Metro mulls food stalls, pop-up stores at stations

WASHINGTON — New food stalls and other pop-up stores could emerge at Metro station entrances across the region if a pilot project coming to the Grosvenor-Strathmore station goes well.

“There is an interest in this area of convenience food for customers, and we think that having a developer who’s going to be responsible for programming, cleaning and maintaining the Metro station is a great pilot to start,” Metro Real Estate Director Nina Albert told a Metro Board committee last week.

The pop-up shops would be arranged by the developer Metro picks for a new mixed-use project at the Grosvenor-Strathmore station, at what is now a surface parking lot. That project is not expected to break ground for four to five years.

Metro would limit the sale of food at the stalls to four hours in the afternoon because Metro does not want to encourage riders to carry food into the system as they arrive at the station in the morning.

If the pop-ups are successful, the shed or tent-like structures could remain in place for several years. There have been similar small shops at the Silver Line’s Wiehle-Reston East station in Virginia, on the plaza that connects to the parking garage.

Metro is hoping to get a better idea of what types of retail options would work best outside stations across the system.

“What we’re really interested in piloting is a relationship with future joint development partners where they would, in advance of their joint development, really try and activate and invest in the site and start to improve the station … really take some ownership stake in what the station looks like and activating it, if you will,” Albert said.

Albert said that Metro expected the shops to include local businesses, as well as information about concerts and other activities at Strathmore and the upcoming project at Grosvenor-Strathmore.

She said the shops would not get in the way of Red Line riders who enter or exit the system. The Grosvenor-Strathmore station is part of the Red Line in Montgomery County, Maryland.

The Metro Board Capital Program Planning and Real Estate Committee approved the pilot program last Thursday. The full Metro Board is expected to approve it later this month.

The developer is expected to add 412 spaces to the Metro Grosvenor-Strathmore parking garage to replace those that will be lost to new homes and shops. In the fall, the Montgomery County Council is expected to approve land use rules that will allow the project to move forward.

The project is also expected to include new art installations in or around the Metro station, and could include improved lighting in the pedestrian tunnel under Rockville Pike.

Metro first issued a joint development solicitation for the project back in 2013, and last year agreed to the outlines of a deal with Streetscape Partners that could include a 98-year ground lease. One of the developer’s subsidiaries is expected to sign the final joint development agreement after the county council finalizes zoning changes. Final financial details of the deal depend on appraisals of the land and how many units the project is allowed to include. The deal calls for a minimum of 534 housing units.

The project would not change the kiss-and-ride or bus loop at the station.

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