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Press Releases - County Council

For Immediate Release: Monday, June 28, 2021

Possibilities Grow as Amazon Announces Funding for Affordable Housing On Metro Stations; Grosvenor project starts moving

ROCKVILLE, Md., June 28, 2021—On Tuesday, June 29, the Council is scheduled to vote on regulations that implement the More Housing at Metrorail Stations Act, which is a major economic development initiative that the Council approved by the Council in October 2020, after overriding the County Executive's veto.

The plan opens development opportunities at every Metro station in Montgomery County. The incentive improves the viability of high-rise development for housing or commercial uses, by offsetting the exceptionally high cost of development on Metro stations, where station engineering, parking structures, and other expenses have prevented development in the County and across the region for decades.

By incentivizing high-rise development, the legislation could deliver as many as 8,600 units of housing at County Metrorail stations. The legislation, proposed by Councilmembers Riemer and Friedson, was supported by the Sierra Club, the Coalition for Smarter Growth and leading housing advocates.

The legislation and implementing regulations have taken on added importance in the wake of the recent announcement that WMATA and Amazon have forged a $125 million partnership to build 1,000 below market-rate housing units at Metrorail stations. Projects coming online because of the More Housing at Metrorail Stations Act could access the new WMATA/Amazon funding to bring even more below market-rate units to the development. The More Housing at Metrorail Stations Act makes sure that Montgomery County is ready to capture the benefits of this exciting partnership between WMATA and Amazon.

Background on the More Housing at Metrorail Stations Act
The More Housing at Metrorail Stations Act will make a significant impact on the viability of building new housing on Metro station property. Presently, there are no high-rise developments underway on any Metro station property in Montgomery County, nor have there been for many years.

The law took effect in Jan. 2021 and incentivizes new housing construction by providing a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for a period of 15 years for new high-rise developments that include at least 50 percent rental housing. The PILOT exempts 100 percent of the property tax that would otherwise be due for a project constructed on property leased from WMATA at a Metro station in the County.

Currently, WMATA does not pay property taxes to Montgomery County. The law allows a new development on a Metro station property to retain that property tax exemption for 15 years. The developers will continue to pay impact taxes, and residents living in the housing will pay personal income taxes.

In addition to including 50 percent rental housing, the new high-rise developments would need to include at least 15 percent affordable housing, with 25 percent of that figure being housing affordable to people making 50 percent or less of the median income in the County.

According to Metro, station properties in the County have the capacity to deliver at least 8,600 units of housing, which would provide a significant contribution to the County’s long-term housing shortage. The high-rise buildings also would include between 1,200 to 1,300 units for the County’s Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit (MPDU) affordable housing set-aside programs. The law changes the economics of high-rise Metro station development and delivers the essential housing on top of Metro that the County needs to fight climate change, promote housing affordability and spur economic growth.

Release ID: 21-271
Media Contact: Tommy Heyboer 240-777-7948
Categories: Andrew Friedson, Hans Riemer