More housing needed as Tysons population continues to surge, study finds

The Union Park at McLean condominiums in Tysons East (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Tysons is going to need more housing.

Home to 17,000 people in 2010, the urban center saw its population grow to 29,620 people by 2021, according to a market study released Friday (Aug. 4) by the Tysons Community Alliance. Fairfax County staff reported earlier this year that there are now 30,124 residents.

Much of that influx came just in the past five years. Tysons added 13,000 households at a growth rate of 19% from 2018 to 2021 — tripling the 6% seen from 2015 to 2018, the market study found.

Its residential growth has easily exceeded that of Fairfax County as a whole (4% from 2018-2021) as well as the overall D.C. region (7% over that time period).

“Tysons is no longer just a place to shop and go to work,” said Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik, who represents most of Tysons. “The addition of Metro and now the completion of the Silver Line, investment in parks and public amenities, as well as the construction of bike trails, is creating connections within Tysons, to the region and beyond. People recognize Tysons as the type of community that they want to call home.”

While the county’s population has started to stagnate, Tysons is projected to reach more than 42,000 residents by 2030, though that pace would still fall short of the county’s goal of 100,000 residents by 2050.

To accommodate that growth, the area will need to add 4,400 more housing units, including an additional 1,900 affordable units, by 2032, the report estimates.

Tysons has made progress on building up its housing stock, which totals 8,600 units with 1,200 coming online since 2020 — a 16% increase. Another 1,600 units are under construction, and 624 have been approved but are still in planning, including about 516 units in the all-affordable Dominion Square West project.

Of the roughly 2,500 existing affordable units, 1,800 are “naturally occurring” because their market rate is affordable to households earning up to 80% of the area median income (AMI), which is $152,000 for a household of four people in the D.C. area.

Committed affordable housing units in Tysons are mostly aimed at “middle-income” households (via Tysons Market Study)

However, the vast majority of the 700 committed affordable housing units in Tysons is aimed at people making 60% or more of the AMI. Only 7% are available to people earning under $76,000 a year, and there are no units affordable to people making under $45,000.

The availability of units affordable for medium-income households making 61% to 120% AMI is an asset when it comes to “attracting and retaining a competitive workforce,” according to TCA CEO Katie Cristol.

“But the lack of existing market-rate or committed affordable homes accessible to our regional neighbors who make 60% of the [AMI] or less demonstrates the importance of the aggressive policy and financing efforts already underway to plan, fund and build homes that are affordable by design and commitment,” Cristol told FFXnow, noting that Dominion Square — which will target those in the 30-70% AMI range — is expected to break ground this year.

Notably, the nearly 13% residential vacancy rate in Tysons surpasses that of the county overall, the D.C. area and even Arlington, which are all under 7%. While “elevated,” the vacancy rate in Tysons stayed level with 2022 after dipping to 7.7% in 2021, even with the recent delivery of developments like Monarch and The Rylan.

“Steady vacancy in 2023 suggest that most new units are being leased,” the market study said. “This trend is indicative that there is substantial demand for new units in Tysons.”

Despite the affordability challenges, Tysons residents have a mix of incomes. About 38% of the population makes under $100,000, compared to 34% for the county, and roughly the same share of households earn $200,000 or more at 29% in Tysons and 30% in the county, according to the study.

As of 2021, the median income in Tysons was $126,000 — a 25% increase from 2015 that puts it on track to soon pass the county’s median income of $134,000.

Conducted by the consultants HR&A, Toole Design and Wells & Associates, the market study was commissioned by the TCA to support its ongoing development of a strategic plan that will guide the future of Tysons.

As part of that process, the TCA has launched surveys focused on issues like transportation, residential development, office space and retail. The booster organization is seeking input from residents, businesses and general community members “to assess” their Tysons experience, according to a press release.

The strategic plan is expected to be finished in November, a TCA spokesperson confirmed.

Read more on FFXnow…

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