Our View: TSA is a big win for the West End

Our View: TSA is a big win for the West End

(Photo/Alexandria Economic Development Partnership)

Local government and business leaders celebrated last week as the federal government announced that the U.S. Transportation Security Administration soon would call Alexandria home, and rightfully so.

The announcement, which is the culmination of a multi-year bidding process, is great news for a number of reasons.

Victory Center, after sitting vacant for more than a decade, finally will see 3,400 federal employees enter its doors and occupy half a million square feet of space. This will decrease the city’s office vacancy rate from 16.5 percent down to only 13.5 percent.

Secondly, despite $23 million in overall tax abatement offered by city officials as part of the bid, Alexandria still will see at least $25 million in new tax revenues over 15 years, not counting any taxes collected from other developments near the site. And city officials project an influx of $16 million per year to Alexandria’s economy.

The location is near perfect. It’s in an existing building and it is close to both the Van Dorn Metrorail station and the Capital Beltway, meaning the infrastructure is already in place to handle such a large influx of people.

On top of that, Victory Center’s proximity to the western portion of the Eisenhower Avenue corridor will jumpstart redevelopment efforts in the area, which now houses mostly industrial and warehouse facilities.

For the last 18 months, residents and city leaders have been preparing a small area plan to guide development in the neighborhood. Now, instead of looking at the area with a decades-long timetable for businesses to move in, neighbors can expect new business and entertainment amenities much sooner.

We applaud the efforts by both city council and the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership to facilitate the deal. Council offered a competitive amount of tax relief without giving away too much to secure the deal.

And we would be remiss if we didn’t praise Victory Center’s ownership group. Over the last decade, it has upgraded the building and persevered through multiple failed bids for a federal tenant. The owners could have easily given up and looked to redevelop the property or lease it piecemeal. Neither of those endeavors would have provided such a strong anchor to spark the kind of development now envisioned for the neighborhood.

Moving forward, we encourage the group working on the Eisenhower West small area plan to redouble their efforts, knowing that business investment will be coming in a matter of years, not decades.

The city now has the opportunity to transform a once neglected part of the city into a growing mixed-use community. Let’s make the most of it.