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Overhaul of Park Place office building by Hilton HQ advances

Plans to modernize an office building co-located with Hilton’s corporate headquarters in Tysons are a vote away from becoming a reality.

Tysons Park Place owner B.F. Saul Company garnered the Fairfax County Planning Commission’s support on Wednesday (June 8) for its proposal to allow a 175-foot-tall, “trophy-class” office building in place of the 135-foot-tall building that has stood at 7926 Jones Branch Drive since 1975.

Designed to more closely mirror its 147-foot-tall Park Place II counterpart, which was built in 2008 and houses the Hilton Worldwide headquarters, the new Park Place I will transform the corner of Jones Branch Drive approaching Scotts Crossing Road with more open space and landscaping, according to the special exception application.

“It will be just a tremendous addition to Jones Branch, so [I’m] a hundred percent excited about what you’re offering in this regard,” Providence District Commissioner Phil Niedzielski-Eichner said during last week’s public hearing.

Following up on a final development plan from 2018, the application requests a height increase “for an architectural feature to go a little higher to reflect our gateway location,” land-use lawyer Mark Viani told the planning commission as B.F. Saul’s representative.

In addition to producing a taller, more modern-looking building, the redevelopment will reorient Park Place I 90 degrees to face the Hilton headquarters building and make room for a publicly accessible urban park space and plaza along Jones Branch Drive.

The Park Place I redevelopment will include the addition of a plaza along Jones Branch Drive (via Fairfax County)

The 4,040-square-foot plaza will feature cafe-style tables, amphitheater seating, curved benches, and landscaping. It’s envisioned “as an outdoor room, which could be utilized for a variety of programming, including public gathering and community recreation,” a county staff report says.

The project will also widen Jones Branch Drive to accommodate on-street parking and a new, four-foot-wide bicycle lane. The developer will provide an eight-foot-wide sidewalk with rows of trees along both sides “to provide shade to the pedestrian space and the plaza area,” according to the staff report.

With no curb ramps, the sidewalk will be raised across all three entryways into the property to provide “a continuous experience,” Viani said, adding that B.F. Saul has agreed to include warning strips to alert people with visual impairments when they reach a driveway.

“That’s the focus: to make sure as much as you can within the bounds of safety and appropriateness, make that pedestrian experience continuous along the road front,” Viani said.

The developer has committed to introducing stormwater management features, since there currently isn’t a detention facility for the site. However, its proposal to retain at least 0.78 inches of rainfall on site falls short of the 1-inch minimum recommended by the Tysons Comprehensive Plan.

While the developer has agreed to look for possible ways to increase the amount of retention during the site plan process, Viani said it has “kind of reached the limit of what we can really do.” County planner Sharon Williams noted that there are “several” utility lines under Jones Branch that need to be taken into account.

“We are interested in looking at it, and I think there are ways we can probably reduce imperviousness, but even if we reduce imperviousness, it’s unlikely we’re going to get to 0.79, let alone 0.8 or 1 inch,” Viani said. “That’s just not going to happen in terms of where we are.”

The application is scheduled to go before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a public hearing and final approval on June 28.

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