Tysons is making good progress on fulfilling Fairfax County’s goal of turning it into a place where people live as well as work, county staff say.
Since the Tysons Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 2010, the urban center has seen its population jump from 17,000 to 30,124 residents, according to data shared last week with the Fairfax County Planning Commission’s Tysons Committee.
Over that time period, the housing stock has increased from 8,943 units to 14,253, with another 1,613 units under construction, as of July 2022.
That influx of residents narrowed the ratio of jobs-to-households from over 11-to-1 in 2010 to about 6-to-1 in 2022. Aiming for 100,000 residents and 200,000 jobs by 2050, the plan posited a ratio of 4-to-1 as an ideal mix for Tysons.
“Tysons growth continues to be in line with plan growth projections, and we think residential is tracking probably at a faster pace than we anticipated, but there is still capacity in the pipeline,” Fairfax County Department of Planning and Development Urban Centers Section Chief Suzie Battista said at the Jan. 12 committee meeting.
Based on data compiled for the Tysons Tracker, an interactive platform that launched in 2021 and is currently being updated annually, county staff project that development will fall about 9 million square feet short of the 69.9-million-square-feet goal set forth in the plan for 2024.
Battista noted that the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and completion of Metro’s Silver Line extension are still unknown, but she doesn’t “think there’s any cause for concern.”
From August 2021 through July 2022, developers finished five buildings with 1.3 million square feet of space, including Capital One Hall and the Hanover apartments. Another 3.2 million square feet is under construction, and projects totaling 1 million square feet got site plan approval.
About two-thirds of the upcoming development is residential, which has grown by over 6.6 million square feet since 2011 — exceeding the roughly 3 million square feet of added office space.
Notably, the increase in housing has included 773 affordable or workforce dwelling units to date, not including the planned, all-affordable Dominion Square West and Somos projects. Tysons had just 40 units of affordable housing prior to 2010, according to the tracker.
Battista says developers seem open to the county’s revamped ADU/WDU policy for Tysons, which reduced the percentage of affordable units required in each project but lowered the targeted area median income (AMI) levels.
“We were finding from the development community, some of the higher tiers, that wasn’t really getting at the goal of what we were trying to accomplish with affordable housing just based on the AMIs in this area,” she said. Read More
The brick office complex at 7600 Leesburg Pike is destined to be eventually replaced by housing, but the amount of housing that will be allowed may still be up for negotiation.
Developer Elm Street Communities is seeking to double the residential density currently recommended in the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan for the 442,718-square-foot property adjacent to the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library.
In a site-specific plan amendment (SSPA) nomination submitted Oct. 26, the developer proposes replacing the two existing office buildings with townhouses at a density of 12 to 16 dwelling units per acre — twice the 5-8 units per acre shown on the comprehensive plan map.
“The Nominator’s proposal will provide a more compatible transition than the existing office building between the commercial uses to remain to the south of the Property and the Pimmit Hills single-family detached residential neighborhood to the north,” Walsh Colucci Lubeley & Walsh land-use lawyer Lynne Strobel wrote in the application.
Built in 1986, the 230,620-square-foot, four-story office complex is split into east and west buildings. Tenants include the Standard Healthcare Services College of Nursing, Oak Hill Montessori School and the D.C. Legislative Action Committee.
The property’s current owner, an affiliate of the New York-based real estate firm True North Management Group, acquired it for $36 million in 2014, per county land records.
In its SSPA application, Elm Street says its envisioned townhouse community would be similar in size and scale to the Marshall Heights neighborhood to the south and the 104-unit townhome development now under construction at 7700 Leesburg Pike.
A concept plan shows approximately six blocks of townhouses connected by an internal grid of both public and private streets.
If the nomination is accepted for a full county staff review, the developer intends to file a development plan that will include open space, landscaping and buffers “to improve the quality of life for residents of the redeveloped site and for adjacent properties.”
Elm Street says its proposal will “add a housing type that contributes to the diversity of housing and price points in the area.” It also notes that the location provides convenient access to transit, the library, Marshall High School and retail options, like the Idylwood Plaza and Tysons Station shopping centers.
“The proximity of the McLean Community Business Center, the West Falls Church Transit Station Area and Tysons creates employment and entertainment opportunities,” the application said. “In addition, the proposed residential use will support existing retail use along Leesburg Pike.”
Elm Street’s SSPA nomination was one of dozens accepted for screening by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Dec. 6. The applications are now being more closely reviewed by staff and will be presented at community meetings throughout January and February.
Moby Dick’s time in McLean may be running out.
The kabob house and two nearby office buildings, including one that’s currently home to the McLean Medical Center, are being eyed for redevelopment, continuing a trend of commercial sites turning into housing.
In a rezoning application filed with Fairfax County on Friday (Dec. 23), property owner JAG Partners LLC has proposed replacing the restaurant at 6854 Old Dominion Drive and the office buildings at 6858 Old Dominion and 6861 Elm Street with a mid-rise, mixed-use residential building.
Named Astoria, the development will “create synergy and connection” with Mars Inc.’s pending global headquarters expansion next door on Elm Street, the application says.
“The proposed Astoria McLean redevelopment is mindfully designed to implement the vision expressed in the McLean CBC Plan for a more walkable, welcoming and functional downtown, with a more vibrant mix of uses that will add color and life while retaining the convenience of the legacy McLean Community Business Center,” Holland & Knight partner Michelle Rosati wrote in a statement of justification on the developer’s behalf.
Adopted by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in June 2021, the McLean CBC plan is intended to revitalize the downtown area by creating a core where taller, more intense buildings would be allowed compared to the strip shopping centers that dominate now.
The plan also calls for a network of green spaces, a shift from surface to garage parking, public art and housing that’s affordable to different income levels.
While some projects are in the works, such as the Mars expansion and Giant shopping center redesign, the plan hasn’t yet invited the surge in developer activity that the county sought and some residents feared.
JAG believes the proposed Astoria redevelopment could be a “catalyst” for making that vision become more of a reality, according to its application.
The developer bought the Moby Dick building, which dates back to 1968, for more than $1.8 million in 2018, according to county property records, which say the “price reflects anticipated redevelopment.” The Old Dominion office building was built in 1980 and purchased for $12.1 million in 2017.
The Elm Street property, which features a four-story office building built in 1979, is still owned by the Ramay Family Partnership, which has given its endorsement and consent to the redevelopment.
The redevelopment would demolish those existing buildings and construct a 287,042-square-foot, six-story residential building with 130 units and ground-floor commercial space, possibly an office and coffee shop or co-working space, per the submitted plan.
The office is intended to serve as a new home for McLean Medical Center’s primary and urgent care site, Rosati told FFXnow. While no large restaurant component is planned, it’s too early to know what exactly might go into the retail space.
A total of 12 units will be designated as workforce dwelling units. Eighteen units will be on the ground floor “to activate the ground plane with residential activity and energy,” according to the application.
“This proposal is unique in that it combines some ground-floor non-residential uses with ground-floor units, so that first floor space is not entirely retail or commercial,” Rosati said. “We believe that this mix will give the residents in the building a feeling of being more connected to the neighborhood.”
As part of the redevelopment, JAG has proposed a mid-block, paved pedestrian walkway to connect Old Dominion and Elm Street. Adjacent to the Mars property, the connection would feature outdoor seating, landscaping and a wall open for public art.
Residential amenities could include a courtyard with a swimming pool and lounge patio designed to mimic “the elegance of a boutique hotel.” Up to 254 parking spaces will be provided in underground garages, a “paradigm shift” from the existing surface parking lots.
“Overall, the proposed redevelopment will shift the Subject Property toward the greener, more pedestrian-oriented vision that is at the heart of the McLean CBC Plan,” Rosati wrote.
Photo via Google Maps
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.
A Richmond-based commercial law firm that dates back to the post-World War II era is inching closer to Tysons Galleria.
Citing a need for more space to accommodate its growth, Hirschler officially moved its Tysons office into a 12,200-square-foot suite at 1676 International Drive just before Thanksgiving, the company announced late last month.
The new space is about 3,000 square feet larger than the firm’s previous office at 8270 Greensboro Drive, according to a spokesperson.
“We have been looking forward to this move since we began exploring this amazing space on International Drive,” said Justine Fitzgerald, managing partner of Hirschler’s Tysons office. “The enthusiasm across our Tysons team from finally inhabiting our new office is already palpable. As we continue to make ourselves at home in the upcoming weeks, we are excited about the impact that the upgraded amenities, technology and collaborative space will have for our clients.”
Hirschler said the move was needed to allow “additional space for sustained growth” of its Northern Virginia and D.C. area operations.
Founded as Hirschler and Fleischer in 1946, the company established its Tysons office in 2016 as part of a merger with the local firm Leach Travell. The office handles business, bankruptcy, real estate, and litigation cases and has now grown to 17 attorneys, the press release said.
The expansion comes as many companies opt to downsize their offices in response to the rise of remote work during the pandemic. In the third quarter of 2022, 80% of Northern Virginia’s leasing activity involved spaces smaller than 10,000 square feet, and vacancies in the region rose to 19.1%, according to an office market report by Avison Young.
In Tysons, demand remains high for “high-end” trophy office space, developers said at a “Future of Tysons” panel earlier this month. The area has added 360,000 of Class-A office space this year, behind only Crystal City in Northern Virginia, Bisnow reported.
An economic study released in March 2021 predicted that Tysons will need at least 1.9 million square feet of new office space over the next 10 years, but it also found that the pipeline for office construction exceeded projected job growth.
Given the uncertainties of the office market and Fairfax County prioritizing affordable housing, developers in the Tysons area and beyond have increasingly focused on converting or replacing commercial properties with residential or mixed-use projects.
The county is also exploring the possibility of allowing vacant commercial spaces to be used as emergency shelter for people experiencing homelessness.
Developer EYA came to the Vienna Town Council with a plan to turn a long-vacant commercial into a new set of townhomes, but the Town Council warned that it isn’t willing to give up on office and commercial development just yet.
Tysons Edge, an office building at 901 Follin Lane, has gone through attempts to lease since 2013 and has been vacant since 2015. The 97,000 square foot office building has had $2 million worth of renovations poured into the building with little progress in attracting a new occupant.
The proposal from EYA tearing down the building and converting the property into a 115-unit townhome development — scaled down from 165 originally planned for the site.
The project would come with some added amenities, like a new small park attached to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.
But when the project came forward for discussion at a Vienna Town Council meeting on Oct. 17, the Council was decidedly mixed on the prospect of replacing the office building an entirely new use.
Council member Howard Springsteen said the financial benefits of the project promised by EYA amount to roughly the cost of one police office — a “drop in the bucket” — and said the change required to allow the development was tantamount to spot zoning.
“I don’t think we have a responsibility to bail out a landowner who is losing money,” Springsteen said. “I’m sympathetic to demographics changing and maybe we revisit this, but right now it’s a bad idea and I can’t support this… We’ll have to do all this for a zoning change because your owner can’t make money.”
Council member Ray Brill expressed concerns about building a housing development with only one exit lane, saying it wasn’t a proper spot for a housing development.
A recurring argument from the council was that the change would essentially signal the town giving up on the idea of office development. Despite the dramatic downturn in the office market caused by the pandemic, the Vienna Town Council said they’re not ready to recognize defeat.
The Town Council wasn’t unanimous in their disapproval of the project, however. Council member Chuck Anderson said the Town will have to be more open to making zoning more flexible.
“I understand the argument for diversity [of use], but if diversity means hanging on to a rapidly depreciating suburban commercial property that has no use and that the market has not really grasped a use for, I think we need to relook at that and see if we need to, not do spot zoning, but move the boundaries,” Anderson said.
Mayor Linda Colbert ultimately told EYA that the Town Council — in the politest possible terms — was not particularly interested in approving the project.
“At this time, thank you, and I think in the future perhaps,” Colbert said, “but I think right now we’re not moving that forward.”
The developer behind The Boro in Tysons is rethinking its plans to build a residential high-rise on what’s currently a parking lot in front of the mixed-use neighborhood.
In an Oct. 17 proposal to Fairfax County, The Meridian Group seeks to turn an approved 310-foot-tall residential tower into a 304-foot-tall office building — an unexpected shift when high office vacancies and demand for more housing has most developers moving in the opposite direction, as the Washington Business Journal noted.
The application still maintains housing as an option for the tower at 8399 Westpark Drive, known in development plans as Building B1:
- Option 1: A 304-foot-tall office building with up to 420,000 square feet of office and 20,000 square feet of ground-floor retail
- Option 2: A 357-foot-tall residential building with up to 425 multifamily dwelling units and 20,000 square feet of ground-floor retail
“The proposed office option will provide the Applicant with additional flexibility to respond to market fluctuations in its ongoing efforts to attract tenants to the Boro and Tysons as a whole,” Walsh Colucci attorney Robert Brant wrote in a statement of justification for Meridian.
In either scenario, the building would be paired with another high-rise labeled Building B2, a 395-foot-tall residential building with up to 550 multifamily dwelling units and up to 12,000 square of ground-floor retail.
“By preserving residential options for both Buildings B1 and B2, the Applicant retains the ability to attract more residents to a rapidly growing and highly desirable area of Tysons in close proximity to major employers, retailers, Metro, urban parks, and other attractive amenities,” Brant wrote.
If Meridian opts for offices in Building B1, it estimates that the development would generate 4,925 vehicle trips per day and host about 1,400 employees, based on the county’s standard ratio of one employee per 300 square feet of office.
The developer says it’s committed to making 55% of all trips undertaken by Metro, bus or walking.
With the application, Meridian is also requesting that the parking garage for the towers be connected to The Loft, the retail and office condominium building directly to their rear along Boro Place that was completed in 2019.
The parking garage will consist of eight above-grade levels and two underground levels. The developer says the podium could either be built all at once — where interim, private amenities would be provided for residents on the top level — or with the eastern portion under Building B2 coming in first.
In the latter case, the garage would serve Building B2’s residents and retail, while the remaining land on the western part of the block is used as a surface parking lot until the second phase is built with Building B1.
When fully built, The Boro will have five blocks with approximately 5 million square feet of development, 1.7 million of which was delivered with its completed first phase.
A developer that turns aging, underused office buildings into apartments designed for residential and work use has set its sights on a property in Tysons just east of the Capital Beltway.
Madison Highland hopes to repurpose the offices at 2000 Corporate Ridge into about 236 live/work units that would range in size from 500 to 2,000 square feet, according to a rezoning application recently submitted to Fairfax County.
Built in 1985, the 10-story office building is an ideal candidate for a live/work conversion, the developer says, citing its “sustained vacancy” and proximity to existing housing, offices and retail, including Tysons Corner Center just on the other side of the Beltway.
“These building and site improvements will transform an underperforming office building into a neighborhood amenity, providing this part of Tysons with a generational opportunity to secure forested natural park space and recreation areas that will also serve as a logical transition from the adjacent residential neighborhoods to nearby commercial amenities,” McGuireWoods land use planner Mike Van Atta wrote in a Sept. 12 statement of justification on the developer’s behalf.
First reported by the Washington Business Journal on Friday (Sept. 16), the proposal furthers Madison Highland’s plans to introduce more “live/work loft communities” to the D.C. area. The group formed this spring as a partnership between developers Madison Marquette and Highland Square Holdings.
The firms previously joined forces to build the Mission Lofts apartments in Bailey’s Crossroads and convert three buildings at the Skyline Center, a project that’s currently under construction. Fairfax County is also reviewing plans to turn two more Skyline buildings and a pair of Merrifield offices being vacated by Inova Health Systems into live/work residences.
In his statement, Van Atta says live/work conversions reflect shifting expectations for office space, as employers seek to accommodate an “unprecedented” rise in people working from home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2000 Corporate Ridge site already features sidewalks to Magarity Road, some trails and interior noise mitigation measures that were required when the county originally approved the office building, according to the application.
“This application seeks to build off of those commitments and retrofit the site to accommodate both the modern workplace expectations and necessary amenities for residential uses,” Van Atta wrote.
Proposed amenities include a new neighborhood park and pedestrian path that would be accessible to the general public as well as resident-only facilities, including a park with outdoor sports courts, a rooftop vegetable garden, and a boardwalk shaded by trees through an existing natural preserve space on the site.
According to the application, the apartments will retain a conference center, fitness room, and community kitchen that can already be found on the office building’s ground floor.
Parking will also be largely unchanged, with surface and garage spaces being restriped to provide 702 spots total — a decrease from the 895 spaces on the 8-acre site right now, according to the development plan.
The county’s Department of Planning and Development received the application on Thursday (Sept. 15) but hasn’t formally accepted it yet.
There has been no shortage of thinkpieces about how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed workplaces, from the waning demand for office space to widespread staffing deficits as workers reevaluated their goals and working conditions.
One trend that may be here to stay is the growing acceptance of remote work, with many people who can telework saying they would do it all or most of the time, if given the option.
While available, detailed data on remote work is limited, about a third of workdays are now being done from home, a decline from the height of office shutdowns in 2020 but well above pre-pandemic levels, The Washington Post reported in August.
According to the Post, remote work has been most prevalent in white-collar sectors, like finance and technology. Northern Virginia, including Fairfax County, is among the places with the highest remote-work rates.
Though many offices have reopened, commuting remains down in the D.C. region. In Virginia, 35.9% of businesses increased telework during the pandemic, and 64.7% of them intend to stick with it after the pandemic, the Northern Virginia Regional Commission says based on federal labor statistics.
Has the pandemic changed where or how you work? If you have the option to work remotely, are you taking advantage of it, or do you prefer going to a physical workplace?
Photo via Clay Banks/Unsplash
(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) A coworking company that advertises its flexible offices as “the future of workspace” is bringing that future to Merrifield.
Venture X has leased nearly 28,000 square feet of space on the third floor of Williams Crossing (3060 Williams Drive) and will open its first coworking location in Fairfax County on Jan. 2, 2023, the company announced last Wednesday (Aug. 10).
The site will offer private offices, shared desks, virtual office space, conference rooms, and a community and cafe area.
This will be Venture X’s fourth Virginia location, including one that opened in Arlington last year, and the second owned by Richie and Charissa Parsons, who also own a location at One Loudoun in Ashburn.
“After being open less than 10 months, our first location is almost at capacity,” Richie Parsons said in a press release. “So, we’ve been looking at options for expansion. When presented with the opportunity to open a Venture X in a highly desirable location next to Mosaic District, we knew this would be the perfect spot for our second location.”
Parsons highlighted the building’s relative proximity to the Mosaic District, I-495 and Route 50, and the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station as assets.
Founded in southwest Florida in 2012, Venture X is now a subsidiary of the United Franchise Group Coworks, which is the largest privately held coworking franchise in the world, according to the press release. It has almost 50 locations worldwide.
Venture X President Michael White said in a statement that the company is “thrilled” to see the Parsons bring a franchise to Merrifield, which he called “an ideal community” for the “contemporary, design-forward” concept.
“Our brand is geared towards business professionals looking for upscale surroundings,” White said. “The demand for more flexible workspace in Virginia continues to increase and this highly anticipated location is expected to enter the market around the end of this year.”