Maryland's Housing and Community Development headquarters will be the first Maryland state agency to move into Prince George's County. In accordance with Governor O'Malley's transit-oriented development initiative, the offices will be relocated from practically-rural Crownsville in Anne Arundel County to a site adjacent to one of the Metro or MARC stations identified for O'Malley's plan.
The four stations in Prince George's County identified by O'Malley's plan are Laurel MARC, New Carrollton, Naylor Road, and Branch Avenue. This can be an excellent opportunity to implement a plan that could become a turning point for the County's future growth. My fear, however, is that it won't be.
Prince George's County has a long history of squandering valuable property along transit stations. College Park Station is the best example of that. Surrounding the transit hub, which has Metro, MARC, and several bus connections is an office park fit for suburban Atlanta. Its poor pedestrian approaches and wasteful spread-out design offer maximum parking without any continuity of place among the buildings. Despite being very convenient to transit, the design and layout of the area scream "drive here!"
Even worse in my opinion is Suitland. Suitland is a destitute area with high crime and a weak economy. When the Suitland Federal Center was built adjacent to the Metro, it came out as a sprawling officeplex with absolutely no orientation to the surrounding area. But don't worry, there is ample parking. Worse yet, the fenced monstrosity acts as a barrier between the town and the Metro station.
I hope this agency goes to Naylor Road station, where O'Malley made the announcement. And I sincerely hope they get it right. But if we get more Suitland and College Park, thanks but no thanks. Keep your office buildings in rural Anne Arundel County where they won't do any more damage to Prince George's County's transit access. Putting office buildings next to a Metro station is not all it takes to make good transit-oriented development.