Metro plan prioritizes development at West Hyattsville station
By Dan Behrend
Under a new plan, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA, or Metro) wants to see more housing and businesses next to the West Hyattsville station. The new development could cover the surface parking lots and possibly also a wooded area in a flood plain between the parking lots and the Northwest Branch Trail.
Metro released a strategic plan in April to increase development on Metro-owned land, including around the West Hyattsville station. The WMATA 10-Year Strategic Plan for Joint Development evaluated 40 Metro stations for development.
Joint development, the focus of the new plan, means private developers building on Metro property in collaboration with Metro. Joint development must follow federal guidelines, in addition to Metro’s own program and planning guidelines, and Metro’s board policies.
Under the plan, Metro aims to enter into 20 agreements to develop land around stations by 2032, an ambitious increase. Since 1975, Metro has entered into 55 joint development agreements at 30 stations.
The plan includes strategies to accelerate development, including partnering with local governments, right-sizing stations — particularly in response to new commuting and teleworking trends — and making investments at stations to increase development readiness.
West Hyattsville future development
West Hyattsville is one of the first ten stations where Metro will solicit proposals for future development, under the plan.
According to the plan, over the next two years, Metro will complete a feasibility study, conduct a public hearing and seek funding for infrastructure improvements. In coordination with the county, Metro will plan a parking garage, bus facilities, a street grid, and floodplain mitigation.
Metro aims to enter into a joint development agreement for this portion of the station, and to support the developer’s planning, between 2024 and 2026.
In New Carrollton, through joint development, Kaiser Permanente opened a new office building in 2019. Stella, a 282-unit apartment building with 3,500 square feet of retail space, opened in 2021. In March, construction began on The Margaux, which will have 291 apartments affordable for essential workers, including teachers, first responders and health care providers, through financial support from the Amazon Housing Equity Fund. The New Carrollton station will also be the site for Metro’s Maryland offices, and future phases of development will include a mix of office, residential, and retail space.
The Atworth apartment building will replace Metro’s large surface parking lot on River Road to the southeast of the College Park station. Amazon provided funding to make the 451 apartments affordable to people earning up to 80% of the area median income, with anticipated rents between $1,400 and $2,500 based on the size of the apartment.
The Fort Totten station joins West Hyattsville on the list of the first 10 stations where Metro will solicit proposals for future development.
Metro’s plan lists the College Park (the western portion) and Greenbelt stations in the second group of 10 stations for future solicitations.
Recent development at West Hyattsville
In 2020, Metro sold 5.3 of its 27 acres near the West Hyattsville station to be added to the Riverfront at West Hyattsville project. An Oct. 18, 2021, presentation to the Hyattsville City Council showed that the developer plans to build a multifamily building with approximately 300 units on this land. The developer will submit planning documents for that building to the city and county as part of a later phase of the development. The Riverfront at West Hyattsville, which is being constructed in phases to the west and north of the station, will also include a total of about 500 to 600 apartment units,183 townhouses and 10,000 square feet of commercial space. The new Kaiser Permanente medical building, currently under construction, is also part of the larger project.
A win-win opportunity
“As we emerge from the pandemic, joint development presents a real win-win opportunity for Metro and the region,” Liz Price, Metro’s vice president of real estate, said in a statement about the plan.
Since its inception, Metro has been connected with the growth of the D.C. region. Fifty-seven percent 57% of the region’s jobs are located within half mile of a Metro station or Metrobus stop, and 28% of the region’s tax base is found within half mile of a Metro station.
Metro benefits from more transit-oriented development around stations. Developers pay Metro to purchase or lease Metro’s property. Following construction, new residents, workers and visitors pay Metro fare to travel to the new homes and businesses.
The City of Hyattsville and other local governments also benefit. When undeveloped, tax-exempt Metro-owned property is replaced by private homes and businesses, local governments see new sources of tax revenue. Metro estimates that the current joint development at West Hyattsville generates $2.1 million in taxes for state and local government each year.
Plans for development not new
Long-term local plans for the area, like the 2006 West Hyattsville transit district development plan, also envision development around the station. And public outreach for the West Hyattsville-Queens Chapel sector plan, a draft of which is scheduled for release later this summer, has included discussion of building more housing and businesses near the station.
This is not the first time that Metro has identified the West Hyattsville station for development. Metro entered into an agreement with a company to develop the entire site in 2005, but terminated the agreement in 2009 because of a lack of progress. And in 2015, Metro presented an update to the Hyattsville City Council on its plans to solicit bids for private, transit-oriented development at the station. Metro ended up selling land for the Riverfront at West Hyattsville, after receiving an unsolicited offer from the developers.
With renewed focus and a new strategy from Metro, however, Hyattsville could finally see further development centered around the West Hyattsville station in the coming years.