'NOMA,' Clarendon, Silver Spring to see huge growth, study says

According to a new study from the Council of Governments, more and more residents will live, work and play in transit hubs like Georgetown in the future.

Chuck Bean, with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, said, "Gone are the days of the office park, driving to the office park, then driving to the shopping mall, then the movie theater. We can get all of that in one place in a RAC."

Researchers with the organization identified 139 regional activity centers (RACs) that will see major growth in the coming decades.

They say between now and and 2040, NOMA, the area surrounding Union Station in D.C., could see a 96 percent population increase. They are also predicting a huge boom in communities like Clarendon in Va. and Silver Spring in Md.

Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner, (D), said, "In MOGO, this has been our mantra for many many years. We were among the first to really embrace, if you will, a smart growth approach."

Council of Governments officials say most growth will pop up along mass transit corridors - some existing, some new.

"You know even big developments like Tysons. You know Tysons really is now being retro fitted to be more of a RAC. Rather than driving into work, you can live work and play as the future of Tysons," Bean explained.

Ultimately, local lawmakers will use the data to fine tune transportation and zoning plans. They also see these activity centers as investment opportunities.

As more residents move into the mixed-use communities, they hope more corporations will move to the area too.

Berliner said, "We do have these hubs now of walkable, livable dynamic communities, and that's what we're trying to build more of."

The 139 centers are spread across the region. By emphasizing smart growth, planners believe they can create more local jobs, reduce long commutes and also reduce negative impacts on the environment.