Tysons Corner, VA

The birthplace of “Tysons Corner” may soon become the site of new development.

The site at the corner of Route 7 and Route 123 is known by locals as the place where Tysons originated with a tiny country store, according to the Tysons Partnership.

But after almost 100 years in the family, the site is now available to rent out to developers as a ground lease, Janet Caldwell, a relative, told Tysons Reporter.

The family decided to work with real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield to help them find a tenant for the 7 acres of land. The ground lease would allow developers to build on the property while paying rent to the original owners.

“You don’t find parcels of this size in an urban environment,” Paul Collins, the vice-chairman of Cushman and Wakefield, told Tysons Reporter, adding that this is a rare opportunity in the area considering the land’s visibility and close proximity to the Greensboro Metro station.

Less than 2% of development deals are made up of ground leases, Collins said.

He was not sure how much the land would rent for or how long the lease would be. He also couldn’t reveal the identity of the several parties interested in developing the land, but he did say “large international developments tend to be interested in this type of property.”

Once developed, Collins said he imagines the property will become a mix-used development with housing and retail similar to The Boro development nearby.

Photo via Tysons Partnership 

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The McLean Medical Building’s days are numbered now that Sunrise Senior Living is building a senior living facility on the site.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recently approved the facility, which will add 140 beds, 40 employees at peak times and a public garden, along with open space for private use by the residents.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust praised Sunrise at the meeting on Tuesday (Oct. 15), calling the facility’s public garden “an excellent contribution to downtown McLean.”

Sunrise tried to bring a senior living facility to McLean two years ago.

In 2017, the board nixed Sunrise’s plans to open a facility at 1988 Kirby Road over concerns that it would overwhelm the surrounding residential area and worsen traffic.

“The last time Sunrise came before this board in Dranesville, it wasn’t this much fun,” Foust said. “The funny thing was a lot of the testimony pointed to this [location].”

Now, Sunrise plans to raze the McLean Medical Building on the site at 1515 Chain Bridge Road. A historical link was uncovered earlier this year tying the building, which is not listed on any official historical register, to the doctor behind the first polio vaccine.

“They have taken the perfect site and done it exactly right,” Foust said.

First image via DPZ, second image via Fairfax County

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A new tower is coming to Tysons’ skyline and snapping up the “tallest building in the region” title.

The tower is apart of Clemente Development Co. plans for The View development, which won approval from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors last night (Tuesday).

The mixed-use development by the Spring Hill Metro station will add six buildings, including the 600-foot-tall building that will reach higher than Capital One’s headquarters.

Known as the Iconic Tower, building plans to capitalize on its height with a publicly-accessible botanical garden and observation deck.

The development has been praised for its varied building heights and sleek design, but the Iconic Tower’s height of 600 feet — 200 feet above the maximum for Tysons buildings– has received some criticism from the McLean Citizens Association.

Dale Stein, the president of MCA, said that the height “breaks the trust of the community.”

However, the supervisors felt differently.

Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth said that the height creates an architectural statement that will help define downtown Tysons.

“If we keep that 400-foot level… we will have a collection of 400-foot shoeboxes defining our skyline in Tysons,” Smyth said, adding that people are “starting to see that already.”

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said that while he understands the MCA’s position about the height, “I don’t necessarily agree with that concern.”

Supervisors also lauded the development’s planned entertainment uses, which include a black box theater, art walk and open-air theater, along with a nearby community center.

“We’re no longer suburbia,” Smyth said. “We are going into the future with this.”

Image via Fairfax County

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At the developer’s request, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is pushing its consideration of single-family homes in Merrifield to January.

Toll Mid-Atlantic LP Company is looking to knock down the existing house and structures by the Bear Branch stream valley and Lee Hwy to build 28 homes.

The redevelopment would keep about 35% of the property as open space. Each home would have a two-car garage, a 15-foot front yard setback and a 20-foot rear yard setback, according to the plans.

The Planning Commission recommended approval of the proposed infill project in September.

The proposal was set to have a public hearing before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors today (Oct. 15), but the developer requested that the public hearing get pushed to the second board meeting in January.

Images via Fairfax County 

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The developer of two mixed-use developments by the Spring Hill Metro will likely have to wait until next year for Fairfax County to determine the proposals’ fates.

Georgelas LLC is looking to redevelop car dealerships along the north side of Tyco Road into developments called West Spring Hill Station and North Spring Hill Station.

The development — particularly West Spring Hill Station — has faced concerns from county staff and the Planning Commission, including the projects’ synergy with The View, school overcrowding, and the abundance of artificial turf.

At the request of the developer, Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner, the commissioner for the Providence District, pushed the decisions last night (Thursday) about the projects to the end of the year.

“Since the public hearing on the Georgelas application, we’ve had a series of discussions with the applicant that represent progress but more attention needs to be given to some of these specifics,” Niedzielski-Eichner said.

The proposed North Spring Hill Station would replace the existing Tesla dealership with four new buildings, including two residential towers, one office tower and a parking garage with an athletic field on top. The existing Verizon telecommunications facility on the site would stay.

Meanwhile, West Spring Hill Station would add four buildings — two for residential, one for residential or office space and the final one for offices — and three public parks.

Fairfax County planners said that the North Spring Hill Station addresses the expectations in the Tysons Comprehensive Plan — but not the West Spring Hill Station.

“[West Spring Hill Station] does not fully address the criteria, particularly with regards to providing a comprehensive, functioning grid of streets; the provision of open space; and, coordination of development,” the staff report said.

The staff report also notes that the West Spring Hill Station may require further development of the Koons Tysons Toyota site.

The Planning Commission deferred its decision on the projects to Dec. 11.

While the developments were set to go before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Oct. 15, the agenda indicates that the public hearing will get pushed to a later date.

Since the Board of Supervisors’ last full meeting of the year is on Dec. 3, the fate of the two developments probably won’t get determined until 2020.

Images via Fairfax County 

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Plans are no longer in the works for an assisted living facility in the Vienna area after facing criticism by the Planning Commission and residents.

The proposed 86-bed facility would provide accommodations for people with dementia or memory loss at 2347 Hunter Mill Road, adjacent to the United Methodist Church of the Good Shepherd.

The applicant, Orr-BSL Hunter Mill, LLC, wanted to build a two-story building with approximately 43,680 square feet of space, along with outdoor courtyards and a garden for the facility’s residents.

Fairfax County planners gave the proposal a favorable recommendation in the staff report, writing,”In staff’s opinion, the development has been thoughtfully designed to be compatible with adjacent residential uses and to preserve the property’s rural character.”

Many residents opposed the proposed project during a four-hour-long public hearing in July, arguing to the Planning Commission that the proposal does not meet the county’s comprehensive-plan requirements.

Some of the commissioners agreed — including John Carter, the commissioner who oversees the Hunter Mill District.

Carter and another commissioner brought up a long list of issues with the proposal and special needs of the site at the Sept. 12 meeting — like pointing out that emergency vehicles might have trouble traveling to and from the site, which has a two-lane scenic by-way policy.

Carter also said the proposed facility’s size would not fit in with surrounding buildings. “It’s a football field in length,” he said.

Carter deferred the proposal indefinitely — essentially killing it since he said that other developers are eying the site.

“This is only one case. I expect more cases on this site,” he said.

Dranesville District John Ulfelder added that the site is pending being listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

While Ulfelder said that schools and churches would be appropriate on the site, he said that he was worried that a medical facility would “erode” the site’s history.

The application was withdrawn at the end of September.

Image via Fairfax County

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As residential use explodes in Tysons, Fairfax County officials are quick to point to a growing amount of affordable housing in the area.

Chris Caperton, the director of the Urban Centers Section, updated the Board of Supervisors today (Oct. 8) on the progress in Tysons in the last year.

One of the biggest takeaways — “Residential is hot in Tysons,” Caperton said.

Currently, Tysons has 53.1 million square feet of development and is projected to reach 56.9 million square feet by 2021 — about 5.5. million square feet under the project in the comprehensive plan.

“We’re sort of catching up to that number,” Caperton said.

Of the 53 million square feet, more than half of it is office space, while about a quarter is residential.

“We do see an increase in residential use,” he said, saying that the jobs to household ratio jumped from 2.5:1 in 2005 to 6.8:1 now. (The comprehensive plan calls for a 4:1 ratio.)

Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth was quick to note that affordable housing units have increased, saying that more than 200 have been recently added to Tysons.

Caperton added 750 affordable housing units have been completed, while 4,220 are expected in the near future. It is unclear if Caperton’s calculations included just approved developments or also unapproved ones as well.

When Tysons Reporter wrote about Affordable and Workforce Dwelling Units (ADUs and WDUs) in May, Tysons had 536 units at the time with an average occupancy rate of 94% and 3,919 were committed by developers.

Residential uses aren’t the only increases in Tysons. Caperton shared that transit options — like an 8% increase of Metro ridership in the Tyson area since April — are flourishing. The Tysons Corner station is now the busiest one for Capital Bikeshare in Fairfax County since May — surpassing the Wiehle-Reston one, Caperton said.

Caperton and several supervisors pointed to growing connectivity in Tysons — from the new Vesper Trail to the Jones Branch Connector — that will hopefully get Tysons to reach the county’s vision as a place to work, live and play.

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To better fit in with nearby urbanization, the owners of Valo Park want to open the office complex to the public — and add restaurants, a 9/11 memorial and a bocce court.

The roughly 785,000 square-foot office park is currently home to the headquarters of the newspaper giant Gannett and cloud computing company Appian. The building currently has a fitness center, conference facilities, a 300-seat auditorium and lots of open space.

London-based Tamares acquired 7950 Jones Branch Drive for $270 million four years ago.

The private investment group is now looking to redesign roughly 19,000 square feet of the ground floor space and some areas of the garage to accommodate new retail and restaurants, according to the applications submitted to Fairfax County.

The developers are considering repurposing two corner areas of the building into restaurants — one would take 7,000 square feet of front corner space and the second would occupy 12,000 square feet of rear corner space. Meanwhile, 5,000 square feet of the garage’s rooftop would get converted into a craft beverage production establishment or restaurant.

The plans also include an outdoor gaming area with a bocce court, horseshoes, cornhole and a fire pit. The public would be able to use a 20,000-square-foot health club, along with a possible rock climbing facility.

“A 9/11 memorial is currently under construction on the property for further activation of open space,” according to the application.

The office park is located in the North Central neighborhood of Tysons, which has a luxurious four-building residential project at Park Crest, office space at Tysons Overlook and the residential Highgate. A massive mixed-use development called The Mile was approved earlier this year for the area.

“The underlying objectives for the proposed applications is to better incorporate Valo Park into the surrounding neighborhood fabric and better align the site with the goals of the Tysons Plan,” according to the application.

More from Tamares about how the changes fit the comprehensive plan for Tysons:

The proposed applications would render the site more compatible with the Comprehensive Plan’s goals for the North Central District to redevelop as a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood with local-serving retail. The proposed restaurants and site modifications would create a more outward facing development that is more accessible to the surrounding community.

A public hearing for the Planning Commission has not been announced yet.

Photo via Valo Park

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The new Boro development may change the way people live and work in Tysons — or so developers hope.

The Boro has taken more than five years to design and execute, Caroline Flax, a spokesperson for Meridian Group, told Tysons Reporter, adding that it is designed to be its own neighborhood complete with everything residents could want.

“We hope that by bringing a walkable urban experience to what used to be a solely office environment, other projects in the area will follow suit, which will create an overall better experience for employees and residents alike,” she said.

As the development nears completion, businesses and eaters are beginning to open around the area including Flower Child, Whole Foods and Tropical Smoothie Cafe. Two new apartment complexes also opened in The Boro near the end of September.

Flax didn’t answer Tysons Reporter’s question about how the new Boro development might affect pre-existing businesses and developments around the area, like Pike 7 Plaza where several new businesses have recently opened.

However she did say, “The Boro offers something different with the neighborhood feel we are trying to achieve.”

Flax was unsure how many people the development will draw to the area, but said that she hopes The Boro will become a model for future developments in Tysons.

“By creating this new neighborhood, it will help knit the rest of the community together with improved infrastructure, access to amenities and to more public transit options,” Flax said.

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As 1st Stage Theatre outgrows its current Tysons home, the theater is hoping to move to a proposed mixed-use development by the Spring Hill Metro station.

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.

“Visionary Project”

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.”

That’s Entertainment

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

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