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Malls Are Not Going Away and Other Local Predictions from Today’s Bisnow Event in Tysons

Given the continued rise of Amazon and e-commerce, will Tysons Corner Center still be a retail-oriented shopping mall 5 years from now?

That was a question posed by Lynn Strobel of the law firm Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh this morning at a Bisnow event discussing the “Future of Fairfax County” in Tysons.

The consensus from the six-person panel: yes, almost certainly.

One panelist said he recently went to Tysons Corner Center at night to go to a movie and it took 20 minutes to find a parking space; it’s hard to see how that kind of demand goes away in such short order, he said.

E-commerce might actually come to malls, said another panelist. Bailey Edelson of JBG Smith said online retailers have increasingly been opening bricks-and-mortar locations. Those currently at Tysons Corner Center include Amazon, Untuckit and Warby Parker.

While suburban shopping malls have been struggling elsewhere, the malls in Tysons are benefiting from being in an increasingly dense, urban environment, according to Andrew McIntyre of Combined Properties.

“Tysons is in a good position long term since the urban environment came to it,” McIntyre said.

The upscale Tysons Galleria, meanwhile, has been facing some challenges, including the sudden closure of the huge Isabella Eatery on the fourth floor. Change may be on the horizon, said one panelist. Expect Tysons Galleria to be “repositioned” in the market and for redevelopment to happen around it as a way to revitalize the mall, he said.

Other predictions and takeaways from the panel:

  • Offices and office buildings are not going away, not everybody is going to work from home.
  • Amazon HQ2 and a large Apple office would, unsurprisingly, be very, very good for the local economy — and it’s on the mind of just about everyone in commercial real estate.
  • The trajectory of residential development in uncertain, given increasing interest rates and years of building. Some think the D.C. area is overbuilt, some think there is a housing shortage.
  • A lot of additional investment is needed to get Tysons infrastructure to where it needs to be to be a great city.
  • Fairfax County is “fighting a constant battle” in competing with other local D.C. area jurisdictions for employers. But there should also be more cooperation among governments to make the D.C. area as a whole better and more competitive.
  • Expect more coworking spaces to pop-up. Coworking spaces not only open the commercial real estate market to smaller companies and startups, but it’s also seen as an amenity by many larger tenants, including government contractors, who want the flexibility to rapidly add new employees beyond their existing office footprint.

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