Merrifield and Tyson’s Corner were front and center on Tuesday when the Board of Supervisors’ Revitalization and Reinvestment Committee met to review the ongoing activities in both areas. Although neither area is located in Mason District, both are important employment centers for Fairfax County and critical to the success of the county moving into the future.
Barbara Byron, director of the county’s Office of Community Revitalization and Reinvestment (OCRR), described the various Merrifield projects as a “redevelopment success story.” Formerly the site of light industrial uses, towing lots, and storage facilities, Merrifield gained an advantage with the opening of the Dunn Loring Metro Station in 1986. There also was a corresponding strong community interest in redefining the future, Ms. Byron noted. A visioning workshop in 1998 concluded that Merrifield “needs to become a place to work, shop, live, and play.” By 2001, the Merrifield Suburban Center Plan Amendment was adopted by the Board of Supervisors, spearheaded by then-Providence District Supervisor Gerry Connolly, and his planning commissioner, now Providence District Supervisor, Linda Smyth. The Plan Amendment became the blueprint for the Merrifield Metro Center, which includes 250 residential units and a 200-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel. The Vantage Mixed Use Development followed, with 265 residential units, two 7-story buildings, and more than 100,000 square feet of retail space. Mosaic, on the site of the former multi-plex movie theatre site, is under construction as the Merrifield Town Center; the first phase is expected to open this fall. Phase 1 will have 350,00 square feet of retail, an 8-screen boutique cinema, a boutique hotel, Class A office space and, eventually, 4,000 parking spaces. The Halstead site, when complete, will have nearly 1,000 residential units, a large hotel, and retail space. You can recognize the Halstead site by the large yellow grid on the face of one of the buildings. The bright color certainly sets the building apart from its neighbors!
Significant transportation improvements accompany Merrifield’s redevelopment. The first phase of the Lee Highway/Gallows Road widening is almost complete, and will be followed by three more phases, to last a few months each, as additional improvements are constructed incrementally. The planned completion date for the project is mid-November of this year. With additional parking and bus stop improvements underway at the Dunn Loring Metro Station, the trip through Merrifield, whether on foot, bicycle, motor vehicle, or mass transit, will be vastly improved, making the area a destination instead of the traditional pass-through. Lessons learned in the Merrifield area can serve as templates for both the Tyson’s area and other revitalization districts, such as Bailey’s Crossroads and Annandale.
The committee also reviewed proposed Tysons Corner Urban Design Guidelines, developed after extensive consultation with the Tysons Corner Urban Design Advisory Group, county staff, and the general public. The guidelines address streetscape, site and building design, signage, urban parks, and more. The rather large and comprehensive document, which includes many photographs from urban projects throughout the nation, can be accessed at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/tysons/design/. It’s worth a look.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at email@example.com