Housing Complex

Got a Spare Seven Acres? Metro Launches Search For New Bus Garages

The Friendship Heights location, priced to move.

Remember that talk about how Metro needed to replace its two bus garages on 14th Street and in Friendship Heights? For a hot minute there, they thought Walter Reed might be the answer, until Mayor Vince Gray and Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser came out hard against the idea and the re-use plan explicitly forbade it. Still, those barns aren't getting fixed by themselves, and Metro prefers to relocate them entirely—allowing it to sell two prime parcels of land.

That kind of land, though, isn't easy to come by in the District. So Metro has hired real estate services firm Jones Lang Lasalle to beat the bushes for suitable sites, and they've launched a page where property owners can volunteer their parcels (Metro's in a weird position on this one, usually being the one selling land, not buying it). The requirements: Seven acres for one garage or twelve acres for a consolidated one. It's got to be in D.C., and the Northeast or Northwest quadrants are preferred.

"The primary consideration is operating cost efficiency, meaning the facility should be close to the routes that will be operated from it," writes Metro spokesman Dan Stessel. "Over the long run (decades), this reduces the operation of empty buses traveling to/from the service area, saving fuel and labor costs. Also, generally, we want the replacement facility to be in the same jurisdiction as the one we are replacing."

So: Where? Fort Lincoln? Fort Totten? Reservation 13? Buzzard Point? Old Soldiers Home? Some cobbled-together site around the railroad tracks? A private owner probably has a better chance to complete the sale, given that no councilmember will want to put up with the screams of their constituents if it goes on public land. Alright folks. You've got until June 1.

The 14th Street and Decatur location.

  • outraged in dc

    Metro consistently overreaches on this topic. One, they currently have the capacity to close either Western or Northern and move to the buses to the Shepherd Park facility. They will argue that the deadhead costs are too high. I would argue that the property tax increment (property, income, sales, etc) from redeveloping that much land would more than pay for the deadhead.

    Second, they insist on building new garages to a suburban standard. NYC Transit built a 250 bus garage in Queens on 3 acres because they went with structured parking.

  • RT

    You know, the Friendship Heights bus garage would be the IDEAL place for a 40-50 story skyscraper (or two). It would obstruct nary a "viewshed".

  • Ramona Nimby

    The mere mention of Ft Totten as a potential location for this has soured my mood. There's enough industrial junk thrown in my area already (Magnolia Plumbing, wine warehouse, the monstrously large new Capital Area Food Bank, the snow truck parking lot, the dump and other unsightly structures that I don't even know the name of) so please, anywhere but here

  • Don23

    Metro should built it here, in Woodley and Cleveland Park. Lots of land. NIMBYs would go nuts.


  • Randall M.

    Is it at all possible that a depot could be mixed use?

  • Outside Observer

    Outraged in DC's Shepard Parkway financial comment would make sense if Metro's coffers benefited from the property tax increment. But their's don't; DC government's does. Why should MD & VA incur the increased expense of outrageous deadheading (they share part of Metrobus operating costs wherever incurred)? But the Queens comment is spot on. The Quill depot in Manhattan is also multi-story. But multi-story is very expensive given the weight of buses. Let DC contribute to the differential between a 12 acre flat and 3-4 acre multi-story depot. They'll get their money back+ from the tax increment benefit from the old Northern & Western sites.

  • Jarboe

    Why does the land have to be in DC? In the case of the Western Bus garage the only place I can think of that might possibly have some land and is in an area with light industrial use would be along River Road in Montgomery County which is not too far from the current location.

    But can WMATA not be creative here? eg maintain the buses in one location and park them in another which might enable them to underground some of the buses in new mixed use projects where the current garages are located and then only acquire a single smaller plot elsewhere to make up the difference?

    But this highlights the stupidity of not being smarter about using the land at Walter Reed and the poor job Muriel Bowser did representing the CITY and WMATA which is her job as a member of the WMATA board.

    These buses have to go somewhere and the land around the current bus garages is more intensely used thus impacting more people and of course is worth a lot more than the land at Walter Reed. And as far as deadheading there is no better location in the city than Walter Reed for buses.

    But expecting our leaders to lead or even think is probably asking too much these days.

  • Will

    Union Station garage?

  • DC Guy

    Underground at Walter Reed is the best option. It is too bad the WMATA Board wouldn't consider this despite Muriel Bowser. Why should her NIMBYism trump the fiduciary interests of a regional transit system?

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