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Metro Aims To Reach 20 Agreements With Developers By 2032, Spurring 31M SF Of New Construction

New development rising in Silver Spring, seen from the Metro station platform.

Metro has released a 10-year development plan laying out how the transit authority plans to spur new construction around nearly a third of its stations.

The transit authority set a goal of reaching 20 new agreements with developers to build around Metro stations by the end of 2032, and it specified several stations where it plans to release solicitations for those agreements by the end of next year. 

The plan, first previewed at a Bisnow event last year and released in full Thursday, could ultimately lead to 31M SF of new mixed-use development that could create 26,000 new housing units. Metro hopes that the development would increase ridership and revenues after a decade-long struggle to retain both.

"Transit-oriented development is a proud legacy of the Metro system, creating jobs, economic growth, and improving quality of life for the millions of people we serve," Paul Wiedefeld, Metro's outgoing general manager and CEO, said in a statement. "Joint development has never been more important as we lay out our vision to help the region tackle congestion, housing availability, sustainability, and more, all while making our communities even more economically competitive."

The transit authority said new development could generate up to $40M in annual Metro fare revenue and $50M in annual lease revenue. It cited proprietary data showing that stations on the system that already have transit-oriented development, including NoMa, Gallery Place, Silver Spring and Ballston, saw ridership increase before and after SafeTrack repairs, while ridership fell systemwide from 2011 levels.

The next phase of TOD is centered around stations away from D.C.'s central business district. There are six stations for which Metro said it plans to issue joint development solicitations by the end of 2023: Brookland-CUA, Capitol Heights, Deanwood, Fort Totten, Huntington and North Bethesda.

Those six sites alone could bring nearly 4.9M SF of development, according to Metro's projections.

A map from WMATA's report showing the stations where it aims to reach agreements with developers.

Its plans for future redevelopment ripple outward from there to several additional stations. Between 2024 and 2026, Metro hopes to issue joint development solicitations for Braddock Road, Friendship Heights, two sites at Twinbrook and West Hyattsville. Later in the decade, Metro plans to pursue additional projects in Prince George's County and Montgomery County.

The Friendship Heights project will be particularly complicated, as WMATA also needs to finalize plans for its Western Bus Garage, which has been tagged for replacement in 2025 and could be repurposed into a mixed-use development.

Besides bolstering ridership, Metro also said its transit-oriented development projects have contributed significant tax revenues to local jurisdictions already. 

The transit authority said it had 55 developments either completed or under construction at 30 stations. Those projects have delivered 17M SF of development, contributing nearly $194M in annual impact, according to Metro.

The ambitious plan comes as the region's transit system has struggled with years of delayed station openings and months of reduced train service

Delivering new transit projects on time in the D.C. region has been a challenge for other authorities in recent years. Construction on Maryland's Purple Line light rail system halted completely last year after its main contractor walked off the job, and the opening date of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority's Silver Line Phase 2, which will add six new stations to the service once completed, has been pushed back repeatedly this year.