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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tysons Corner expansion will have huge impact on Annandale

Developers display plans
for Tysons Corner.
Whatever happens to Annandale in the next few years, one thing is clear: Living in the shadows of a growing city will have a huge impact.

An open house on the plans for “Transforming Tysons” June 15 at Springhill Elementary School offered a glimpse of some of the proposed high-density developments that will take advantage of the new silver Metro line through Tysons Corner to Dulles airport.

The plan approved by the Board of Supervisors a year ago calls for Tysons to have 200,000 jobs and 100,000 residents by 2050, said Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust of the Dranesville District. It now has 100,000 jobs and 17,000 residents.

The plan includes a new network of streets, a circulator bus linking the four new Metro stations with offices and shopping, and design guidelines for new buildings.

The tallest buildings will probably have about 33 stories, Foust said, with the tallest ones closest to the Metro stations. So far, he said, 12 developers have submitted zoning applications; none have been approved yet, although some have been accepted for processing.

Among the proposed projects on display at the open house was Capital One’s plan for 4.5 million square feet of mixed use development on land it owns next to its headquarters building between the beltway and Route 123.

The project would be 50 percent office space and 35 percent multifamily residential, with the rest consisting of a hotel, community center, and retail, said project manager Chris Ewing. It wouldn’t be completed for 20 to 30 years, depending on market conditions.

The CARS/Tysons West Metro project, next to the Metro station at the intersection of Leesburg Pike and Springhill Road, would have a 200,000 square-foot hotel, 2.14 million square feet of office space, and 2,000 apartments or condos, said a representative from the developer, Lincoln Property Co. Capital Automotive REIT owns the land, which is occupied by Mazda, Nissan, and Jaguar dealers. The dealers’ leases don’t expire until 2018, so this project is a long way off, too.

The SAIC/Dittman “Solutions Plaza” development, proposed for a property between Greensboro Drive, Westpark Drive, and Leesburg Pike, calls for 3.5 million square feet of office space and 2,000 condos or apartments next to the SAIC building, said Chris Brigham of the Dittmar Co. An outdated office building on the property would be converted to a hotel.

The biggest challenges for the board of supervisors are “to ensure all the pieces are there and come together in a way that fulfills our vision for Tysons Corner” and to figure out “how we are going to provide the infrastructure,” Foust said.

Noting that “the state reneged on its responsibility to provide a transportation network,” he said, the county has to come up with a plan to provide the needed roads and related infrastructure because “we can’t count on the state.”

The county plan calls for two new elementary schools and expansions to existing middle and high schools. Because of the higher density planned for Tysons, fewer families are projected.

The Tysons Corner portion of a new county master plan for bike transportation will go to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors this fall. The rest of the plan is still about 18 months away from being finalized, said Charles Strunk, the county bicycle program coordinator.

Just getting to Tysons Corner will likely continue to be a challenge. A planned express bus that will run on the beltway HOT lanes between the Springfield interchange and Tysons Corner is not expected to stop in Annandale. The best way to get from Annandale to Tysons are the 401 and 402 buses which travel along Gallows Road, said Leonard Wolfenstein, chief planner in the Fairfax County Department of Transportation. “It’s the heaviest-used bus in the county,” he said. It runs every 15 minutes, seven days a week.

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