Apr 18, 2022 - News

Metro accelerates development plans

A Metro train pulls up to a fairly empty station.
Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Metro has released a 10-year joint development plan that’s chock-full of big projects to extend the agency’s reach and increase ridership. 

The big picture: The pandemic dealt a significant blow to Metro’s profits, and recovery has been  slow. Metro hopes to strengthen its other streams of income by developing more mixed-use projects near stations. 

Details: Metro has completed a number of joint development projects in the past (such as buildings at Metro Center and Ballston), but this is the first time the transportation agency has released a strategic ten-year plan to accelerate development. 

Here are our top takeaways: 

  1. Metro wants to help build your home. The agency says it could produce 26,000 new housing units and 31 million square feet of new development through joint development projects at 40 stations. This could create a projected $50 million in yearly lease revenue.
  2. “Right-sizing” is a priority. The shift to remote work has pushed Metro to rethink how it allocates space. The plan includes strategies to reduce parking and adjust to increased rideshare usage by “modernizing” pick-up/drop-off zones.
  3. The plan is supposed to be mutually beneficial. Metro developments could bring in $340 million in annual tax revenue, which would benefit local governments.

What they're saying: “It’s about time. This should’ve been done 15-20 years ago,” ATU Local 689 president & business agent Raymond Jackson says of Metro's plan. He wants the agency to prioritize developing affordable housing near Metro stations, as he says its residents are more likely to use public transportation.

What we're watching: Metro could soon face additional financial hits. Pandemic stimulus funds are expected to run out next year, leaving the agency with a funding gap that exceeds $300 million, the Washington Post reports.

Plus, as inflation rises, keeping the operating budget from increasing more than the 3% subsidy cap allows will only become more difficult.

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