The theater’s artistic director Alex Levy told the Fairfax County Planning Commission Wednesday night that the theater is negotiating with the county and the developers of the proposed Tysons West development known as The View.
“The stunning new venue that was designed in The View was built specifically for a thriving company like ours,” Levy said. “It will serve as the heartbeat of an exciting and thriving new development.”
Levy told Tysons Reporter last year that the theater has been growing in attendance by 15% year after year — creating capacity issues at the theater’s current space at 1524 Spring Hill Road.
While the theater wants to expand, Levy has said that 1st Stage wants to stay in Tysons.
Levy praised the county and developers for working on the art spaces with specific users in mind and aiming to offer reduced rent for a not-for-profit company, like 1st Stage.
“What makes 1st Stage’s success remarkable is it happens in a landscape in which most of the D.C. region has strong arts funding and subsidized venues,” Levy told the commissioners.
Paul Kohlenberger, the president of the Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce, told the commissioners that he supports the idea of subsidizing the lease for 1st Stage at The View.
Vienna-based Clemente Development Co.’s development would add six buildings, including a 600-foot-tall office building that would snatch the “tallest building in the region” title from Capital One’s headquarters in Tysons East and the Washington Monument.
Plans for The View also include a 455-foot-tall office building, a 394-foot-tall building for hotel and residential uses and a 108-foot-tall building with retail and office space.
“We think the diversity of height in and around Tysons is absolutely critical,” a representative for the developer told the Planning Commission.
Known as the Iconic Tower, the tallest building would capitalize on its height with a publicly-accessible botanical garden and observation deck.
While the commissioners have lingering concerns about making the buildings bird-friendly and the logistics with an athletic field tied to the project, they were mostly supportive of The View — especially its focus on the arts.
“One thing that doesn’t work is a theater that is designed for everyone,” John Carter, the commissioner for the Hunter Mill District, said. “Those tend to fail because there’s no such design that works for everybody.”
In addition to the planned black box theater, The View wants to have an art walk, seasonal ice loop, open-air theater on the green and a Tysons Community Center at a nearby site.
“The arts are essential to thriving and robust communities,” Linda Sullivan, the president of ARTSFAIRFAX, said, along with pointing out that Capital One’s planned performance hall and The View will be “important anchors and drivers” of the arts locally.
The Landing Public Sky Park would include an outdoor amphitheater. Meanwhile, the Theater on the Green — also known as the Common Green — would be located between The Landing and one of the buildings.
“The Theater on the Green will provide space for outdoor dining, an open lawn, wayfinding, special paving and banding to visually guide pedestrian flow, a stage for events and performances, outdoor seating, outdoor games, artful lighting, access to multi-modal paths and a continuation of the Art Walk Loop,” according to county documents.
The 20,000 square-foot theater would be available for 35 years.
More from the developers’ plans for the black-box theater:
The proposed development anticipates that the applicant will construct the 199-seat black-box theater, which will be leased to an arts, entertainment, or theatrical group at a very significantly discounted rate. The theater will include “back of house” space for rehearsal, set construction, and other support activities.
The applicant has been in discussions with local theaters and arts groups, as well as national experts in this field; these discussions have continued to inform the design and practical parameters of the proposed theater space.
“The arts can have a ripple effect,” Sullivan said, adding that national studies have shown that arts have a positive economic impact.
Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner, the commissioner for the Providence District, deferred the decision on the “visionary project” to next Thursday, Oct. 10.
The View heads to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Images via Fairfax County