Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Foulger Pratt CEO criticizes MoCo for failing to complete master plan highway system

Tells Bisnow, "there's no comparison"
between moribund MoCo and booming
Northern Virginia office markets

Foulger Pratt CEO Cameron Pratt is the latest regional business leader to speak out on the moribund Montgomery County economy, which has failed to attract a single major corporate headquarters in over two decades. That matters to the real estate firm, which has many Montgomery County office buildings in its regional portfolio. Pratt tells Bisnow in a new interview that "there's no comparison" between stagnant MoCo and booming Northern Virginia when it comes to office tenant interest. He cites MoCo official's cancellation of major parts of the county's master plan highway system as a major reason we've become the bedroom community for booming job centers in Northern Virginia.

Of course, Pratt notes that Northern Virginia is much more business-friendly in its policies, and is far more aggressive in wooing companies. Both factors can almost go without saying. But he zeroes in on infrastructure as a deciding factor, as have many CEOs who have chosen Virginia over Montgomery County in recent decades.

"I think the biggest challenge Montgomery County has is infrastructure," Pratt tells Bisnow's Jon Banister. "You look at Northern Virginia; they have two airports, they have a significant freeway system connecting the airports and the suburbs to downtown, and they’ve spent money to invest in HOT lanes, in extending the Metro to Dulles Airport. That infrastructure is because of decades of planing and investment and Montgomery has not made those same investments. Montgomery County does not have a freeway connecting the suburbs to downtown. It does not have significant airport infrastructure and has not extended Metro further out. They have not been willing to grapple with the important issue of another river crossing and if Montgomery County is not willing to make investments in infrastructure, I don’t think they’ll be able to attract employers and compete with Northern Virginia."

What a bodyslam. "That's gotta hurt, Gene." Pratt's interview comes ahead of next week's Bisnow-sponsored event that will focus on the future of business and real estate in Montgomery County.

Pratt is one of the few CEOs to publicly challenge County officials' ongoing refusal to complete the master plan highway system. Bob Buchanan, another County business leader willing to speak up, told transportation officials in Virginia that many of his MoCo business colleagues are afraid to challenge elected officials on their failure to build the new Potomac River crossing because of political pressure.

Montgomery County officials years ago canceled no less than three freeways leading into the District: the Northwest Freeway, the North-Central Freeway, and the Northern Parkway. They canceled the Rockville Freeway in the late 1980s, and are currently blocking the M-83 Highway from being constructed in the upcounty. And of course, they've prevented the new Potomac River crossing to the Dulles Airport area from being built for decades. Dulles has the wide variety and frequency of flights to international business destinations that corporate leaders need to be competitive. They simply cannot meet their travel needs at BWI or Reagan National, which themselves are infuriatingly long drives away from MoCo.

Imagine knowing what the solutions to a major problem are, and simply refusing to implement them. Under the current "leadership" of our MoCo political cartel-controlled Council, that is what passes for "The Montgomery Way." Heckuva job, Brownie!


  1. All of these issues are due to the NIMBY mentality of MoCo residents. Nobody lived in Ashburn, etc. 10 years ago, so nobody could complain when their backyards suddenly got taken over by more lanes. Not the case in MoCo.

  2. You can hate Dyer's style but you cant question the facts. Nothing he is saying is untrue. Wake up MoCo residents, I would say before its too late but that would be a lie, since it likely already is. The sad truth is a tiny sliver of the county in downtown Bethesda and Chevy Chase keeps the county afloat, and just barely, while our leadership is content with seeing the rest of the county slowly decay, with no new business, innovation or investment. Its tragic how much energy people will expend trying to slit facts to deride Dyer instead of opening their eyes to see the reality that is staring them in the face, the county is in crisis!

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. and this comment of course is made up: The sad truth is a tiny sliver of the county in downtown Bethesda and Chevy Chase keeps the county afloat, and just barely, while our leadership is content. Either turtle face himself or someone just like him. only a moron would say that a tint sliver of Montgomery county keeps the whole county afloat.

  4. Honestly wake up, do you really think an article on the sale of a hotel in silver spring is a big deal? All those who think Montgomery County is so great, I encourage you to take a drive into Tysons. Let me give you a little teaser on what you will notice first. As soon as you cross 495 into VA you will notice the roads are paved beautifully, you will notice HOV lanes, then as soon as you get into Tysons you will notice HIGH RISES with MAJOR Fortune 500 CORPORATIONS names planted all over! I am a life long Marylander with deep ties to MoCo but how can you honestly sit back and see the vibrancy all around us, in Fairfax and Arlington and DC and then think things are okay here. We are literally the laughing stock of the surrounding areas. In fact those governments relish in our mismanagement because they benefit from it and attract all the investment and fortune 500 companies. We used to have the good schools but that too has fallen to just the privileged Bethesda 3 W's.

    Frankly the only thing Montgomery really has is the diversity which is wonderful, but then again that's also a skewed as the county management likes to maintain a diverse populous that is not integrated. Hence the money and resources and wealth resides typically in the southwest of the county while the county likes to keep areas in the east, specifically Wheaton which is full of potential generally depraved of investment and opportunities for growth. We need wholesale change, we need a Hogan for Montgomery county, someone above the political BS to actually implement the policies the county needs.