Inside The Boro, The Project Aiming To Usher In Tysons' Mixed-Use Renaissance
The pipeline of mixed-use developments planned around Tysons' four Metro stops has the potential to make the area more walkable, and the long-awaited, 15-acre project that just delivered near the Greensboro station shows how that vision could materialize.
The Boro began welcoming its first apartment residents in recent weeks, and all but one of its office tenants have begun moving in. The development, built by The Meridian Group and Kettler, features apartment buildings reaching 32 and 13 floors, a 25-story condo building, a 20-story trophy office tower and a five-story boutique office building.
But what makes the project stand out among its Tysons neighbors is far below its new skyline.
The Tysons area, while having one of the largest office markets in the country, is centered around cars without walkable, urban-style places. Local officials and business groups have sought to improve Tysons' walkability and change that perception, and the developers behind The Boro think they have provided a prime example of what can be done with the area's old office parks.
"We see The Boro as a poster child of what the Tysons Partnership and Fairfax County has been trying to achieve," Meridian Group Chief Investment Officer Gary Block said. "We believe it is a model that makes our project more akin to areas within the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor than a traditional Tysons suburban office park."
The project's first phase has 250K SF of retail, including the region's largest Whole Foods, a 14-screen movie theater and a series of restaurants and shopping options. Connecting the retailers are a series of parks, plazas and pedestrian-friendly streets.
The development's largest public space is Boro Park, a centrally located square with green turf, a small retail kiosk and amphitheater-style steps. The park has space for a stage where the development team plans to host outdoor concerts.
The main retail corridor is Boro Place, which sits between the five-story office building and the multifamily buildings. The street has wide sidewalks with outdoor seating for some of its restaurants, including Flower Child, a health food concept that opened this week. Directly across from Flower Child is North Italia, an Italian dining concept from the same restaurant group.
Boro Place also features the entrance to Whole Foods. The grocer's 70K SF space represents its largest store in the region, which is preparing for an Oct. 30 opening.
The Boro Tower office building and Showplace ICON movie theater building also have ground-floor retail spaces that the development team is working to fill. In between the two buildings is a landscaped public plaza with seating areas.
"We believe through the retail, residential and office mix, together with the public open spaces ... we will have a cohesive neighborhood vibe, an urban core feel," Block said.
The development team's placemaking strategy has centered around its ability to deliver the entire 1.7M SF first phase at once. The simultaneous delivery of several buildings and retailers, reminiscent of The Wharf's grand opening, allows it to build a critical mass of activity.
"We have the opportunity to develop it in one fell swoop," Meridian Group Vice President Tom Boylan said. "It was not easy, but we achieved it, and it created a place from the outset. Phase 1 in and of itself is a destination that is viable on its own, with a healthy mix of uses and a healthy balance of public and private space, all of which was meticulously designed to connect to each other and to the Metro and to the surrounding community."
The Boro has additional phases planned, but the team hasn't yet announced a development timeline. The 15-acre site is approved for 1,500 residential units, 1.3M SF of office space and 400K SF of retail. The Meridian Group has also acquired multiple office buildings around The Boro, but it hasn't disclosed what it plans to do with them.
For now, Block said the development team is focusing on leasing up the project's completed residential buildings, filling up its retail spaces and stabilizing the first phase.
The three residential buildings — a 400-unit high-end apartment tower, a 133-unit boutique apartment building and a 140-unit condo tower — are connected by a 1-acre "sky park" on the ninth story that sits above the parking garage.
The park features an outdoor theater, a bar, grilling stations, fire pits, a bocce court, a cornhole set, table tennis and a host of seating areas.
The buildings have two outdoor pools, one on the 27th floor of the Rise apartment tower and one on the ninth floor for residents of the Bolden apartment building and the Verse condo tower.
Inside, the multifamily buildings have multiple lounge areas with bars, games and seating, entertainment kitchens and fitness centers with yoga studios.
Shalom Baranes Associates served as the architect for the residential buildings, while Perkins Eastman was the interior designer for Rise and RD Jones + Associates was the interior designer for Bolden. Cecconi Simone worked on the interior design of the Verse condos, and The Mayhood Co. is leading the sales effort. LandDesign, the landscape architect on the project, designed the outdoor public spaces and the ninth floor sky park.
The 20-story office building has several amenities of its own. Designed by Gensler, Boro Tower features a fitness center, locker rooms, a bicycle storage room and a rooftop terrace. Rockefeller Group partnered on the Boro Tower as part of its expansion into the D.C. region.
Tegna, the first office tenant to sign on in 2016, has a private indoor space on the rooftop, while the rest is available to all tenants. Tegna also has signage on the top of the building's south side, while KPMG will have signage on the north side.
The building has landed several additional tenants, including law firms Hogan Lovells and Womble Bond Dickinson and technology company Alion. Coworking provider Spaces signed on for two floors in the five-story office building. CBRE has led the office leasing efforts in the development.
With the majority of the office tenants now moved in, residents quickly filling up the buildings and retailers opening nearly every week, Boylan said it is satisfying to see the project he has worked on for more than five years come to life.
"It's why I'm in real estate," Boylan said. "It's the only point in the process where you feel like you finally accomplished something, when you see people enjoying what you built."