Those of you who frequent the west side of Route 7 might have noticed there has been a noticeable change over the past month. Where temporary construction fence screening and cranes used to be, now stands a fully developed, atleast externally, retail project that looks ready to open. It’s been a while since we checked back in with Tysons West.
The project has become the focal point for some critics of Tysons Corner development, specifically when some wrongly blamed the project for anticipated future traffic which has Fairfax County reviewing ramp proposals through a cherished natural area along the Tysons boundary.
“I spoke up in that meeting,” says Jay Klug, principal with JBGR. “We suggested that option 0, none of the options, would be better. Fundamentally we need more road connectivity, Boone Boulevard’s extension into the grid would provide that. I wish that would be more of the focus”. The project has community in mind and hopes that it can win over some critics.
Although Phase 1 of Tysons West lacks some of the urban high rise glamour of other projects planned in Tysons, the end result will be a mixed use development with a new, badly needed grocery store, restaurants, service retail, mid-rise and high-rise residential options that is at the heart of the comprehensive plans concept. The amazing transformation of the existing parking garage into a retail space, which incorporates high end architectural finishes may not have skyscraper fans foaming at the mouth, but the execution of architectural firm MV&A’s vision by engineers at LF Jennings and SK&A garners the respect of those who have worked in the construction field.
“The structural modifications to create the retail space were an engineering feat which took a 30 step plan to phase in the new structural design,” says Klug. “It’s one of the things we are most proud of”.
Tysons West submitted a rezoning CDP last summer (2011) and is looking to resubmit after some discussion with county staff this month. “We want to move on to our second phase, the 350 residential rental units, next. A lot of the delays that have occurred have been transportation related and ramp studies. A lot of the decisions being made right now are based on transportation models 10, 20, or 30 years from now. On one hand that is the job of planners. On the other hand its just numbers right now… but they have major impacts”.
Tysons West has some major benefits in its favor. The location to major road ways and the metro system provides multiple transportation options. The existing residential neighborhood will be able to support early retail. However, the project’s greatest asset could be the ability to start phase 1 of the multi-phased project with a grocery and amenities core, something that will make marketing and financing later stages of the project far easier.
Beyond the Wal-mart will be a 24-hour fitness (with nicer windows than any gym I have ever seen), several small retail tenants, and a significant office presence. JBGR expects Phase 1 will have most of its tenants in place by late summer 2013, well in advance of the metro. Currently, the overall 16 acre site’s rezoning is scheduled for board hearing this coming June.
“By this time next year all the kinks should be almost completely stabilized and we should start to see a fully functional site”.