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Amazon’s HQ2 In Crystal City Could Prove Windfall for Tysons

(Updated at 12:15 p.m.) While Tysons may have been snubbed in the final rundown of Amazon headquarters locations, if the second headquarters (HQ2) opens in Crystal City, Tysons may reap some of the benefits and avoid the pitfalls.

Crystal City is potentially one of two locations selected as Amazon’s second headquarters.

“The Crystal City location for HQ2 would generate new [potential] households for Fairfax County,” said Stephen Fuller, head of George Mason University’s Stephen S. Fuller Institute. “Tysons would be well positioned, given its Silver Line service/connection to Crystal City.”

Fuller also said an influx of new jobs means more demand for residential and commercial space.

“These new households will generate demands for local consumer and retail services that would fit into Tysons,” said Fuller. “HQ2 will also generate other business locations and Tysons is well positioned to attract some of these. So, HQ2 would be good news for Tysons.”

Salah Hassan, Professor of Strategic Brand Management at George Washington University’s School of Business, went one step further and said the HQ2 in Crystal City might even benefit Tysons more than if the headquarters had been located in Fairfax County.

“This is going to be a big plus for Tysons,” said Hassan. “I think Tysons will reap the benefits without having to suffer from the traffic issues that may come as a result.”

Dodging the traffic bullet comes as particularly good news for areas like McLean, which has struggled with commuter traffic going to and from Tysons. Traffic cutting through McLean neighborhoods has gotten so dire the Virginia Department of Transportation is currently considering closing access to the Beltway from one McLean artery.

But in addition to crowding the region’s already strained infrastructure, there are concerns that the new Amazon headquarters could squeeze out smaller tech companies and send area rents skyrocketing. Housing affordability is already strained in Tysons.

While Crystal City might be most poised to reap the immediate benefits of businesses hoping to crowd in close to the new Amazon headquarters, Hassan said Tysons’ proximity to Dulles could make it a valuable alternative for companies looking for international access.

“Tysons is a gateway for international travelers going in and out of Dulles,” said Hassan, noting that Reagan National Airport near Crystal City is domestic-only. “Tysons is ready with a big build up. Tysons is rising, and it will be the international gateway for HQ2.”

Hassan also said it’s likely for those moving to the region for HQ2 to look to Tysons for shopping, with Tysons fitting the sweet spot of not feeling as dense as Arlington or Washington, D.C. while still remaining Metro accessible.

But Hassan added Tysons will need to get moving on plans to build educational facilities if it wants to really capitalize on the new HQ2 talent pool. Hassan said that Tysons will be one of the only American cities of its size without a university.

“Tysons needs more in terms of education and support with professional development programs and training,” said Hassan. “The tech industry is going to start to flourish around Arlington and Tysons corridor to support this big giant moving into our backyard. There is a lot of opportunity for education in addition to residential and commercial.”

At the Tysons 2050 event in October, regional experts agreed that Tysons was going to have to encourage a higher education facility to locate in the area. Rodney Lusk, director of National Marketing for Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, said that by 2050 Tysons would need two performing arts centers and at least one research university if it wanted to become anything more than just a commuter hub.

Photo courtesy Crystal City BID

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