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BRAC Delays Could Keep Thousands of Jobs in Arlington

by ARLnow.com — November 18, 2010 at 8:23 am 1,943 21 Comments

So much for deadlines.

Sept. 15, 2011 was supposed to be the date by which some 5 million square feet of military-occupied office space in Arlington — 17 percent of the county’s office inventory — would be moved out as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Act.

Now, it appears that most of that leased space will still be in use by the military through 2012 and beyond.

A new report by commercial real estate firm Cassidy Turley that examined lease renewals suggests that BRAC relocations are years behind schedule. According to the firm, “[BRAC-related] leases totaling 2.3 million square feet have been extended through 2013 or later.”

And yesterday Rep. Jim Moran threw another wrench in the stalled relocation process. Per a provision Moran inserted into a Defense Department funding bill, the DoD’s Inspector General will be investigating the planned BRAC relocation of 6,400 jobs — many from Arlington — to the Mark Center project in Alexandria.

Moran has been working “to suspend or delay the move into the Mark Center site until the necessary transportation improvements to prevent a traffic nightmare on I-395 are implemented,” according to a statement announcing the investigation.

Such a delay could ease some of the economic pain the county will experience as a result of BRAC job losses.

  • Kevin

    A good move by Moran. The area surrounding the Mark center is simply not able to handle that type of traffic. King St @ Walter Reed/Beauregard is especially bad. The roads are too narrow and in poor condition.

    It was my understanding that they were going to widen that intersection but I haven’t heard anything recently about that.

    • MikeyinCrystalC

      Ditto. The location of the Mark Center is a joke…unless one owns those apartments right there on Seminary…then it’s all $$$ in your future.

    • Westover

      There was a plan 20 years ago to build an interchange at Walter Reed and Rt7, that failed as it would have taken out the old hospital and The Arlington condos. Then about 8 years ago there was a plan to widen the entire intersection, it was shelved at the time as unneeded with better timed lights and better marked turning lanes. The new lanes never appeared but the better timed lights helped out a bit.

    • Katie

      Exactly. He may be a hothead but the man does his job for his constituents.

  • Jason S

    Wait a second, I thought that high real estate prices and incomes in this area had nothing to do with federal government spending. It’s common knowledge that even without the federal government right next door, Arlington would be a successful and prosperous community with it’s fortunes being a result only of the brilliance of its residents and governance. =/

    • Sajon J

      Tell that to PG County.

      • Jason S

        PG County had a 70K median household income in 2008 according to the Census Bureau, which was about the same as the state of Maryland as a whole. This is really not too bad considering the abysmal educational statistics for the county dragging that down. If anything, proximity to DC has helped raise that value considerably.

        Certainly PG has management issues, but most other jurisdictions are doing quite fine around here. Montgomery and Fairfax Counties are doing quite well. When one removes their blinders, it’s hard to ignore the significantly higher than average income in the Washington DC area compared to the national average.

        • Westover

          Montgomery County is doing great due to the Bio-Tech corridor that is only there due to the National Institute of Health(NIH) in Bethesda and Rockville. The Dulles Tech Corridor is not as dependent on the Federal Government, but it would not exist as it is if it was not for the Federally created DARPAnet ie. the Internet. The entire region was go to pot without the Seat of the Federal Government in the middle of it all.

  • charlie

    the best thing that every happened to Crystal City was when all the thrifty, brown-bag lunch, car-pooling crazy non-happy hour federal employees left with NavCon and other stuff in the mid-1990′s. Business activity in the Underground more than doubled.

    • Vinh An Nguyen

      Is that why half the stores there are empty now?

  • Bluemont John

    Thank goodness this is being delayed. What a dumb plan BRAC is–take hundreds of moderately sized, innocuous DoD offices that no one outside DoD realizes are there and that employees generally find it easy to get to and put them all on the same giant military base. That way, the terrorists will know where everything is, and everyone can all be going to the same place at the same time of day. Brilliant! Thanks, Dumsfeld.

    • KalashniKEV

      I don’t think you understand BRAC… this down-the-street type of move is atypical.

      Normally it’s some Congressman fighting to get a major command moved into his far away economically depressed locale so that the kids who never did homework in High School can have a job there, and their counterparts in the BRAC’d location can be become jobless and watch their property value plummet.

      There IS a good news story though- BRAC enables you to cash in on all kinds of government scams… Get your home appraised Pre-BRAC announcement and then again after and they will cut you a check for the difference! And they will find you a new .gov job at or below your grade nearby! (if possible)

    • KyleH

      Idea: stop paying rent on, and contributing to the security upkeep of, all those moderately sized DoD offices, and move them all to new government-owned and controlled buildings. That makes financial sense for the taxpayer.

      Now, did the DoD make a mess of the implementation? Of course! And did they choose to disregard the area’s embrace of mass transit by moving thousands and thousands of jobs out to car-land? Yup.

      But it was a good idea in theory at least.

      • Bluemont John

        Not true. How much is being spent to move NGA from its facilities in Bethesda, Reston, and the Navy Yard to a new complex in Springfield? I can tell you the new buildings are surely going to cost a lot more than the rent and “upkeep” on the old ones. The justification was supposed to be security, but you can’t tell me that one giant target is more secure than 50 small ones.

  • http://www.belvoirnewvision.com Don Carr

    Quick point of order (more info available at http://www.belvoirnewvision.com): * The 15 Sep 2011 deadline is a date imposed by Congress in the BRAC 2005 legislation. It is NOT a date over which DOD has any flexibility – it is the law only the Congress that made it can change. Also, contrary to a widely held misperception, the jobs BRAC directs be moved are not affected by the lease extensions. The 6,400 jobs BRAC directs be moved to Fort Belvoir will in fact move by Sept. 15, 2011.

    • Con Darr

      Is the Mark Center supposed to be part of Fort Belvoir?

      • http://www.belvoirnewvision.com Don Carr

        Yes. DOD purchased the property for the express purpose of making it part of Fort Belvoir. In fact, Mark Center will be one of three non-contiguous parts of the installation (the other two being Belvoir North Area (formerly EPG) and Rivanna Station at Charlottesville.

    • Laura Hedal

      How do you know that the lease extensions don’t affect the employees scheduled to move to Mark Center? Aren’t all BRAC jobs subject to the same September 15, 2011 deadline, not just the Fort Belovir/Mark Center jobs?

  • MC

    Great reporting ArlNow.

    I believe the BRAC relocations will ultimately be healthy for Arlington and certainly for Crystal City. The biggest incentive to redeveloping these buildings is to have them vacant. Unfortunately, only a few would be fully vacated by a BRAC moving, so that bad 1960s era buildings won’t be torn-down and replaced right away. I’m very familiar with the buildings and know they are as badly designed inside as they are from the outside, and need total replacement, not a modest rehab.

    While this may delay a short term pain of readjustment, it also delays the much needed reinvention of Crystal City and other properties.

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