Washington’s Metro has outlined an ambitious 10-year-plan to develop housing and commercial space on 20 properties owned by the transit system.
The objective of the initiative is to secure the transit system’s viability in light of possibly permanent revenue reductions because of the trend to telework. As well, the Washington Post reported that an overextended construction budget has caused Maryland lawmakers to propose increasing annual subsidies under a plan contingent on Virginia doing the same.
The full Metro strategic joint development plan, released on April 7
Metro is concerned about the financial blow it expects this summer, when more than $2 billion in federal COVID-19 relief comes to an end.
The solution: Develop the system’s properties in a manner that helps grow the transit system with businesses and housing that also generate tax revenue
The agency estimates that new transit users from the plan’s proposed developments could increase Metro trips by 5 million to 9 million annually, resulting in $20 to $40 million in additional fares.
Metro officials estimate that lease revenues would add another $50 in revenue, as the developments contribute about $340 million in annual tax revenue to state and local jurisdictions.
As land prices soar, Metro’s properties — including 550 buildable acres near 40 rail stations — have become increasingly appealing to developers. Metro estimates there is potential for 31 million sq. ft. of development and 26,000 homes. More than half of the potential sites are in Maryland. There are six in northern Virginia and some others in the District of Columbia.
“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 for real estate, said in a statement.