TOD in Prince George’s County Getting off the Ground

July 7th, 2016

Prince George’s County’s bold new vision for transit-oriented development deserves attention and support!

For more than a decade, regional planners and economic development officials have lamented the relative lack of development around Prince George’s County Metrorail stations, and yours truly had opportunities to challenge its leadership to up its game in accelerating transit-oriented development policy and practice more than a few times.  On this blog, we’ve highlighted how lack of development has hindered ridership growth from the County, and we’ve articulated the benefits that would accrue to the region if Prince George’s County were to achieve the development potential of its Metrorail stations – in fact, Metrorail might just run an operating surplus if those areas were developed.

Now we all have reason to cheer and hope that these challenges and aspirational goals might be more than just wish lists and a hope certificate.

TOD in Prince Georges County Mar 2016Rushern Baker’s administration had early on suggested that it was serious about transit-oriented development.  There were public statements, interviews, and even specific calls to action. But it all started to become very real recently when the Baker administration announced it was moving hundreds of jobs from the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro to Largo and within proximity of the Metrorail station.  Debate if you will the definition of “proximity,” but this is a big deal: for years and years, previous administrations stated that such a move was physically and politically impossible.

Moreover, this announcement comes amidst a host of other transit-oriented news from the County.  The new regional medical center is slated to be built in Largo and immediately adjacent to the Largo station.  Prince George’s County leaders fought hard to make sure that the State Housing Agency remained programmed for New Carrollton, which is also home to the largest TOD masterplan on the eastern seaboard (courtesy of WMATA, the State of Maryland, and Forest City Washington).  When challenged by Annapolis to find additional funds to shore up Purple Line funding, the Baker administration rose to the challenge to help keep that project alive.  And we shouldn’t discount the successful history of EYA’s Arts District in Hyattsville (one of the first projects I worked on when I arrived in town more than a decade ago), which also houses a lively Busboys and Poets.

rendering of future development plan at New Carrollton

rendering of future development plan at New Carrollton

The County is on track to host an additional 5 million square feet of transit-oriented development over the next 10 years or so, which we estimate will contribute nearly 9,000 additional daily Metrorail trips and $30,000 additional fare revenue every weekday to WMATA.  And rather than take a victory lap, County leaders are looking for ways to expand on these successes at Branch Avenue, Suitland, and of course Greenbelt.

These trends are encouraging for all of us who work towards a more fiscally sustainable future for the region, and exemplify the type of competitive metropolitan area that we know we must be to compete on the global landscape.  It certainly didn’t come overnight to Prince George’s County, but it seems as if new leadership is putting its foot on the gas pedal (or rather, “tapping IN”), and that should give this region reason to celebrate.

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  1. Madhusudan Joshi
    July 10th, 2016 at 07:06 | #1

    Very good and bold vision for economic development, and uplifting quality of life in Prince George’s County and metro Washington, DC area.

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