"Game Plan" for region's new development

WASHINGTON (NewsChannel 8) - With estimates showing the population of the Washington region will grow dramatically over the next decade, local government officials are concerned about looming transportation and housing challenges.

On Wednesday, they released a report they call "a game plan” for the region, when it comes to new development.

The Place + Opportunity report was compiled by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Contributors examined 92 locations across the region, referred to as "activity centers."

In the report, they made suggestions on how to improve those locations, pointing to success stories like the booming H-Street corridor in D.C.

On H Street, it's not just the streetcar system under construction. The entire corridor has been revitalized.

As more young professionals move into the neighborhood, many are just learning about the history of the 1968 race riots that devastated the area.

D.C. Office of Planning Deputy Director Rosalynn Hughey said, “We began planning work for H Street way back in 2003 and we began working with neighborhood citizens then who were concerned about the corridor. It wasn't the way it is today. There were a lot of vacancies. There were empty store fronts. There were vacant lots.”

Like H Street, regional planners also predict other major corridors – the Purple Line in Maryland and the Silver Line in Virginia – will dramatically reshape future development regionwide.

Arlington County Supervisor Mary Hynes said, “I mean, when we get to Dulles and beyond, and to Loudoun, it will be possible [for Metro riders] to go all the way to Largo, Maryland without ever changing their [Metrorail] seats.’

COG officials explain that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to development. But in general, they encourage mixed-use, transit-centered planning.

The challenge is that high density development can quickly result in a higher cost of living, as residents along H Street have experienced.

To deal with those increasing costs, regional planners recommend more efforts to preserve existing affordable housing units with zoning interventions, tax abatements and tax incentives.