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D.C. Sets Aside $10M To Buy Site For Potential Rosslyn-Georgetown Gondola

The former Exxon gas station at 3607 M St. NW that could serve as a landing spot for a Georgetown-to-Rosslyn gondola.

A gondola proposed to connect Georgetown and Rosslyn hasn't moved forward after years of studies, but a line item in D.C.'s budget could make the idea more feasible. 

The D.C. Council set aside $10M in its 2022 budget, passed earlier this month, to acquire at least part of the former Exxon gas station property at 3607 M St. NW, a site that has been envisioned as a landing spot for the proposed gondola, the Washington Business Journal reports

The property is owned by Altus Realty Partners and DYNC Atlantic Property & Investment, which paid $14M for the site in 2016. It sits near the intersection of M Street NW and the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which connects Georgetown to Rosslyn. 

The District's plans to purchase at least part of the half-acre site don't guarantee that a gondola will move forward, but it could leave the option available and give hope to some supporters of the transit project.

The Georgetown BID and Rosslyn BID have both supported the gondola project, and Ward 2 Council Member Brooke Pinto listed it as one of her priorities in March when she requested funding to acquire the Exxon site, the Georgetowner reported

Top business leaders and commercial real estate have also supported the project. Monumental Sports Chairman Ted Leonsis and JBG Smith CEO Matt Kelly, along with former Rep. Tom Davis, penned a joint Washington Post op-ed in December 2018 calling for the gondola project to move forward. 

"The project would introduce a brand-new option for transportation between the District and Virginia and provide a seamless connection between Georgetown and the Metro system via an aerial gondola over the Potomac River," the trio wrote in the op-ed. "This would all come at a fraction of the cost of a new Metrorail station or expanded bridge."

The Arlington County Board has stood in the way of the project, saying in February 2017 it doesn't support any further funding of the proposal. That opposition came after a $250K feasibility study estimated the full project would cost between $80M and $90M.

Arlington's opposition hasn't stopped D.C. supporters, with Georgetown's Advisory Neighborhood Commission later that month voting to continue studying the project, and with Pinto now successfully getting funding for the city to buy the potential landing site.