The addition of a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) rail station at Potomac Yard is a central feature to successfully redeveloping a 300-acre former rail yard into an accessible and walkable mixed-use development, poised to give an economic boost to the area.
But until recently, it seemed possible that uncertainty surrounding the station’s cost and real estate development timing might derail plans that have been in the works since 2009, as City of Alexandria officials were trying to determine how best to plan and budget for the new station.
“Given its scale, its close proximity to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, and adjacency to the Metrorail Blue and Yellow lines, a Metrorail station at Potomac Yard would increase the economic development potential of Potomac Yard, as well as ease vehicular traffic demand along the Route 1 corridor,” said Tim Thornton, principal consultant for economic analysis and strategy at WSP.
For the past 10 years, WSP has been providing the city with ongoing financial analysis consulting services to assist several City of Alexandria departments, including the city manager, planning & zoning, and the department of finance on how best to pay for the new station. The initial work culminated in a value-capture analysis to fund the new rail station, followed by ongoing assistance and updates as the project evolved from planning to implementation.
The firm’s initial analysis led to a viable solution that kept the $320 million station project on track.
“Our team developed a financial analysis, which demonstrated that channeling revenue from new real estate development surrounding the station through several value capture mechanisms would completely pay for the station,” Thornton said. “This helped shape the terms of a station funding plan and developer agreement adopted by Alexandria City Council in 2010.”
As the project evolved, he said WSP helped the city officials evaluate critical decisions and generate additional potential funding sources for the station.