Local Commentary

Editorial: A WMATA-Falls Church Deal?

The enthusiasm exhibited at Monday’s Falls Church City Council meeting by WMATA’s board chair Jack Evans concerning the potential to collaborate with Falls Church on commercial development at the West Falls Church Metro station needs to be viewed for what it is: A tremendous potential boost to the City’s plans and needs to extract substantially added revenues from its Campus Redevelopment Project there.

All plans by the City and its School Board to plod ahead with its notions of what to do with the City’s 36.5 acres there now needs to be placed on hold while the prospect for fully doubling the size of the land in question needs to be hashed out with WMATA.

WMATA’s got its own 38 acres right at the site, all used for structured and surface parking. To the extent that Evans and the WMATA board, scrounging around for ways to finance the daunting tasks before the Metrorail system and regretting WMATA’s failure to have gained from the dense commercial development at other stations on its routes, is now thirsting to move on its own development at West Falls Church, it is a prime and timely opportunity for the City and WMATA to sit down and talk.

Once again, we encourage major developers around the region to sit up and take notice, as we’re sure they must be. There could be a heck of a lot of money to be made if the City and WMATA joined forces to extract the highest and best use out of that location, revenues that both Falls Church and WMATA sorely need.

Evans reminded the F.C. City Council that there are over 22 million visitors to the D.C. Metro area every year, and most of them are tourists. A campus including the 38 WMATA acres and 10.5 of the acres of the F.C. Campus Redevelopment Project (the maximum allotted for non-educational uses) could be combined with the City’s educational on the rest of its site (that could include world-class swimming, baseball and performing arts facilities) and would attract families coming to visit D.C.’s many amazing historical attractions. They could set up shop here where costs are lower and security factors are enhanced to readily avail of the entire Metro system for their vacations and other travels.

Dear Falls Church, this is a chance for something really big. The City would gain all the benefits with very little down side since the West Falls Church station is outside the City limits and the City could readily remain insulated from what could go out there.

Roll into this equation enhanced negotiations around the Northern Virginia Graduate Center’s classroom building located right there as well, and the net effect will be that the future for the City will belong to the most creative and fresh-thinking minds among us.

The next step can be a port along the Four Mile Run, for such imaginings can become realities if opportunities that exist now are not squandered.