Building Diversified Communities
Best practice: Transit Agency Leads TOD policy and development
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA’s) Office of Real Estate and Station Planning, gained years of experience in creating successful TOD projects in the Washington, D.C. region. Early on, WMATA recognized the benefits of mixed-use development and began land-use planning around Metro stations. WMATA’s robust real estate department includes staff with backgrounds in real estate, public affairs, engineering, planning, asset management and finance to identify joint development opportunities. Staff identifies development potential through commercial and residential growth projections, information the agency uses to generate potential TOD sites the agency can market or acquire.
WMATA’s TOD policy is based upon joint development. Properties either owned or controlled by Metro are marketed to private developers to develop into TOD. WMATA’s significant joint development experience, which in 2014 numbered more than 50 TOD projects, combined with changes to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) joint development policy, have increased private developer interest in building TODs. In a break from the past, when WMATA continued to own the land with long-term leases, WMATA has the ability to sell the land and keep the revenue. This change in development policy coupled with WMATA’s proactive pre-development planning and aggressive land assembly strategies has attracted developers who prefer owning the land over leasing.
WMATA is leading a proactive TOD development approach at New Carrollton Metro Station. The transit agency no longer accepts or rejects plans drafted by developers. Instead of a developer approaching WMATA with a proposal, going through the approval process, then starting the plan, WMATA will select a developer and initiate the planning process to inform the final negotiations. The developer organizes, and pays for, a community charrette and collaborative planning process with WMATA staff. This provides both WMATA and the developer a better idea of exactly what they can build, at what cost. The developer receives a credit for his or her expenditures that is reimbursed when they actually purchase the land. This collaborative process better informs decision-making by consulting all the project’s stakeholders early in the planning process and ultimately leads to better development around metro stations.
WMATA is partnering with Prince George’s County, state agency staff and private developers to coordinate infrastructure planning for the Branch Avenue TOD in Suitland. The 25-acre project anticipates 2.25 million square feet of mixed use space with 1.3 million square feet of office space and 137,000 square feet of retail. Approximately 700 residential units are planned at the site. WMATA utilizes a combination of creative financing methods including tax increment financing (TIF), parking surcharges and tax abatements to finance TOD related infrastructure. Approximately 6,900 new daily trips are projected at the Branch Avenue station when the TOD is complete. Additionally, $740 million in value will be added to the property tax base by the time the project is complete.
TOD Best Practices: Building Diversified Communities