What will the future hold for Tysons 30 years from now? Developers and business representatives tackled that question at the “Tysons 2050” event last night (Thursday).
Panelists imaged how people might live, work and play in Tysons several decades from now — and what needs to get done to foster a stronger sense of community.
Julie Clemente, the president of Clemente Development, said that one of the most important aspects to community development is cohesion in the planning process.
Clemente told the audience that Tysons lacks parks and community recreation centers. Without these things, she is worried that community members will become lonely and find it hard to break out of “silos.”
“For Tysons to be successful, it needs to be connected,” she said.
She mentioned the Spring Hill Recreation Center (1239 Spring Hill Road) as one of the closest opportunities for people in the Tysons area but said it wasn’t enough to meet the growing demand.
“The Spring Hill Recreation Center is overused and everyone goes there,” she said.
Clemente hopes that The View — a recently approved mixed-use project by the Spring Hill Metro station — will add the city center that she says Tysons lacks.
In addition to adding the tallest building in the region, the development plans to build a black box theater, an art walk, a seasonal ice loop and an open-air theater on the green, along with a Tysons Community Center at a nearby site.
“Tysons doesn’t have it now — a center of growth, a heartbeat — and that’s what we want it to be,” Clemente said about The View.
Deirdre Johnson, the vice president of asset management for Federal Realty Investment Trust and new Tysons resident, echoed Clemente’s concerns about connectivity and a sense of community.
“It’s been hard to find points of natural, authentic and emotional connection,” Johnson said about her time in Tysons. Places like shared green space and cafe seating — as well as art, medical services and religious worship — can help fill that void, she said.
While roughly 100,000 people work in Tysons during the day, only about 20,000 live in the area, Johnson said.
“After 5 [p.m.] is very important because it helps you become who you are,” she said.
She wants to fix this by creating places where people of all ages — but especially seniors and young people — can feel fulfilled in every aspect of their lives, noting that retail options that appeal to a wide age range and incomes is one solution.
Another idea from speaker Linda Sullivan, the president of ARTSFAIRFAX, is to institute an artist in residency or creative spaces pop-up program around Tysons.
Artists would have the opportunity to take advantage of affordable housing opportunities while focusing on their work, she said. She also threw out the idea of flex spaces hosting comedy clubs.
Ultimately, whatever the future holds for Tysons will likely focus on innovation around living, working and playing in the same community.
Paul Siemborski, an architect focused on designing performing arts facilities, said Tysons has the opportunity to “break the mold” and try new things.
“Art and play is not a luxury. It’s a necessity,” Siemborski said.