Buona: Comstock Garage Could Limit County Metro Parking Prices

Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) cautioned that the county’s fees at its future Metro parking garages could be limited by prices at a nearby privately owned and operated garage at Loudoun Station.

Loudoun is required to provide parking as part of its agreement to bring Metro service to the county. In May 2017, the county awarded a $51 million contract to build the two garages, one at Ashburn Station and one at Loudoun Gateway Station. Comstock Partners built a third garage at its Loudoun Station development near the westernmost Metro stop, Ashburn Station.

During the board’s finance committee meeting last week, Buona said parking fees at the county-owned garages should cover their day-to-day operational costs, but he raised concern that competition from the Comstock garage, which sits across the Dulles Greenway from the county’s Ashburn Station garage, could be a limiting factor.

“We can’t have a big disparity where one garage on one side of the Greenway in Ashburn is a significantly different fee than the other garage, especially since we’re building a connector across [the Greenway],” Buona said. “Everyone’s going to go to the cheaper one.”

Loudoun Director of General Services Ernie Brown said county staff members are working on a parking demand study that will peg the number the county will need to charge to cover those costs.

Loudoun will likely hire a contractor to run the two county-owned garages, following the committee’s unanimous recommendation.

“It allows us to have a say and have day-to-day control over what’s happening without actually having to staff up,” said committee Chairman Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles), likening the arrangement to the county’s Loudoun County Transit commuter bus contractor.

The committee’s recommendation would see the county creating positions for a contract manager and a parking operations manager to oversee operations at the two garages and maintaining major repairs and construction, while hiring a contractor to handle daily operations.

Early estimates show costs to operate the two garages ranging from $2.9 million annually if that work is completely outsourced, to $3.4 million annually if the county maintains complete control. The middle option, recommended by the committee, is estimated to cost $3.1 million.

County staff members recommended hiring an experienced parking operator for a relatively short five-year contract, while the county government learns the ins and outs of running parking garages, which it has not done before.

Both county garages will be six stories high. The Ashburn garage, at Moorefield Station, will provide upward of 1,500 spaces. The Loudoun Gateway Station garage, on Dulles Airport property that the county leased for $100, will provide upward of 1,900 spaces. Construction at both garages is expected to wrap up in summer 2019.

Dulles Airport is handling parking at a third Metro station near the Dulles terminal.

rgreene@loudounnow.com

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