How Prince George’s Metro Stops Could Improve

Creative Commons-licensed photo of the West Hyattsville Metro by Elvert Barnes

Prince George’s County could soon take a small step that would greatly improve shops and apartments around the Route 1 corridor Metro stations.

Some minor tweaks to the county’s 50-year-old zoning code would make it much easier to have mixed-use developments around the West Hyattsville, Prince George’s Plaza and College Park Metro stations.

That sounds a little wonky, so here’s how it would works. If you’ve been to the Rhode Island Avenue Metro lately, you’ve seen new apartment buildings lining the entrance to the station, with restaurants, shops and even a DMV on the first floor.

That seems like a simple thing, but the current zoning plan in Prince George’s County doesn’t allow this kind of development. That’s because the plan was written for rural- and suburban-style development that was popular decades ago, and it only allows a building to be either apartments, shops or offices, not a mix of the three.

That’s a missed opportunity, because the land within a half-mile of a Metro station is extremely valuable, and first-floor retail is a great way to encourage walking. (Few people want to live on the first floor of an apartment building anyway.)

The new transit-oriented neighborhood zoning would have reduced parking requirements, more pedestrian and bicycle access to Metro stations and buildings with a mix of apartments, offices and shops in them.

The Prince George’s Planning Department and the County Council have not yet endorsed the plan, and they are seeking comments from the public until mid-December.

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