Tysons development will be a boon for Fairfax

October 28, 2012

Earlier this month, Fairfax County announced that boosters in Tysons Corner plan to unofficially drop the “Corner” and call the area simply “Tysons,” a move clearly aimed at recognizing its radical transformation.

Nobody in that neck of the woods can miss the overhead Metro lines nearing completion or the numerous cranes preparing for new development. Indeed, Tysons Corner is not a corner anymore; or even the shopping mecca it became in the 1990s. Today, Tysons has become its own burgeoning metropolis.

About 1.2 million square feet of office space is now under construction in the Tysons area, with another 7.4 million square feet approved and likely to get under way soon. That equates to nearly 8.6 million additional square feet coming to Tysons in the near term, increasing the office density of the area by about 30 percent. Factoring in the 16.5 million square feet of more office space proposed for the area, and the total square feet of office space would increase by 91 percent from today’s levels.

These projects aren’t the mid-rise brick structures of yesterday, but rather they are glossy high-rise towers with 20-plus stories and asking rents similar to those in downtown D.C. For instance, the nearly 525,000-square-foot Tysons Tower that Hines and Macerich are building on Chain Bridge Road has space listed for rent at more than $57 a square foot.

Not only will all of this development transform the Tysons skyline in the future, it will likely also attract a new breed of corporate and regional headquarters, ones that seek larger blocks of space than are available in D.C.’s height-constrained market, yet prefer an amenity-rich and accessible urban environment over a suburban campus. The space is destined to host thousands of new workers who will spur the local economy by consuming local goods and services, at least during the daytime, and also pad the county coffers with new property tax revenue.

Similar properties as those expected to be built in Tysons pay about $5 a square foot in property tax a year, so that 1.2 million square feet under way should equate to around $6 million in new tax revenue. While the other projects are not real yet, the math is simple — and could be a boon for the area.

Erica Champion is a senior real estate economist for CoStar Group in Washington.

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