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Fairfax Planners Sort Options for Tysons Corner Development Plan

tysonsnickTysons Corner, already the 12th largest business district in the U.S., is well on its way to becoming a major American metropolis, transformed from an oversized suburban office park into a fully-functional urban center.

Tysons Corner, already the 12th largest business district in the U.S., is well on its way to becoming a major American metropolis, transformed from an oversized suburban office park into a fully-functional urban center.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission was slated to review five development options from the Tysons Corner Planning Committee last night that would target growth in the area to absorb 200,000 jobs (double the current number) and 100,000 residents (compared to 17,000 today) by 2050.

The Planning Commission’s preferred plan is slated for a mark-up on May 27, and is tentatively slated to come to its first public hearing before the County Board of Supervisors on June 22.

 

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KEITH TURNER of the West Group spoke about Tysons Corner plans last week. (News-Press photo)

Keith Turner, the senior vice president for development services of the West Group, the single largest landowner in the 1,700 acre zone known as Tysons Corner and chair of the Tysons Transportation Association (TYTRAN), presented an update on the Tysons plans at an event held by Coldwell Banker in McLean last week.

 

Diane Poldy, president of the Vienna Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce, also spoke, admonishing the existing business community in the region to play an active role in the conversion of Tysons to a great American “downtown,” replete with a cultural district, parks and public spaces, ample public transit and fine retail outlets.

“Our role is to help make the communities around Tysons and the center’s development work together,” she said.

Turner said that the West Group, which owns 22 buildings on a massive part of the 1,700 total Tysons Corner acreage, intends to take down all of its buildings and make way for as many as 100 new ones as the completion of the four new Metro Rail stations occurs in the next four years.

Among other things, all new buildings will be environmentally-friendly “LEED Silver” by 2013, with strong incentives for gold and platinum certifications, he said.

Up to 20 percent of new residential construction will be inexpensive “workforce housing” and “affordable dwelling units.” Density as high as 4.75 FAR (floor to area ratio) is expected to be permitted immediately around the four rail stations, scaling back to 3.0 from an eighth of a mile away and 2.0 after a quarter-mile.

“These are important decisions,” Turner said. “We are deciding what the next 100 years will look like. These are buildings that will last for at least 45 to 60 years.”

There will be a concerted effort to limit, rather than expand, public parking.

“We want to compel people to use public transit, and also to live much closer to where they work,” Turner said. He cited studies showing that in the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor of Arlington, an increase in building densities there around the Metro Rail stations had the net effect of reducing, not increasing, congestion on the roads.

With a 103 percent increase in development in Ballston, there was only a 16 percent increase in traffic, a study has shown.

Overall, he said, the goal is to transform Tysons into a mixed-use, walkable set of districts, to build a more comprehensive urban street grid, to provide new transit options, including “circulator” transport, goals to reduce the overall length of vehicle trips by residents and employees in the area, more residences and housing choices, more parks, open spaces, art spaces and recreation opportunities, better environmental stewardship, and the implementation of urban design principles.

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