Tysons, VA

The consulting company Guidehouse will bring more than 900 new jobs to Fairfax County later this year when it opens a new global headquarters in Tysons, Gov. Ralph Northam announced yesterday (Monday).

The new campus will be located at 1676 International Drive and house more than 1,550 employees when at full capacity.

“This move will allow us to best accommodate growth, serve our people and clients, and attract talent,” Guidehouse CEO Scott McIntyre said. “Virginia offers a highly skilled workforce and business-friendly climate, making it an ideal location for Guidehouse’s future.”

In terms of geography, the announcement represents a small move for Guidehouse, whose current headquarters is just down the road in Tysons Galleria. But the company says the new building will better accommodate the growth and increased demand for its services that it has experienced recently.

Guidehouse currently has more than 9,000 workers and over 50 offices around the world. It works with both the commercial and public sectors in industries ranging from financial services, health, and energy to defense and national security.

According to a company news release, Guidehouse will invest $12.7 million to establish its new headquarters and plans to create more than 1,000 new jobs in Virginia over the next three years.

“We are currently in design development of the space and targeting an early Fall occupancy date,” Guidehouse spokesperson Joy Jarrett said.

According to Northam’s office, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and Virginia Economic Development partnership collaborated to help Tysons beat out D.C. and Maryland for Guidehouse’s global headquarters.

The company is now eligible for the Virginia Jobs Investment Program, a state-funded initiative that reimburses companies for the costs of training new full-time employees, and the state’s Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit.

“A headquarters in Tysons puts [Guidehouse] in the center of the largest business hub in the D.C. region and a talent pool that will be able to enjoy the growing number of amenities in the area,” FCEDA CEO and President Victor Hoskins said.

Guidehouse says it was drawn to Tysons for the area’s strong education and healthcare systems as well as Fairfax County’s “commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship.”

The news comes on the heels of Northam’s April 30 announcement that the cybersecurity company Ridgeline International will expand its operations in Tysons with 162 new jobs and a research and development hub expected to launch in June.

Fairfax County currently hosts corporate headquarters for 11 Fortune 500 companies, and just in the past year, the county has secured major commitments from Microsoft, Google, and Volkswagen.

“This announcement by Guidehouse is another indication of the strength of Fairfax County as a headquarters location for companies that operate around the globe,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said. “It is a testament to the investment the county government has made into creating and sustaining a world-class business location that also draws the kind of professional workforce the company needs to grow and succeed.”

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Lane Closed on Old Meadow Road Today — “The left lane of Old Meadow Road heading toward Route 123 will be closed for several hours beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, April 16, to permit minor asphalt repairs. This work was originally scheduled for Saturday, April 3.” [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Tension over Alleged Racism at Football Game Continues — Wakefield High School community members issued a letter on Wednesday (April 14) calling for a formal apology from Marshall High School in relation to a March 5 football game where players allegedly used racial slurs. Marshall’s coaching staff and parents have disputed that account, but some students recently released a statement criticizing their school for its handling of the incident. [Patch]

D.C. Airport Unveils New Addition — “After nearly 25 years, officials at Reagan National Airport on Thursday unveiled a much-anticipated addition, a sleek 14-gate concourse that will mark the end of operations of the much-maligned Gate 35X.” [The Washington Post]

Falls Church City Too Small for Retail Shopping — Even as Falls Church pursues a sizable mixed-use developments, Councilmember Ross Litkenhous says the city lacks the foot traffic or surface parking needed to attract retail merchants like Urban Outfitters or Macys. The city’s proximity to Tysons and Merrifield, though, means that residents still have many options nearby. [Falls Church News-Press]

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Morning Notes

Police Arrest D.C. Resident for Attempted Robbery in Tysons — There was an attempted robbery in the 1600 block of International Drive around 11:30 a.m. on March 23. According to the police report, a man “approached the victim, displayed a knife and demanded property before walking away. Responding officers arrested the man, Jason Stokes, 38, of Washington, D.C. and charged him with robbery.” [Fairfax County Police Department]

Vienna Delegate Joins Other State Legislators to Create AAPI Caucus — Del. Mark Keam (D-Vienna) is among several Virginia lawmakers to join the General Assembly’s newly formed Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus. The group’s creation was announced on Friday (March 26) to coincide with a national #StopAsianHate Day of healing and action in response to the March 16 shootings that killed eight people, including six Asian women, in Georgia. [DCist]

Peak Bloom for Cherry Blossoms Comes Early — The National Park Service declared yesterday (Sunday) that the cherry trees around D.C.’s Tidal Basin have hit peak bloom, a week earlier than initially anticipated. The agency attributes the early bloom to “well above average” temperatures for the region over the past week. [National Park Service/Twitter]

Tysons is Key to Region’s Economic Recovery, PenFed CEO Says — “As we look to the coming year, we must support a return to offices, continue to diversify our community and prioritize the recovery of Tysons’s hospitality sector, which has suffered the most during the pandemic. We must continue investing in factors that increase livability, like parks and walking paths, and we must incentivize new retail, new businesses and new residents.” [Washington Business Journal]

Photo by Joanne Liebig

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A consultant is recommending a dozen ways Fairfax County can uplift people whose livelihoods have been harmed by the pandemic in the short-term and promote long-term economic resilience.

Specific short-term measures include launching “Buy Local” and “Made in Fairfax” campaigns, focusing on women- and minority-owned businesses, and finding ways to reduce rent or other costs for struggling small businesses.

Other recommendations target those hit hardest — including people without high school degrees, women with children, and people of color — with services like career centers, workforce training programs, and affordable childcare.

“A lot of these things have ongoing aspects, but tying them together and focusing on economic recovery is really going to be an effective approach,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said.

County staff presented plans for implementing the consultant’s recommendations and assisting small businesses during the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors economic initiatives committee meeting on Tuesday (March 16).

Fairfax County has up to $15 million in reserves to support economic recovery efforts and could also use some of the anticipated $222.56 million in federal funds coming from the American Rescue Plan, according to Foust, who chairs the committee.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn called the staff proposal “fantastic” but added that transportation — which did not figure into staff planning — should play a role in the county’s recovery efforts.

“Since we’re doing something new, I would just recommend putting more structure into collaboration across agencies,” Providence Supervisor Dalia Palchik said.

Fairfax County hired the consultant HR&A last summer to analyze how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected its economy and what the county government could do to expedite a more just recovery. More than 65 organizations and small businesses participated in the study, providing input on perceived barriers to and strategies for economic recovery.

According to the consultant’s report, before COVID-19, flourishing technology and government sectors contributed to a decade of strong economic growth for Fairfax County. The total number of jobs grew by 9% annually, and employment had reached its lowest level since the Great Recession.

In 2018, the county had the third-highest median household income in the D.C. area, but significant racial disparities lurked just below the surface: The median household income for white residents was about $140,000, exceeding that of Black households (~$86,000) and Hispanic households (~$81,000).

The pandemic reversed that job growth and exacerbated the existing disparities.

Through December 2020, Fairfax County lost an estimated 48,200 jobs, mainly in food service, hospitality, retail, and the arts. Small businesses in these three sectors will have a particularly long road to recovery, HR&A said.

The consultant also reported that job losses were most acutely felt by low-income people, people of color, and people with lower levels of formal education and training, which will make “the road to economic stability longer and more challenging.” Read More

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Commercial office development will be essential to future economic recovery efforts in Tysons and Fairfax County, a new study says.

Released last Thursday (March 4) by the Tysons Partnership, an economic report and market study developed by the consulting firms HR&A Advisors, Toole Design, and Wells & Associates argues that Tysons will need at least 1.9 million square feet of new office space over the next 10 years — despite predictions that the COVID-19 pandemic could permanently alter white-collar workplaces.

“In early 2021, we remain in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, with fallout still being measured,” the economic report says. “However, office investments to date are seeing a strong performance return and will certainly play a key role in County and regional pandemic economic recovery efforts.”

According to the report, Tysons saw a 40 to 75% drop in the use of office space after COVID-19 arrived, following regional and national trends, but prior to the pandemic, vacancy rates had been declining, dipping four percentage points between 2015 and 2019.

In addition, the study projects that office-based employment in Tysons will grow by 7%, or 7,500 jobs, by 2030.

Office work is already integral to Tysons’ economy. Office workers constitute 81% of the total 107,000-person workforce, with the largest sector — the professional services industry — employing two of every five workers in the area. Tysons accounts for 17% of Fairfax County’s office-using jobs.

Tysons outpaced the rest of the county with a 9% job growth between 2015 and 2020, and that faster growth is expected to continue over the next five years, albeit at a slower rate of 5%. Professional services will still be the largest sector, but the biggest area of growth will be in healthcare, which is projected to grow by 24% through 2025.

However, the projected office-using job market growth is far short of what developers would need to fill all of the office space that is in the works for the Tysons area.

If all projects in construction and 50% of all proposed projects in Tysons are completed, that would result in 4.5 million square feet of new office space that could accommodate an estimated 18,200 workers, according to the market study.

In comparison, driven by the opening of the Metro Silver Line in 2014, Tysons added 1.9 million square feet of office space between 2015 and 2020, a 7% growth in inventory that surpassed the rate for both Fairfax County overall (4.7%) and Arlington County (4%).

Though they anticipate future job growth, the economic report and market study acknowledge that “long-term trends remain uncertain” due to the pandemic, which triggered a 5% climb in office vacancy rates and sent the leasing market plummeting from 81 deals in the first quarter of 2019 to just five in the fourth quarter of 2020 so far.

“Tysons Partnership leaders understand much work remains to be done as recovery efforts begin post COVID-19 and in identified areas where continued investment and resources are essential, including housing affordability, mobility, and implementation,” the partnership said in a news release.

Outside the office market, the report says that Tysons has cemented its role as a regional retail hub over the past decade, generating $3.5 billion in annual retail spending, which represents 17% of Fairfax County’s total retail spending.

As reported at the Tysons Partnership’s “State of Tysons” event in December, Tysons’ residential population grew 39% from 2010 to 2018, a rate four times higher than the county’s average growth. Led by mid- and high-rise developments, Tysons has expanded its housing stock by 34% to 13,800 units since 2010, and it is projected to grow by 36% to nearly 19,000 units by 2025.

“The investment on behalf of the public and private sectors in smart, sustainable urbanization is working,” Tysons Partnership president and CEO Sol Glasner said.

The full report and market study can be found on the Tysons Partnership website. The nonprofit plans to use the collected data to develop a dashboard that “will serve as the go-to information hub for a wide range of stakeholders and promote the growth of Tysons,” according to the market study.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott, slide via Tysons Partnership

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In response to a new wave of public feedback, Fairfax County staff has revised its drafted plan to revitalize the McLean Community Business Center.

The changes include harder caps on building heights, guarantees for syncing development to public school capacity, and more specific environmental requirements — all concerns that some community members and civic associations have recently raised.

Staff discussed the changes during a virtual open house on Saturday (Feb. 20).

The draft plan is currently under review as it winds through county processes. It will go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission for a public hearing on Apr. 28, followed by a May 18 Board of Supervisors meeting when county leaders will vote on whether to adopt the plan.

McLean Citizens for Right Size Development (Right Size McLean), a coalition of local neighborhood associations, welcomed the changes.

“We were encouraged to see the proposed changes to the maximum heights by zone and that the plan would spell out the maximums in linear feet, reducing the allowable height of the land parcels that abut Franklin Sherman Elementary School along Chain Bridge Road to 40 feet,” Right Size McLean member Linda Walsh said.

Walsh says the group was also glad to see that the new draft sets stronger environmental goals, especially for tree canopies and stormwater quality and quantity.

The McLean CBC study process began in 2018 when consultant StreetSense worked with members of the McLean community to draft a 10-year “Vision Plan.” Since then, a task force appointed by Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust has worked with county staff to create a Comprehensive Plan spanning 25 years.

According to Foust, task force members, and staff, downtown McLean will become a vibrant, biking- and walking-friendly downtown that creates a real sense of place. The plan envisions a total of 3,850 residential units in the district as well as traffic pattern changes and streetscape updates.

The community business center will be divided into three zones: Center, General and Edge, with corresponding heights for each. The most recent draft does not change height caps for buildings in each zone, but it does specify maximum heights in feet as opposed to the number of stories.

Buildings cannot exceed 92 feet (or seven stories), although one building in the Center zone will be allowed to reach 128 feet (or 10 stories). The developer who is awarded the tallest building will be responsible for creating the two-thirds-acre public plaza envisioned in the plan.

General zone buildings surrounding the Center zone can reach 68 feet (five stories). The county did not make any changes to the Edge zone in the most recent draft. Read More

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(Updated 5 p.m. — This article has been updated to correct the number of residential units being proposed and to expand the sources of residents’ concerns.)

Fairfax County staff are hosting a virtual town hall tomorrow (Saturday) to present changes to a draft comprehensive plan for revitalizing the McLean Community Business Center and hear residents’ opinions.

The meeting takes place from 9-11 a.m. and will be accessible via this link.

The new draft includes changes that address building heights and environmental guidance, Fairfax County Planning Division Director Leanna O’Donnell says. Many of the tweaks were made in response to concerns raised by community members about a draft of the plan that was released on Dec. 9.

“This is an exciting opportunity to bring forward the vision plan developed by the community, take it and get it into our Comprehensive Plan formally,” O’Donnell said. “We look forward to continued engagement with the draft as we move forward.”

Some residents, including a coalition of local neighborhood associations called McLean Citizens for Right Size Development (Right Size McLean), have developed a laundry list of concerns about the December draft plan and representation on a task force appointed by Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust.

Right Size McLean recently issued a survey that drew about 600 responses from an even mix of young and old, new and longtime residents, group member Linda Walsh says.

While the full results will be released later, Walsh said that 90% of respondents oppose bringing the total number of residential units downtown to 3,850 units.

The increasingly vocal opposition comes as a culmination of three years of work by county staff draws nearer. A recommended new comprehensive plan will be presented to the Fairfax County Planning Commission for a public hearing on Apr. 28, followed by a hearing by the Board of Supervisors on May 18.

The McLean CBC study process began in 2018 when consultant StreetSense worked with members of the McLean community to draft a 10-year “Vision Plan.”

“Everyone was invited to participate and hundreds did,” Foust said of the visioning process. “It was a good process and almost everyone who participated was supportive of the Vision that was adopted.”

Residents shared their visions for McLean and the amenities it would offer. The plan outlined incentives to attract commercial and residential developers to McLean with requirements for contributing toward community benefits such as open spaces. Read More

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Tysons Partnership leaders touted the success of Fairfax County’s initial investment in the nonprofit stakeholder group while making the case for a new round of funding to county leaders on Tuesday (Jan. 12).

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors nominated the Tysons Partnership, which was formed in 2011 to help implement the Tysons Comprehensive Plan, for a $1 million award from the county’s Economic Opportunity Reserve fund on Dec. 1.

The organization previously received $1 million in economic opportunity funds from the county in December 2019.

“The Tysons Partnership has been a prudent investor of those initial funds and are here today to request an additional investment to further advance a community-led vision in conjunction with the county,” Tysons Partnership Chairman Josh White said.

According to White, the partnership raised $630,000 in private funds to match Fairfax County’s contribution between the third quarter of 2019 and the second quarter of 2020, resulting in a total investment of $1.26 million.

The partnership has allocated about $1 million so far, primarily to develop materials that define Tysons as a brand. It has also organized focus groups, community surveys, and virtual events, highlighted by the State of Tysons panel on Dec. 10.

White told the Board of Supervisors during its budget committee meeting that the Tysons Partnership has deferred spending about $250,000 intended to support community events and place activation initiatives that have been put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The partnership is returning approximately $370,000 in unmatched funds to Fairfax County. That money will go back into the county’s economic opportunity reserve fund to be redistributed.

If the board approves a new $1 million investment, the funds will go toward marketing, research and data analysis, transportation and mobility projects, and community events, like holiday markets or craft fairs, Tysons Partnership President and CEO Sol Glasner says.

The organization is also collaborating with Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik on a working group focused on finding ways to make the partnership more effective and sustainable.

Glasner says the working group, which held its kick-off meeting yesterday (Wednesday), will deliver its recommendations to the county board and the Tysons Partnership board of directors by the end of this year, with the goal of implementing all of the proposals by January 2023.

The Board of Supervisors will vote on whether to approve the $1 million in economic opportunity reserve funds for the Tysons Partnership when it meets on Feb. 23.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay says investing in the partnership will be critical for the future growth of the Tysons area.

“The activities that the Tysons Partnership will need to be engaged in, while they may not be ideal in this pandemic environment, they will be necessary as a part of our economic recovery when we get to that point,” McKay said. “So, I would make the case that this has never been more important than now.”

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The Town of Vienna has hired the real estate consulting firm Streetsense to conduct a market study and formulate an economic development strategy that the town can use to support and attract businesses.

The Vienna Town Council approved the $100,000 contract last night (Monday). Half of the funding comes from Fairfax County through an Economic Development Support Fund grant.

For the market study, Streetsense will be responsible for analyzing Vienna’s commercial market and proposing policies, programs, and strategies that could improve its competitiveness and address challenges, such as vacancy rates.

The study will be used to create the economic development strategy, which “will provide a roadmap to guide business recovery, better support existing businesses, and bring in complementary new businesses,” the town says in a news release.

“Streetsense has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to retail and other businesses,” Vienna Economic Development Manager Natalie Monkou said. “We’re confident that not only does the Streetsense team have the skill set to complete the market study and strategy development, but that they also understand the need for inclusivity and have the capability to assist the Town in reaching out to Vienna’s diverse businesses and business stakeholders.”

Streetsense was chosen for the project out of 13 teams that responded to a request for proposals that Vienna issued in October. Five finalists were then chosen for interviews by a four-person selection committee that consisted of three town staff members and an economic development professional from the Town of Herndon.

Streetsense will partner with fellow consultant RCLCO Real Estate Advisors to conduct the market study, a process that will include a kick-off meeting, site visits, a survey of consumers and businesses, and conversations with stakeholders.

In its proposal to the Town of Vienna, Streetsense says its analysis will focus on the physical environment of the town’s commercial areas, local economic conditions, demographic and market data, and the town’s administrative capacity and resources.

The need to develop a clear economic development strategy has emerged as a priority for the Town of Vienna after its attempt to encourage redevelopment and mixed-use projects by establishing a Maple Avenue Commercial zone floundered.

The town hired Monkou as its first economic development manager in November 2019, and it is currently working to update its zoning code with Code Create Vienna, a process that is expected to be completed towards the end of this year.

Streetsense says that Vienna is at a “critical juncture” in its evolution, particularly in light of the economic challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Town is in need of a forward-thinking, clear, and actionable roadmap to guide business recovery and resilience efforts, as well as key investment decisions in the coming years,” the consulting firm said in its proposal.

According to the Town of Vienna, the market study and economic development strategy are both expected to be finished this summer.

Staff Photo by Jay Westcott

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday (Dec. 1) to nominate the Tysons Partnership to receive $1 million in additional economic opportunity funds

The funds will help the nonprofit continue wayfinding, business and event promotion, and other initiatives designed to support the growth of Tysons in accordance with the Tysons Comprehensive Plan.

The $1 million will come from Fairfax County’s Economic Opportunity Reserve fund, which goes to projects that are expected to stimulate economic growth in certain priority areas but don’t fall under the county’s capital improvement program or other standard procurement processes.

The county board nominated the Tysons Partnership for the fund in a joint board matter introduced by Chairman Jeff McKay, Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, and Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust.

“Since its inception, the Tysons Partnership has played a key role in the success that Tysons has seen,” Palchik said in the board matter. “…The projected trajectory for Tysons is robust and we need to do whatever we can to ensure that it is maximized.”

According to the board matter, assessed real estate tax values in Tysons have increased from just over $11 billion to nearly $17 billion in the seven years since Fairfax County established the area as a special tax district on Jan. 1, 2013.

The Board of Supervisors nomination is the first step in a review process that the board and county staff undertake before allocating any Economic Opportunity Reserve funds, according to the board matter.

By approving the board matter, the supervisors also directed county staff to work with the Partnership to develop a plan that explains the nonprofit’s role in the Tysons community and identifies governance rules, metrics for success, and a sustainable funding stream.

Palchik says she anticipates any recommendations that come out of the staff and Partnership group to be implemented in the timeframe of Fairfax County’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget.

“Tysons Partnership sincerely appreciates Fairfax County’s support for Tysons as an economic engine for the County and region,” the Tysons Partnership said in a statement.

The Tysons Partnership’s full statement is below the cut: Read More

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