The Hazel/Peterson Cos. of Fairfax this week used the first paved segment of the Springfield Bypass as a stage for proving to Virginia's real estate community that roads can be constructed before buildings in the land development process.
Under a tent placed on top of temporary asphalt, Fairfax County's premier land-use attorney-developer, John T. (Til) Hazel Jr., and his development partner, Milton V. Peterson, predicted great things for the future of their massive 620-acre Fair Lakes mixed-use development along I-66 and Route 50 in the Fairfax Center area.
It was a day for celebration in an atmosphere almost reminiscent of Southern political rallies for which roads sometimes were paved simply to bring the crowds to the site.
In this "rally," however, developers paid for the road and attracted architects, politicians, real estate leaders, fellow developers, lenders and area residents. More than 375 people showed up for a meal served on tables placed on what will be the main intersection of the Springfield Bypass (also known as Fairfax Center Parkway) and Fair Lakes Parkway.
Hazel/Peterson Cos. will spend an estimated $30 million to build the total road system at Fair Lakes. Developers joked about having to come up with a special blend of road building materials to rush into place after a deluge of recent rains left the road bed a muddy mess.
"Fairfax County has arrived, and corporate America has found it," Peterson told the crowd. "Not long ago, Fairfax was a bedroom community, a bargain in office space. Downtown Washington was where the action was. But now they national corporations have found us, and they want us." Commercial rental rates in Fairfax areas such as Fair Lakes and the Tysons area are predicted to rise to the levels of some of the prestigious areas of the District, he predicted.
Hazel and Peterson announced major tenants for Fair Lakes, including TRW's Defense Systems Group, which displayed plans for a nine-building, 1.4 million-square-foot campus-style development to be clustered around a man-made lake. TRW has hired Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK), the Washington-based planning and architectural firm that produced Mobil Oil's corporate headquarters in Fairfax and the Air and Space Museum in Washington, to design the complex.
Hazel/Peterson also will have its headquarters at Fair Lakes.
According to Hazel, it has taken six years to get the Fair Lakes project to the point where some pavement could be shown off. The process included many hours of citizen effort on what is known as the 50/66 Task Force, which helped mold an overall development plan for the entire 5,300-acre Fairfax Center complex, of which Fair Lakes is part.
When completed, Fairfax Center is expected to contain 23 million square feet of commercial space. The Fair Lakes plan calls for 6.7 million square feet of space, including 4.6 million square feet for offices and research and development. Major retail and hotel development is anticipated, Hazel said.
Developers who seek to build in the Fairfax Center area are required to make contributions to a fund for off-site transportation improvements that are expected to be needed as Fairfax Center development intensifies. This is regarded as an effort to guarantee that dollars will be there for road work when it is needed, helping Fairfax avoid traffic problems such as those in the Tysons Corner area.
Hazel/Peterson planned Fair Lakes as a mixed-use development that developers have said they hope will set a local precedent and attract national attention. Scarborough Corp., a division of Weyerhaeuser Co., will build 250 residential units on 16 acres at Fair Lakes. One local residential builder called that "the frosting on Til's cake. He has proven you can build and market true mixed use here."
"This is certainly the place to be," said one architect who asked not to be identified. Even some of the most reclusive members of the Washington development community showed up, including shopping center developer Theodore Lerner, who dined next to Wayne Angle. Angle is the Homart Development Co. executive in charge of the Lerner-Homart joint venture at Tysons II. Lerner is a partner in Tysons II.
Supervisor Martha Pennino saluted Hazel/Peterson for helping make her dreams of planned mixed-use development in the I-66/Route 50 corridor come true. Supervisor James Scott, within whose district the giant project lies, said the project is the result "of a cooperative effort with the citizens of the area.