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Page updated Nov 2, 2015 11:35 AM

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Royal Street Bus Garage Redevelopment

News, background, and FAQs for the Royal Street Bus Garage Redevelopment.

Bus Garage Aerial(1)

What's New?

  • WMATA announced on May 12, 2015 that it has released a solicitation for bid for the Royal Street Bus Garage. The RFP includes the Development Principles created by the City’s Royal Street Bus Garage Ad Hoc Advisory Committee, the stakeholder group established by City Council to provide guidance to the City and WMATA regarding the redevelopment of the site

    For additional information, please see the news release:

    Royal Street Bus Garage Ad Hoc Advisory Committee 

    The Royal Street Bus Garage Ad Hoc Advisory Committee was created to provide guidance to the City and WMATA regarding the redevelopment of 600 N. Royal Street, the existing Royal Street Bus Garage site. Information about the mission as well as the community meeting videos, presentations, and meeting materials are located here.  

    Background and Site History

    History of the Site
    The site, bounded by Wythe Street to the north, North Royal Street to the east, Pendleton Street to the south and North Pitt Street to the west, was first mapped by the Sanborn Map Company in 1912. At that time, there was a row of eight two-story frame rowhouses on the west side of the block, along North Pitt Street. By 1921, the number of homes had grown to include eight two-story frame rowhouses with accessory structures on the south side of the block, along Pendleton Street. The block remained largely consistent in the 1941 Map. However, in 1945, the existing bus garage was constructed on the site.

    The 1958 Sanborn map described the building as having steel columns, concrete floors and a metal deck roof on steel trusses. In addition to the bus garage, which was labeled A.B. & W. Transit Company Bus Garage, there was a narrow, one-story accessory structure on the eastern boundary of the site.

    Old Town North Small Area Plan
    The Old Town North Small Area Plan, adopted as part of the City’s Master Plan in 1992, recognized the WMATA Bus Barn as a potential redevelopment site, and recommended rezoning the property from commercial to residential. The Plan specifically noted that the site and immediately surrounding area were more appropriately designated residential, as the site was viewed as an extension of the lower scale townhouse character prevalent in Old Town. The Plan stated that the WMATA bus barn is “wholly incompatible with residential development existing to the north, east and south. When the site is redeveloped it should be developed for townhouses at moderate densities.” Therefore, the site was rezoned to RM, a residential townhouse zone.

    The site is currently zoned RM - Residential Townhouse Zone. The purpose of the RM townhouse zone is to “provide and maintain land areas for medium density residential neighborhoods of single-family, two-family and townhouse dwellings.” “Non-residential uses of a noncommercial nature which are related to, supportive of and customarily found in such residential neighborhoods are also permitted.” These uses include churches, public parks and public schools.

    Existing Site Information

    • Lot size: 87,173 sq. ft.
    • Lot acreage: 2.0 ac
    • Building Gross Sq. Footage: 48,441 sq. ft.
    • FAR: 0.56
    • Building Height: Approx. 25ft. 

    RM Zone

    • Max Height: 35ft. (45 ft. if ridge line of roof is parallel to the street and slope of roof compatible with neighboring buildings.)
    • Open Space: 35%
    • Density: Max. 30 dwelling units/acre
    • FAR: 1.50 Maximum

    Other Information

    In July 2013, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Board (WMATA) approved for future sale the Royal Street bus garage located between Royal Street and North Pitt Street in Old Town North. The obsolete Alexandria facility will be replaced by a new WMATA bus garage located in Fairfax County. WMATA plans to issue a solicitation for sale of the Royal Street site upon groundbreaking of the new Fairfax bus garage.

    In November 2013, WMATA broke ground on its new bus facility site located off Cinderbed Road, in an industrial park in the Newington area of Fairfax County. It will service approximately 150 buses, which is about double the capacity of the Royal Street facility and provide a better and safer work environment for WMATA employees. The new facility also allows WMATA to continue its conversion to a hybrid diesel fleet, as the Royal Street garage was too small to accommodate these larger hybrid buses. Congressman Jim Moran was instrumental in helping obtain some federal funding for this facility.  Fairfax Supervisor McKay advocated for this bus maintenance site to reside within his own district despite some neighborhood resistance which included a land use lawsuit that went to the VA Supreme Court. The Court affirmed Fairfax County’s handling of the matter. WMATA and City staff are discussing the process for WMATA competitively seeking a buyer/developer for the Royal Street site.   


    For questions regarding this project or process, contact the Department of Planning and Zoning at 703.746.4666.