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WMATA To Seek Developers To Build Around Huntington Metro Station

The area around Fairfax County's Huntington Metro station, the last stop on the Yellow Line, could soon be the site of a major mixed-use development. 

The area around the Huntington Metro station, with the recently closed south garage on the left

WMATA is planning to issue a solicitation for developers to rezone two large parcels around the station, construct mixed-use buildings on the site and potentially rebuild or replace a deteriorated parking garage it was forced to close. 

The transit agency's staff will present the plan to WMATA's Finance and Capital Committee Thursday and request authorization to issue the solicitation. It hopes to issue the solicitation later this year, select a developer in the spring, and execute the development agreement next summer. 

The 12.4-acre site would need to be rezoned to allow for mixed-use development. WMATA aims to propose the zoning changes ahead of Fairfax County's comprehensive plan amendment process, which is expected to begin late next year. WMATA, which declined to comment, did not specify in the proposal what zoning classification it aims to achieve for the site or how much density it wants the developer to build.  

The project would demolish and potentially replace an 885-space parking garage, built in 1983, that closed in August due to unsafe conditions. The Huntington Metro station has another 2,732 parking spaces between two additional garages. Prior to the August closure, the three garages were an average of 61% filled during fiscal year 2018, WMATA officials wrote. Given the large number of empty spaces, WMATA said it is unclear how much, if any, replacement parking is necessary for the site. 

The development partner would be given the rights to plan and construct new buildings on the 6.3-acre garage site and another 6.1-acre parcel to the north of the Metro station. There are some complexities to the site, Metro's proposal says, including a steep hill and the train tracks running underneath the southern parcel. WMATA also hopes development could improve the entrances to the station. The Huntington station is scheduled to shut down next summer to allow its train platform to be rebuilt. 

"Metro desires to have a mix of uses in its joint development projects to maximize transit ridership, which can be best accomplished if the selected joint developer can plan both development parcels," WMATA's proposal said. 

The Courts at Huntington Station, a 600-unit development built just south of the Metro station in 2005

It would be the latest in a series of projects WMATA has launched on parking lots and other vacant land around Metro stations as it seeks to encourage transit-oriented development. It signed a deal with Gilbane in January to build a 440-unit project on Metro-owned land next to the College Park Metro station. It also reached an agreement with Fivesquares Development to build over 2M SF of mixed-use development at the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station.

Just south of the Huntington site, the 600-unit Courts at Huntington Station was built in 2005 as a result of a WMATA partnership with Pulte Homes. Along with that project, the county approved the development of 250K SF of adjacent office space, but WMATA says the market has not supported the construction of an office building. 

To the north of the station, IDI Group is in the early stages of a 1,500-unit redevelopment of the Huntington Club condominium complex, after condo owners voted in November to terminate their association to allow the 1960s-era property to be redeveloped.

The Huntington station is the eastern terminus of the planned bus rapid transit system that will travel down Richmond Highway. The BRT system was the focal point for a major land-use plan passed earlier this year that envisions 15M SF of new development along Richmond Highway. The plan also calls for the construction of two new Metro stations to extend the Yellow line from Huntington to Hybla Valley.