2006-12-15, 10:21

Tysons Corner and mixed use?

By: Jonathan Groner
The Tysons Corner area of Northern Virginia is one of the most spectacularly successful retail and office districts in the nation. It features upscale shopping malls and restaurants, high-tech companies, law firms, accounting firms, consulting firms, defense contractors, and on and on. It's a center of wealth and productivity. What it is not is a planned "downtown" of any sort or a rail or bus destination. Virtually everyone who goes there drives a car. The traffic jams at all hours of the day are daunting. Mixed use and the new urbanism are not exactly present in Tysons. But now they're at least on the radar screen, as a new redevelopment plan strongly urges mixed-use, mass transit-oriented planning that would create a "new Tysons."

In a Dec. 7, 2006, op-ed in The Washington Post, Dale Peck, a supporter of the redevelopment plan and a former chairman of the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, writes:


The people of Fairfax County want Tysons to become a true downtown. In fact, 82 percent of our residents feel that an urban center would add to the county's quality of life. Asked to rate the appeal of specific traits of urbanized areas, county residents called the following highly appealing: (1) "easy to get around on foot"; (2) "good access to mass transit"; (3) "interesting cultural attractions and nightlife"; and (4) "a good mix of office, retail, entertainment, and restaurants." The plan for the redeveloped Tysons Corner Center meets these expectations.

The plan is for a vibrant mix of residential, commercial and retail uses. It would be a pedestrian-friendly place that encourages connectivity to the Metro station and other transportation alternatives to the automobile. The plans include accessible streetscapes, public spaces, performing-arts areas, recreational uses -- even a dog park -- to create the "sense of place" that defines great urban neighborhoods and is lacking in today's Tysons.


We will see what happens. Just the thought of construction tearing up Tysons for another five years or so is a bit troubling. But it's hard to imagine things just going on as they are now. We will start seeing gridlock at 3 p.m. every afternoon.

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