The long-predicted redevelopment of strip shopping centers along the south side of Leesburg Pike in the Tysons Corner area is beginning.
Property Co. of America has bought a prized 10-acre site that includes a K mart discount department store across Rte. 7 from the Tysons Corner Shopping Center. The firm said it plans to raze the K mart building to make room for two nine-story granite and glass office buildings.
Mike Windsor, the development firm's local partner, said this week that the property is "under contract" but declined to reveal the sales price.
He said the site was owned by many different parties "for years," long before it was leased to K mart. He said the developers plan to buy out K mart's lease.
"I think they K mart realized that the time has come to leave," Windsor said.
Last year, land in the Tysons Corner area was selling for as high as $2 million per acre. Windsor said the office complex would cost $80 million and be designed by architect Harwood K. Smith of Dallas.
Construction will begin "around the first of next year," Windsor said. A popular seafood restaurant -- the Chesapeake Bay Seafood House, which is also on the site -- will not be torn down because developers have not bought out its lease. The office complex will be built around the restaurant.
Windsor said his company will not try to rezone the land and that the nine-story buildings would be allowed under the site's existing zoning.
Asked if his company plans to make road improvements like those being done by other Tysons developers, Windsor said, "As far as I'm concerned, we won't be. The site is well served by existing roads."
He said the Tysons area has a better road network than most other intensely developed parts of the region. He pointed to the Capital Beltway, I-66, the Dulles Airport Access Road, Rte. 123, Rte. 7, International Drive and Gallows Road.
"It's the downtown of Fairfax County. It's the one area in the suburbs that is served by transportation, shopping and is equidistant between two airports" -- National and Washington Dulles International.
"We have got some downtown District law and accounting firms who want to move here. They do not want to be in a campus atmosphere. They want to be in the center of things, in the downtown of Fairfax," Windsor said.
Tysons Corner already has more than 13 million square feet of office space, according to Fairfax Economic Development Authority statistics.
Some developers in recent years have eyed the K mart site and the automobile dealerships and other strip shopping centers that are west of the interchange of Rtes. 7 and 123 as ripe for redevelopment. But other developers and many residents support maintaining those strip centers because they provide essential services for those who live or work in the Tysons area.
Several weeks ago, owners of the Tysons Corner Shopping Center said they will spend $50 million to turn the regional mall into a two-level shopping center and add two new anchor stores.
Linpro Co. is planning to build a new office tower on the site of the present Providence Baptist Church on the southeast corner of the intersection of Leesburg Pike and International Drive.