FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, July 6, 2020
Jane Lyons, Coalition for Smarter Growth
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Housing and transit advocates support legislation to build more homes at Metro sites
Montgomery County, Md – This afternoon, the Coalition for Smarter Growth stood alongside Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer as he publicly introduced legislation to support high-rise construction on Metro stations.
Transit-oriented development is necessary to build sustainable communities. The legislation would offer a 15- year property tax abatement for high-rise construction located on land leased from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).
“This is a promising approach. Housing on top of Metro stations is key to meeting housing demand without putting new cars on the road,” said Jane Lyons, CSG’s Maryland Advocacy Manager. “This strategy will help the county meet its climate, economic development, and housing goals.”
Multiple housing construction projects on Montgomery County’s Metro stations have either been delayed or cancelled due to the financial difficulty. Rents are not often enough to cover high construction costs, especially outside of downtown Bethesda. Development on WMATA property can face additional costs due to parking replacement practices and engineering challenges.
“High-rise construction on Metro stations gives us the most bang for the buck,” Lyons said. “More homes means more Metro riders, more transit revenue, and more permanently affordable housing.”
The tax abatement is estimated to incentivize up to 8,600 units, including 1,300 affordable units. The affordable units will be created through the county’s affordable set-aside of 12.5 to 15 percent of units for households at 70 percent of the area median income. Montgomery County has resolved to meet its regional housing target of 41,000 new housing units by 2030. This proposal is part of a comprehensive housing package from Councilmember Hans Riemer, which is complemented by legislation from other councilmembers.
“We look forward to supporting the legislative process to ensure the tax abatement approach is a cost- effective way to catalyze far more housing opportunities at Metro stations, including more permanently affordable homes,” said Lyons.
The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington, DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Our mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies needed to make those communities flourish.