Metro plans to develop lots but keep parking spots

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Photo - Cars fill the Southern Avenue station parking lot  on July 12, 2007. Michael Riccio/ for the Examiner
Cars fill the Southern Avenue station parking lot on July 12, 2007. Michael Riccio/ for the Examiner
Local,Liz Essley,Metro,Metro and Traffic

Metro has a new plan to develop 11 slices of land near its stations.

And at eight of those stations, the agency would plop the new development right on top of parking lots -- but Metro isn't planning to eliminate parking anytime soon.

The list includes stations with some of the system's most heavily used parking facilities: East Falls Church, West Falls Church, Fort Totten, Grosvenor-Strathmore and Branch Ave.

But Metro officials said the developers they choose to work with will have to replace the parking spaces they build on.

"[Our planner, Stan Wall] emphasized that any impacted parking would need to be replaced by the developer," said Metro spokesman Philip Stewart. "This recently happened at Rhode Island Ave, where a surface parking lot was replaced with 274 residential units, 65,000 square feet of retail space and a new multilevel parking garage."

But parking could be diminished if and when construction crews go to work on the lots.

Parking is a moneymaker for Metro -- the agency made a profit on parking in each of the past three years, according to oversight documents provided to the D.C. Council this month. The transit agency is actively thinking of ways to get more riders to park at its lots that don't fill up.

Metro started installing signs at parking facilities advertising daily and reserved parking, and it's also considering email blasts and advertising in other areas, it said in the oversight documents.

The agency also started a pilot program to let drivers pay by cellphone to park in an often-empty lot at Rockville. After six months of the program, the lot is now usually half-full instead of empty, officials said. - Liz Essley

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