On March 15, 2022 in Washington, DC, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) announced a redevelopment project that will add 748 affordable and workforce residential units will soon be built on surplus and/or underutilized property near the New Carrollton and College Park Metro stations.
The public-private partnership will produce modern, transit-oriented housing at below-market rates.
The two initiatives are Metro’s first affordable housing developments to receive support from the more than $2 billion Amazon Housing Equity Fund.
“The projects underway at New Carrollton and College Park are transforming vacant land and parking lots into vibrant mixed-use commercial and residential destinations generating more riders and revenue for Metro, as well as new residents, businesses, and tax revenue for our local and state partners,” said Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld.
“Thanks to Metro’s nation-leading joint development initiatives and Amazon’s commitment to affordable housing, the future is bright for smart growth near Metro and other transit options in Prince George’s County and throughout the entire region we serve,” he continued.
In June 2021, Amazon made a $125 million commitment to support transit-oriented affordable housing development at Metro stations through low-rate capital to expedite the creation of more than 1000 affordable homes so that moderate- to low-income families in the National Capital Region can afford to live in communities with easy access to employment, schools, healthcare, education, and other amenities.
The 291-unit residential development at New Carrollton, called The Margaux, is part of a larger 2.3 million square foot, mixed-use joint development partnership between Metro and Urban Atlantic, a mission-driven and female-led real estate development firm.
This is the fifth project to be announced at the site, which also includes office space, retail, additional housing, and Metro’s new Maryland Office Building, all anchored by a multi-modal transportation hub.
New Carrollton offers convenient access to Metrorail, Metrobus, Amtrak, Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) Train Service, Prince George’s County TheBus, and the future Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Maryland Transit Administration’s (MTA) Purple Line. Amazon is providing $25.4 million in low-rate financing to Urban Atlantic to begin construction.
In College Park, Gilbane Development Company is developing Atworth College Park, a residential building with ground-level retail and 451-affordable homes, reserved for tenants with incomes at or below 80 percent of AMI, near the University of Maryland’s College Park campus and adjacent to the Discovery District. College Park offers convenient access to Metrorail, Metrobus, TheBuS, MARC, and a future MDOT Purple Line station. Amazon is providing $56.3 million in low-rate financing to Gilbane Development Company to begin construction.
The level of affordability offered by The Margaux and Atworth College Park will be guaranteed for the duration of the property’s ground leases, 98 years, giving families much-needed financial certainty to build lives and careers near the conveniences of transit while reducing the need for and expense of car ownership. As rents in the area rise, these units will maintain their level of affordability. Both properties are expected to be completed by late 2023.
Units at The Margaux and Atworth College Park will be affordable for individuals and families in the workforce making less than 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI). Examples of these types of earners are often teachers, law enforcement, emergency response workers, hourly employees and others. These are residents who play a crucial role in the community, yet don’t quality for subsidies and whose wages haven’t kept pace with escalating rents.
According to a 2019 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household nationally spends 13 percent of their income on transportation costs—the second highest expense after housing. This percentage increases and creates greater economic hardship for households making 80 percent of AMI and below.
“The Amazon Housing Equity Fund is addressing the affordable housing crisis on multiple fronts and through innovative solutions, such as teaming up with Metro, which brings people closer to more opportunities, services, and a better quality of life,” said Catherine Buell, Director of the Amazon Housing Equity Fund.
“We know that our investment in this region brings many economic opportunities for the people who live here, but we also acknowledge that this growth needs to benefit everyone in the community. The progress we have made so far with the Amazon Housing Equity Fund is promising, but we have more to do,” she added.
Metro sells and leases property to private developers through its Joint Development Program with the objective of maximizing the benefits of transit-oriented development. Since 1975, Metro has completed 55 projects at 30 stations totaling 17 million square feet of residential and commercial real estate, which supports the region’s economic growth and competitiveness. Metro continues to encourage further investment in Metro station areas by periodically offering new properties for redevelopment.
Rendering of Atworth College Park project courtesy of Gilbane Development Company.