With farmers markets, street festivals Tysons Corner tries to become a real neighborhood


Welcome to Tysons! Despite the construction, there is an effort underway to make Tysons more welcoming when the Silver Line opens. (Jahi Chikwendiu/WASHINGTON POST)

Although there are more than 100,000 people in Tysons Corner on a typical weekday, good luck running into one. There are people in their offices, their cars and the malls, sure, but hardly anyone on the sidewalk.

That’s for good reason. There is almost nowhere to walk.

Months from the opening of the Silver Line, Tysons stakeholders are trying to change that. Because few of the dozens of new buildings, stores and apartment towers planned for the area will be built during the first few years of the Silver Line, there is an effort underway to greet Silver Line riders and other Tysons visitors with something other than construction vehicles and dust when they step off the new Metro platforms.

The Tysons Partnership, an association of citizen and business organizations, has organized a series of events for next year that Fairfax County officials and business leaders hope will give Tysons a new face.

Many of them are akin to events that business improvement districts hold in D.C. and Arlington, but Michael Caplin, executive director of the partnership, said placemaking was particularly important in Tysons because of the need to overhaul the area’s image as a center to leave at 5 p.m. on weekdays.

“It will give a whole new portion of the local population a first glimpse at the new Tysons,” Caplin said.

Landowners in Tysons have been happy to help with the marketing effort by making their parking lots — rarely used outside of working hours — available for whatever events Caplin and others can dream up.

The National Automobile Dealers Association donated its lot at Greensboro and Westpark drives for a farmers market that will run from May 18 through next fall. Caplin said it will have 16 vendors offering produce, meats, bread, cheese and jams within walking distance of some of the residential neighborhoods nearby. “There will be music and cooking demonstrations and guest chefs and even a vendor who sells dog treats,” he said.

Lerner Enterprises has also donated the use of a 10-acre lot (currently a staging area for Metro construction) right by the Tysons Corner Metro station that Caplin has begun calling “Tysons Town Square.”

He plans a slew of events, beginning with a welcome party for the Silver Line in April. At the end of May he will hold a “Great Taste of Tysons” festival (featuring food, wine, music and art), in June the second Tour de Tysons Grand Prix (a series of bicycle races aimed at making Tysons feel more bike-friendly), in August a burgers-barbecue-beer festival, in September a “Tysons World Music Festival” and in October a “Tysons Harvest Festival.”

Caplin said he hopes the temporary and pop-up events whet people’s appetites for Tysons activities as he and county officials lay the groundwork for more permanent parks, recreation facilities, courtyards and even benches and bus stops — all the places where, in a typical city, you might run into someone.

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.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Business