|The White Oak Shopping Center.|
Proponents of staging say that it will ensure that infrastructure keeps pace with development, therefore keeping traffic in check and preventing developers from running wild. Sounds like common sense right?
Well, sort of...
The problem with staging is that it can be a major deterrent to initial capital investment, which is crucial for the long term success of a Master Plan like this science gateway. This issue is amplified in an area like White Oak, where current traffic levels would require strict staging requirements for developers. If the White Oak Science Gateway Master Plan contains strict staging requirements, there's a real possibility that it will be a huge bust, since investors would not want to pay so much up front for what would be a risky investment.
|FDA Boulevard in White Oak.|
So how can we ensure that infrastructure gets built (transit, school, and road improvements) without stymieing investment in White Oak? There is no obvious answer. Adding staging could prevent a "bait and switch" scenario later on, but it could also mean there would be no "later on" since the development and revitalization wouldn't happen due to strict staging requirements.
One solution could involve moving back the staging requirements to allow some development to occur before making the developers pay up. Unfortunately, the issue of investment deterrence still exists under that scenario. Another option could be to drop staging altogether, which would grow the tax base quicker and allow the county to use the money generated from the development to pay for infrastructure. This approach could give White Oak the jump start it needs, but there would need to be some kind of mechanism to ensure that any money the county makes from the development goes directly towards improving infrastructure.
We'll see what the council decides when they vote on this Plan next week.