A Town Center Could Bloom on a Gaithersburg Fairground

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
March 29 2012 9:19 AM

A Town Center Could Bloom on a Gaithersburg Fairground

1333027189536

Montomery County, Md. is one of the highest-income and most-expensive suburban jurisdictions in the United States. The town of Gaithersburg features a commuter rail station and a fairly dense concentration of retail establishments. It's also home to a fairgrounds that, while fun, is only in use for about 8 days a year, which is not a great value proposition for expensive land. The county would be smart to seriously consider rezoning for higher-value use:

Sixty-three acres off Perry Parkway in Gaithersburg could eventually become a sprawling town center, with 15-story skyscrapers for residences and offices and public plazas.
That is, if the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair moves.
Since 1949, the fair has drawn hundreds of thousands of visitors to the land at 16 Chestnut Street to see a cornucopia of farm animals and enjoy the midway’s attractions.
Montgomery County Agricultural Center, Inc., the nonprofit that owns and operates the fairgrounds, asked the mayor and city council Monday to rezone the land from industrial and light residential to mixed-use development.
Advertisement

Something I think interesting: In this case the owner of the parcel understands the issue correctly. The valuable asset that the Montgomery County Agricultural Center owns is the land not the structures on it. And relaxing regulations as to what can be done with that land increases the value of the investment. Homeowners often think of themselves as invested in houses and thus resist any measure that would make houses cheaper. But just like the County Agricultural Center the potentially valuable speculative investment commodity a homeowner owns is land. The house is just another depreciating physical asset like a refrigerator. Less regulation makes the land more valuable, not less valuable, even if it makes houses cheaper.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Propublica
Oct. 17 2014 4:21 PM Why the Poor Pay $1,400 for Old iPads #MuckReads: A weekly roundup of investigative reporting from ProPublica.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 1:54 PM Republican Midterm Debate Strategy: Be Pro-Life, But Not Anti-Abortion
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 8:32 AM Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy—and a Mess. Can the Movies Fix It?
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 20 2014 7:00 AM Gallery: The Red Planet and the Comet
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.