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Forty-Acre Development Proposed East of Tysons Galleria

Anyone who has visited Republik Coffee (7915 Jones Branch Dr) might have noticed that the building it’s located in is “Highgate at the Mile”. But what exactly is The Mile?

The Mile is a proposed development aimed at transforming 39 acres of office park east of Tysons Galleria into 13 mixed-use buildings. The Mile development would include residential, retail, office, hotel and storage locations.

The Mile would be a mixture of high-rise and mid-rise residential and commercial structures, with the ground floor reserved for retail uses. According to the application:

The goal is a transformation of the existing suburban office park into a vibrant mixed-use community interwoven with parks, open spaces, and public gathering areas. The proposal will replace the existing mid-rise office buildings and substantial surface parking typical of an older suburban office park and help transform Tysons Corner into the urban environment envisioned by the County.

The first of the new developments proposed, simply referred to as Building A in the application, would be a seven-story residential building with 280-425 units. Building A would be located just west of Highgate.

The development application for Building A also includes the first stage of a series of street improvements planned for the new development to improve connectivity between the potential development sites.

Plans for the development were submitted late last year, but according to the Fairfax County website, no Planning Commission or Board of Supervisors hearings have been scheduled.

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Open House Tonight to Discuss Reshaping McLean’s Business District

A second open house is being tonight (Thursday) to discuss the future of McLean’s central business district.

The open house will be held in the McLean High School cafeteria (1633 Davidson Road) from 7-9 p.m.

The McLean Community Business Center (CBC) vision plan predicts that retail, residential, and office space will continue increasing in demand in McLean. The final version of the CBC vision plan, scheduled to be released later this fall, will make recommendations on how McLean should approach this growth on issues like land use and transportation.

Retail is projected to grow by 80,000 square feet over the next five years, slowing to grow by an additional 40,000 square feet over the subsequent five years. Most of this growth, however, will likely replace existing retail spaces.

The demand for residential growth is similarly projected to grow over the next five years, with a demand for 720 new units expected to consist mostly of apartments, then slowing to the growth of an additional 240 units in the five years after that.

Office growth is projected to remain more consistent, with 50,000 square feet in demand over the next five years, and an additional 50,000 square feet in the five years after that.

Streetsense, the consultant hired by Fairfax County to help create the vision plan, is scheduled to present a more refined draft of the vision plan at tonight’s meeting that takes into account the feedback from the first open house.

The first open house, held in September, outlined the broader scope of the plan. When asked for feedback, McLean residents at the meeting overwhelmingly agreed that more pedestrian access was vital to making McLean feel like more of a community location.

Specific intersections along Dolly Madison Boulevard were also noted to be particularly dangerous, cutting McLean Central Park off from the rest of the downtown area. Residents expressed frustration that many nearby streets lack sidewalks, an issue Fairfax County Government is currently working to address.

After tonight’s open house, the CBC Task Force is scheduled to meet on Monday, Nov. 19, before the final vision plan is unveiled at the Dec. 17 meeting. The final plan is scheduled to be presented to the Board of Supervisors in late 2019 or early 2020 for adoption.

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Amazon’s HQ2 In Crystal City Could Prove Windfall for Tysons

(Updated at 12:15 p.m.) While Tysons may have been snubbed in the final rundown of Amazon headquarters locations, if the second headquarters (HQ2) opens in Crystal City, Tysons may reap some of the benefits and avoid the pitfalls.

Crystal City is potentially one of two locations selected as Amazon’s second headquarters.

“The Crystal City location for HQ2 would generate new [potential] households for Fairfax County,” said Stephen Fuller, head of George Mason University’s Stephen S. Fuller Institute. “Tysons would be well positioned, given its Silver Line service/connection to Crystal City.”

Fuller also said an influx of new jobs means more demand for residential and commercial space.

“These new households will generate demands for local consumer and retail services that would fit into Tysons,” said Fuller. “HQ2 will also generate other business locations and Tysons is well positioned to attract some of these. So, HQ2 would be good news for Tysons.”

Salah Hassan, Professor of Strategic Brand Management at George Washington University’s School of Business, went one step further and said the HQ2 in Crystal City might even benefit Tysons more than if the headquarters had been located in Fairfax County.

“This is going to be a big plus for Tysons,” said Hassan. “I think Tysons will reap the benefits without having to suffer from the traffic issues that may come as a result.”

Dodging the traffic bullet comes as particularly good news for areas like McLean, which has struggled with commuter traffic going to and from Tysons. Traffic cutting through McLean neighborhoods has gotten so dire the Virginia Department of Transportation is currently considering closing access to the Beltway from one McLean artery.

But in addition to crowding the region’s already strained infrastructure, there are concerns that the new Amazon headquarters could squeeze out smaller tech companies and send area rents skyrocketing. Housing affordability is already strained in Tysons.

While Crystal City might be most poised to reap the immediate benefits of businesses hoping to crowd in close to the new Amazon headquarters, Hassan said Tysons’ proximity to Dulles could make it a valuable alternative for companies looking for international access.

“Tysons is a gateway for international travelers going in and out of Dulles,” said Hassan, noting that Reagan National Airport near Crystal City is domestic-only. “Tysons is ready with a big build up. Tysons is rising, and it will be the international gateway for HQ2.”

Hassan also said it’s likely for those moving to the region for HQ2 to look to Tysons for shopping, with Tysons fitting the sweet spot of not feeling as dense as Arlington or Washington, D.C. while still remaining Metro accessible.

But Hassan added Tysons will need to get moving on plans to build educational facilities if it wants to really capitalize on the new HQ2 talent pool. Hassan said that Tysons will be one of the only American cities of its size without a university.

“Tysons needs more in terms of education and support with professional development programs and training,” said Hassan. “The tech industry is going to start to flourish around Arlington and Tysons corridor to support this big giant moving into our backyard. There is a lot of opportunity for education in addition to residential and commercial.”

At the Tysons 2050 event in October, regional experts agreed that Tysons was going to have to encourage a higher education facility to locate in the area. Rodney Lusk, director of National Marketing for Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, said that by 2050 Tysons would need two performing arts centers and at least one research university if it wanted to become anything more than just a commuter hub.

Photo courtesy Crystal City BID

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Major Development Proposed East of Spring Hill Metro Station

While Dominion Square starts to heat up development prospects west of the Spring Hill Metro station in Tysons, a series of developments are proposed to transform the area to the north and east of the station.

The most attention-getting of the proposed developments is the 600-foot tall skyscraper “Iconic Tower”, part of a redevelopment of the block south of Tyco Road into a complex called The View. Developer Clemente Development Co. announced in August that the tower would be switching to all-office rather than residential. It is set to break ground next year.

But just to the north across Tyco Road, two developments proposed earlier this year could pick up the residential demand dropped by Iconic Tower.

The Audi Tysons Corner and Tesla dealerships along the north side of Tyco Road are proposed by developer Georgelas LLC to be redeveloped as West Spring Hill Station and North Spring Hill Station respectively.

Like The Adaire located on the southern side of Tyco Road, these developments are proposed to become mixed-use developments with office, retail, hotel and residential areas.

The proposed North Spring Hill Station would replace the existing low-rise Tesla dealership with new high-rise buildings.

One tower is planned to be either a residential tower at 300 feet tall with 385 units or a commercial building with 350,000 square feet of office use and a maximum height of 230 feet.

The two other towers are planned residential, with one being 300 feet tall with 400 residential units and the other being 270 feet tall with 270-360 units.

Meanwhile at West Spring Hill Station, a series of towers are planned to mix residential units with a 170,000 square-foot hotel and retail space, replacing the Audi dealership.

The plans for North and West Spring Hill Station were submitted in September and are scheduled to begin a county staff review in late November. The exact construction timeline after that is unclear.

Professor Frank Shafroth, director of the Center for State and Local Leadership at George Mason University, said that crowding around the other Metro stations in Tysons is driving up real estate values and property taxes, which makes outlying areas like Spring Hill Road Metro station more fiscally attractive to developers.

But some changes won’t be as dramatic and the auto dealerships that define the area today won’t completely disappear.

Crown Tysons Properties has an application under review at the Department of Planning and Zoning for 8600 Leesburg Pike, currently a warehouse and automobile storage facility. This is a rezoning and special exception application to allow the building to be converted into a new automobile dealership just south of Koons Tysons Toyota and Koons Collision Repair Center.

The new dealership is proposed to fall under the same ownership as the Koons dealership to the north, although no changes are proposed for that site.

Photo (2) via Google Maps

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New Subdivison Near Scott’s Run Approved

(Updated at 12:45 p.m.) A new five-house cluster subdivision is set to be built at 7327 Georgetown Pike, just south of Scott’s Run Nature Preserve, after the project’s approval at the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors yesterday (Wednesday).

Whether a new trail planned for the site will go forward is still up in the air.

The project includes 1.45 acres of open space along Georgetown Pike, providing a buffer between the homes and the busy street. But what had many at the meeting concerned was a six-foot-wide paved trail planned through this open space.

Attorney Keith Martin, representing applicant Peter Fitzgerald Jr., said neighbors feared the addition of a trail would add to the problem of people parking along Georgetown Pike to access Scott’s Run.

Dranesville Supervisor John Foust confirmed that residents he met with had shared those concerns. Foust said construction of the trail would be postponed until either the parking problem could be worked out or the trail could be connected to a broader network.

“This is a community inundated with parking,” said Foust. “It’s become a parking lot for Scott’s Run. The community is very concerned that this will be even more of an invitation to come in… It’s very unsafe and not something we want to encourage.”

But the postponing of the trail spurred a brief but tense standoff between Martin and Foust.

“If the trail never gets built, does my client get the money back?” Martin asked.

According to Foust, the agreement between Fairfax County and the developer was that up-front funding would be obtained for the trail, but Martin said he has seen proposals like this before that never went anywhere and the money for the project was “sucked into a black hole.”

“Not according to the proffer,” Foust answered. “This is not the time to be talking about this, to tell you the truth… Wow.”

The development was unanimously approved, but not before Chairman Sharon Bulova double checked with Martin that the proffer terms were agreed to.

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Upcoming Panel to Discuss What’s Next for Tysons East

With the new Capital One headquarters as a central spine, a panel next week will examine how the Tysons East neighborhood will evolve over the next few years.

The panel will be hosted by the Tysons Partnership next Thursday (Nov. 15) from 7:30-10 a.m. at 1600 Capital One Tower Drive.

Tickets to the panel are $55 for Partnership members and $65 for non-members if ordered before Nov. 5, after which the price increases by $10.

Representatives from companies like Capital One and public organizations like the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning will discuss the latest projects underway in the area.

Tysons East is the neighborhood of Tysons bordering the Beltway to the west and the Dulles Toll Road to the east. The completion of the Capital One Tower earlier this year has kick-started development in the area. Professor Stephen Fuller, Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University, said the still-growing Capital One complex is going to become an anchor for new development.

There are projects in development on every side of the McLean Metro station at the heart of Tysons East. The Highland District is planned to be a residential and retail hub just southwest, while to the east Scotts Run North and South are a planned pair of mixed-use developments to include offices and a 200-room hotel.

In addition to private development, a new Fairfax County Fire and Rescue station is scheduled to be built in Tysons East sometime over the next few years to relieve the overburdened Station 29.

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‘Last Premier Development Site’ in Tysons Offered for Sale

Developers seeking an alternative to the increasingly built-up Greensboro Metro station might be looking one stop north.

Dominion Square, an 18-acre site adjacent to the Spring Hill Metro station, is for sale, as first reported by the Washington Business Journal. The site, which encompasses portions of two existing redevelopment plans, has already been approved for 3.6 million square feet of mixed-use development, according to a press release (below).

Newmark Knight Frank, a real estate advisory firm, has been selected to help market the site.

The land is currently occupied by auto showrooms and sale lots, including Sheehy Infiniti of Tysons, Honda of Tysons Corner, Priority Mazda and Priority Nissan. The dealerships currently have leases that can be terminated to make way for the development when the project is ready to start construction.

More from the press release:

Newmark Knight Frank (NKF) has announced it has been selected as the exclusive advisor for the sale of Dominion Square in Tysons, VA. The 18-acre site is located directly adjacent to the Spring Hill Metro Station, currently the first eastbound stop on the Silver Line.

The site is approved for 3.6 million square feet of mixed-use development, comprises three separate parcels and is unaffiliated with a specific developer. The property includes terminable leases for four existing car dealership sites, offering built-in income and flexibility allowing investors to react strategically to demand.

Dominion Square represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape one of the DC metro area’s premier submarkets. Located at the intersection of the I-495 Beltway and the Dulles Toll Road, Tysons is a major economic and employment hub,” explained Mark Anstine, executive managing director of land services at NKF. “With the ongoing construction of the Silver Line slated to connect Dulles Airport to downtown Washington, DC in 2020, the area boasts a perfect combination of mass transit, new urbanized residential and retail development, drawing significant interest from regional and national companies.”

With approval now in place for more than 2 million square feet of office, 1.1 million square feet of residential, 185,000 square feet of retail and a 205,000-square-foot hotel, Dominion Square is poised to become an urbanized and amenitized scene where employees can live and play where they work. Since Tysons is the 12th  largest office market in the United States headquartering numerous companies–including many of the Fortune 500, it boasts one of the country’s most highly-educated and diverse workforces.

Map via Google Maps

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Controversial Development Wins Vienna Town Council Approval

It was a full house at last night’s Vienna Town Council meeting, and there was little mistaking the mood of the audience.

The main item on the agenda was the redevelopment of 430, 440 and 444 Maple Ave. W. into a four-story mixed-use development. While there was no public discussion on the topic at the meeting, the audience largely ignored pleas for silence from the Vienna Town Council as they cheered Councilmembers opposing the project and booed at those supporting it.

The outcry, though vocal, was insufficient to keep the development from being passed on a 5-2 vote.

“This is probably the most divisive project to hit the town in the last 20 years,” said Councilmember Howard Springsteen. “I know development is going to happen there, but this is not my idea of what Maple Avenue Commercial should be. Look at the turnout tonight and the signs around town. People are not happy, so I’m not going to vote in favor of this.”

Springsteen was joined in his criticism of the project by Councilmember Pasha Majdi.

“The question is simple,” said Majdi. “Do you support 150 unit apartment buildings on Maple Avenue? For me, the answer is no.”

But the majority of the Council saw the development as a necessary part of revitalizing Maple Avenue, which has faced a slew of commercial vacancies recently, despite local objections.

Councilmember Linda Colbert said the Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) process existed to give residents a voice, which they had throughout the process. But Colbert still said that she felt that it was a good project that would make substantial improvements to the area.

“When I looked at final renderings, I smiled,” said Colbert. “I imagined a place where people can gather, play, walk and eat outdoors… We need Maple Avenue to be a vital part of the community. When I drive down it now, there are places where it’s not so vibrant.”

Colbert referred back to the development of Church Street, which had been controversial in its time but had paved the way to substantial revitalization.

“It’s a lovely little place and it’s got a three-story building on it,” said Colbert. “So if you just go over one block to Maple Avenue, going up one story won’t be a bad thing.”

Even among those that supported the motion, there was still recognition that the decision was going to prove as controversial as the development.

“In my 15 years of serving in Vienna, this is one of the most difficult decisions that I’ve personally had to make,” said Councilmember Carey Sienicki.

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The Tysons Legacy of Longtime FCEDA President Gerry Gordon

(Updated at 5 p.m.) It’s fair to say that the Tysons of today might not look the same without Gerry Gordon.

To get some perspective on how much Fairfax has changed since Gordon took over the Fairfax County Economic Development Task Force (FCEDA), these black-and-white satellite pictures of Tysons were taken one year after he became President and CEO of the group in 1987. While there was development, the area was not the metropolis it has become today.

At the end of the year, Gordon will step down from that long-held position and accept a post as a fellow in the College of Charleston in South Carolina.

On Thursday, Nov. 1, the Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce will host a celebration of Gordon’s legacy in Fairfax with support from other select Fairfax Chambers of Commerce. Tickets to the event are $40 for chamber members or $50 for non-members, which includes admission, appetizers and one drink ticket. Event sponsorship tickets are also available for $75. The event will run from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Tower Club (8000 Towers Crescent Drive) in Tysons.

The event is hosted at the center of a region Gordon was instrumental in helping to transform. Some of the largest names plastered across the top of Tysons skyscrapers — Booz Allen, SAIC, Hilton, Capital One, etc — were in part brought to the area by the work of the FCEDA. Recently, Tysons was chosen over the District of Columbia as the expansion choice for KPMG LLC, an auditing firm that will occupy seven floors of The Boro.

The FCEDA, under Gordon’s leadership, works internationally to market Fairfax as a business destination. Since the early 1980s, Fairfax County has grown from 32 million square feet of office space to 117 million, the second largest suburban office market in the nation behind Orange County.

FCEDA is funded by the Fairfax County government. The group is headquartered in Tysons but has locations in Bangalore, London, Los Angeles, Berlin, Seoul and Tel Aviv.

Outside of the business expansions, Gordon has also helped the group build bridges with other regional groups. The FCEDA facilitated the creation of the Multicultural Chamber Alliance, a collaboration of the Virginia Hispanic Chamber and Asian American Chamber of Commerce in Tysons along with the Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce in the Mount Vernon area. Earlier this year, Gordon led the groups in signing an even closer agreement of collaboration.

Photo via Facebook

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Four-Story Complex Under Review at Vienna Town Council Tonight

The large-scale redevelopment of three blocks of Maple Avenue, the subject of earlier debate and discussions, returns for consideration at tonight’s Vienna Town Council meeting.

A proposed four-story, mixed-use development would replace the Vienna Wolf Trap Hotel and Tequila Grande restaurant at 430, 440 and 444 Maple Ave. W. The subject has been the topic of conversation in development meetings throughout the summer.

In a response to questions raised at the earlier work session, project developer Vienna Development Associates LLC said the proposal was scaled down to 151 total residential units, a nine-unit decrease from the initial proposal.

The development has also been decreased by 12,000 square feet of floor area while open space on the site has increased from 20,000 to 24,000 square feet.

Critics of the development called for the building to feature more setbacks and to be reduced to three stories. But the developer said reducing the building to three stories would make the project economically unfeasible given the cost of underground parking, undergrounding utilities and proffers.

Included in the list of proffers offered by the developer are a variety of traffic improvements. The added congestion was one of the major concerns voiced by the public and the Town Council at earlier meetings.

  • Extend the westbound left turn lane from Nutley Street to Maple Avenue by 120 feet.
  • Adjust the existing crosswalk on the east side of the Maple Avenue and Nutley Street intersection, including the construction of a new accessible curb and the relocation of the pedestrian signal at the crosswalk.
  • Apply signal timing and/or phasing modification at the Maple Avenue and Nutley Street intersection.
  • Provide a dedicated left turn lane and dedicated right turn lane to exit new development onto Maple Avenue.

For at least a year, the developer will also have to provide a shuttle bus that runs from the property to the Vienna Metrorail station. The shuttle must be operational before the development reaches 90 percent capacity.

If the development is approved, the developer says rents at the new apartments will range from $1,500 to $3,000 per month.

Image via Vienna Development Associates LLC 

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