Jan 26, 2012

How to waste infrastructure tax dollars in Forest Glen, Maryland

This metro stop is about a five-minute walk from my house:


The background here is that a month or so ago they demolished an old house on a great big lot, probably the better part of an acre, right across the street from the Forest Glen metro station on the Red Line. You can't see, but if you zoom in on the picture the sign across the street says that they're going to be building some single-family homes soon.

The natural question here is just what in God's name would make a developer or real estate agent think that single-family homes are the best use of vacant land literally ten steps from a heavy rail station. There are trainloads of money to be made, and good public policy to boot. One would hope if we're going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money on public transport the logical thing to do would be to put up big-ass apartment buildings, or at least some townhouses, near the stops when possible.

The answer, of course, is that if you look (pdf) the place is zoned for single family residential only. More generally, if someone proposed rezoning the lot the neighborhood busybodies would likely respond with howling, purple-faced outrage, probably centering their complaints around parking and ill-concealed hatred of the young and/or poor. (At least, given how I was treated when I moved in, that's my best guess.)

It's not all bad, as there are at least some medium density-zoned sections nearby, but this could have been a great opportunity to sneak in a little improvement, especially given this station is already mostly devoted to giant parking lots.

UPDATE: Here's another shot which gives a sense of the size of the lot they're throwing away here. It's huge.

3 comments:

  1. I've lived in the neighborhood across Georgia (Holy Cross side) my entire life. This is what I have to say about this:

    Practically speaking, you could fit a big apartment building there pretty easily (footprints don't have to be big). But it would be unusual to see a large apartment building with no transition to the neighborhood. It's not as though this single-family home part of the neighborhood is very big--in fact it's tiny--but it will take a while for someone to come around and buy up all those houses next to the Beltway just to build something bigger (like what Holy Cross is doing). Of course, doing that would reduce opposition to development drastically.

    However, if there is one side of Georgia on which to do something big around the Forest Glen Metro, this is the side to do it, taking into the consideration the precedent of the "big ass" apartment buildings in the Americana Finnmark development, as well as all the townhouses next to the Metro on the north side of Forest Glen Rd. It IS a shame that the Metro mechanical building is RIGHT at the corner of Forest Glen and Georgia because that could be a great spot for a mid-size 8-story apartment building. We could then have townhouses next to it, leading into the single family neighborhood. That said, I have a feeling that there may be a very small market for single family homes next to a Metro entrance, next to one of Maryland's busiest roads, next to one of its busiest intersections, next to the Beltway. It's not exactly your typical single family home context, and if all of that was around at the time those surrounding homes were built (1959), you can be sure that nobody in their right mind would build a single family home neighborhood there. (The homes next to the Beltway are about 25% cheaper than comparably-sized nearby homes because of it.) And who wants their children playing in a solitary yard passed by hundreds or thousands of strangers each day--at least in this context where there are very few neighboring eyes to keep a look-out?

    I think a more important area for redevelopment near the Metro, however, is at the Montgomery Hills shopping centers, where the Staples/CVS strip mall should be redeveloped, the Bigg Wolf Video/New York Bakery/acquarium buildings should be rehabilitated and fit into a larger (but not large) redevelopment, the 10 gas stations should be reduced to 2 or 3, etc, etc. With a location starting at 1/3 mile from the Metro (maxing out at about half a mile away), this is the area on which we should be concentrating, first.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've lived in the neighborhood across Georgia (Holy Cross side) my entire life. This is what I have to say about this:

    Practically speaking, you could fit a big apartment building there pretty easily (footprints don't have to be big). But it would be unusual to see a large apartment building with no transition to the neighborhood. It's not as though this single-family home part of the neighborhood is very big--in fact it's tiny--but it will take a while for someone to come around and buy up all those houses next to the Beltway just to build something bigger (like what Holy Cross is doing). Of course, doing that would reduce opposition to development drastically.

    However, if there is one side of Georgia on which to do something big around the Forest Glen Metro, this is the side to do it, taking into the consideration the precedent of the "big ass" apartment buildings in the Americana Finnmark development, as well as all the townhouses next to the Metro on the north side of Forest Glen Rd. It IS a shame that the Metro mechanical building is RIGHT at the corner of Forest Glen and Georgia because that could be a great spot for a mid-size 8-story apartment building. We could then have townhouses next to it, leading into the single family neighborhood. That said, I have a feeling that there may be a very small market for single family homes next to a Metro entrance, next to one of Maryland's busiest roads, next to one of its busiest intersections, next to the Beltway. It's not exactly your typical single family home context, and if all of that was around at the time those surrounding homes were built (1959), you can be sure that nobody in their right mind would build a single family home neighborhood there. (The homes next to the Beltway are about 25% cheaper than comparably-sized nearby homes because of it.) And who wants their children playing in a solitary yard passed by hundreds or thousands of strangers each day--at least in this context where there are very few neighboring eyes to keep a look-out?

    I think a more important area for redevelopment near the Metro, however, is at the Montgomery Hills shopping centers, where the Staples/CVS strip mall should be redeveloped, the Bigg Wolf Video/New York Bakery/acquarium buildings should be rehabilitated and fit into a larger (but not large) redevelopment, the 10 gas stations should be reduced to 2 or 3, etc, etc. With a location starting at 1/3 mile from the Metro (maxing out at about half a mile away), this is the area on which we should be concentrating, first.

    ReplyDelete