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City to Discuss New Greenbelt Developments Near College Park

Greenbelt north and south core development areas

In tomorrow’s Council work session, the Council will discuss two developments adjacent to north College Park, located on the other side of the Metro train tracks. The north core development includes the area which is currently part of the the Metro parking lot whereas the south core encompasses the area north of Greenbelt road (MD 193).

Previously both developments were part of a single plan and the City entered into in an agreement with the developer MetroLand back in August 2005.

Garth Beall, representing the former Metroland Developers now known as the Renard Development Company, LLC, and representatives from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) will be present at tomorrow’s Worksession to provide an update on the status of the WMATA Joint Development Agreement and efforts to pursue the proposed consolidated headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

A north core agreement with the City is not being proposed at this time. A formal General Services Administration (GSA) solicitation for the FBI relocation has not been released; however, on December 8, 2011, the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works approved a resolution authorizing GSA to proceed with a private sector lease transaction and providing parameters for the facility.

The Renard Development Company is interested in attracting the FBI headquarters to the north core and has written a memorandum summarizing the attributes of the site for this purpose. WMATA (north core property owner) and the Renard Development Company have
executed a joint development agreement that is valid through March 2014.

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) is currently updating the Greenbelt Metro Area Sector Plan governing this area and are proposing two development options for the north core: 1) Mixed-use development similar to that contemplated in Conceptual Site Plan CSP-01 008/01; or 2) Large major employer or GSA tenant.

The South Core of the Greenbelt Station has long been under the process of redevelopment. In the middle of last decade, Greenbelt Metropark LLC, the developer then working on the project, came to an agreement with the City to provide certain amenities jointly with Metroland Developers, the developer working on redeveloping the north core.

Greenbelt Metropark also submitted and got approved detailed site plans for about 2/3 of the South Core, including a multi-story residential apartment building in the southwest portion of the development and a series of townhouse developments in the eastern portion of the development. The developer also got approved a conceptual site plan for the northwestern portion of the development.

Included in the agreement with the City were provisions that the two developers would jointly provide $2.5 million for improvements to public facilities, which the City intended to put toward the renovation of Duvall Field. The agreement also indicated that the two developers would include in a tax increment financing (TIF) program or special taxing district (STD) for the development a sum of $1.25 million for the construction of an overpass from the South Core development to North College Park.

In regards to the North Core of the development, the developers agreed to contribute $10 million to the construction of an interchange with the Beltway. Since this agreement came into place, Greenbelt Metropark went bankrupt and the properrty was foreclosed by SunTrust bank. SunTrust is now pursuing redevelopment of the South Core even though the North Core does not appear to be moving forward.

In order to do this, attorneys for SunTrust are negotiating new agreements with both the City of Greenbelt and the City of College Park. The agreement with Greenbelt – which has not been officially approved yet – includes provisions that the development will be a mixed-use development with no more than 983 residential units and 115,000 square feet of neighborhood-serving retail. The agreement also proposes that SunTrust will provide 2.27 acres of land and $1 million to the City of Greenbelt for recreational purposes, devote over $1.4 million toward recreational purposes on the site that it develops, and construct both a hiker/biker trail from the development to the Metro and a light rail or tram system between the South Core and the North Core once the north-south connector road is complete.

The Greenbelt agreement also requires that the developer give $250,000 to Greenbelt to expand police facilities serving the area, and pursue a number of measures to mediate the environmental impacts of the development.

The developer has also proposed a new agreement with College Park that amends the agreement in a number of significant ways: 1) it eliminates any reference to the North Core project and to the Beltway interchange; 2) it reduces the financial contribution to the City of College Park from $2.5 million to $1.25 million, to reflect the half of this contribution that would come from the South Core developer; and 3) it eliminates any reference to a TIF or STD for the pedestrian overpass.

The bridge isn’t in any approved detailed site plan for the south core, but the Conceptual Site Plan for the retail portion in the northwest of the property indicates that the overpass should be located somewhere between Huron Street and the City’s Public Works facility and the location shall be subject to an agreement between the Cities of Greenbelt and College Park, and other relevant agencies.

The Maryland/National Capital Park and Planning Commission has indicated that it is supportive of the overpass and will likely include it in the revised Greenbelt Sector Plan. Although we understand that the overpass is controversial, the Council has always been in support of it in the past.

Although some residents feel that the overpass would create safety concerns by allowing another access point into the neighborhood, it would also allow North College Park residents to have easier access to the retail that comes into the South Core and the network of hiker/biker trails in both the Greenbelt Station development and southward toward Lake Artemisia and the Anacostia watershed.

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