We work with public officials and community leaders to support economic development through well-designed, mixed-use, transit-oriented development, which will build the county’s tax and employment base, and provide increased retail and housing choices.
Regional Medical Center
County Executive Rushern Baker has made transit-oriented development a top priority in Prince George’s, and with the input and approval of the Council, created a $50 million Economic Development Incentive Fund focused primarily on transit-oriented development and inside-the-Beltway investment.
At first, it wasn’t clear how much priority Prince George’s County officials would give to a Metro station location as they considered a site for a new regional medical center. But our two-year campaign demonstrating the accessibility and health benefits of a transit station
location paid off in 2013 when the county selected a walkable site next to the Largo Town Center Metro. As of summer 2015, the project is processing though needed approvals, including a certificate of need from the state of Maryland, before further plans move ahead.
We have released a series of case studies highlighting the importance of urban design, community connections, and transit access to a successful medical center project. The hospital design examples are from leading national and international architectural firms, including AECOM, Cannon Designs, ZGF, and Smithgroup JJR. We thank AIA Potomac Valley and the Envision Prince George’s Community Action Team for Transit-Oriented Development for their partnership in making these case studies possible.
Plan Prince George’s 2035
Plan Prince George’s 2035, the proposed 20 year general plan for Prince George’s County, could get the county on the right track if we can translate the sound planning ideas and good intentions into reality. We commend the planning board for the bold draft Plan Prince George’s 2035. But we worry that still permitting large-scale “suburban centers” on undeveloped land will jeopardize our county’s long-term sustainability, lead to worse traffic, and take away needed funds for investing in our existing neighborhoods and at Metro stations.
What the Plan 2035 does right – a lot!
- Focuses future growth around transit and inside the Beltway.
- Commits to a short list of priority Metro stations for priority public investment: Prince George’s Plaza Metro, New Carrollton Metro, and Largo Town Center Metro. We agree with setting a short list for investment.
- Designates 8 Regional Transit Centers, including the top three as the place for the majority of the county’s growth in jobs and housing for the next twenty years (College Park/UM Metro/M Square/Purple Line, Greenbelt Metro, Suitland Metro, Branch Avenue Metro, and National Harbor (though transit is missing from National Harbor))
- Focuses public investments – the Capital Improvement Program (CIP), and public incentives and subsidies to the top priority Regional Transit Centers, along with inside the Beltway neighborhood reinvestment areas, and limited primary employment areas.
- Pursues better approaches to transportation for urban areas with multimodal performance measures.
- Proposes a set of housing policies to ensure that as the county grows and changes, all residents can find quality housing that fits their budget.
What the Plan is trying to do but needs to be bolder
- Stem the pipeline of sprawl – the Plan recommends several changes to how development approvals work to try to reduce the nearly 17,000 approved housing units backlog of unbuilt units. The vast majority of these approved projects would be in suburban areas far from transit.
We need to tell the Planning Board and County Council that we’ve had it with sprawl that undermines our plans for building at Metro stations and revitalizing older communities. The planners make all the right arguments for why this planned sprawl hurts the future of our county, we need decision-makers to act to stop extending approvals of old sprawl projects,
- Put on hold the big schemes in the proposed “Suburban Centers” – chiefly Westphalia, Konterra and Brandywine. The communities in these areas where these suburban centers have been designated should be maintained and local services enhanced, not supersized. Fueling large, automobile-dependent residential and commercial developments in these areas will steal scarce public dollars and focus away from where growth belongs – at priority Metro stations and revitalization areas.
The Planning Board and County Council need to know – you don’t accept the inevitability of the big suburban sprawl “centers” that have been pushed in the past. Ask them to take them off the list, contain the growth of these distant developments by putting them behind the county’s priority growth areas. Ask the county to devote its state and local capital dollars to maintaining established communities and channeling growth to the priority investment areas near transit.
The bottom line is that we applaud the progressive sections of this plan and believe they set the county in the right direction. But decision-makers need to do more to deal with the legacy of sprawl projects. The plan outlines some actions, but much stronger action is needed – eliminate the “Suburban Center” idea as a designated growth center, especially places like Westphalia, where little development exists today. We should provide needed services to every existing community, but not support expansion of development in an area that can’t support it and doesn’t build on the county’s future in transit-oriented development.
Transit-oriented economic development
Despite its assets and relatively high household incomes, development around Prince George’s Metro stations has lagged. Most regional job growth occurs on the western side of the region in western D.C., Arlington, Fairfax and Montgomery. This imbalance causes Prince George’s County workers to endure some of the longest commutes in the region. If we used incentives to encourage more jobs to locate on the east side of the region and employers committed to putting jobs near transit, traffic congestion could be dramatically cut. More Prince George’s residents would enjoy the benefits of regional access offered by the county’s Metro stations and moderately-priced housing stock. The region as a whole would benefit from reduced traffic and pollution, and a more efficient use of regional transportation capacity.
Envision Prince George’s Community Action Team for transit-oriented development
We work closely with the Envision Prince George’s Community Action Team for Transit-Oriented Development on periodic educational events focused on the opportunities and challenges facing Prince George’s County.
Invest Prince George’s
This document demonstrates the opportunities for development around each of Prince George’s County’s 15 Metrorail stations. It offers a wealth of information for investors seeking access to the strong Washington, D.C. market by capitalizing on the region’s most strategic, yet undervalued sites.TOP
Equitable development in Langley Park
Langley Park, a vibrant multi-cultural community, has recently received a much-needed bus service upgrade. Metrobus and county bus service ridership in the community is high. More than a quarter of community workers ride public transit, and more than a third of households do not even own a car.
Previously, riders would risk crossing one or more six-lane roads in order to transfer buses. However, the Takoma Langley Crossroads Transit Center, which opened on December 22, 2016, eases switches between buses for the estimated 12,000 riders who are making transfers there each day.
The 12 bay bus center houses stops for Metrobus, Ride On, The Bus, and University of Maryland shuttles. The routes that can be found at the new transit center include the C2, C4, F8, J4, K6, and K9 Metrobus routes, the 15, 16, 17, 18, and 25 Montgomery County’s Ride On routes, the No 18 Prince George’s County The Bus route, as well as the 111 Shuttle-UM route.
The potential of the Purple Line
The transit center, located at the intersection of University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue, is also expected to be the home of a future Purple Line stop, the planned inner urban light rail line. A high-quality light rail investment will improve transit service, and could spur transit-oriented development and business opportunities. However, with this promise also come challenges.
We are pressing the state and local governments to implement zoning, housing, economic assistance, and other policies to ensure low-wage workers, renters and small businesses have the opportunity to stay in communities to be served by the Purple Line.
Langley Park is a low-income community where household incomes are thirty-eight percent lower than the rest of Prince George’s County. It’s a strong immigrant community, with half of the residents born outside of the United States. Latin Americans make up the vast majority of that half, at over eighty percent.
We are working to ensure that Prince George’s County supports housing preservation and assists renters and small businesses so that everyone can benefit from the Purple Line, and we are asking the State of Maryland to set aside funds to assist the county in this effort.