By Derrick Perkins (Photo/Derrick Perkins)
City officials recognized Braddock Road Metro station’s potential for redevelopment years ago. It took convincing, but they’ve finally got the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority seeing it their way.
The transit hub, just outside of the Parker-Gray neighborhood, emerged as a leading contender for redevelopment earlier this year. Metro’s real estate and development committee named it and three other stations — Forest Glen, Largo Town Center and West Hyattsville — as next in line for a makeover in March.
The announcement has City Hall’s top planners, who created a vision for the neighborhood six years ago, understandably excited.
“The development of the Braddock Metro site has been on the city’s radar screen for some time,” said Deputy City Manager Mark Jenks. “Since we don’t own the site, it really takes getting WMATA to take the initiative and they finally started on this one.”
City Hall’s plans for the property call for 300,000 square feet of office and retail space. Officials also envision a hotel at the site.
While Alexandria’s planners have an idea for the property, Metro officials are keeping an open mind. They have no preconceived notions, said Stan Wall, the transit network’s director of real estate and station planning.
But a hotel — given the station’s access to Reagan National Airport — would be great, he said.
“This is primarily driven by City of Alexandria’s interest in wanting to see something happen in that station. Based on everything that’s happening to Potomac Yard, they see a good deal of momentum in the [city],” Wall said. “They’d love to see a hotel there. They’d also love to see a lot of neighborhood retail. … They would love to see something more [active] around the station.”
Jenks credited Mayor Bill Euille’s presence on Metro’s board of directors as one reason behind the attention now being given to the Braddock Road station. The other major factor was the city’s work with Metro on the Royal Street bus barn, which also is slated for redevelopment.
Early on, planners created a hybrid model for handling that project. Metro would focus on soliciting the private sector for ideas while city officials would lead the community involvement effort.
It was a first-of-its-kind approach to the redevelopment of Metro property, Jenks said.
“With WMATA, we had come up with a good way of working through the Royal Street process,” he said. “This hybrid process was never done before. They agreed to it and things are going to smoothly.”
Wall hopes to turn to the private sector for proposals by Labor Day. Before then, though, officials will determine what the transit network’s transportation needs are at the site.
Even after a proposal for the site has been settled upon — a process expected to take four or five months — a redeveloped Braddock Road Metro station will remain a few years off, Wall said. The final stretch would see the anointed proposition go through the city’s planning procedure.
“We would have to go through that formal process with the city,” Wall said. “We endeavor to have a completed development agreement in a year or two and then it’s a matter of going through a local planning process. It’s probably a couple of years away.”
Redeveloping the Braddock Road station will be nothing new for Metro, which has sought to exploit the land it secured for the transit system almost since its inception. Wall points to the Ballston and Farragut North stations as examples of Metro’s past work.
And, after a temporary drop in demand, interest in redevelopment has grown in recent years.
“The recent push is more due to economic conditions than anything else,” Wall said. “The last few years have been very slow, just due to general market conditions. With things now accelerating in terms of housing development and housing demand … we’re taking advantage of that to try and stimulate joint developments on our sites.”