It's official: Bamberger's, a division of Macy's, the New York retailer, and Saks Fifth Avenue will anchor the three-level, atrium-style regional shopping mall that will be the centerpiece of the 117-acre Tysons II office, retail and hotel complex now being developed in the heart of Tysons Corner.
The impact of the multimillion-dollar development, located near the Capital Beltway and Route 123, is expected to be felt throughout Fairfax County and Northern Virginia.
The regional shopping center now is scheduled to open in two years, and the 11 office towers that comprise a major portion of the project will be built over 15 years.
"This will be our first store in Virginia," said Ray Treiger, senior vice president of R. H. Macy & Co. His announcement at a recent ground-breaking was the first official confirmation that Macy's was ready to move into the Washington market. Macy's has used the Bamberger's name in several other major cities.
Charles Levin, senior vice president and director of operations for Saks Fifth Avenue, said his company "is completely delighted to be part of this operation."
State and local tax revenue is certain to increase as a result of the development. The shopping center, offices and two hotels are likely to produce thousands of new jobs, although no one knows for sure how many. The demand for housing in all price ranges in the Tysons area is expected to increase, developers and real estate agents predict. The quality of new office buildings now being completed already is reflecting the influence of the Tysons II image, commercial brokers said.
More than $15 million will be spent by Tysons II developers to improve roads in the vicinity of the project and build new roads before the first phase of the development is completed in the fall of 1987.
Many residents of the Tysons Corner, Vienna and McLean areas said they are ready to enjoy shopping at the more than 130 shops that will be in the new shopping center and to dine at a variety of fast-food outlets in a central plaza as well as at top-of-the-line, white-tablecloth restaurants that will be part of the Tysons II mall.
A 22-story hotel is planned adjacent to the mall, with shops accessible directly from the hotel lobby, developers said.
John F. Herrity, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, predicted, "The upscale quality being developed here at Tysons II will prompt other Tysons developers to upgrade their buildings ."
Herrity offered his thoughts on the project during the recent elaborate ground-breaking festivities for Tysons II. Fireworks were ignited spelling out "Tysons II" on the site where the regional mall will be built, while those attending were given souvenir 3 1/2-pound granite squares similar to those that will be used throughout the project.
Tysons II, according to other Tysons developers, is likely to give the existing office, retail and residential areas near Tysons a thread tying them together, providing "a feeling of city."
"Tysons Corner, with its 13 million square feet of office space, is already bigger than the office base in Richmond and Norfolk combined," Herrity said.
Tysons II is a joint venture project by Lerner Enterprises of Bethesda and Homart Development Co., the commercial development arm of Coldwell Banker Real Estate Group, which in turn is part of the Sears Financial Network. Lerner Enterprises is headed by shopping center magnate Theodore N. Lerner, the developer of numerous shopping malls and commercial projects in Virginia, Maryland and the District.
Wayne Angle, Homart's vice president for office and multi-use development, said he thinks the public is far more aware of the 800,000-square-foot regional mall than of the 11-building office complex or the two hotels that are major components of Tysons II.
"This project will feature the highest design standards in a well-planned mix of 11 prestigious office buildings, a high-fashion retail center and two first-class hotels," Angle said. In addition to Saks and Bamberger's, a third anchor tenant is expected to sign a lease soon, developers said. Tenants for the hotel project have not been named.
Marty Irving, a commercial real estate broker, said he believes Tysons II will prove to be the high mark of Lerner's regional mall projects.
"I always felt Lerner was an innovator," Irving said. "The Homart-Lerner first venture offers unique attractiveness."
The publicity-shy Lerner, who rarely makes public appearances, attended the recent groundbreaking ceremony. Lerner, who developed the Tysons Corner Shopping Center across Route 123 from the Tysons II site, told the crowd that he remembered when that land was "populated by dairy cows and not by people. The Tysons II site was a gravel pit."
Today, the Tysons II site is a huge mass of red clay sprinkled with green grass. The outlines of the major road networks being financed by developers are readily visible. Curbs went in this week, and construction crews are ready to pour asphalt on a six-lane stretch of International Drive between Route 123 and Westpark Drive. Developers expect to finish that connector before the end of this year in keeping with promises made to the Fairfax supervisors when the site was rezoned almost a year ago.
Although traffic problems around the Tysons Corner area often are bemoaned, county officials said they believe the Tysons situation generally is no worse than in other highly developed areas of Fairfax.
James T. Lewis, head of Tytran, a group of Tysons-area business leaders, developers and politicians working to find solutions to traffic problems, lauded the $15 million worth of road construction Homart and Lerner have undertaken.
"The traffic improvements they are putting into that area of Tysons really do cure a lot of the problems," Lewis said. Lewis, a major developer at Tysons, is paying $4 million to build a bridge over Route 7 to provide access to his Tycon Towers project now under construction.
Both Angle and Lewis praised a federal transportation official's recent approval of a new ramp off the Beltway at Route 123 near the Tysons II site. Tysons II developers have promised Fairfax they will pay to build that ramp.
Commercial real estate broker Ken McVeary said, "There is a real interest in the Tysons market now for major downtown law firms. They don't want to leave the District, but they want offices out here, too." McVeary said law firms in Fairfax City also are looking for office space at Tysons Corner.
"Everybody I know out here is now using a stockbroker out here," McVeary said. "That's a dramatic change from a few years ago, when brokers were primarily located in the District."
Commercial brokers reported that banks are actively seeking what they call "high-visibility locations" in the Tysons area.
Lilla Richards, who once lived near the Tysons II site, is a McLean civic leader who long supported a bridge over Route 123 at International Drive. But that bridge is not part of the road improvement plan.
"In the short term, the completion of International Drive will help," Richards said. "Tysons is not going to be what I always hoped. We are running out of options to build transportation systems."
Art Hill, chairman and president of Homart Development Co. and the newly named chief executive officer of Coldwell Banker, said Homart "is totally committed to building the finest product in the East" at the Tysons II site.
Broker Irving predicted that developers and investors owning older office buildings at Tysons Corner "stand to reap the best rewards" from the impact of Tysons II because they can operate with lower overhead than buildings coming on the market.
The development of Tysons II is certain to put pressure on owners of the strip shopping areas and car dealerships that now line the Route 7 corridor to sell their properties.
How much redevelopment will be allowed is likely to be governed by the results of a current study of height and density in the Tysons area. That study, prepared months ago by the county planning staff, is being reviewed by a citizens task force and is far from being adopted as county policy to guide growth at Tysons Corner, sources said.
Meanwhile, Herrity said he is looking forward to increased tax dollars from the Tysons II project and that developments such as Tysons II will yield a profit to Fairfax County of about 60 percent, compared with the cost of services the county will have to provide.
Dranesville Supervisor Nancy Falck told developers, "As you dig, I hope you will strike gold."
Some people think Homart and Lerner already have done that.
Said broker Irving: "I wish I owned it."