What Happens When Transit Doesn't Bring Expected Development

Just outside of D.C., the Capitol Heights Metro station sits among empty parcels with brown grass and tall weeds, as the economic development that was to accompany the station never materialized. Will a proposed Wall-Mart come to the area's rescue?

Luz Lazo profiles the plight of Capitol Heights, in Prince George's County, Maryland, where "[t]he aging single-family homes and auto-repair shops just steps from the station are signs of how little Metro has brought to the town."

With planners unable to leverage the Metro station, which opened in 1980, to catalyze development, plans to build a Wal-Mart, along with office, retail and residential space, on a 10-parcel just across the border in D.C. are raising hopes for the long-delayed boom. 

"For years," says Lazo, "county and local officials have talked about such plans for mixed-use development in Capitol Heights. None has materialized. The area's lower income levels and its reputation as a hub for crime have made it harder to attract developers."

"'In Prince George's County, when you leave the Metro station, you go into a parking lot, whereas in other counties, you go straight into a shopping center,' said James Wright, a daily Metro user who lives in nearby Seat Pleasant and is president of the Seat Pleasant Citizens Association. 'People are kind of tired of being relegated to second-class status in terms of economic­ development projects.'"

Full Story: In Capitol Heights, little change in spite of ‘a whole lot of planning’ around the Metro


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