Northern Virginia leaders still are exulting over their capture of Amazon’s second corporate headquarters, but are grappling with the region’s transportation, education, housing and economic conundrums.

“In a relatively short period of time, we’ve started our shift away from dependence on the federal government for our economy, we’ve established our dominance in cyber-security [and] we’ve become the nation’s hub for the transmission of data,” said Terry Clower, director of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis, at the Northern Virginia Regional Elected Leaders Summit on Aug. 26. “Our success has generated some new – and exacerbated some old – challenges.”

Amazon’s decision to locate its second headquarters in Crystal City underscored Northern Virginia’s desirability and likely will serve as a model for future regional cooperation, said Arlington County Board Chairman Christian Dorsey (D).

The incentive package served up for Amazon “charted a new course” and emphasized “infrastructure and investment in ourselves,” Dorsey said.

“It’s not about a giveaway from your general coffers, it’s about identifying an area where you could have potential revenue increases,” he said. “If it materializes, Amazon gets a piece of it, but the community gets most of it and I think that is the model hopefully that is replicated all across this country.”

Reeling in Amazon helped local leaders determine the region’s unique identity, Dorsey added.

“If we don’t utilize this moving forward, it’s a wasted investment,” he said.

“This is a wonderful example of the start of our brand,” concurred Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Penelope Gross (D-Mason).

Gross emphasized Amazon’s arrival will occur over time and not just add 25,000 more people to the region immediately. The whole region will benefit from the online mega-retailer’s new headquarters, which will be just 15 minutes from Mason District – unless it’s rush hour, she said.

“This reinforces the work we’ve been doing for a long time,” Gross said. “This is another example of the regional leadership getting together. [Amazon’s headquarters] is going to be an educational magnet, too.”

The successful recruitment of Amazon also shows that 21st-century employers go where the talent is, said Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson (D).

“Regional cooperation is critical,” Wilson said. “When all of us work together . . . no one can beat us.”

The big challenge moving ahead will be beefing up the region’s transportation infrastructure, such as Interstates 66 and 95 and the Metrorail system, said Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart (R).

Dorsey, who since 2016 has served on the board of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, said the agency had made significant strides in improving Metrorail customers’ experience. Metrorail is moving in the right direction, but the agency’s bus service also needs to be improved, he said.

Alexandria residents and businesses have suffered while Metrorail’s Blue and Yellow lines going through the city were closed for renovations, Wilson said. Local officials found some commuters enjoy the different transit options they have had to try during the closures, he said.

Alexandria officials also have been happy with a water-taxi service that ferries customers between the city and the District of Columbia and Prince George’s County, Wilson said. That service will be extended through December, he said.

Julie Carey, Northern Virginia bureau chief for WRC-TV, served as moderator for the panel discussion, held at Van Metre Hall on George Mason University’s Arlington campus.

Housing scarcity was on the mind of Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairman Phyllis Randall (D). Randall favored a regional approach in addressing the affordable-housing crunch and recommended infrastructure be put in place before the new housing units arrived.

“If we look at this county-by-county, we’re going to be in trouble,” said Randall. “If you don’t think it’s important, imagine what you’re college kids are going to do when they finish. They’re either going to be not in this area or in your basement. I want them in this area. I do not want them in my basement.”

Wilson also favored affordable-housing initiatives, provided they took into account different jurisdictions’ employment centers and transportation networks.

“We don’t want to exacerbate transportation problems,” he said. “We need to put housing in the right places . . . to meet the need.”

Fairfax County will need an estimated 60,000 more housing units in the next 15 years and county supervisors during next year’s budget season will consider dedicating 1 cent on the real-estate tax rate toward affordable-housing initiatives, Gross said.

Local governments could help affordable-housing providers by easing up on the regulations, Stewart said.

“The biggest thing government can do is get out of the way,” he said. “We need to let the private sector do its job.”

Education will play a vital role in the region’s future success, said Randall, who supported having career discussions with children starting in middle school. Not all the new jobs will require college degrees, so beefed-up vocational training and apprenticeships might be valuable, she said.

Wilson concurred, joking that his eighth-grader was asking for a “gap year” before entering ninth grade.

“It’s not just preparing kids for higher education, but making sure we’re top-notch as far as certifications,” he said.

The other panelists supported those sentiments, including Gross, who noted a local elementary school’s end-of-the-year project had students doing computer coding. Gross also urged local leaders not to focus just on high-tech employment options, but also to think of ways to help people working in service jobs.

“It’s the entire community, the entire scope of the workforce, that we need to focus on,” Gross said.

Asked whether they think another economic recession is looming, some panelists said there has been some softening in the housing market. That may not be such a bad thing, said Dorsey, whose jurisdiction now has one of the nation’s hottest housing markets.

“We could use a little cold water on things to have people step back a little,” he said.

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(20) comments

Charles

[thumbdown]to more "growth for the sake of growth". All that's doing now and will do in the future is make inside-the-beltway a more expensive mess than it is already.

CJE

Prediction: Areas of the Rust Belt with public/private infrastructure that isn't deteriorated and without a dysfunctional adult population will become increasingly attractive to employers because SF, NY, DC, and similar "vibrant" metro areas are becoming too expensive for for-profits and non-profits and their employees.

jna

Already occurring in the Rust Belt. My sister and her husband (both late 40's with kid in college) drive a big pick-up and a big SUV, their home is heavily winterized with solar on the roof, and their employers offer liberal winter vacation time-off with telecommuting so they are spending maybe 6 weeks between December and April in the Rust Belt.

JM

I rented a condo on the FL Gulf Coast last January. Many "snowbird" Canadians who were not retired and work in IT and occupations where they don't have to be in an office 9-5 Monday-Friday were telecommuting to Quebec and Ontario out of their winter home condos.

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CJE

Why don't you get your fellow Yellow Dog Dems to clean up the mess where you live - Manassas - before beating up on Independents who want no part of the decades long Progressives vs. Neo Cons feud? BTW my name is still Cindy.

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jna

Fifty years of Liberals and Conservatives taking turns attacking everyone who doesn't go along with the program - THEIR program....1969 - Impeach Nixon....1994 - Impeach Clinton....2019 - Impeach Trump. Enough already.

skeptical

Since InsideNOVA protects Corey at all costs, I will give you his most damning quote with respect to blowing open the Rural Crescent:



“These landowners can’t hold out forever,” Stewart said. “We have to allow developers the ability to build out the county.”



Not to put too fine a point on it, but Corey's position is that the County has to ensure that a handful of landowners and developers make bank while the taxpayers of the County will be forced to shoulder the burden of ever increasing real property tax to pay for the supporting infrastructure required by that development. All county residents and especially those in the eastern end of the county (with its infrastructure and maintenance deficits) will suffer so that the handful of landowners won't have to "hold out", waiting for the county to triple the value of their 401Ks.

ManassasBro

Corey is right.

First of all, there are more jobs coming here than elsewhere. Thats not "growth for growth sake" that's growth that is coming to the area whether we accommodate for it or not. In the meantime, every project turned down is more proffers that could accommodate infrastructure/transportation. When Fairfax tried to curb growth this way in the 70-80s they later noticed it set their infrastructure back decades (that they would never get back). The argument that it is not revenue positive is ridiculous because it is the local gov. responsibility and the onus is on them.



There are politicians who claim to be pro-business or for property-rights who are prioritizing aesthetics and fear of change over a number of benefits for the community to include jobs, less sprawl (because it will only go further out and still on our roads), increased revenue, increased tax base, more housing stock, and therefore more affordable housing. Even if you are naive and short-sighted enough to say we already have our house and this will make prices go up, are forgetting that you will now have higher assessed values and therefore will pay more just to stay in it. In the meantime, values will reach a level where it will be hard to find a buyer when they can find a better managed jurisdiction in literally any direction. Also, if you wanted to find housing in the area later because of a divorce, or kids that now want to live in the same area you will only be hurting those folks (who will be priced out).



Additionally, the legal rationale is faulty. While zoning and some restrictions can occur, the removal of any other zoning option or subdividing is taking away from the value of each property without compensation (an unlawful taking under the 5th amendment).



When Lawson said I don't want people to see a bunch of rooftops she was arguing for a ridiculous notion that rooftops are eyesores. Heaven forbid anyone have to see your roof, where your family lives, or Lawsons for that matter. At the end of the day we have to prioritize the well-being of the entire County over the insecurities of folks living in the crescent.

skeptical

Where to begin with this shallow analysis. Let's just go through the comment line by line. Falsehood number one, proffers DO NOT (in almost all cases) cover more than a small fraction of the capital cost for new infrastructure. Those same proffers cover NONE of the cost of the ongoing operational and maintenance expenses. Falsehood number 2, the cost of revenue negative housing is not directly the responsibility of the local government but rather the residential and business taxpayers who will have to pay increased taxes to make up the difference. Similarly, under the Prince William model, the only new jobs created are baristas at Starbucks, greeters at Walmart and clerks at the new Walgreens that seem to pop up everywhere. While this new development may increase the revenues as a result of a larger tax base, because the expansion is revenue negative it means everyone pays more, a circumstance that prices some out of the County. So much for the affordable housing argument. Further, when is the last time the BOCS actually approved an "affordable" housing development as it is typically defined. I'll wait for the answer on that one and give you bonus points if you can name one within a mile of the rural area. I'm a bit confused by the end of your second paragraph as you seem to contradict yourself. That being said, you might want to bone up on the Virginia Constitution and the zoning statutes as the County does have the authority to amend the Comp Plan and zoning, while it can't diminish existing structures, it can limit or expand future uses. This is not about the insecurities of folks living in the rural crescent but it is about prioritizing the well-being of the entire county. Corey's plan would drown the residents in higher taxes and increased debt.

ManassasBro

https://www.forbes.com/sites/rogervaldez/2018/07/16/we-dont-need-more-affordable-housing-we-need-more-housing-so-it-will-be-affordable/#40224fe915aa

skeptical

I've seen that theory but implementation in Prince William would be disastrous on two fronts. First, as already mentioned, it would drive up the cost of new infrastructure in amounts calculated in the hundreds of millions. Second, it would drive down the value of existing homes, robbing current residents of their equity and much of the value of their greatest investment. The impact that would have on the local economy if the price point sank far enough to reach the "affordable housing" level would be disastrous and may well encourage quite a number to bail on their existing mortgage as the value of the property sank below the cost of paying for it. Sounds like a plan that would come out of that dimwit Lee Carter's mouth.

ManassasBro

Well I'm looking up the data and for a Townhouse its $8,000 a unit for schools. How is that not a responsibility of the local government to know the cost (since they seem to keep and share that data) and then come up with the amount to make it neutral.

https://www.pwcgov.org/government/dept/planning/Documents/Monetary%20Contributions%20Report%20-%20Residential.pdf



Also, constitutional law would be more important. Having an area, and then defining it in a shape, and then saying this can only be this, takes away an option, which any property outside of this boundary has. When you then make an exception and allow religious groups to purchase the property and get sewage you are saying one other use, is allowed special privileges.

Proffer update with good graph on cash v expenditures:

https://ggwash.org/view/71307/virginia-general-assembly-fixes-the-reform-on-residential-proffers

Also, your "affordable housing" understanding is limited. We need more housing for housing to become affordable and in the meantime it also creates JOBS.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/rogervaldez/2018/07/16/we-dont-need-more-affordable-housing-we-need-more-housing-so-it-will-be-affordable/#3478c2d915aa

skeptical

The "fix" to the 2016 proffer legislation is really no fix at all, it simply gives the developer (not the local jurisdiction) another negotiation option. Favola was one of two tools used by the development industry and leadership of both parties to make things easier for some of the largest campaign contributors across the Commonwealth (Bob Thomas was the tool on the House side). As a result of the 2016 legislation, cash proffers have dried up and the developers, when they offer them, are paying pennies on the dollar through the use of proffer analysis that they draft. The local jurisdiction is barred from questioning the methodology or demanding more in return for an approval. As far as zoning of lands within the county, sorry, the constitutional authority of the county to do exactly what you say they can't is a long settled matter and the Kelo decision didn't help anybody except the local jurisdictions. That being said, I agree with you with respect to the special privileges granted to many religious institutions (largely as a result of the county attorney's outsized fear of RLIUPA litigation). I'm a lot closer to reality in my understanding of your affordable housing scenario than you realize.

InsideCommenter

Anyone who considers their house in which they reside to be an investment are deluding themselves. Most people buy homes primarily for amenities and comfort of living along with at least being in the vicinity of their work. If you try to make the house in which you intend to live for a good while an investment you are sure to lose money. If you truly want to invest in your home to sell and don't plan on settling down don't try to play these games with equity, leave the housing investments to people who make this their living, just rent, or if you plan to make this region your home find a house you love and intend to spend a few decades in.

insidebugging

Corey Stewart’s legacy will be as the person who turned Prince William into a dark blue stronghold for at least the next 100 years or longer. He approved every cheap apartment building and ghetto townhouse development he could just so he could collect campaign funds for all his failed and disastrous state and nation wide campaigns. He sold out Prince William county to the Democrats so bad that we will never be able to recover again in our lifetime. Thanks for nothing Corey!

CJE

Owning a home is like owning a boat or a plane...constant expenses related to upkeep, then there are the taxes which are always increasing.



Speaking of "Deep Blue" PW is a source of affordable affordable housing for the workforce that the Progressive PlutoCrats and their Developer corporate cronies gentrified out of Arlington, Alexandria, FC, etc.

InsideCommenter

If you don't like PWC call 1-800-LEAVE you won't be missed.

jna

[censored]to the ongoing insanity where growth for the sake of growth economic development boosters in every jurisdiction compete with each other to bribe yet more corporations to locate and relocate in this area when this area has become an expensive congested mess with worse (much worse) to follow if it keeps on for another decade.

Charles

Notice that it’s all about Corey Stewart vs. Christian Dorsey. Seventy percent of us who aren’t liberals or conservatives are sheeple taxpayers.



Then there are the neo-con and progressive trolls on these blogs who trash anyone who wants to get a discussion going about alternatives to decades more of the same old same old. Like the person who posted a comment on another blog advocating a 6 monty trial for a few double deck buses on Columbia Pike and across KeyBridge.

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CJE

One party government for decades at it's worst. One party Trolls won't let a few Independents make a few comments lest the Sheeple start to think and ask questions.[censored][censored]

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