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All About the Incredible New Tysons

Jerry Gordon’s been seeing Tysons for 32 years. It’s changed a lot, like when Gannett and Capital One arrived. But the next five years, he says, will represent by far the biggest leap it's ever taken. That’s why we’re excited to be holding our “Tysons Tidal Wave” event tomorrow morning, Jan. 28. (It'll be at the McLean Hilton. Please join us!)

Jerry (snapped yesterday in his Fairfax office) appears to be GM of the Yankees, but actually is president of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. He says the Silver Line is the driver of the new epoch. Two examples: Cvent decided to keep its big Tysons presence because of it. And Intelsat moved its huge office from DC for the same reason. In the next 30 years, Tysons is aiming to double or triple its 100k workers and more than quintuple its 17k residents. That would make it a real city. Not just an "edge city." 

By the way, Jerry’s even smarter than you knew. He’s coming out with his 15th book this summer on what makes cities and regions grow. (Above, the cover of his last one in 2013. Channing Tatum will be playing Jerry in the movie version.) How did Jerry become a literary giant? True story: One day his mom said, “Do something positive and stay out of the pool hall.” Being a good son, he enrolled at Catholic and got a PhD. (Backstory: Jerry really did used to play a lot of pool.)

We visited Aaron Georgelas both to get both Lay potato chips and the lay of the land from his 10th floor office on Greensboro Drive. To help us visualize the "New Tysons," he suggests we think of it as four villages-to-be, each associated with a new Metro station and some main developers and landmarks:

1. McLean Station: Scott’s Run and Arbor Row from CityLine; The Common from LCOR; and Capital One’s new 40-story HQ. Also known as “Tysons East,” it'll be the first stop in Tysons for exotic visitors from DC.

2. Tysons Corner Station: The traditional core (also known as "Tysons Central/123"), encompassing Macerich’s Tysons I (on the other side of the Metro tracks) and Lerner’s Tysons II, in the foreground. Each is putting up new office buildings, plus Lerner will be doing two 31-story residential towers in the grassy upper left corner of that intersection, and Kettler is developing and managing the 31-story VITA apartments for Macerich.

Lerner’s longtime PwC building, where the popular Founding Farmers will be opening its biggest location (12k SF, 262 seats) late next week. (We took this picture from 1750 Tysons Blvd aka the Palm restaurant building). What a difference economic and cultural cycles make. Do you Virginians recall Inox, a fine dining venture of the former 2941 chef that opened six years ago and closed within 18 months? Great food, but it failed in the recession due to high prices and changing tastes. Now a more organic and accessibly priced replacement, in a restaurant-crazy era in the thick of Tysons reinvention, is expected to do booming business.

3. Greensboro Station: Many are redeveloping the Clyde’s area” or "Tysons Central/Rte 7" along a very prominent, highly trafficked area of Leesburg Pike. Meridian is doing as much as 18 acres on the old SAIC campus, and Dittmar is doing a five acre Westpark Plaza. Federal Realty and Avalon Bay will be building on the south side of Rte 7. And NVCommercial has a site for development called "Tysons Central 7."

4. Spring Hill Station: Georgelas, JBG and Perseus are all planning major mixed-use. Greystar is doing residential described below. The area is also known as “Tysons West”; stay on the Silver Line and you sail off to Reston.

5. A couple other pockets. Fairfax Square (y'know, Hermes and Tiffany) and the Gallows Road area on the "other side" of Rte 7 will enhance their walkability and provide access to the first four Tysons areas via circulator buses. MRP’s Tysons Overlook, near the Gannett/USA Today campus, is well-located at Jones Branch and the Hot Lanes. And nearby, PS Business Parks is partnering with Kettler on a phased redevelopment of nearly 40 acres, including 400 apartments to break ground in the next 90 days.

Tysons Partnership chief Michael Caplin showed us on Friday one of 127 new Tysons flags (with a peach in the logo—because during the Civil War the area was actually known as “Peach Grove”). They will go on 127 new light poles on Rte 7 between the Toll Road and International Drive, welcoming visitors (and prospective residents).

Michael points to some of the 26M SF of office space and 6M SF of retail in Tysons. He’ll need a new map when 45 million more that’s currently planned or contemplated arrives. Sure, Capital One, Freddie Mac, Gannett, Hilton, Booz Allen, MicroStrategy, Northrop, MITRE, PwC, SAIC and Sunrise Senior Living are amazing companies to host in the area. But Tysons seems to have the attitude, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

Multifamily geared to Millennials has been such a big part of the Tysons story, we wanted to see it up close. We snapped this of Greystar's 400-unit luxury apartment house called Ascent, in the Spring Hill area; it's underway as well with another one of similar size, the Adaire, a few blocks away.

Meanwhile, Michael Caplin has an idea for making Tysons even more fun: commissioning artists to paint underneath the Metro. This is just his Photoshop effort to give you the idea. Another vision: statues of pioneers of Tysons, except instead of old generals on horseback like in DC, maybe modern heroes like Gerry Halpin, Til Hazel and Ted Lerner holding shovels. And maybe down the road, a statue of Jerry Gordon shooting pool.