FBI HQ’s Move to Greenbelt Unearths Untapped Potential of Blue Line Corridor
The federal government’s decision to relocate the FBI’s headquarters to a site near the Greenbelt Metro station put a spotlight on how commercial development around Metro stops in Prince George’s County has been largely overlooked and under-utilized.
The announcement was a testament to Prince George’s County’s affordability and the availability of ready-to-build land. It was also a welcome recognition of the inequitable distribution of federal jobs to the county.
Aside from Greenbelt, perhaps the portion of the county with the highest opportunities for smart, innovative, and transit-oriented commercial growth is along the county’s inner-Beltway Blue Line Metro stations - Addison Road, Capitol Heights and Morgan Boulevard.
While valuable real estate around most of the region’s Metro stations has long been gobbled up, the availability of vacant, developable land along the Blue Line corridor could be a golden opportunity for job growth and economic development - but only if state and county leaders put forth an effort similar to the effort for Greenbelt.
Like Greenbelt, Greater Capitol Heights has thousands of skilled workers of all abilities living in the immediate area. But what makes the Capitol Heights area especially potentially lucrative is its inside-the-Beltway location and its close proximity to D.C. and the many transit options that provide direct connections to some of the most popular areas in the region.
With the appropriate infrastructure investments, some tweaks to zoning code, and creative marketing strategies, land along the Blue Line corridor could be a lot more attractive to smart growth-minded developers.
For instance, there is a 23-acre residential-zoned brownfield site within a five-minute walk north of the Addison Road station. This is the perfect site for a mixed-use development that combines quality housing with office or retail space. But that site cannot reach its potential without environmental remediation and a change in zoning–both of which the County could easily do.
Other ways to encourage growth along the Blue Line corridor:
Community members should participate in M-NCPPC’s Blue Line-Silver Line Sector Plan
Keep walkability and smart, environmental growth practices at the center of any development plans
Modify zoning to allow for denser, multi-family housing and mixed-use development close to Metro
Make necessary environmental remediation of vacant land to make sites more shovel-ready
Equity was a main selling point for enticing the FBI headquarters to Greenbelt. But the county’s efforts to steer growth have largely focused on the communities with higher household incomes than its inner-tier suburbs like Greater Capitol Heights. True equity would see just as much attention paid to the neighborhoods along the Blue Line corridor.
And just think about the lasting legacy of any county executive or governor or council member that is able to help make it happen.