Next Stop, Tysons – good article on urban planning and real estate development in Northern Virginia. Urban planning can create excellent real estate development opportunities but it is not easy. It is easy to look around the country and see how poorly planned development has been resulting in huge wastes of time through long commutes. But it is not surprising, smart planning requires long term thinking which is often lacking. Arlington made excellent decisions in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s (and I am sure plenty of less than perfect ones too). The wrong decisions could have been made during that process that would have greatly reduced the benefits. Arlington now seems pretty well set and now the path toward smart development is the default position. Still they have challenges.
Fairfax, which borders Arlington, made poorer decisions in the past. Now they have difficult decisions. It will be interesting to see how they can do. Both counties have a huge incentive to push for more subway capacity but we will see if they do it. They can’t wait until the need is urgent. Any plans will likely take decades to bring online. Plans have been floated for many years but still nothing has been decided.
“If we don’t change the old pattern of growth and development, we will continue to get what we have always gotten,” said Gerald E. Connolly, chairman of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors.
It is not going to be a simple process and many years of tough decisions, good management, good planning will need to follow any decisions made now. But the options of clustering high density development seems like the best bet for success to me. One strategy of a real estate investor can be to find a good long term (say 10+ years) play (like Arlington) and invest before the prices skyrocket. Then just sit back as the likely takes place and watch your investment grow.
Arlington now has fairly high housing prices, the question is likely whether they have skyrocketed yet (many say they have – I am not so sure, they are not cheap but for what the potential for the area is they could go much higher). It certainly is not as great an opportunity as it was in 1995. The government sure feels flush – spending over $80 million each for 2 high school in the next couple of years (replacing schools build a few decades ago – school population is actually shrinking not growing)! Real estate taxes have been increasing dramatically each year to pay for more and more spending.