STATEMENT: Is Virginia Proposing the Best Site for Amazon? CSG statement on Washington region’s Amazon HQ2 bids

October 9, 2017

Stewart Schwartz, Coalition for Smarter Growth
(703) 599-6437

WASHINGTON, DC — The Washington Post reported today that Fairfax and Loudoun counties, with the support of Virginia Governor McAuliffe, intend to propose to Amazon the CIT site next to the Innovation Station on Metro’s Silver Line, while excluding Tysons and other options. Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, issued the following statement:

“While we appreciate that a Metro station site is being offered and that the CIT site provides proximity to Dulles Airport, the Coalition for Smarter Growth is deeply concerned both about the closed-door process and the failure to offer other Metro station locations worthy of consideration and by some measures better suited to absorbing this major employer. The public should have an opportunity to help shape the bids based upon the locations that offer the best combination of transit, and mixed-use walkable urbanism.

“It is a testament to the value of high-capacity transit like our Metro system, that Amazon is joining dozens of other large corporations in selecting transit station locations.  In our region alone, the companies include Marriott, Choice Hotels, Hilton, Nestle, and Capital One. But not all Metro stations are created equal, and not all have the attributes necessary to host this very large employer, particularly one showing a clear preference for good urbanism.

“We agree that in Virginia, Tysons should be a prime site on the table — with four Metro stations and Metro access to two airports, a planned grid of streets, and a plan for funding all of the features and amenities for a mixed-use walkable community. In contrast, the Innovation Station and CIT site are far behind in planning, the station area is divided by the massively wide Dulles Toll Road, and the site is so far out that it’s out of reach of a large proportion of the region’s workforce.”

“In addition, the state and localities should offer Potomac Yard/Crystal City, a transit community with at least three Metro stations (three with National Airport and four if you count Pentagon City), bus rapid transit, VRE, a grid of streets and strong walkable mixed-use network already in place, along with direct access to Reagan National Airport. Crystal City BID and landowners have been proposing direct pedestrian connection from a relocated VRE station to the airport terminal.

“Sites in DC might be too expensive or lack sufficient land area, except perhaps the RFK site or Poplar Point, but should be considered. As for Maryland, the growing urban neighborhood at New Carrollton has Metro, MARC, Amtrak, and good access to both BWI and Reagan National Airports; although like Tysons, it needs to implement a better street grid.  A Prince George’s location would help address regional jobs/housing imbalances, and imbalances in Metro and Beltway traffic flows.

“But the bottom line is that we need an opportunity for an open process with public input where the possible sites in the region are fully vetted to provide the best combination of transit options, urban mix of uses, walkability, and airport access, and that we don’t rush into a site which will impose more costs than benefits to our region. We know from the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission shift of tens of thousands of jobs, that these location decisions can have costly and negative effects on our transportation network and other infrastructure, if they are not fully vetted.”

About the Coalition for Smarter Growth

The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Its mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish. Learn more