As Tysons grows, so do the opportunities for tourism around the area.
Visit Fairfax, a non-profit organization that works to encourage tourism around Fairfax County, plans to promote a series of new initiatives to boost visitation in 2020, according to President and CEO Barry Biggar.
Among the upcoming changes, the organization plans to capitalize on student and international markets and expand capabilities to host large conferences in Tysons, Biggar told Tysons Reporter.
Biggar brought up how many locals see the constant construction in Tysons as a negative thing, but said perception changes depending on who he asks. For example, he said many international travelers see it as a sign of prosperity within a community.
As someone in charge of oversight for the marketing, sales and visitor services for Visit Fairfax, Biggar monitors larger trends across the county.
Fairfax County made over $3.2 billion in 2018 from tourism, according to Visit Fairfax’s website, which also noted that the county brings in the second most money for tourism in Virginia.
Though there are not yet statistics available for Tysons specifically, Biggar said he hopes to break down the numbers within the next year.
“When I think of Tysons, I think immediately of the opportunities we have for business travel,” he said.
A large reason for the uptick in corporate and business events being held in Tysons, according to Biggar, is partially thanks to the expansion of the Silver Line to Tysons in 2014 and its upcoming expansion to the Dulles International Airport.
“Come 2020 we will have Silver Line service all the way to Dulles. Having that access all the way to Tysons or Reston will be significant in growing the business travel market,” Biggar said.
Currently, the Sheraton Tysons ranks as the largest venue for conferences and events in the entire county, according to Biggar. But, Biggar hinted that this may soon change as the skyline view keeps shifting and making way for new developments like the Capital One Hall, which promises space to host not only corporate events but also theatrical productions.
Around Fairfax County as a whole, Biggar said Visit Fairfax is currently in the process of writing proposals to host an upcoming National Senior Games, which is a bi-yearly event under the United States Olympic Committee to bring together senior citizens from across the U.S. to compete in athletic challenges.
He said that Visit Fairfax wants to host more reunions for members of the military and armed services, because of Fairfax County’s proximity to Arlington Cemetery and the upcoming National Army Museum in Fort Belvoir.
Now, Visit Fairfax is working with the Tysons Partnership, an organization that promotes social and economic development of Tysons, to coordinate marketing efforts and help one another.
“We know them very, very well and will assist them with any information or intelligence that they may need,” Biggar said.
One of the major gaps around Tysons, Biggar said, is the lack of live entertainment and nightlife. He said that the Capital One Center and other upcoming businesses are already planning to fill this niche market.
“If we look at Tysons Plaza or even Merrifield to see how they use their central green space to bring in performers, all of the development that is happening in Tysons should look at incorporating that,” he said.
“It brings about energy and creates an ongoing desire to go back and see what else is happening.”
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) unveiled its proposed fiscal year 2021-25 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) last week.
In November, Fairfax County voters approved a $360 million school bond referendum that includes $2 million in planning funds for a new “Silver Line elementary school,” along with other construction and renovation projects.
For the new Silver Line elementary school, permitting would happen in FY 2022, with permitting in FY 2023 and construction from FY 2024-2026, according to the CIP draft.
The revised budget estimates the Silver Line elementary school will cost $39.5 million.
“Anticipation of the completion of the Silver Line Metro has already spurred higher density residential growth along that corridor which may result in an increase in students within FCPS,” according to the CIP draft.
Along with the Silver Line school, the 10-year CIP forecast expects permitting to start on a new elementary school in Tysons in FY 2027.
Here is information on school renovations in the Tysons area in the proposed CIP:
- Falls Church High School, costing $141.9 million
- Cooper Middle School, costing $52 million
- Dranesville Elementary School, costing $38 million
- Louis Archer Elementary School, costing $29 million
A public hearing will be held on the CIP on Jan. 7 at 6 p.m. at Jackson Middle School (3020 Gallows Road), followed by a school board work session on it on Jan. 13. A vote on the CIP is scheduled to take place on Jan. 23.
In the wake of Capital One opening the region’s tallest office building, the nearby McLean Metro station has had a sharp increase in Metro traffic.
New data from the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission compared Metro ridership in January, February and March with the same period in 2018. All of the Silver Line stations in Virginia saw an increase in ridership over the previous year, part of an ongoing trend.
Overall the McLean Metro station had the largest increase in ridership with 20.6 percent growth.
The Greensboro Metro station, site of The Boro development and other projects aiming to compete with Tysons Corner Center as a commercial hub, also saw substantial ridership increase with an 18.4 percent growth.
The most popular station is Wiehle-Reston East — the end of the line — with 1,018,980 total riders over three months. In Tysons, the most population station was Tysons Corner with 490,212 riders over three months.
The Spring Hill Metro station had previously seen a 2.9 percent decline in ridership between last winter and the one before, but in the three months that followed the station saw a modest 2 percent increase in ridership over the previous year.
Photo 2 via Tysons Partnership/Twitter
Calls inside the tunnel connecting the Tysons Corner and Greensboro Metro stations on the Silver Line are dropped regardless of cellular provider — interrupting 25 minutes of otherwise continuous cell coverage from the Wiehle-Reston to Ballston Metro stations.
On and off for 10 years, WMATA has been working with cell carriers to wire tunnels to provide continuous service, though the plan has hit several stumbling blocks along the way. The press release said the plan is to have all of the tunnels completed by June 2020:
The $120 million capital project to install dual radio and cellular cables within Metro’s tunnels began in February 2016 and is scheduled to be completed by June 2020. The labor-intensive process involves installing special trays on the tunnel walls to support the heavy cables and requires the track be taken out of service for the work to be done.
WMATA said 67 miles of the 100 total miles of track are now cell-accessible, including all of the Orange and Blue lines.
HQ2 Worries for Fairfax Companies — “Amazon.com Inc.’s move to open a second headquarters in Arlington may prove to be a mixed-bag for Fairfax County. While many HQ2 employees are expected to live in the county, there’s a real chance that Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) will take tech talent from companies based in Fairfax.” [Washington Business Journal]
Does Tysons Need New North-South Transit? — “The Silver Line is good for east-west, but Tysons needs something north-south too. [Twitter]
Silver Line Station Progress — “Work crews in yellow vests and hard hats continue to dot the stations, track, pavilions, pedestrian bridges and tracks along the Phase 2 alignment, but over the next few months, more and more of those workers will be heading to interior work stations to run utility lines, install equipment and test all of the facilities.” [VivaTysons]
Apartment Fire in Falls Church — A fire broke out in the kitchen of an apartment at 450 N. Washington Street in Falls Church on Friday afternoon. [Twitter]
Falls Church PD Seek Info in Dog Bite Case — “City of Falls Church Police and Animal Control are looking for a dog that bit a man on the leg on Wednesday, March 27, around 2:15 p.m. near the Cherry Hill Park tennis courts.” [City of Falls Church]
Firefighter Training in McLean Home — “[Fairfax County Fire and Rescue] units have been conducting ladder truck training exercises at a donated home, in the McLean area, that is slated for demolition.” [Twitter]
New Store Opening in Tysons Galleria — “Lafayette 148 New York has ventured into the nation’s capital, opening its first Greater Washington location this week in the Tysons Galleria shopping center. Its first freestanding boutique in the Mid-Atlantic region, the new Lafayette 148 shop measures 2,500 square feet.” [Washington Business Journal]
Silver Line Test Train Doesn’t Get Far — “The first test train on Metro’s Silver Line extension to Dulles Airport made it only 1,000 feet out of the Wiehle-Reston East station before running into trouble, sources told News4.” [NBC Washington]
Falls Church Development Includes Micro Units — “If approved by the F.C. City Council going forward [the new West End development will] include an extra 150,000 square feet in residential density, including 50,000 square feet for senior housing and 100,000 square feet for 40 or so of the first new condominiums built in the City in over a decade, and even more notable, some 150-175 ‘micro unit’ rentals.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Turmoil in Richmond, Leaders’ Future Uncertain — Under fire for each of their own controversies, resignations by Virginia’s Democratic governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general could end up triggering a special election or even elevating a Republican state lawmaker into one of the top jobs. Meanwhile, the chaos in Richmond was the lead story on the national evening news this week — twice — and made the cover of this morning’s New York Post, with the headline “Virginia is for Losers.” [Politico, Twitter]
Another Tysons Firm Moving to Boro — “Alion Science and Technology Corp. is leaving one Tysons tower for another. The engineering firm, headquartered at Lerner Enterprises’ 1750 Tysons Blvd., has agreed to lease 16,000 square feet at Boro Tower… Alion will join KPMG LLP (roughly 168,000 square feet), Tegna Inc. (46,000 square feet), Hogan Lovells (44,500 square feet), and Womble Bond Dickinson (24,239 square feet).” [Washington Business Journal]
Weather Delays Silver Line Repairs — “Promised sealant for problem concrete panels at Silver Line stations due to open next year is on hold. The sealant is intended to prevent the panels, which were revealed last year to have an incorrect mix that could create problems, from deteriorating over coming decades.” [WTOP]
Tysons Development Quiz — “How much do you know about construction, leasing and development activity in Tysons? Take this quiz to test your knowledge.” [Bisnow]
Hunter Mill District Races — Two candidates are running for the Hunter Mill District seat on the Fairfax County School Board, which is being vacated by incumbent Pat Hynes. Meanwhile, long-time Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins announced yesterday that she will retire after her term ends. [Reston Now, Reston Now]
Reminder: Drone Meeting Tonight — A meeting to discuss a comprehensive plan for Fairfax County’s use of drones, particularly for public safety, will take place tonight at the McLean District Governmental Center. [Tysons Reporter]
Silver Line Phase 2 Could Be Delayed — “Nearly 300 cracks have formed in buildings at the new Metro facility that will house and maintain railcars for the Silver Line extension to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County, News4 has learned. In addition, the rail yard project, located on airport grounds, will be delayed because of significant construction and contract issues. That’s leading to concerns that the entire Silver Line project will face yet another setback.” [NBC 4]
Addressing Anxiety in McLean — “As part of a yearlong focus on anxiety, the Safe Community Coalition (SCC), in conjunction with the McLean High School PTSA, hosted the IndieFlix Original documentary “Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety” on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, at McLean High School.” [McLean Connection]
Mover Accused of Stealing from Home — “A moving crew was helping move items into one room of a home in [Vienna] between 12:30 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. The resident believed one of the movers had been acting suspiciously. After the moving crew left, the resident found jewelry missing from the home.” [Patch]
Prior to 2016, Metro closed at midnight on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends, but in 2016 the evening hours were reduced as part of the “SafeTrack” maintenance project to an 11:30 p.m. closing time Monday-Thursday, 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 p.m. on Sundays. But those changes had only been scheduled to last one year, and in 2017 the reduced service hours were renewed for another two years.
While there had been talk of restoring the earlier service hours, the Metro Board of Directors deferred a vote over restoring late hours until early 2019 to allow for greater study on how the hours would impact track maintenance.
Track maintenance is a particularly pertinent issue for those who live along the Silver Line. On Tuesday, service on the Silver Line was reduced from the Wiehle station to Ballston after a cracked rail forced trains to single-track in the middle of the afternoon rush.
PSA to Silver Line riders: it's a rough one tonight. https://t.co/BhxotiQqvd
— Tysons Partnership (@tysonspartners) December 11, 2018
D.C. Council members have repeatedly stated concerns that the lack of late-night Metro service left hospitality and restaurant workers without a means of getting home.
Frank Shafroth, the director of the Center for State and Local Leadership at George Mason University, said ensuring reliability is currently a higher priority for the Metro than restoring late night hours.
“The difficult challenge is the recognition that the growth of Uber et al has created pricing challenges for Metro, so Metro’s key issue in order to remain fiscally fit is to ensure riders of its reliability,” said Shafroth in an email. “Currently, whenever I go to [the George Washington University Hospital], it is 15 minutes by walking and Metro: there is no way I could do that, find parking competitively. [The Board] is focused precisely on the critical issue of making reliability its priority. Once that is certain, then it can build on that to restore late night hours.”
In other Silver Line news, the already behind-schedule expansion project also faces further delays as hundreds of rail ties installed along the second phase of the project were discovered to be flawed.
A man who faked records to hide faulty Silver Line concrete panels was convicted, and sentenced to one year in prison and required to pay $700,567.11 in restitution.
Building Near Spring Hill Metro Purchased — “Transwestern today announces it brokered the sale of Tysons Pond II, a 67,151-square-foot, free-standing office building located at 1604 Spring Hill Road in Tysons… A private investor purchased the 70 percent leased asset for $10 million.” [Citybizlist]
Nantucket Bay Scallops Season in Tysons — “Nantucket Bay scallops are in season and Eddie V’s of Tysons Corner has a special scallop dishes that are available for a limited time.” [WUSA 9]
Jerry Gordon Reflects on Retirement — “Jerry Gordon has two weeks left on his job as the president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Authority, and his office is so empty it echoes… After 31 years on the job, Gordon is transitioning out of a role that led Fairfax to become a superstar in economic development.” [Washington Business Journal]
More Silver Line Phase 2 Problems — “Hundreds of concrete rail ties installed at track crossovers along the second phase of the Silver Line are flawed, officials say, a problem that could further delay the multibillion-dollar rail project that is already 13 months behind schedule.” [Washington Post]