Prince George’s adds incentives to get developers on track

Developers just received more reasons — a package of reasons, to be exact — to bring business plans to five Metro stations in Hyattsville, Largo, New Carrollton and Suitland.

Prince George’s County officials announced the new incentives Monday at the University Town Center, a mixed-use project located near the Prince George’s Plaza Metro, and in front of the site where a $23 million Safeway supermarket project is expected to break ground in May.

“It’s really about telling developers, ‘Come take a second look at Prince George’s County,’” said David Iannucci, senior economic policy adviser for County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D). “We want the private sector to understand Prince George’s County will be your partner. We’ll make it faster, cheaper, more efficient and more profitable to do TOD [transit-oriented development] in Prince George’s County.”

The TOD initiative focuses on the Branch Avenue Metro Station in Suitland, Largo Metro Station, New Carrollton Metro Station, Prince George’s Plaza Metro Station in Hyattsville and Suitland Metro Station. Iannucci said the county is prepared to encourage development at all 15 of its Metro stops, but these five were selected based on their development potential.

“These are our highest-priority stations, where we are willing to go above and beyond the normal incentives,” Iannucci said.

The package includes infrastructure improvements; a fast-track regulatory approval process; county land for lease; financial incentives including tax credits, loans and financing; assistance from the county in working with state, regional and federal organizations; and a marketing campaign tailored to the particular strengths of each Metro stop.

“The council is putting our money where our mouths are,” County Council Vice Chairman Will Campos (D-Dist. 2) of Hyattsville said.

Cheryl Cort, policy director for the Washington, D.C.-based urban planning nonprofit Coalition for Smarter Growth, welcomed the announcement, particularly the focus on infrastructure improvements to make the areas around the Metro stations more walkable.

“In the past, we’ve seen the lion’s share of that money go to business sprawl, development in outer areas, rather than investing in local communities, so the emphasis on infrastructure is particularly important,” Cort said.

Iannucci said development at county Metro stations has fallen behind other counties due to a number of factors, including the county’s reputation under previous administrations and failure to take advantage of opportunities.

“If you look back over the past 20 years, you see amazing transit-oriented development in Fairfax County, Arlington, Alexandria, Montgomery County and parts of the District,” Iannucci said. “Unfortunately, we have to admit our efforts to promote development around our Metro stations has lagged behind our neighbors,” Iannucci said.

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