Greenbelt Sector Plan: Conceptual Alternatives Workshop

Yesterday, a workshop was held for the Greenbelt Metro Area and MD 193 Corridor Sector Plan, which covered land use scenarios for several areas of the sector plan, known as “focus areas.” Three time frames (short-term, medium-term, and long-term) were used to describe when these scenarios could be realized. Short-term is meant to be 1 to 6 years, medium-term is 7 to 15 years, and long-term is 15 to 30 years.
Greenbelt Sector Plan Focus Areas

Focus Area 1: Greenway Center

This area has poor connectivity with a sea of parking and limited entrance points that hinders transit and walkability. The sector plan will call for a reduction in the parking lots through enhancing existing environmental amenities and incorporating new public/open spaces. The project team proposed filling in the parking area with a modest amount of retail and housing over the long-term (market constraints would likely prevent this from occurring sooner). Introducing residential units would allow activity to be maintained outside of working hours and thus provide support for more retail. It is assumed that there will be a lack of funds needed to support the demolition and replacement of the current buildings. But with the gradual infill of new development, a grid pattern would still be created that would bring connectivity and a new sense of place to the area.

Focus Area 2: Capital Office Park, Golden Triangle, Belle Point, and University Square

With the presence of the Beltway and Kenilworth Avenue, this area is divided into three pods that are fairly isolated from the rest of the sector plan area. This separation is unfortunate because it promotes auto traffic and acts as a resistance to mixed-use development opportunities and general connectivity. Thus, office parks exist where a variety of businesses and dwelling units could have been brought together. Building better sidewalks and adding a designated bike path along Greenbelt Road can help alleviate some of this isolation, but the interchanges and grade separation of the Beltway and Kenilworth Avenue would be very difficult and costly to overcome. The plan supports modest retail/office infill in the office parks, as well as improving the Lakecrest Drive and American Legion intersection by University Square. But overall, it supports retaining existing uses.

Focus Area 3: Greenbelt station’s North Core and South Core

As discussed in last week’s meeting, the north core could see either mixed-use development or a major employer by the Greenbelt station. If a major employer moves in, it may induce contractors to locate in the Greenway Center, Capital Office Park, or Golden Triangle. If the employer was GSA, it would probably not bring many employees to the south core. The plan could call for building a trail along Indian Creek, which would act as an extension of Indian Creek trail and run adjacent to the north and south core. A pedestrian path could be built over Indian Creek that would connect Breezewood Drive to the south core. Because of the sensitive nature of Indian Creek, it would probably not be a road. However, a road is proposed to connect the north and south core, and a shuttle system could run between them. A pedestrian bridge is also proposed, bringing another connection with Hollywood, although the location for it has not been confirmed (it was suggested that it could be located near Huron Street, between the north and south core). For the south core, it is likely that the southern portion would be multi-family residential and the northern portion would be townhouses. Potentially, this could be built in the short-term. In total, about 1,000 dwelling units and 115,000 square feet of retail and/or office space are proposed for the south core.

Focus Area 4: Franklin Park, Beltway Plaza, and MD 193 Corridor

With the lack of obstacles such as a creek or a highway, this area probably has the most potential in the sector plan area to become a walkable and well-connected place. Beltway Plaza could see its rear parking lot filled in with multi-family housing in the short to medium-term. Beltway Plaza itself could redevelop over the long-term, with the existing mall being replaced with smaller, mixed-use development. This would create a town center atmosphere with a more grid-like pattern that would provide at least one direct connection from Greenbelt Road to the rear of the plaza. If a major employer moved into Greenbelt Station’s north core, it could bring a greater incentive to redevelop this area, but it would also bring more traffic. Overall, we would like to see a general grid pattern take over this area, with stronger pedestrian connections linking Berwyn Heights, Beltway Plaza, Springhill Lake, and Greenbelt Middle School more closely together.

Other Issues

There was a general consensus to relocate the fire station to near the MD-193/BW Parkway interchange, which would reduce response times. There was also support for replacing surface parking with structured parking throughout the sector plan area, but the project team noted that the cost was too high to justify the demand for the short-term. Finally, a suggestion was made to shift transit stops from the periphery to the center of the focus areas to encourage more pedestrians.

The next meeting will be held on Thursday, April 19, at 6:30pm at Springhill Lake Elementary School. It will be a workshop that will present and discuss the preferred alternative for the future of the sector plan area.

4 thoughts on “Greenbelt Sector Plan: Conceptual Alternatives Workshop”

  1. Another great write up. Thank you Daniel.
    Like you said there are some significant challenges for area 1 and 2.
    However when it comes to area 4 (The plaza) I would love to see them rip it down and do a complete reboot similar to White Flint. Connect the streets to the north such as Cherrywood TERR, Springhill LN and Edmonston TER with the grid pattern at Berwyn Heights. The mall in between should be converted to a Mixed Use Town center type of retail.
    Of course this would be next to impossible given the existing tenants and development at the plaza however if one can think long-term I think it makes sense.

  2. Fortunately, the project team generally shared your view. I think the near-future replacement of Laurel Mall with Laurel Town Center could provide a useful model for what should occur at Beltway Plaza.

    I don’t recall them specifically discussing connecting north-south streets in Springhill Lake with Beltway Plaza, but that would be very valuable. It would provide a more direct connection between the Greenbelt station and Beltway Plaza. As you say, that would probably have to occur over the long-term once Springhill Lake is redeveloped.

  3. Regarding the South Core and the reference to the pedistrian bridge into Hollywood — many residents in North College are opposed to this bridge. We fought hard back in 2009 to have this bridge removed from the plans. Thankfully, all of our hard work resulted in it being removed. For the City Council to now try and put it back into the plans is just local elected officials once again going against the people’s wishes who voted them into office. This bridge would result in the destrucion of several acres of trees being removed from a very quiet street. It also has the potential to cause flooding once the environment is destroyed. It is my opinion that a small neighborhood with a quiet street to live on is a much better quality of life than one with a large bridge constructed of metal with lights on all the time just so a handful of residents can walk over to vist a few stores (which have not yet been decided on) that will take up the first floors of residental buildings similar to the student housing buildings recently built along Route 1.

  4. The original Greenbelt Sector Plan from about 2000 included a pedestrian/bicycle bridge because the consensus opinion of the large group of people working on the plan was that the bridge was a important element of that plan. That group was comprised of various north College Park residents. Then City councilmember Sherrill Murray reported on that element of the plan in one of her periodic newsletters which were hand delivered to all of the homes in North College Park.

    Certainly over the past 15 years the City residents have sought many east-west connections, Succcesses have included retaining the tunnel at Calvert Road when Metro opened over CSX opposition; the tunnel in Lakeland to access Lake Artemesia, the overpass in Berwyn to connect to Berwyn Heights(one of only two pedestrian bridges Metro ever built); the sidewalk on Paint Branch Parkway (it was originally not in the County plan for the road); and sidewalks on Greenbelt Road over the railroad tracks.

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