Is Northern Virginia leaving Montgomery County (and the Pike District) behind?

Friends of White Flint Board Member Jonathan Pilley of Push-Pull Decorative Hardware was quoted in this important Washington Post story, Northern Virginia’s economic growth risks leaving Maryland suburbs behind.

The scene is dreary at what’s left of Montgomery County’s White Flint Mall, the site that Maryland hoped would lure Amazon to build its second headquarters. A lonely Lord & Taylor store sits next to acres of land filled with bushes and weeds where much of the shopping center once stood.

“Essentially, it’s a big hole in the ground,” said Jonathan Pilley, owner of a nearby decorative hardware showroom. He and others in the community described the local economy as lackluster.

“The business climate is very cool. I think there were a lot of eggs put in the Amazon basket,” Pilley said.

By contrast, across the Potomac, Amazon just won Arlington County approval to build two office towers to anchor the modern campus where it plans to employ 25,000 people. Analysts say the 22-story buildings in Crystal City will symbolize Northern Virginia’s emergence as a national high-tech powerhouse.

The disparity illustrates an imbalance within the Washington region that threatens the area’s overall growth and poses extra risks for the Maryland suburbs, according to local officials, business leaders and economists. Economic growth has been heavily concentrated in Northern Virginia, rather than Maryland or the District, and the divergence has widened in the past two years.

In the first 10 months of 2019, Northern Virginia gained an average of 19,500 jobs from a year earlier, compared to 5,700 jobs in the District and just 200 in suburban Maryland, according to preliminary data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Those figures are expected to be revised, but Northern Virginia is estimated to get 71 percent of the new jobs in the period, compared to 15 percent in the District and 14 percent in suburban Maryland, according to Jeannette Chapman, deputy director of George Mason University’s Stephen S. Fuller Institute for Research on the Washington Region’s Economic Future.

Read the entire story here.

Friends of White Flint in the Post

FOWF in the Post

Bill Turque wrote an insightful piece in yesterday’s Washington Post about the perils and potential around cycling in Montgomery County. (And for the record, we think it’s a good piece not just because Friends of White Flint Amy Ginsburg was quoted in it.)

In the article, Montgomery County officials said, “The goal is to connect a system left fragmented by years of ad hoc planning in which riders can sail along for miles on bike lanes or off-road trails only to hit dead ends — or intersections with wide, high-speed roads that are exceedingly difficult to cross.”

Bicycles are an important part of multi-modal travel, especially in the Pike District, so we thank the Post for bringing attention to this important issue and support the County’s efforts to make our area more bike-friendly.