Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Foulger Pratt CEO criticizes MoCo for failing to complete master plan highway system

Tells Bisnow, "there's no comparison"
between moribund MoCo and booming
Northern Virginia office markets

Foulger Pratt CEO Cameron Pratt is the latest regional business leader to speak out on the moribund Montgomery County economy, which has failed to attract a single major corporate headquarters in over two decades. That matters to the real estate firm, which has many Montgomery County office buildings in its regional portfolio. Pratt tells Bisnow in a new interview that "there's no comparison" between stagnant MoCo and booming Northern Virginia when it comes to office tenant interest. He cites MoCo official's cancellation of major parts of the county's master plan highway system as a major reason we've become the bedroom community for booming job centers in Northern Virginia.

Of course, Pratt notes that Northern Virginia is much more business-friendly in its policies, and is far more aggressive in wooing companies. Both factors can almost go without saying. But he zeroes in on infrastructure as a deciding factor, as have many CEOs who have chosen Virginia over Montgomery County in recent decades.

"I think the biggest challenge Montgomery County has is infrastructure," Pratt tells Bisnow's Jon Banister. "You look at Northern Virginia; they have two airports, they have a significant freeway system connecting the airports and the suburbs to downtown, and they’ve spent money to invest in HOT lanes, in extending the Metro to Dulles Airport. That infrastructure is because of decades of planing and investment and Montgomery has not made those same investments. Montgomery County does not have a freeway connecting the suburbs to downtown. It does not have significant airport infrastructure and has not extended Metro further out. They have not been willing to grapple with the important issue of another river crossing and if Montgomery County is not willing to make investments in infrastructure, I don’t think they’ll be able to attract employers and compete with Northern Virginia."

What a bodyslam. "That's gotta hurt, Gene." Pratt's interview comes ahead of next week's Bisnow-sponsored event that will focus on the future of business and real estate in Montgomery County.

Pratt is one of the few CEOs to publicly challenge County officials' ongoing refusal to complete the master plan highway system. Bob Buchanan, another County business leader willing to speak up, told transportation officials in Virginia that many of his MoCo business colleagues are afraid to challenge elected officials on their failure to build the new Potomac River crossing because of political pressure.

Montgomery County officials years ago canceled no less than three freeways leading into the District: the Northwest Freeway, the North-Central Freeway, and the Northern Parkway. They canceled the Rockville Freeway in the late 1980s, and are currently blocking the M-83 Highway from being constructed in the upcounty. And of course, they've prevented the new Potomac River crossing to the Dulles Airport area from being built for decades. Dulles has the wide variety and frequency of flights to international business destinations that corporate leaders need to be competitive. They simply cannot meet their travel needs at BWI or Reagan National, which themselves are infuriatingly long drives away from MoCo.

Imagine knowing what the solutions to a major problem are, and simply refusing to implement them. Under the current "leadership" of our MoCo political cartel-controlled Council, that is what passes for "The Montgomery Way." Heckuva job, Brownie!

4 comments:

  1. While MoCo may not be defunct it sure offers no real competition to NoVa. Like the post says, it's one thing to live in ignorance but to know the root causes and still refuse to make real changes is inexcusable. I don't know if this stems from a resistance to change, nostalgia, corruption or sheer stupidity but it's real. Those that think they are somehow maintaining a nostalgic, "hometown" feel to this area are out of their minds. It hasn't been a small town in 50 years nor have they allowed it to prosper with the amenities and infrastructure a metro area requires. With this mentality, this county will and should fall behind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why not embrace what the county is best at---being a bedroom community instead of forcing it to be what will never work so that in another 50 years everyone will wonder why the 2020 people were so ignorant.

      Delete
    2. Because in the long run it's not sustainable. You can't have your local economy based overwhelmingly on housing, restaurants and retail/service. There has to be some net inflow of money brought by business diversification (don't want all your eggs in one basket). Otherwise pay more in taxes...

      Delete
  2. There's no reason it will "never work" here. It can absolutely work, just requires opening up our minds to different ideas and the political will to invest in the aforementioned things.

    ReplyDelete