ULI Washington released the latest Technical Assistance Panel report, reflecting the work of an eight-member, multi-disciplinary team. The report presents analysis and guidance on the economic revitalization challenges facing the Town of Indian Head.
Indian Head is an independent municipality in Charles County, Md., about 30 miles south of Washington, D.C., sitting on a narrow peninsula between the Potomac River and Mattawoman Creek at the end of Indian Head Highway (MD 210). The Town borders Naval Support Facility Indian Head, a military installation that has been a driver of the Town’s economy, and also features an array of public spaces and waterfront access, along with a black box theatre. The Town sought assistance in addressing barriers to economic development that have resulted in stagnating commercial and residential markets.
Technical Assistance Panels, or TAPs, provide expert, multidisciplinary advice to public agencies facing complex land use and real estate issues in the Metropolitan Washington Region. Over the course of two days, the ULI team worked to understand the economic development conditions in Indian Head, and then presented initial findings at a public meeting attended by several dozen community members and stakeholders.
The TAP report expands on those initial recommendations and presents a comprehensive set of staged implementation steps, informed by the panel’s market analysis. The panel suggests that to increase its resilience and set the stage for sustainable, long-term growth, Indian Head should focus on a few goals readily achievable in the near term while maintaining a coherent vision for the long-term future.
The framework plans and concepts presented by the Panel are divided into three elements: a redevelopment framework for the Uptown section of Indian Head (the area nearest the entrance to the Naval Support Facility Indian Head), a redevelopment framework for the Downtown section of Indian Head (an area that previously hosted major grocery and pharmacy retailers and also includes an undeveloped site held by The Washington Post/Amazon), and concepts for connecting these sites with each other and with other Town amenities, and promoting access to the natural environment.
The vision of an economically vibrant Indian Head requires several implementation steps dealing with local policy and spending priorities. The report presents a broad discussion of regulatory/policy and marketing/branding strategy, followed by suggested investments and initiatives in the near-, mid-, and long-term. The Panel found generally that market conditions do not support significant, solely private, development of either commercial or residential space in Indian Head, which means that creative solutions and partnerships are necessary – the Town cannot rely on the private sector or place itself at the whims of external factors.
To diversify the elements that form the foundation of future economic development, the Panel lays out in the report a three-pronged approach to catalyze a presence for the innovation economy, create a recreation and eco-tourism identity, and foster pedestrian activity and a Main Street feel. While there are many challenges facing Indian Head and many factors beyond the control of local leaders, the Panel believes that this prescription presents an optimal path for the Town to move forward toward economic and civic revitalization.
The TAP was chaired by David Kitchens, Principal-in-Charge of the Alexandria, Virginia, office of Cooper Carry. Members of the Panel included: Daniel Anderton, Dewberry; Agnès Artemel, Artemel & Associates; Martine Combal, DC Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development; Sukirti Ghosh, Rhodeside & Harwell; Darren Smith, Traipse; Michael Stevens, Capitol Riverfront BID; and Kyle Talente, RKG Associates.
A final version of the report may be found here.