GOP excited but cautious about Amazon’s move to NoVa

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The Suburban Virginia Republican Coalition (SUVGOP) says the selection of Crystal City for Amazon’s planned headquarters location will become a significant issue in next year’s state and local elections.

“Yesterday’s announcement that Amazon will locate one of its headquarters in Northern Virginia demonstrates the region’s growth as a high-tech center on the East Coast and will be a boon for Northern Virginia,” said Mike Ginsberg, a member of the SUVGOP Steering Committee. “We are excited about Amazon’s decision to locate in Crystal City and all that it means for our region.  However, we believe voters and elected officials should be cognizant of the fiscal impact on local budgets and the local communities surrounding Crystal City.”

In a recent survey and soon-to-be-released report, SUVGOP named four major issues suburban residents identified as their key issues – commuter transportation, affordable housing, property taxes, and education.

“Adding 25,000 new employees and their families to Northern Virginia will exacerbate the existing concerns of Northern Virginia residents,” said Ginsberg.  “These new families will not only be locating in Arlington County but also in the surrounding counties of Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William, where school budgets are straining, commuter traffic is some of the worst in the country and housing costs and property taxes have skyrocketed since the recession.”

Citing one example, Ginsberg noted that Fairfax County property taxes have increased 26 percent in the past five years, making housing less affordable for low- and middle-income families and forcing retirees to relocate out of the county.  The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will meet next week to address their $2.5 Billion unfunded pension liability that already weighs heavily on future county budgets and revenue needs. (See 10/16 story)

“Fiscally responsible plan” needed

“Candidates for state and local offices in 2019 must have a fiscally responsible plan for funding the additional schools, transportation and housing that Amazon’s decision will require,” Ginsberg said.  “And in Fairfax that plan has to be more than raising taxes on residents for a sixth consecutive year.  If the Democrat-controlled Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has no answers for how they plan to administer these issues, in the same way they have failed to handle the County’s present pension problem, voters should be concerned,” Ginsberg said.  “Voters must question the 2019 candidates on how they plan to address these issues.”

Republicans have reason to worry about suburbanites. Many of the losses suffered by the GOP in the recent midterm elections came in suburban areas, where reaction to the Trump presidency is sometimes lukewarm. This was nowhere more apparent than in Virginia’s 10th district, where much of Amazon’s new facilities will be located.

Two-term Rep. Barbara Comstock was ousted by Democratic state Delegate Jennifer Wexton, turning the Northern Virginia Congressional delegation completely blue.

Wexton expressed both pleasure and apprehension at Amazon’s decision.

“This historic move by Amazon to bring half of its HQ2 to Virginia will yield good-paying, sustainable jobs that will allow Northern Virginia’s economy to compete globally for decades to come. I’m glad Amazon recognizes that Northern Virginia is a top location to raise a family and grow a business,” said Wexton.

“However,” Wexton said, “I share the concerns of my constituents regarding whether we have the necessary infrastructure, including roads, transit, schools and affordable housing, to properly welcome Amazon to our region. I look forward to working with Amazon now and in the future, and call upon them to be a responsible corporate citizen, to ensure that the quality of life of their future employees and current northern Virginia residents is not adversely impacted by this move. “

Effects on housing costs

Another cautionary note comes from RentCafe, which issued a report using the most recent data on the rental market in Crystal City and Long Island City, in order to have an overview of the current situation and where the market might be headed in the future.

chart

Source: RentCafe

Here are the highlights for Crystal City:

  • Crystal City hasn’t seen major developments in the last couple of years. With approximately 3,100 units under construction, planned or prospective, the Amazon move is bound to have an impact in terms of apartment construction.
  • The occupancy rate is at a healthy 94.7%, below the national average of 95.2%. Future Amazon employees would also have access to more than 205K rental units currently in the Washington D.C. metro.
  • The percentage of people holding a Bachelor’s degree or higher is 85% in Crystal City. In 2016, Millennials made up 52% of Crystal City’s population, up 22% from 2011.
  • Currently, the average rent for apartments in Crystal City is $2,387 per month, with and above-average, 5% increase over the year.

 

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About the Author

Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.