Repurposing of Tysons office building for live-work units approved

Developer Madison Highland will convert the office building at 2000 Corporate Ridge in Tysons into live/work units (via Fairfax County)

Another Fairfax County office building will soon morph into a live/work development, where units are designed to serve as a home, a workplace or both.

A proposed repurposing of the 10-story office building at 2000 Corporate Ridge in Tysons got approved Tuesday (Oct. 24) by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors after a straightforward public hearing where the only community member who signed up to speak couldn’t be reached.

The unanimous vote gave another win to Madison Highland, which was created last year by developers Madison Marquette and Highland Square Holdings to focus on live/work lofts. The team has now led six office conversions, including at the Skyline Center in Bailey’s Crossroads and Inova’s former headquarters in Merrifield.

Like those other projects, the Corporate Ridge repositioning will revitalize an underutilized property with a live/work concept that offers flexibility for tenants and new amenities for the general community, including pedestrian paths and park space, McGuireWoods land use lawyer Greg Riegle argued while representing the developer.

“The potential remains for this building to be predominantly or even exclusively workspace as markets and needs evolve,” Riegle said. “As we try to sort out the new workplace, to say that flexibility is the name of the game is a significant understatement. This project embraces clearly evolving trends with respect to how and where people are choosing to work.”

The newly approved development plan converts 2000 Corporate Ridge into 250 live/work units. A 4-story, 644-space parking garage on the 8-acre site will be retained, while the surface parking will largely be replaced with a private tenant amenity area and publicly accessible open space.

Totaling 3.2 acres, the open space includes a neighborhood park, a preserve with a boardwalk and bird-watching station and a “reforested hillside” with an 8-foot-wide, ADA-accessible trail that will provide a connection to the pedestrian bridge over the adjacent Capital Beltway (I-495).

Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik acknowledged that the project’s proximity to the Beltway could lead to noise issues, as the Fairfax County Planning Commission discussed last month, but she expressed confidence in the developer’s planned window upgrades and other mitigation measures.

“I do believe that the developer’s design provides a significant improvement in the overall pedestrian experience,” Palchik said. “I know that they are committed both to…the private as well as the publicly accessible amenities and to have passive and active recreation throughout the property, and its environment aesthetics will be considerably upgraded by reducing unnecessary surface parking, added landscaping and the integration of best management practices.”

As Northern Virginia’s office market continues to struggle, Fairfax County has seen a slew of development projects seeking to replace commercial uses with residential ones. In Tysons, the board approved a shift to apartments for a planned office building near the Spring Hill Metro station, and a proposal to convert the former Sheraton Tysons Hotel to housing is in the works.

Recalling that the county studied building repositionings even before the pandemic, Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross said it’s been satisfying to see that report’s strategies “in action” and asked whether there are any plans to provide an update.

Tracy Strunk, director of the county’s Department of Planning and Development, confirmed that staff are compiling a “white paper” on how building conversions have affected the office and residential markets. It could be released next year as the county works to update its policy plan, which governs everything from land use and housing to environmental and revitalization goals.

“I just think we really need to blow our own horn and celebrate something that a lot of people thought we shouldn’t be doing or just this wasn’t going to work, and it’s working, so I look forward to that,” Gross said.