Prince George's County Planning Department

Background

The Prince George’s County Planning Department of The Maryland–National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC or the Commission) is a recipient of a 2010 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Challenge Planning Grant. The planning grant is to fund preparation of a comprehensive transit-oriented development action plan for the corridor that encompasses the last four Metro stations on the southern part of the Green Line in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The purpose of the planning project is to recommend policies, strategies, and an economic develoment program to stimulate growth at the four stations according to a well-defined urban development plan.

The TOD Corridor Action Plan will propose a development program that meets the six livability principles of the HUD Sustainable Communities Program:

1. Provide more transportation choices.
2. Promote equitable, affordable housing.
3. Enhance economic competiveness.
4. Support existing communities.
5. Coordinate policies and leverage investment.
6. Value communities and neighborhoods.

Project objectives specific to Prince George’s County are to increase the county’s share of regional job growth; address income, jobs, and transportation inequities; increase quality, affordable housing through mixed-income projects; enhance connectivity to and between Metro stations; increase transportation options and utilization of the Metrorail Green Line for reverse commute trips; and stabilize and preserve nearby communities.

The project corridor surrounds four stations on the southern end of the Metro Green Line in Prince George’s County, Maryland, extending from Southern Avenue down Branch Avenue (MD 5) to the Capital Beltway, which is Interstate 495.

MetroMapThe four stations are:

Southern Avenue
Naylor Road
Suitland
Branch Avenue

These stations all opened in January 2001 as part of a 6.5-mile extension of the Green Line from Anacostia Station that also included a fifth station at Congress Heights in the District of Columbia. The $900 million project completed the Metrorail system as originally conceived in the 1960s. The rail
technology is heavy rail with stations spaced roughly 1.5 miles apart in this section.

The area directly served is, like most of Prince George’s County, unincorporated; however, the corridor overlays or connects to a number of named communities, including Hillcrest Heights, Marlow Heights, and Suitland. The residential buildings in these communities date from the late 1950s and 1960s, with single-family rambler houses, duplexes, townhouses, and clusters of multifamily apartments. The Branch Avenue strip in its heyday during the 1960s was a regional shopping destination anchored by Marlow Heights Shopping Center and Iverson Mall, the first large indoor shopping center in the Washington metro area.

While these retail centers struggle to compete with much newer developments in the county, as well as northern Virginia, the area shows signs of becoming a federal employment corridor with the redeveloped federal agency headquarters for the U.S. Census Bureau and other agencies immediately adjacent to the Suitland Metro Station. The Department of Homeland Security headquarters, with 4.5 million square feet of office space, will be located near Congress Heights Metro Station in the District of Columbia, while competing private office developments to support Homeland Security are proposed for Naylor Road and the Branch Avenue Stations. Understanding the regional economic position of the corridor and suggesting strategies for future economic development is crucial to the project.

The Southern Green Line Station Area Plan will create future development concepts for the areas within walking distance of the Metro stations at:

 

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Branch Avenue Station

  

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Suitland Station

 

  

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Naylor Road Station

  

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Southern Avenue Station

In the ten years since these stations opened in 2001, investments have been made in rebuilding federal offices, acquiring deteriorating properties in Suitland, and developing new apartments and condominiums at Branch Avenue. Interest in building next to these stations continues to grow; proposals have been made for new office, retail, and residential development that will benefit from the access Metro provides to the District of Columbia and the region.

To ensure that new projects make the most of limited land adjacent to each station, the Prince George’s County Planning Department initiated this comprehensive planning effort. It will analyze the Green Line Corridor and make recommendations regarding:

  • Economic development strategies
  • Future land use
  • Bus transit connections
  • Pedestrian and bicycle links
  • Building types
  • Urban design and sustainability guidelines

The goal of the Metro Green Line Corridor Action Plan is to establish a shared vision for walkable and livable communities focused on the transit station, an approach that has become known as transit-oriented development or TOD.

Principles of Transit-Oriented Development

 

  • Use transit to shape the growth of community centers.
  • Create a compact mix of land uses around transit stations that support and benefit from transit service.
  • Place highest intensity development nearest to the transit station.
  • Provide direct pedestrian routes to the station.
  • Design the station area as a civic amenity and a recognizable place in the community.