The Silver Line is Here! No, Really!

I honestly thought this day would never come. Much like the Streetcar, the Silver Line has always been a sort of nebulous promise in the back of my mind – you know, like self-driving cars – one that I never actually expected to come to fruition. So I definitely did a double-take when I saw that a firm date has been set for the opening of the Silver Line, and that it’s actually in the foreseeable future!

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the line is scheduled to open for regular operations starting July 26th. Yup, less than 3 weeks away! There will be test runs in the week leading up to it, but no one will be able to board those trains (so don’t get confused if you see one whizz by at the station).

The Silver line will largely overlap with the Orange and Blue lines in DC proper; out in the burbs, it will have five dedicated stations:  McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill, and Wiehle-Reston East. For all the details, click here. Or just check out the map below!


Need a Drink?

Thrillist recently put out this hilariously useful “Metro Bar Map,” which lists the closest bar to each Metro Stop*. So the next time your nerves are absolutely frazzled by your awful Metro ride, you’ll be able to make a beeline for the nearest bar stool – literally. Enjoy!

Thrillist Bar Map

*Programming Note (from Thrillist): There are some spots that would be SUPER awkward to drink at — like Arlington Cemetery, The Pentagon, Fort Totten, and a hodgepodge of government buildings at Federal Center — so we’ve left those out.

Which Metro Stations Have Incited Developer Bidding Wars?

New development around Metro stations continues to pick up steam (pun fully intended). Major developers have been putting in bids around the Navy Yard, Grosvenor-Strathmore, and Morgan Blvd (out by FedEx Field) metro stations, and the competition is hot. The Washington Post has the full story below:

Developers pursue projects at three Metro stations

By Jonathan O’ConnellPublished: March 30 

John McDonnell/Washington Post – Access to Metro stations is more valuable than ever to real estate developers. (Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Real estate owned by Metro continues to attract a crowd.

The transit agency this month received seven bids from developers interested in building projects on Metro-owned parking lots, bus bays and other properties around three of its stations.
In November, Metro began a search for companies interested in building on properties the transit agency owns at five stations: Brookland, Navy Yard, Fort Totten, Grosvenor-Strathmore and Morgan Boulevard.Metro’s real estate unit extended the deadline for the Brookland project, but received bids for three others and is beginning to evaluate them, according to Stanley Wall, Metro director of real estate and station planning.

Three companies bid for 4.5 acres at the Grosvenor-Strathmore station, where Metro envisions a project with 475 to 600 residential units: MRP Realty, Four Points and Streetscape Partners. MRP and Four Points are mixed-use developers based in the District. Streetscape Partners built the Symphony Park at Strathmore nearby and is developing a Simon outlet center in Clarksburg,

Another site, an air-conditioning facility by the Navy Yard Metro station, is near Nationals Park. It also attracted three proposals from Akridge, Trammell Crow Co. and a team of MRP and a partner, CAS Riegler Cos, according to Wall. Metro has suggested that developers try to acquire private property next door, which would make the air-conditioning property more valuable.

The largest property, a 37-acre parcel at the Morgan Boulevard station, received one proposal from Trammell Crow. Metro is requiring that any project here replace 608 parking spaces as well as provide another 372 spaces that are currently located at the Capitol Heights station, a requirement that could be expensive.

For all the stations, Metro requires that its existing facilities be replaced after development, usually by moving parking spaces or bus bays underground or into structured parking garages.

At another station, Fort Totten, the cost of replacing Metro’s facilities was so great — likely running $10 million to 15 million — that no developers responded. Metro required a minimum of 422 parking spaces, either underground or in a garage. Wall said the idea to develop at Fort Totten would be set aside until the market improves to the point where there is more interest.

“The biggest issue is the size and scope of our facilities there versus the development potential,” he said.

He also cautioned that just because the agency received interest in the other stations didn’t mean those projects would get built. Any deal for the properties must be approved by Metro’s board of directors.

“Just because we received one development proposal for Morgan Boulevard, for instance, doesn’t mean we’ll move forward,” Wall said.

Metro’s Smart New Strategy

Monday, WMATA launched an active search for companies interested in developing their land near five Metro stations: Brookland, Navy Yard, Fort Totten, Grosvenor-Strathmore and Morgan Boulevard. Um, it’s about damn time, WMATA! According to the article below, this is “an effort to take advantage of some of the boom in development near public transit.” Some of the boom? And why is WMATA acting like the hotness of developments near Metro is a new phenomenon? Metro-accessibility has always been a key factor in property values in the area (closer to Metro, the higher the price!). It’s about time WMATA figured this out and started acting on it! Here’s the piece from the Post:

Metro seeks developers for five sites in Maryland and D.C.

The Bozzuto Group – A rendering of the Monroe Street Market development in Brookland. Metro owns property it would like to develop nearby.

By , Published: November 4 E-mail the writer

Developers have been calling the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to inquire about the transit agency’s properties — many of them surface parking lots in developing neighborhoods — and the agency has responded.

In an effort to take advantage of some of the boom in development near public transit, Metro launched a search Monday for companies interested in building on properties the transit agency owns at five of its stations: Brookland, Navy Yard, Fort Totten, Grosvenor-Strathmore and Morgan Boulevard.

Many of the properties, outlined in a 135-page document the agency posted online Monday, are in neighborhoods where private sector development is already underway or expected shortly, potentially boosting the value of Metro’s parking lots or land. Three of the stations are in D.C., one is in Montgomery County and another is in Prince George’s County.

The largest of the properties, 37 acres at the Morgan Boulevard station in Landover, is one stop from where Maryland and Prince George’s County officials are planning a $645 million regional hospital campus.

In Brookland, Metro is seeking partners for property across from where developers Jim Abdo and Bozzuto Group are developing a $200 million mixed-use project, calledMonroe Street Market, with Catholic University.

Another site, an air conditioning facility near the Navy Yard Metro station, is near Nationals Park and across the street from a vacant warehouse that the federal government said it plans to sell and where some residents are pushing for a food market to open.

With the area’s boom in apartment construction, developers have increasingly been calling Metro to ask about buying or leasing the agency’s properties, according to Stanley Wall, Metro director of real estate and station planning. The Morgan Boulevard property, he said, received an unsolicited development proposal and Wall said he wanted to take advantage of the interest.

“Given that there is so much momentum at this time, we’re trying to take advantage of that,” he said.

Building on top of a Metro station isn’t always easy because it often requires a developer to replace whatever parking or access facilities are there presently, either by building them underground or in a garage.

Disagreements between the agency and developer have thwarted some past public-private development plans. A previous effort at the Navy Yard, for instance, was cancelled. Others, like a development agreement at the Takoma station, have been delayed for years.

To head off problems, Wall said the agency has pre-planned multiple scenarios for Metro’s facilities at each of the stations, giving developers a road map that satisfies Metro’s needs for each property.

“We’ve actually created a couple of development scenarios for each site, so that way you can solve for transit before figuring out what the developers might need,” he said.

Any agreement between a developer and the agency for the five properties would require approval from Metro’s board of directors.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz