The chairman of Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors says she’s heartened by the pace of redevelopment in Tysons, but is asking local residents to take the long-term view in judging the effort.
“It’s something that is going to develop over many years. People need to be patient,” Sharon Bulova (D) said during the Northern Virginia Elected Leaders Summit, a Sept. 6 forum sponsored by a coalition of business groups.
Bulova called the effort to transform the Tysons corridor into a full-fledged, multi-use neighborhood a “textbook case of how to engage the community.”
“Could we have done something different? I don’t think so,” Bulova said under questioning from moderator Peggy Fox of WUSA-TV.
“I think Tysons is a success,” she said.
Bulova’s comments come a little over seven years after the Board of Supervisors approved a Comprehensive Plan amendment setting the stage for the next wave of development in Tysons. The update aimed to take advantage of the coming of Metro’s Silver Line rail service through the corridor, with a goal of turning Tysons into the home of 100,000 residents and 200,000 jobs by 2050.
The plan amendment came after five years of community discussion and input, setting the stage for a building boom that continues unabated.
The effort thus far has not been without controversy, as there has been sparring over specific projects and some concerns raised about the pace of quality-of-life improvements in the corridor.
Walkability remains a concern. “You take your life in your hands” at some intersections, Fox said.
Bulova countered that streetscape plans call for narrower roads that will be easier for those on foot to cross.
“So you will not have the large boulevards that are impossible to get across,” she said.
Watching from the audience as Bulova made her pitch to the local business community was Vienna Mayor Laurie DiRocco, whose town has more than a passing interest in the future of neighboring Tysons.
“Both Vienna and, I would say, McLean want to see Tysons to be successful,” DiRocco said.
Will it be?
“It’s an evolving process,” DiRocco said, expressing optimism that Fairfax officials will hold property owners to their promises and “make sure the infrastructure is in place” when it is promised.
A longer-term question could be whether residents and leaders of the new, larger Tysons will be content to remain what is in effect a subdivision of Fairfax County, or would seek to control their own destiny by becoming a town or city.
Either case would run up against hurdles; receiving General Assembly approval to become a town would mean Fairfax County would retain most of its taxing authority over the corridor, but becoming a city would result in that power being lost.