The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is a pioneer among transit agencies for its success in developing its land holdings th rough its joint development program. The program captures the value of trans it investment through air right leases, charging station connection fees to joint development projects, and increasing ridership resulting from TODs.
A great deal of WMATA’s success pursuing joint development is due to an in-house real estate development department that pursues an entrepreneurial approach to land development. In its early days, the agency used the financial resources to purchase large amounts of land around planned rail stations at relatively low prices. Later, the agency began using the landholdings for joint developments.
Development sites are selected according to a set of criteria that gauge the potential for real estate development sent through a RFP process to solicit developer interest. Following a series of negotiations with interested developers, a team is chosen and contracts specifying the financial terms of the deal are developed.
The agency’s joint development strategy has evolved. In 2008, the agency updated its Joint Development Policies and Guidelines to focus more on TOD and transit improvements than on financial returns. The revised policy also encourages more pre-development planning and streamlining the project review process, consulting all project’s stakeholders early in the planning process in hopes of better resulting development projects around metro stations.
In 2013, WMATA revised its Joint Development Policies and Guidelines again. In addition to addressing other needs, the 2013 revision reiterates objectives that support TOD, incorporates an affordable housing policy, and clarifies language in the Guidelines that ensures greater transparency to developers.
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