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Fairfax County Could Sell Air Rights to Fight Tolls

With tolls projected to increase, officials are looking into air rights sales.

Fairfax County is exploring how selling air rights could help reduce tolls on the Dulles Toll Road that are expected to shoot up with Phase II of the Silver Line construction.

Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) asked staff last week to look into the cost of a study determining how much money the county could charge developers for the right to build over the Toll Road and new Silver Line Metro stations.

Air rights over roads and rail have been sold numerous times in New York City. For example, the 58-story Metlife building in New York is built in air rights above Grand Central Terminal. The city is also hoping to make as much as $750 million for mass transit improvements through air rights sales around Grand Central, according to Bloomberg.

“There’s broad agreement and consensus that this is worth looking at but nobody’s actually looking at it,” Herrity said. “I am concerned about the impact of the tolls on the economic health of the corridor.”

Under the current funding model, toll road users would foot about 75 percent of the bill for the $3 billion extension from Reston to Dulles International Airport.

“Air rights” is a legal term used to describe the area above or below the plane of a transportation facility. The right to use the space can be leased to public or private parties.

Herrity says the revenue can go right towards toll alleviation. Air rights would only be sold for the 23-mile second phase of the Silver Line.

With officials shooting to have a construction contract for Phase II by May 2013, Herrity said the county needed to act as fast as possible before stations are designed.

“It’s not something that going to happen today, but if we don’t do something today, we preclude the opportunity of seeing that revenue source in the future,” he said. “I don’t want to run out of time on this one.”

Herrity said he had received estimates on studies for two stations that would total about $50,000 and take 60 days.

Staff will come back to the Board with a short presentation and cost estimates for a feasibility study to be discussed at a coming Transportation Committee meeting. No exact date has been set.

“I just want to see the ball start moving,” Herrity said.

See also:

Rob Whitfield March 26, 2013 at 12:09 PM
MWAA studied Dulles Access/Toll Road air rights in 2010. The Board decided in February 2011 to exclude costs of additional foundations to support buildings at Reston Parkway station from Phase 2. Charles Snelling, former MWAA Board Chairman, supported by DC and Maryland board members was adamant that any revenues to be derived from future leasing of air rights would go to offset Dulles Airport development costs. Nobody on MWAA Board gave a flying fig about reducing Dulles Toll Road toll costs for Dulles Rail. Former Congressman Tom Davis went to his allies on Capitol Hill to revise the "airport purposes" provision of the FAA authorization bill to allow uses "not inconsistent with airport purposes." The following links contain relevant information: http://www.tollroadsnews.com/node/5168 http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/projects/reston/task_force_documents/air_rights_final_paper.pdf
Rob Whitfield March 26, 2013 at 12:10 PM
The potential foundation costs for air rights development over the Dulles Access/ Toll Roads are significant. Ingress/egress roads plus utilities would also be needed. Tysons Corner and Dulles Corridor office vacancy rates remain over 16%. The full impact of sequestration on near term local employment has yet to be determined. http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/blog/fedbiz_daily/2013/03/raytheons-dulles-location-undergoes.html The long term outlook for office space demand in Northern Virginia and elsewhere in the US over the next 30 years has declined since 2011. http://www.irei.com/blog/?p=463 Gen Y (ages 17 to 34) is 25 percent of the population or 77.4 million people. This large group (wiil influence) all commercial real estate sectors for many years. Gen Y Office Users Less than 100 square feet per person (traditional average is 200 square feet) No private offices Counters replace desks Creative interaction/fun spaces Work from home/car/Starbucks Green is preferable Incubator/temporary spaces in demand As to residential demand, here's the headline in the Washington Business Journal. "Oversaturated: Greater Washington's glut of apartments" http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/print-edition/2013/03/15/greater-washingtons-glut-of-apartments.html?full=true
Cassie March 26, 2013 at 02:47 PM
I think it would help tie one side of development with another on opposite sides of the toll road.

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