Contact Us

Tysons Is Rapidly Sprouting Mixed-Use Destinations. The Problem Is They're In Silos

Developers are pushing ahead with the next wave of projects in Tysons. 

Mixed-use megaproject The Boro is under construction on a new phase. The redevelopment of the Lord & Taylor at Tysons Corner Center received Fairfax County approval in September, and senior living high-rise The Mather opened to its first residents this winter.

While these projects are adding a dense mix of uses, developers worry they aren't sufficiently connected to each other. Ten years after the Silver Line accelerated Tysons' growth by bringing four new Metro stations to the area, efforts are still underway to link together sections of the 4.3-square-mile Northern Virginia submarket.

Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh’s Bob Brant, The Meridian Group’s Gary Block, Macerich’s Hillary Zahm, SCG Development’s Stephen Wilson and Mather LifeWays’ Gale Morgan

There has been some progress, but Tysons still needs many more crosswalks, bridges and public pathways before it realizes its vision of a connected urban place, developers said Thursday at Bisnow’s Future of Tysons event.

"As we’re going forward, and as Macerich, TMG, SCG [Development] and The Mather are going forward creating these communities, creating these amazing projects, it’s important that they be unique and be different and stand alone, but it’s also important that they fit together," Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh Shareholder Bob Brant said.

The Meridian Group has one of the most ambitious developments in Tysons: The Boro, a 5M SF mixed-use project with residential, retail, office and public space. More residential, retail, triplexes and senior living phases are planned and moving forward. 

"Tysons, for itself, I don’t think can reach its potential if we just have four or more separate places," TMG Chief Investment Officer Gary Block said at Thursday's event, held at the DoubleTree by Hilton McLean Tysons. 

Nearby, The Mather, a 62-plus community, opened its two towers totaling 179 units in March. The goal of the development was to create a less traditional style of senior living, one that placed residents within a vibrant mixed-use area and neighborhood amenities to complement its in-house services. 

But that goal depends on the residents being able to easily get around the area safely. 

"They do want more crosswalks," Mather LifeWays Senior Vice President Gale Morgan said, adding that the first thing the developer did was put in a crosswalk at The Mather site.

Lerner Enterprises holds large parcels of land in the area that have yet to be developed, including the next phase of Tysons II, poised to include office, hospitality and retail. That undeveloped site is between Tysons Corner Center and the Tysons Galleria mall, making pedestrian mobility between the two today a circuitous trek. 

At the moment, development has to take place for the surrounding vehicular and pedestrian interconnectivity infrastructure to come in. 

"As opposed to development creating the grid — that could be 30 years — wouldn’t it be nice if there was some infrastructure put in before that?" Block said. 

Holland & Knight’s David Schneider, Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing’s Mitch Crispell, Tysons Community Alliance’s Katie Cristol and Fairfax County Economic Development Authority’s Victor Hoskins

International Drive is one of those areas that could use a connectivity upgrade, Macerich Vice President of Development Hillary Zahm said. 

With its Lord & Taylor redevelopment, Macerich plans to prioritize the "pedestrian ground plane experience," FFXNow reported, building a crosswalk across Route 123 with pedestrian signals and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant curb ramps. 

"Today it feels like two sides of an island," Zahm said. 

She said officials are attuned to the connectivity gap and are pushing developers to produce a more interconnected environment for Tysons. 

"When you go through entitlements, the county is going to tell you not only to create sidewalks and connections on your property but on neighboring properties," she said. 

An effort to steer Tysons from a car-centric market to a multimodal one has been in the works for decades. The 2010 comprehensive plan outlined a goal of making Tysons a "walkable, green urban center" by 2050. 

There has been progress. The Virginia Department of Transportation built a pedestrian bridge across I-495, connecting the Tysons Corner Center shopping center and residential communities, which opened in 2022. 

"We just couldn't cross for years," Zahm said.

Though the comprehensive plan’s long-term vision is still more than 25 years from completion, panelists said people moving into Tysons are seeking those upgrades now, and the improvements could help attract more residents and businesses. 

"Tysons is huge. It’s an enormous land area," Zahm said. "So we’re going to need different neighborhoods, but connecting those neighborhoods is going to continue to be an issue."