George Washington University Defends Development Study

The dean of The George Washington University School of Business is standing behind a Metrorail-area development study despite strong criticism from county finance committee chairman Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles).

The study analyzed the tax revenue impacts of data centers versus mixed-use development at Dupont Fabros’s 202-acre property near Loudoun’s future Metro stops. Under proposed zoning for that area, the county would restrict residential development on about half of that property because of the county’s rules around airport noise at Dulles International Airport. That would preclude mixed-use development, which combines residential and commercial space into the same buildings.

Letourneau criticized many of the methods and assumptions in that study.

“It seems clear that it was commissioned by a developer seeking a particular outcome by excluding key data,” Letourneau said. “Such an effort is never commendable, but is especially egregious when it is done by an academic institution.”

That developer is Zebra Ventures LLC, which one of its founders described as a landholding entity. It controls the Dupont Fabros property. That founder, Hossein Fateh, is a founder of both Zebra Ventures and Dupont Fabros and sits on the Board of Advisors of George Washington’s Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis, which produced the study.

Both Fateh and George Washington School of Business Dean Linda Livingstone have written back to Letourneau, standing by the study.

Livingstone defended the study on all fronts, and wrote that the question of airport noise and the airport’s impact on the Loudoun economy are outside the scope of the study. She said the center is committed to academic integrity, and believes that was followed in the report.

Fateh responded to George Washington University the day after Letourneau’s letter, and to Letourneau only two days after. He wrote he felt “it is necessary to respond to you expeditiously so as to avoid further mischaracterization of our interests.” He also said the center will be producing a more in-depth study before supervisors vote on their Metrorail-area plans on June 22.

4 thoughts on “George Washington University Defends Development Study

  • 2017-05-30 at 4:42 pm

    Academia is in the toilet.

    Where have the honest, impartial academics gone?

    This is an obvious conflict of interest. GW, like so many other institutions, is happy to take the money of anyone who will give it and start a center that supports whatever the donor wants.

    It is so disheartening to see one institution after the next bend their knee to the mighty dollar.

  • 2017-05-31 at 8:30 am

    Completely agree with DD. Conflicts are everywhere now, in politicians, in academia, in financial rating firms, everywhere. And many simply fail to disclose them.

    One would hope they would apologize for the, at best, appearance of a conflict but instead they just double down. Sounds like some of the more unethical politicians in Loudoun.

    Kudos to Letourneau for calling them out publicly.

  • 2017-05-31 at 8:51 am

    Instead of arguing over an academic study, Letourneau should be more focused about how we’re going to pay for Metro. His opposition to housing at one of the stations because his buddies at MWAA don’t want it is not the way to go about it.

  • 2017-05-31 at 2:54 pm

    How could GW be tapped to perform this study when the school is currently financially strapped. The local news outlets have not picked up on internal media student reporting at GW (GW Hatchet), but, they have been laying people off at the GW campus for the past few years due to lack of funding and across the board 5% departmental budget cuts for the last 4 years.
    Seems GW’s Business Department needs to ensure the stability of their own house before making opinions elsewhere.

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