The team behind Spring Hill Station already has started on a 400-unit residential high-rise where the Container Store parking lot was, and Capital One and Cityline have said they plan to begin building portions of their projects almost immediately.
“We’re not slowing down,” said Aaron Georgelas of the Georgelas Group, “and we’re not really seeing anyone else slow down, either.”
More important than the quantity and progress of the proposals has been their quality, Byron said. “It’s clear that the developers understand the vision for Tysons and they’re embracing it,” she added.
One of the biggest questions early on was whether developers would agree to pay for the new Tysons infrastructure — a per-square-foot cost they say is among the highest a local jurisdiction has ever sought.
Although there is no way to know how many have been turned off by the proffers, many are agreeing to them, county officials said. On top of sizable fees for transportation improvements, developers have committed to building or paying for athletic fields, a community center, a fire station and part of a school, rather than simply providing the land, which is traditional.
They also are agreeing to build housing for a range of income levels, a vital ingredient if Tysons is going to become a diverse community where even workers with low incomes can live within walking distance of their jobs.
“We’re getting the things we need for this to work,” said Sharon Bulova (D), chairman of the Board of Supervisors and one of the plan’s biggest champions.
But that doesn’t mean success is inevitable for Tysons.
The what-ifs ...
Some see the worst-case scenario as this: Few people choose to ride the new Metro trains. The first apartment and office buildings don’t draw tenants and rents as hoped. Projects that are underway change hands. Those that haven’t broken ground are shelved. And for the foreseeable future, Tysons stays what it is today.
Skeptics wonder whether a place that has 47 million square feet of development today can absorb an additional 66 million by 2050, as projections hold. They wonder whether residents and businesses will be able to afford the vision.
But developers and real estate agents point to signs that demand for the new Tysons will be strong: Businesses are trending toward newer, higher-end commercial space.
In recent months, the county has begun hearing from major grocery chains interested in Tysons.
And just a few weeks ago, the world’s leading provider of satellite services, Intelsat, said it plans to move from the District to Tysons Tower, a 22-story building under construction.
Still, Leinberger, of the Brookings Institution, said that “mistakes are inevitable” because no one has ever tried what is being done in Tysons.
“And they will be costly.”