The Washington Post

Macerich starting mixed-use Tysons Corner project in early 2012

A rendering of the towering office building, part of a project that will also include apartments and a hotel, to be developed by the owner of Tysons Corner Center. (Courtesy of Macerich)

Macerich Co., owner of 71 regional U.S. malls including Tysons Corner Center, plans to begin work on a 1.3 million-square-foot mixed-use project adjacent to the mall early next year.

The development will bring a new high-end office building, a 400-unit apartment tower and a four-star hotel to a site that used to be home to a Circuit City and now has a strip mall and parking lot. It is likely to be one of the first major new developments in Tysons Corner to be completed after four Silver Line Metrorail stations open there in 2013.

The plans are also significant because, six months from the start of construction, Macerich has not signed any tenants for the office building and Timothy J. Steffan, Macerich senior vice president, and John E. Harrison, Macerich vice president, said the development will go forward whether any leases are in place or not.

That would make Tysons Tower, as the offices are to be named, one of the first “speculative” office buildings constructed in the Washington area since the recession. The site is located on Chain Bridge Road just outside the Beltway, near where the Tysons Central 123 Metro station is being constructed.

Steffan said companies’ interest in relocating to or expanding in Tysons Corner was evidenced by Macerich’s success in leasing 1861 International Dr., a renovated building with 160,000 square feet of office space that Steffan said now has three leases totaling about 100,000 square feet in place, including 30,000 square feet for the brokerage firm CB Richard Ellis.

“The market indicators are leading towards an absorption of higher-end space,” Steffan said. He said that among the companies that want to be in Tysons as it evolves into a more urban, transit-accessible hub are “your higher end government contractors, your law firms, your PR firms. Those users that are looking for some cache, some high visibility off of Route 123.”

He also said the project will distinguish itself because of its walkable proximity to Metro. “There’s a lot of people who say, ‘Oh, we’re walkable to Metro.’ What they are is accessible to Metro, by shuttle or some other transit.”

A publicly traded firm based in Santa Monica, Calif., Macerich will use development partners for much of the work. Steffan said the firm is in discussions with Hines, lead developer of the CityCenterDC project, to develop the offices and a number of multifamily developers about the apartment tower. He said it is considering a number of hotel flags.

Macerich’s project is likely to be joined by a Wal-Mart-anchored project by JBG Rosenfeld Retail and, possibly, a 25-story apartment tower by the Georgelas Group and Greystar.

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
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