Capital One seeks revisions to Tysons plan

Capital One Bank is proposing to build a Capital One Center with a 1,500-seat performing-arts auditorium, two classrooms and "black box" theater space at the company's headquarters site just north of the McLean Metro station.

Fairfax County supervisors on July 11 unanimously and enthusiastically approved Capital One Bank’s revised plans to add a multi-use performing-arts center and Wegmans grocery store to its Tysons headquarters campus.

“All I can say is, ‘Wow!’” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D).

Instead of the 30,000-square-foot, publicly operated community center Capital One proffered five years ago, the bank put a more tantalizing offer on the table: a 125,000-square-foot Capital One Center, which would have a 1,500-seat auditorium for corporate training and performing-arts events, a 225-seat “black box” performance space and two classrooms, which could be combined into one if needed.

“It’s really going to be a pretty breathtaking facility,” Antonio Calabrese, an attorney representing Capital One, predicted of the $120 million building. “I think we’ve got a strong consensus for what this building will be capable of.”

The center’s grand lobby and mezzanine space will be reminiscent of the Kennedy Center, Calabrese added.

Under an agreement supervisors also approved at the meeting, Capital One would make the performing-arts center’s main hall available to the county for 30 days per season, or 10 percent of its total use. The black-box space would be available to the public for 70 days per season (20 percent of the total time) and each of the two classrooms could be used publicly 110 days per year (30 percent of the total time).

Supervisors in 2012 agreed to the bank’s plans to build 4.9 million square feet of mixed-use space at the 24.6-acre site and, two years, later approved a height increase for the new headquarters skyscraper, which at 470 feet will be the tallest building in Tysons.

Capital One this spring submitted plans to develop an additional 243,000 square feet for a total of about 5.2 million square feet at the site, which is bounded by Route 123, Interstate 495 and Scotts Crossing Road.

The Capital One Center would be located on the site’s Block C along with an 80,000-square-foot Wegmans, which would use an urban design about two-thirds the size of one of the chain’s regular stores.

The block’s 10-story parking garage would be topped by a Common Green with public and private recreational amenities, including a dog park with a dog-washing station.

Block D’s build-out will represent a $1 billion investment in the county, Calabrese said.

Capital One’s revised plans will generate the need for about 0.91 athletic fields, county officials said. The bank will satisfy 0.5 of a field using an off-site arrangement, and build a pair of 60-by-90-foot fields atop a parking garage of the site’s Block E. Those fields will be suitable for young children and may be combined into one field for slightly older players.

Capital One also will provide a temporary 120-by-180-foot field with natural turf on Block D.

The site’s fields are intended first and foremost to serve Tysons residents, said Andrea Dorlester, manager of park planning for the Fairfax County Park Authority.

McLean Citizens Association board member Rob Jackson cited recent resolutions passed by the organization, which called on Capital One to increase the amount of publicly available parkland at the site, as well as public access to the performing-arts center and other facilities.

Jackson also reiterated MCA’s desire that the Board of Supervisors press Tysons landowners to provide land and construct a community center at an alternative location. If not, county officials should create a small tax district for such a facility in East Tysons, he said.

Supervisor Catherine Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) said the new performing-arts center will fulfill the wishes of her late board colleague, Elaine McConnell (R-Springfield).

“I hope the mix we have created works well for public involvement,” Hudgins added. “We’ll be advancing our commitment to the arts in a significant way.”

The area’s arts community is excited about the new center, said Linda Sullivan, president and CEO of the Arts Council of Fairfax County. “Many think Fairfax County is under-built as far as art and cultural amenities,” she said.

Supervisor Linda Smyth (D-Providence), who three years ago discussed with Capital One’s leaders the possibility of building a performing-arts center at the site, said the situation was an unusual opportunity.

“This is an experiment, let’s be frank about it,” she said. “This site is unique. We may never get another shot like this in Tysons or perhaps Fairfax County.”

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