Friday, September 12, 2008

The $150 Million Man

The Growler sees that someone has posted Carla Branch's piece on the Council work session on the Braddock East plan held earlier this week.

The Cranky One will discuss the meeting in more detail next week, but one statement made on Wednesday night needs to be dissected with a sharp scalpel.

During the presentation on the proposed James Bland public housing redevelopment, Planning Commission Chairman Eric Wagner stated that in evaluating this project it was critical to ask what benefit it would have to the City.

Hmmmmmm... Was Mr. Wagner thinking about benefit to the City when, as a Del Ray apparatchik, he successfully fought high density development at Potomac Yard, the biggest and most valuable open parcel ever to land in the City's lap? By opposing density, he killed the goose that would have laid the golden egg of enhanced tax revenue, which the City sorely misses now.

Arlington got it right. Anyone driving up Jefferson Davis Highway will notice with a jolt how the skyline and mass change after Four Mile Run, when they pass Arlington's stretch of the Yard.

And what about the Metro station that the developer was going to pay for if high density development were approved on Alexandria's side of Potomac Yard?

Gone.

Mr. Wagner not only zapped revenue, his leadership effectively killed off a free Metro station. In fact, the Growler understands that he recently tried to kill the proposed density shift at Potomac Yard that would have at least bulked up a little bit the density around the land reserved for a future Metro site. But Mr. Wagner was outwitted by the Yard's attorneys and outvoted by other members of Planning Commission.

Now, with WMATA strapped and state transportation tax revenues obliterated by unfavorable court decisions, it will cost the City $150 million if it wants a transit station at Potomac Yard.

So is Eric Wagner the $150 million man, the Steve Austin of Alexandria adjusted for inflation?