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Developer seeks flexibility to add housing on Boro East office complex

The final phase of a concept plan to redevelop the Boro East office complex in Tysons (via Fairfax County)

A shake-up may be coming to the EastBoro offices, where companies like Booz Allen Hamilton and Alarm.com are currently headquartered.

The building that houses Alarm.com, which shared plans to expand back in February, is one of two that The Meridian Group has proposed razing to make room for housing and retail development on the block bounded by Solutions, Greensboro and Pinnacle drives.

In a proposal submitted for Fairfax County’s Site-Specific Plan Amendment (SSPA) process, the developer asks the county for the flexibility to favor residential uses in the block, instead of offices, a shift that would more closely align the site with The Boro, its growing Tysons neighborhood to the west.

“This amendment seeks to further the mixed-use environment that has been successful in the submarket already,” Venable land use lawyer Zachary Williams wrote in the Oct. 24 application, citing “the continuously fluctuating office market resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors” as justification for the request.

Right now, the four parcels in question — collectively referred to as “The Boro-East” — are occupied by five office buildings and parking. They’re designated as a transit station mixed use area in the Tysons Comprehensive Plan, which recommends an overall mix of 65% office and 20% or more residential uses.

With no upper limit set for housing, Meridian has proposed transforming EastBoro with approximately 1.9 square feet of development, 32% of which would be office, 64% residential, and 4% retail.

Described as “one of several potential redevelopment scenarios,” the concept plan calls for the buildings at 8251 and 8281 Greensboro Drive to be demolished, leaving 611,158 square feet of office space.

The resulting development would have seven buildings with a total of 974 residential units and 96,000 square feet of retail. Constructed in three phases, the buildings could range in height from a two-level retail podium to a 14-story residential high-rise.

The plan also shows a central plaza and four parking structures, providing 3,291 spaces, including 52 surface parking spots.

“Additional residential development helps buoy retail traffic and office traffic creating a node that is attractive not only to work, but also to live,” Williams wrote. “This nomination would create flexibility in the designated percentages for office use to be below 65% and residential use to exceed 60% to reflect current market trends.”

While office-to-residential swaps have been trendy in Fairfax County, Meridian’s request comes as a slight surprise when the developer is also seeking the option to build offices in place of an approved residential tower on a different section of The Boro.

With Boro Tower fully leased, Meridian says it’s still getting demand for more office space in the neighborhood, but it hasn’t necessarily settled on one option or the other for that planned high-rise.

“While the pandemic resulted in a time when remote/hybrid work is dominant, trends show that more companies plan to bring their employees back into the office and are seeking modern, tech-enhanced buildings to do so,” Meridian Vice President of Asset Management Charlie Schwieger said by email. “TMG understands and will implement this concept into a new office building, if we decide to go that route.”

The application was among dozens that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted on Dec. 6 to advance to a screening phase. The SSPA proposals will now be more closely reviewed by county staff, with community meetings expected early next year.

Other advanced nominations in the Tysons area include a redevelopment of the Koons auto dealerships and mixed-use projects in Idylwood and Merrifield.

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