Thursday, September 29, 2011

Transforming Tysons Corner

by Emily Salomon, Center for Housing Policy

As part of a mobile workshop offered during the Solutions for Sustainable Communities conference, participants toured Tysons Corner in Fairfax County, Va., to learn first-hand about a massive redevelopment project that aims to transform a currently sprawling job center into a mixed-use center with affordable housing around five planned metrorail stops. Tysons Corner is a 1700-acre area currently consisting mostly of office parks, commerical strip malls, and two large indoor shopping malls. The Tysons Corner redevelopment aims to bring 200,000 jobs and 100,000 residents to the area, balancing out the existing housing/jobs mismatch and providing opportunities for households of all incomes near transit.

Mobile workshop participants survey a scale
model of the Tysons Corner area
During the bus ride out to Tysons, mobile workshop guides, Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth and Michelle Krocker, Executive Director of the Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance, provided an overview of the five-year, multi-stakeholder planning efforts to develop and approve a Comprehensive Plan for Tysons. Ms. Krocker spoke of her involvement on the Tysons Corner Affordable Housing Task Force and to ensure affordable housing was considered as an integral part of the redevelopment. The plan requires that 20 percent of all residential development in Tysons Corner serve households within 50 to 120 percent of area median income. To support this goal, the Fairfax Board of Supervisors approved a linkage fee of $3 per square foot of non-residential developent in Tysons, which is also included in the plan.

Passing through the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor in Arlington County, a nationally recognized example of transit-oriented development, Mr. Schwartz described how Fairfax County is modeling their redevelopment effforts off of the success of the development activity in its neighboring county.

In Tysons, the tour witnessed the construction of the Metrorail extension that already begun, along with the large office parks and surface parking lots that dominate the area. The group visited the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project offices to view a scaled model of the entire Tysons area to fully grasp the scope of the redevelopment project and location of the future metro stops. There, the group was joined by Linda Hollis of the Fairfax County Planning & Zoning Department, and Jim Edmondson of the E&G Group, a local housing development firm. Ms. Hollis presented on plans to rezone existing parcels of land to fit the overall vision for the area and provided many renderings of what is planned for various parcels within Tysons Corner. Mr. Edmondson discussed the challenges of meeting the County’s affordability requirements, pointing to examples of how partnering with the city and leveraging the linkage fee can overcome some of these challenges.

The Transforming Tysons Corner mobile workshop was information-packed, and provided the opportunity to see first-hand how the key themes of Solutions for Sustainable Communities are being applied on the ground to create a more sustainable and equitable Tysons Corner.

NHC and the Center would like to thank Jim Edmondson, Linda Hollis, Michelle Krocker, Stewart Schwartz, and Emily Shaw of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project for their cooperation in this mobile workshop.

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