Loudoun County has walked away from negotiations with the company that was going to build and operate two parking garages at Loudoun’s future Metro stations.
The county is required by its agreement with Metro to have the garages up and operating by the time the Silver Line extension opens, but a public-private partnership with New Jersey-based Nexus Properties has failed to materialize. The county had begun negotiations with Nexus for a public-private partnership, wherein the company would design, build, and operate parking garages at the Loudoun Gateway (Rt. 606) and Ashburn (Rt. 772) stations.
“Unfortunately, let’s just say, their request got bigger and bigger, and as much as we tried to accommodate them, it was somewhat of a moving target and we just couldn’t get there,” said Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn). Supervisors declined to give details of the negotiations, but Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) said Nexus requested “restrictions on what the county could do, and what was going on with other transportation in the county.”
“They were looking for certain protections that we thought exceeded what was reasonable,” Letourneau said.
Typically, in a public-private partnership, the private firm takes on the financial burden of design and construction and then collects revenues from the operations. Now, the county will instead hire a firm to design and build the garages and manage their operations. Supervisors hope it will be a much faster process.
“We don’t want to be in a position where we’re up against the deadline and we can be taken advantage of because everybody knows that we need to have these done by a certain time,” Letourneau said.
Loudoun will also seek interest from private contractors to operate the garages, rather than operating the garages itself.
“The county does not necessarily intend to be in the parking garage business,” Letourneau said. He said other areas have seen strong interest from private operators for Metro garages. He also said hopefully that contract will include paying off construction of the garages with operating revenue.
“The good news is, we were smart, we kept all of the money to build those garages in the Capital Improvement Program,” Buona said. The county’s CIP still includes $130 million reserved over the next three years for construction of three Metro parking garages—including the two Nexus was to build. It has set aside debt capacity to finance up to that amount over the next three years, and anticipates paying it off no later than 2039.
Another garage on the north side of Ashburn Station will still be built by Comstock Partners, the real estate development firm behind the multiuse Loudoun Station development.
“I think the situation has always been sort of fundamentally different with them, because they have another development there, so they had a self-interest in having a garage in place,” Letourneau said.