Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Prince George's County considers moving county government center to Largo Metro station

For awhile I've argued that Prince George's County, which claims a new interest in transit oriented development, needs to overhaul completely its land use and transportation planning paradigm. 

According to a Washington Post article "Baker wants to move government headquarters to Largo, lawmakers say:" 
The Prince George’s County government wants to move its headquarters from sleepy Upper Marlboro to Largo, an area near the Capital Beltway that is more bustling and Metro-accessible, according to County Council members who were briefed on the plans this week.

Such a move would bring government leaders closer to a growing commercial center in the county, including the site of a proposed regional hospital that officials say should be a major economic catalyst.
I made that recommendation in a 2011 blog entry, "A recommended new planning direction for Prince George's County."  I thought that was a pretty pathbreaking suggestion, but acccording to the Post article, the county has been moving in that direction for a long time, buying properties in the vicinity of the Largo Metrorail station, and moving government agencies there, which is depicted in the graphic.

Still, this is what I wrote 4 years ago:

One of the things I would recommend in a presentation that I might create called "Prince George's County: Transportation and Land Use Planning Beyond the Purple Line" would recommend relocating the County Seat to one of the transit station districts, maybe at a place like New Carrollton, which will have heavy rail, railroad (MARC and Amtrak), and light rail service.

This is not unlike what Gresham, Oregon did over time. My understanding is that they were originally skeptical about the location of a light rail station in their downtown as part of the Portland MAX service. But over time, the community changed its attitude and through the creation and execution of a neighborhood plan, they built a new city hall, conference center, and plaza adjacent to the transit station, which opened in 1996. From the website:
The 130-acre district arose from an ambitious plan to create a new model of an urban, civic neighborhood in the heart of the city. Built around the MAX light rail line, Gresham City Hall, trendy, high density housing and a contemporary shopping center, the neighborhood has flourished beyond expectations.
IF PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY WANTS TO CHANGE ITS DEVELOPMENT PARADIGM, IN NEEDS TO DO THIS IN A TRANSFORMATIONAL FASHION.

Relocating the County Seat to a location with high quality transit service is only one of the steps they should undertake.

Reorganizing bus services to focus on transit stations, upon the opening of the Purple Line light rail system is another.

Acknowledging complete streets and sustainable transportation policies is essential.

Changing the land use spatial development paradigm towards compact development is another.

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