A zoning change has been requested for the site of WMATA’s downtown DC headquarters that the agency hopes will make it more attractive to a potential buyer.
WMATA has applied to rezone 600 5th Street NW (map) from D-2 to D-5-R, which would permit by-right residential or mixed-use development up to 120 feet tall (plus penthouse) on the site. The application also requests that future development on the site be subject to inclusionary zoning regulations, which typically do not apply to these zones.
The existing zoning for the site usually allows for by-right high-density residential with the potential for some ground-floor commercial, but the D-2 designation has far more limitations for development (especially as it pertains to compatibility of scale).
Rezoning the site would lay the groundwork for the agency to sell the headquarters and relocate entirely, a possibility that has been talked about for a couple years.
“The requested map amendment will support WMATA’s efforts to generate the resources necessary to relocate its headquarters to a newer, more modern facility that meets current programmatic needs, thereby allowing WMATA to continue to meet the region’s demand for reliable public transportation,” the application states.
Before WMATA sells the subject property, it would also have to apply to have the zoning order that approved a planned-unit development for that site extinguished, as it included a convenant that restricted use of the building to the agency.
A Zoning Commission hearing for this application has not yet been scheduled.