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With Metro And Mixed-Use, Tysons Changed Dramatically Last Decade

The last decade was a period of rapid transformation in Tysons, with the opening of four new Metro stations, the tallest building in the D.C. region and major mixed-use projects like The Boro.  Developers say it is just the beginning. 

The Boro, with the residential buildings in the background and Boro Park in the foreground.

"Tysons has changed very dramatically," said Meridian Group Chief Investment Officer Gary Block, who will speak Jan. 16 at Bisnow's Future of Tysons event. "It is probably one of the more transformational submarkets in the D.C. Metro area, if not the country."

Meridian Group, Kettler and Rockefeller Group late last year delivered The Boro at the Greensboro Metro Station. The development's first phase features three high-rise multifamily buildings, a trophy office tower, a boutique office building, a 14-screen movie theater, 250K SF of retail anchored by the region's largest Whole Foods and a host of public spaces.

The Boro's style of walkable, mixed-use development is new for Tysons, which has long been dominated by stand-alone office buildings and highways. Block noted that Tysons was already one of the biggest office markets in the U.S. before The Boro delivered, giving his team a solid foundation upon which to build. 

"We viewed it as creating a walkable, urban place on Metro and we believe we could create something transformational because were already starting with the 11th-largest office market, we didn’t have to do it from scratch," Block said. "That's what's so unique about Tysons relative to some other places."

Capital One's 470-foot-tall headquarters building at the McLean Metro station in Tysons, Va.

The vision of Tysons becoming more than a suburban office hub took a key step forward at the beginning of the last decade, when Fairfax County adopted a new Comprehensive Plan that allowed for high-density, mixed-use development around the four planned Silver Line stations. 

The next major milestone took place in 2014 with the opening of the four new Metro stations: McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro and Spring Hill. The next five years saw a series of massive developments move forward around those transit hubs. 

The wave of development included what is now the tallest building in the region, with Capital One's new headquarters, opening at the McLean Metro station in 2018. 

Capital One's 470-foot-tall office tower highlights a mixed-use development also slated to include a Wegmans grocery store, a 1,600-seat performing arts center, a 300-seat black box theater, plus additional office and residential buildings. 

But the tower's title as the tallest in the region may not last long, thanks to another project planned in Tysons. 

A rendering of the View at Tysons development, featuring the 600-foot Iconic Tower.

Clemente Development received approval in October for its 3M SF View at Tysons development, featuring a 600-foot-tall office tower, at the Spring Hill Metro station. 

"Every great city has a great skyline," Clemente Development President Juliann Clemente said. "You think about Paris, New York, London, all the great cities in the world and they all have great skylines. I think Tysons has an opportunity to create a really captivating landscape of interesting buildings, interesting uses, interesting heights, interesting architecture and infrastructure."

The View at Tysons development is planned to include 1.4M SF of office, 1.1M SF of residential, a 300K SF hotel, 110K SF of retail and a black box theater centered around a public plaza. 

"Tysons needs a city center and a heartbeat," Clemente said. "And it needs a Rockefeller Center-type Christmas tree where you get off Metro and land at a Christmas tree with an ice skating rink, and we have that planned at the View."

A rendering of the central plaza at Clemente's The View at Tysons development.

Clemente also has another major project planned nearby at 8500 Leesburg Pike, where it plans to redevelop an office building site into 1,400 units of workforce housing. The emergence of the residential market has been one of the most significant changes in Tysons in recent years, Clemente said, as mixed-use developments created an environment where people wanted to stay after work. 

"It used to be a wasteland after 5 p.m., you’d come to Tysons Corner at night and there'd be nobody here, the buildings were empty, the roads were empty, the mall was busy, but beyond that there wasn't anything to do," Clemente said. "Now you've got The Boro with a movie theater and you’ve got all kinds of evening activities and things to do. People want to be in the space."

Clemente said developers and local leaders need to focus on creating walkable, urban places where young people will want to live. She said her daughter, who is in her 20s, recently bought a property in Arlington's Courthouse neighborhood. When Clemente asked her why she bought there instead of in Tysons, she said her answers highlighted the importance of improving an area's walkability. 

"They want places to walk dogs, walk to the grocery store and to their friends' apartments," Clemente said. "They want to be safe, be entertained and be able to experience the outdoors and indoors and walk around with their kids and baby strollers and do things you do in a neighborhood without having to get in a car and drive somewhere."

The Whole Foods at The Boro, fronting Boro Place.

The Boro has achieved success in leasing apartments and selling condos to young people, Block said. He said The Boro's 533 apartments and 140 condos have thus far achieved a faster leasing and sales pace and higher prices than other comparable residential projects in Tysons, but he declined to provide specific absorption numbers. 

"It’s a great mix," Block said. "You’re seeing young couples, millennials, empty nesters and wealthy people who would like to have a place near where they work." 

The development team is not done building at The Boro, which is ultimately planned to include 1,500 residential units, 1.3M SF of office space and 400K SF of retail. Block said the success of the first phase, including the lease-up of the 20-story Boro Tower office building, makes him bullish on the prospect of additional development on the 15-acre site. 

"We could start the next phase of office; we're ready to go," Block said. "Phase 1 played out exactly as we thought, and it gives us a lot of confidence to move forward with Phase 2." 

Gary Block and Juliann Clemente will speak Jan. 16 at Bisnow's Future of Tysons event, held at Boro Tower.