Despite Silver Line delays, developers plot 45 million square feet of development in Tysons

The first phase of CityCenterDC in downtown D.C. is nearly complete and at six buildings and 1.3 million square feet, it is nearly the largest mixed-use project ever built in the District.

But CityCenter would be little more than a rounding error in Tysons Corner.

The pipeline of development around the four Tysons Metro stations, according to a recently released report, is 45.3 million square feet, the equivalent of about 35 CityCenters.

Work in Tysons will be spread over many years but with the Silver Line expected to open in early 2014 (when exactly is anyone’s guess), there is already 3.7 million square feet under construction around the four Tysons stations: McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro and Spring Hill, according to research from the real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield.

Investors are putting up money to erect all types of buildings near the new stations. Although there were few high-rise residential buildings built in Tysons before construction began on the Silver Line, about 2,185 rental apartments have been recently completed or are under construction near the four stations now.

New office buildings are also being built, with companies from the District, McLean and elsewhere lined up to move in. Two hotels are under construction. A Wal-Mart is already open and grocery stores including Wegmans are looking for their own locations.

Millennials seeking lively, walkable environments are driving investment firms to pour huge dollars into Tysons, said Paula Munger, managing director of research at Cushman.

“I think they’re sold on transit-oriented development,” Munger said. “They’ve seen it work in other places. It’s a global trend. It’s shown no signs of letting up.”

As a result, progress in Tysons has largely gone according to the plan the Board of Supervisors passed in 2010. Each of the four Metro stations in Tysons is envisioned as the center of a new neighborhood. Here’s a look at how each of the neighborhoods is shaping up based on what is already being built there, what the county has approved and what is planned for further down the road. Maps and charts courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield.

McLean


McLean remains defined by major employers such as Capital One and Gannett, which stand to benefit from the Silver Line as more employers find it difficult to hire young employees if they aren’t near public transit, Munger said. “Once you get in the suburbs, the investors really are only honing in on properties that are Metro-served or have the base amenities that employees want now. Vacancy rates are still really high, but these buildings are being built because people want those amenities.”

No high-rise apartment buildings are under construction yet at the McLean station but D.C. developer MRP is building a hotel under two Hilton brands, Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites as part of its Tysons Overlook project. LMI Government Consulting opted to buy a stake in a 300,000-square-foot office building in the development that it will also occupy.


Tysons Corner


The entire area is being called just ‘Tysons’ now, leaving the node dominated by the two malls to enjoy the name ‘Tysons Corner” all to itself. The malls, still dominant despite the demise of many of their competitors, are likely to benefit from the Silver Line as well. Although few people live in Tysons at the moment, about 8,800 people who live within a half-mile of a Metro station currently commute to Tysons, according to Jones Lang LaSalle. If some of them decide to take the Silver Line, why not stop at the mall on the way home from work?

Next door to Tysons Corner Center is the largest undertaking begun so far in Tysons, a 1.4 million-square-foot project by Macerich, the mall’s owner. It will have a pedestrian plaza, 395 apartments, a 310-room Grand Hyatt hotel and an office tower that will be home to Intelsat once it relocates from the Van Ness neighborhood of D.C. One outstanding question for the development is whether it will feature eating options superior to those in the food court.


Greensboro


Greensboro has the least under construction of the four stations to this point so there is an effort afoot to create some temporary uses there to add energy in the interim. Pop-up retail is envisioned just outside the station and the Meridian Group, the Bethesda developer that purchased the campus of mega-contractor SAIC, is plotting a temporary park on one of the property’s surface parking lots in tandem with the Tysons Partnership, a group funded by commercial property owners.

The Meridian Group plans to build more than 2 million square feet eventually, so some of the temporary uses might actually last a while.

“They need to stage the whole grounds so that something is happening that is appropriate with each stage of building,” said Michael Caplin, executive director of the Tysons Partnership. Eventually civic uses such as a convention hall plus retailers like Wegmans could land here as well.


Spring Hill


Although it is farthest west, there has been more early construction at the Spring Hill station than the other stations. Wal-Mart and other retailers have arrived as part of a JBG Rosenffeld mixed-use project on a former car dealership, called Tysons West. On the other side of Leesburg Pike is the Ascent, a 400-unit apartment high-rise that will be the first in Tysons with immediate proximity to Metro.

Spring Hill is envisioned in the plan for Tysons as an arts and entertainment district. A museum or performing arts center could land here, and already there is a bronze sculpture in front of the Wal-Mart.


Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
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