Tuesday, March 21, 2006

KSI Announces Eight New Transit-Friendly Projects

In the latest sign that the developer community is responding to Virginia's transportation "crisis" with innovative thinking, KSI Services Inc., a major Vienna-based developer of mixed-use communities, has announced plans to build eight new communities near multi-modal public transportation nodes, including rail and bus routes. The company also will offer Flexcar shared car services to homeowners. (See press release.)

"Traffic congestion is quickly becoming a major social and political issue, and there are no simple solutions to the problem," said John Chappelear, KSI's senior vice president of condominium operations. "We are offering residents an alternative to switching on the ignition and battling other drivers during the morning and afternoon rush hours, by offering homeowners easy access to public transportation."

The average motorist in the Washington metropolitan area spends 69 hours stuck in traffic congestion, while the cost of automobile ownership nationally averages nearly $7,000 per year. By creating transit-friendly communities that accommodate Flexcar, which allows people to lease automobiles on an hourly basis, KSI is positioning itself to sell real estate by reducing the cost of automobile ownership. KSI didn't state so outright in its press release, but the subtext is clear: A major selling point of KSI communities will be the ability of households to get by with fewer cars.

KSI's commuter-friendly Virginia neighborhoods will be located in Midtown Alexandria Station, West Village of Shirlington, The Residences of Lorton Station, Harbor Station, Potomac Club and Midtown Reston Town Center. Midtown Alexandria, to take one example, will be located adjacent to the Huntington Metro Station. The project consists of of 369 high-rise condominiums expected to sell from the mid-$300s.

KSI is making a bet that there is a vast untapped market for housing in dense, mixed-use developments that provide homeowners with superior transportation options and lower expenditures on automobile ownership and maintenance. Road to Ruin predicts that we will see many more projects like this: high-density development using access to mass transit, flexcars and pedestrian-friendly design to reduce automobile dependency.

17 Comments:

At 4:48 AM, Blogger Larry Gross said...

Wow!

I would agree with the conclusion that we will see more development like this and would go one step further and say the advent of HOT lanes will actually accelerate even more proposals.

These kinds of developments will not interest those who are dead-set on getting their 1/4 SFH no matter how far they have to drive or how high the toll is - BUT for many folks - especially younger folks not yet into full-family mode, they actually will offer a more affordable way to stay closer to work AND close to the types of activities that appeal to the younger set.

Though, I'll admit - at 300K+, we're going to have to see less expensive offerings for those at entry level positions.

In reading my monthly issue of TPB News, I was actually shocked to read the following:

S2.Study Proposal to Build and Operate
HOV/HOT Lanes on I-95/I-395
Between the Virginia state line and the I-95
Massaponax exit in Spotsylvania County
The CLRP already includes the extension of HOV
lanes from Quantico Creek to the Stafford County
line and the re-striping to 3 lanes of existing HOV
lanes from the D.C. line to Quantico Creek. The
proposed change for the 2006 CLRP would
provide for the development of environmental
documents, consistent with federal (NEPA) and
state requirements, for a proposal to build high
occupancy/toll (HOT) lanes proposed by the
private sector under Virginia’s Public/Private
Transportation Act (PPTA). Length: 47 miles.
Completion: 2007. Cost: $380,000."

http://www.mwcog.org/uploads/pub-documents/zlpbVw20060309132914.pdf
(page 5)

Don't confuse the completion date. It's for the STUDY not construction but unless something derails the proposal - it's going to move forward quickly.

 
At 9:18 AM, Blogger Jim Bacon said...

Larry, you're quite right, the KSI developments won't appeal to people who want a yard where little Johnny can run and play (even if they end up keeping little Johnny cooped up inside for fear of sexual predators roaming the neighborhood). But KSI doesn't have to appeal to everyone. If KSI-style projects accommodated the housing desires of just 10 percent of the population, they could absorb much of the growth anticipated for the Washington region over the next 20 years.

 
At 9:30 AM, Blogger Toomanytaxes said...

KSI seems to be a top-notch company that should handle these projects well. The idea is excellent if the infrastructure can support the added growth or can be supplemented without materially adding to taxpayer burdens. Both Arlington and Alexandria tend to deal with infrastructure and proffer issues more realistically than Fairfax County. That factor is a plus for the proposals located in those communities.

For the projects proposed for Fairfax County, we may have another situation. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors simply fails to do an adequate job in this area. Likewise, WMATA's Board of Directors keeps its eyes and ears closed on infrastructure issues. It's general approach to most nearly everything is to ask for more tax dollars and now, dedicated ones. So what else is new?

On the demand side, one would assume that there is a market for this type of housing. On the other hand, Larry Gross makes a good point that this type of urban, condo living does not appeal to everyone. If it did, wouldn't more people be already living in the District of Columbia?

My biggest skepticism lies not with the builder's proposal, but rather, with the concept of mixed use. For mixed use to be more than mere buzz words, there needs to be not just housing, but also sufficient retail and commercial establishments so that people don't need to get in their cars to go shopping or to work. Given Fairfax County's track record, I have little confidence that true mixed use will develop with any proposals.

 
At 2:19 PM, Blogger Jim Wamsley said...

The Midtown Alexandria KSI project is in Fairfax County adjacent to the Huntington Metro Station. “The project consists of of 369 high-rise condominiums expected to sell from the mid-$300s.” The mid $300s is below the market rate for near Metro in Northern Virginia. Yes, we need more units to fill the need and reduce the demand that overprices this market. One big problem is that transportation money is diverted from northern Virginia transit projects to sprawl inducing highways serving over supplied 1/4 SFH with long commutes. When you can get Northern Virginia housing prices in the rest of the state I will have much more sympathy with the VDOT plans. Currently, they stifle Virginia’s economy.

 
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