

Therefore, WMATA needs to be deeply involved, and a good plan can be much better for riders than a bad one. Traditionally, though, WMATA simply signs up with a developer who actually designs the project, subject to comments and approval by WMATA and the local land use process.

The developer ends up discounting their bid to reflect the uncertainty about what WMATA and local jurisdictions will allow, or what constraints the site will have.

At New Carrollton, instead, WMATA wants to pioneer a "pre-development planning" phase. Instead of the developer working out a bid, getting approved, then starting to plan, WMATA will select a developer and undertake this planning process to inform the final negotiations.

The developer would pay for a community charrette and collaborative process where WMATA's planners are involved throughout. MDOT is also providing $350,000 of consultant resources for the planning in addition to the developer's. Both WMATA and the developer will then have a better idea of exactly what they can build, what it will cost, and what it's worth, to better inform the final price for the land. The developer will get their planning expenditure credited back when they actually pay for the land.

This might all sound like a lot of inside baseball to riders, but planning is a very important important component of a TOD plan. Once something is built, that's it for a long, long time. This process should ultimately create better development around Metro stations for riders of all modes, and the Board ought to approve trying out the idea for New Carrollton at its meeting tomorrow.

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David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. 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 now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

Comments

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Condos to own. No more rentals!

by Redline SOS on Sep 29, 2010 3:21 pm • linkreport

@Redline SOS

Better yet: GSA tenants right at the station, strengthening the market for nearby contractors/vendors to develop their own office space. Also strengthening downtown residential markets for people who want the vitality of urban living and ease of a reverse commute. Plus for Metro you'd be increasing fare revenue without having to add more service.

by jnb on Sep 29, 2010 3:34 pm • linkreport

@jnb - Even better.

by Redline SOS on Sep 29, 2010 3:47 pm • linkreport

I would hope that the community charrette would be well (or at least moderately) publicized, so as to invite all kinds of ideas about what people would like to see.

Moreover, the pre-development process is definitely groundbreaking. I would think that this may signal a new era of planning for developers and their partners, assuming this venture is successful (which, from all indications, seems to be expected to be the case). I'll not hold my breath, but I'll be cautiously optimistic about the NCRP (New Carrolton Reinvestment Project)

by C. R. on Sep 29, 2010 6:26 pm • linkreport

It is not going to be as successful as they are trying to paint it.

Raising Metro Fares will only push people away from using the Metro.

I strongly predict that if they continue to jack up the Metro Fare Rate it WILL drive Metro into Severe Bankruptcy.........

by James on Sep 29, 2010 10:51 pm • linkreport

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