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Rebirth at Tysons Corner

Landowners in the area, including the mall's owners, have agreed to put up about 25 percent of the rail project's cost, and the state is moving toward raising tolls on the Dulles Toll Road to raise another 25 percent. State and local leaders are looking to the federal government for the remaining 50 percent of the funding.

"We're optimistic about the arrival of rail," Calabrese said.

This rendering shows additions proposed for Tysons Corner Center, including a hotel, offices and condominiums. The project would take about 10 years. (Rtkl Associates)

Transformation Forseen: A proposed construction project would transform Tyson's Corner Mall in some ways into a small city.
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If approved, the project would represent one more step in a whirlwind transformation of Tysons Corner, a place that many longtime residents like to recall as an area of cow pastures.

Today, Tysons Corner Center is the core of the area, now among the largest employment centers in the region after downtown Washington. The mall boasts more than 20 million visitors a year and contributes about $6 million annually in property taxes.

Its growth continues to be rapid. Even as mall managers are drawing plans for the expansion, construction continues on the last round. The mall is adding 16 movie theaters, a food court and several stores -- in all, a 300,000-square-foot addition.

To make way for the new expansion, the Circuit City store and La Madeleine restaurant would be demolished. The plan would add 2 million square feet of office buildings, 600 apartments, a 120-room hotel and a few shops. The buildings would vary in size, but the tallest would be 19 stories.

When completed over 10 years, the property would total about 5.5 million square feet; by comparison, the Pentagon is 6.6 million square feet, according to a Web site on that building's renovation.

For those who look to projects such as the proposed expansion as a means of transforming sprawling Tysons Corner into a downtown for Northern Virginia, the next few months of design work, which involves the layout of the buildings and sidewalks, are critical. Some fault county leaders for not having a more specific vision of development there.

"There is probably nothing more challenging than taking an existing mall and opening it up to the outside world like they are right now," said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, a nonprofit group active in the region. "We feel the burden is on the county and [the Virginia Department of Transportation] to make Tysons Corner a truly walkable urban center."

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