The proposed redevelopment of a vacant office in northeast Tysons is moving forward for approval over the next month.
The Hanover Company’s plan is to demolish the existing seven-story office building and replace it with a new 400 unit residential development called Hanover Tysons.
The project is scheduled to be discussed at the Planning Commission’s Feb. 27 meeting with a Board of Supervisors hearing at on March 19.
The Washington Business Journal noted that the new development is one of the new crop of developments, like the nearby The Mile residential complex, that are being built slightly further away from transit than the more high-profile and high-impact developments like The Boro. Hanover Tysons is a little under one mile from the Tysons Corner Station, a roughly 20-minute walk.
Brian Tucker, managing director for JLL, said at Bisnow’s Tysons State of the Market last month that developments are becoming increasingly stratified between those built almost on top of the Metro stations and those further away.
“Roughly 30 percent of buildings [in Tysons] are built have been close to Metro,” said Tucker. “Those further away from Metro are going to have to make certain changes and accept the fact that their rent streams are going to be significantly lower. It’s going to be a tale of two cities.”
According to the staff report on the new development, 66 residential units in the Hanover Tysons, or 20 percent of the total, will be workforce affordable.
Photo via The Hanover Company
If you’ve driven east out of Vienna along Maple Avenue, you’ve probably passed a new subdivision under construction at the intersection with Follin Lane.
Six lots are under development for the spot located around a small cul-de-sac off Mashie Drive.
The project attracted some criticisms from Vienna officials when seven lots were originally being considered for the lot with direct access from Maple Avenue.
While the houses could have been developed by-right, without extensive town approval, the developer changed the layout of the properties to reflect the feedback.
The new designs also show a tree barrier between Maple Avenue and three of the adjacent lots. A new bus shelter is also planned to be built at the site as part of the agreement.
A new building at 6707 Old Dominion Drive was approved by the Board of Supervisors in October. The building is planned to replace a surface parking lot behind the current retail properties with a 44-unit mixed-use residential building.
During the planning process, some nearby McLean residents expressed concerns that the site could have a detrimental impact on local parking and traffic. Today, the property is a frequently crowded parking lot behind a retail complex on Old Dominion Drive.
The building will have 112 parking spaces for existing uses, replacing those taken by the new development, at surface lots to the south and west of the new building.
The plans show four levels of parking structure with 173 spaces located under six floors of residential units. The staff report indicates that the occupants of the 44 new condominium units are unlikely to have a substantial impact on nearby streets.
Because the development contains less than 50 units, none are required to serve as affordable housing, though a contribution to the county’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund is included in the development plans as a condition of approval.
According to the application:
“The benefits of a residential/office/commercial mix of uses has been proven many-fold in the County. This property, located adjacent to what is considered the “South Village” area will hopefully serve to catalyze other redevelopment efforts within the [downtown area].”
Anyone who’s driven to the western end of Maple Avenue has probably spotted the enormous castle-looking building under construction just past Nutley Street.
The new building’s unusual design is representative of an eclectic mix of uses planned for 540 Maple Ave W.
The ground floor will host a Chick-fil-A restaurant with a ramp leading up to the Flagship Carwash on the second floor. The site will also include a wider pedestrian walkway in front of the building.
And after a series of delays and public backlash, construction has resumed on what is planned to be the first of a series of new projects approved under the Town of Vienna’s contentious Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) process.
The process allows greater sizes and densities for new buildings on Maple Avenue as part of an effort to push back against rampant vacancies plaguing the town’s main street.
Signs from last year indicated that the new site had planned to be opened by winter 2018, a deadline that has come and gone with construction noticeably far from complete.
Construction at the facility had briefly stalled in 2018, but has made significant project over the last month. InsideNova reported the delay was likely related to the water table at the location. But whatever the reason, the work has resumed at the project.
No new timeline has been posted.
It’s not as high profile as Clemente Development Company’s The View development planned for the Spring Hill Metro area, but the nearby Evolution development could be exciting for affordable housing advocates.
According to the application overview, the building would include 1,400 multi-family units in a high-rise building. All of the housing in the building would be workforce dwelling units — defined by Fairfax County as housing affordable to people making from 70 to 100 percent of the area median income.
The contact phone number listed for the project is inactive, but the housing is likely part of a requirement from Fairfax County that residential developments set aside 14 percent of units in a residential development as affordable, or 16 percent if the units are being constructed off-site.
According to Fairfax County Public School documents, the new building could add as many as 157 students to Spring Hill Elementary School.
Details on the project are still scarce. The application was submitted in late 2017, but staff at Fairfax County Planning and Zoning say little progress has been made since then, as the developer remains mostly focused on The View.
Photo via Fairfax County Planning and Zoning
As Tysons grows, it’s going to need access to medical care.
“As Tysons continues to develop with additional office buildings and homes, it is essential that convenient and accessible health care services are available to meet the increasing need,” Reston Hospital Center, LLC, wrote in the application.
The emergency department would be located southwest of the Leesburg Pike-Beltway interchange. The proposed site is a triangular lot that closely abuts a residential development, which presents a number of development challenges.
The site is currently overgrown with foliage but was approved in 2002 to be developed as a drive-through bank. The application indicates that while the hospital would have a larger floor area, it would generate less peak hour and daily vehicle traffic than the drive-through bank.
“It will provide hospital-level emergency care in a convenient and accessible location and will be operated 24 hours per day,” according to the application. “Despite its capabilities and accessibility, the [freestanding emergency department] will accommodate far less patients than a typical emergency department operating within a hospital, allowing patients to receive necessary treatment quickly and efficiently.”
Though the facility would operate for 24-hours per day, patients would not stay overnight. The application notes that patients admitted to the building would be treated and discharged within hours of their admission or would be transferred to a hospital for higher levels of care.
HCA, Inc., which owns the Reston Hospital Center, operates a number of freestanding emergency departments across the country.
The application says that most patients visit these types of freestanding emergency departments between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. and that an average of two patients are transported to the facilities via ambulance per day.
The growing need for emergency services in Tysons also prompted plans for a new fire station in Tysons East.
Image via Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning
One of the “guiding principals” of the Tysons Comprehensive Plan is a reduction of surface parking and moving vehicles through Tysons to drive pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
But at Bisnow’s Tysons State of the Market event last week, local developers said that utopian plan isn’t really shaping up the way it’s designed.
Brian Tucker, managing director for JLL, said changes in how space is filled in office developments has impacted local parking more than the comprehensive plan accounted for.
Despite ridership of the Metro increasing in Tysons, Tucker said parking supplied by new developments isn’t keeping pace with the demand for parking. According to Tucker:
“There was a time going back when we couldn’t give parking away. With the coming of the Metro, we all assumed things were going to continue on that trend. But it didn’t turn out that way. As buildings got developed, there were changes in terms of how people used their space. Floors became much more dense, and we had 30 percent more people on a floor than we had years ago.”
If you’ve found it difficult to find parking in Tysons, that’s by design. Where many localities have parking minimums for development, in Tysons, offices located near Metro stations have parking maximums. According to the plan:
“Office uses located between 1/8 and 1/4 mile of a station have a maximum parking ratio of 2.0 spaces per 1,000 square feet of office, while those located between 1/4 and 1/2 mile have a ratio of 2.2 per 1,000.”
The comprehensive plan lists a number of strategies to wean Tysonians off their cars — including adding transit infrastructure and encouraging teleworking — but the plan also calls for a reduction over time in the ratio of parking spaces to the commercial floor area.
A chart in the comprehensive plan shows a scale of vehicle trip reduction goals connected to the amount of gross square feet of development in Tysons.
According to the plan:
In the past, each development was required to provide parking for its own peak demand, an approach that often leads to excess parking supply and a wasted uses of resources. In 2015, the Tysons Parking Study estimated that Tysons had 110,000 parking spaces. This amount of parking far exceeds what is necessary.
The comprehensive plan calls for parking in Tysons not to be supplied for individual use but regarded as a common resource for multiple uses.
But Tucker says those maximums are concerning to real estate developers.
“Real estate people would say ‘we know Metro is here and all the millennials are supposed to take it, but we’re scared to death [of limited parking],'” said Tucker. “We need a mechanism to bridge us to the date when people actually will be taking the Metro by allowing people the opportunity to park and wean people off of their car.”
Donna Schafer, managing director for Cityline Partners, said the vision of a car-free Tysons is going to take time to implement and more flexibility should be offered to offer temporary parking options, like “throwaway parking decks.” According to the Tysons Annual Report, a 711-space interim commuter lot was built in 2014. A stury of this lot in 2018 found that 558 of the spaces were filled on an average weekday.
Mark Carrol, executive vice president of Skanska Commercial Development, said driving around Tysons is part of the area’s DNA.
“The accessibility by car was part of the initial appeal,” said Carrol. “Some of the planning that went into place to try to change that, but it feels like we’re at the stage in Tysons where the behavior hasn’t changed.”
The Boro, one of the largest new developments transforming Tysons, almost didn’t happen — at least not in the form that it’s coming together now. More startlingly, it was also a fight to keep the nearby Tysons Biergarten alive for a transfer to a new site.
At Bisnow’s Tysons State of the Market event last week, several of the developers working on the Boro and surrounding projects met to offer a behind-the-scenes look at the project.
According to Gary Block, chief investment officer for developer The Meridian Group, some of the earlier development plans would have brought new developments online as soon as they were completed, but Block said they decided it was more important to open the development in a series of larger-scale phases.
“We knew we had a tiger by the tail,” said Block, “so after buying land, we tried to combine best of Reston Town Center and Fairfax City center, and we had to globalize and create a phase one that was all things to all people, a different type of retail that would compete favorably with the [Tysons Corner Center] mall. It had to be a different kind of office and a different kind of residential.”
The project also has funding support from the Rockefeller Group, though there was some initial hesitation about investing in Tysons.
“This was the first venture by Rockefeller in Tysons,” said Hilary Allard Goldfarb, regional development officer for Rockefeller Group. “We were nervous, but there’s a lot of office stability here.”
Several developers at the event recognized that developing in Tysons can be a gamble, especially with a portion of the site dedicated to costly residential units.
“It was tough looking at this initially to look at the numbers and justify development,” Bob Kettler, founder and CEO of the construction company Kettler. “But fueling the next wave of vertical construction was the right choice. Greensboro Drive is the Gold Coast of Tysons. It’s the highest land and you now have your core environment, and that is priceless. Now people have to deal with construction costs higher than when this project was priced out. If it was $850 million when [the Meridian Group] purchased it, it’s $1.1 billion today.”
Block said the announcement that Whole Foods would be moving in as a ground-floor retail anchor was a turning point for the development, one that cemented confidence from other investors.
“Whole Foods was a game changer,” said Block. “It’s [going to be] the largest in the country. It’s such a great place and people are going to be so happy with what they’re seeing.”
Now, Block says the final retail spots are starting to fill up.
“It’s like planning a wedding,” said Block, “and we’re down to the last few tables.”
But one of the pieces that almost got lost in the shuffle was the Tysons Biergarten, one of the few bright spots of Tysons’ nightlife. Donna Shafer, managing director for Cityline Partners, said finding a new home for the Biergarten was more of a challenge than she expected.
“There came a point when construction was advancing that [the Biergarten] was looking for a new home,” said Schafer. “We are firm believers in pop-up activities and the Biergarten did a good job of capturing that market. We don’t want these guys to leave Tysons, so we raised our hands and said, ‘We’ve got a lot of real estate, we’re happy to make a home.'”
The Biergarten would eventually land at Cityline Partners’ Scotts Run development, but the permitting for finding that new space was more of a challenge than Schafer had initially expected.
“We thought it would be an easy process, but while we have a fantastic comprehensive plan, there are moments where I think everyone’s heart is in the right place but this plan is operating like code or black letter later,” said Schafer. “So the flexibility has dissipated. So for us, it meant eight months of work, tens of thousands of dollars, and a hundred-page staff report for a pop-up Biergarten. I hope it becomes a pivot point… to help facilitate a good conversation without sacrificing goals.”
The cost of living in Tysons is high — most of the new residential developments around Tysons advertise their new living units as “luxury” — and there’s a good reason why.
And as developers fight over the last few pieces of prime real estate near Metro stations, some are admitting that the cost of setting up shop in Tysons is unlikely to go down anytime soon.
At Bisnow’s Tysons State of the Market event yesterday (Thursday) at 1600 Tysons Boulevard, developers met to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the region over the next few years.
“Costs have risen,” said Gary Block, chief investment officer for the Meridian Group, developers of The Boro. “It’s tough to underwrite new residential development today. Rents have to be very high to justify development.”
One of the biggest drivers of cost in Tysons is also one of the biggest draws: nearly unlimited density. Speakers at the State of the Market event said a high capacity for density means developers are looking to get more out of each plot of land, which means building up, and that means using more expensive steel frames rather than wooden frames.
“Wood frame is an option,” said Jim Policaro, senior vice president of Lerner. “But you’re giving up potential density. You’re going to have more noise issues with wood frame construction, but the net effect is rent that might be slightly lower. If you’re willing to give up some density and sacrifice the height you can get, it’s definitely a viable option.”
But the market for residential development in Tysons is focused on areas near Metro, areas where density is king.
“Residential coming into the market is driven by density, “said Mark Carrol, executive vice president of Skanska Commercial Development. “These locations are within walking distance of the Metro.”
Developers said a boosted demand for higher-end residential development will likely be one of the main impacts of the new Amazon headquarters in Arlington.
“Not everyone can live in Arlington, or wants to,” said Policaro. “Employees who are married with children might see Tysons as a laudable option for residential.”
Carrol added that from a cost perspective, developers have seen an escalation of almost 7 percent in this market. If there are residential developments that are more affordable than the new luxury developments, they will have to be in places further away from Metro access.
“Those further away from the Metro are going to have to make certain changes and accept the fact that their rent streams are going to be significantly lower,” said Brian Tucker, managing director for JLL.
As for who is moving into these high-end residential developments, Bob Kettler, founder and CEO of Kettler, said half of the people moving into condominiums in the area are “empty nesters” — older couples whose children have left their home. The other half is split between professional couples and affluent single professionals.
Kettler also noted that the demand is still very present for high-end residential, with prices on units moving up three times over the last four months.
There are plans in the works for nearly every corner of Tysons East, and a distinctive curved glass building called “One Tysons East” is planned for a corner of Route 123 near the McLean Metro station.
“The proposed development of 1690 Old Meadow Road will fill in one of the final remaining pieces of developable property adjacent to the McLean Metro Station,” Fairfax County staff wrote in a report on the project. “The property is completely surrounded by… prior Tysons development approvals.”
To the north, across Route 123, is the sprawling Capital One development that was completed last month. The Scotts Run South development abuts the property on two sides. Working inside the tight confines of this space, the report says the proposed building is “a unique visual feature at a prominent location.”
The applicant, Akridge, proposes a single office tower on the property with ground floor retail accessible to pedestrians. The building designs show that it would be accessible from every frontage. Encouraging bicycle transit is a key part of the development proposal as well, with a bicycle storage room and changing rooms included in the design.
One Tysons East would include 250,000 square feet of office and 12,000 square feet of retail.
The property is currently a two-story brick building constructed in 1977, formerly a GEICO training facility, which will be demolished as part of the construction.
The building has been in the works since at least late 2015, when Akridge acquired the brick building. According to the Fairfax County government website, the development is still under review by county staff.