The Silver Line is here. It’s connecting Washington to Tysons, once a rural crossroads with a single gas station but now a place that Fairfax County officials think could become the next major American city.
Is that really possible?
Tysons is already home to enough business to carry a major municipal economy, but in other ways — like its lack of sidewalks and crosswalks — it barely resembles a city at all. Here are six defining statistics about Tysons as it enters the Silver Line era, courtesy of the real estate team at JLL research.
1. Far more people work there than live there.
According to the latest population estimate, 21,228 people live in Tysons. The typical household has 2.06 people (and averages $134,671 in annual income). That’s a few thousand more people than a couple of years ago, but there are 72,005 employees in Tysons, meaning there are 3.39 employees there for every resident. If Tysons is to be a lively urban place, planners and county officials say that this ratio is way too high. Along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor in Arlington, for instance, the ratio is just 1.44.
2. Everyone there drives.
Well, not everyone. There are multiple bus routes between the West Falls Church station and Tysons, carrying an average weekday ridership of 6,054 passengers. But of workers who live in Tysons, only 7.9 percent take public transit and 2.9 percent walk. Another 8.5 percent carpool and 74.1 percent drive by themselves. If the people moving into the new apartment buildings are doing so for proximity to their jobs and the Silver Line for commuting purposes, these numbers could change quickly.
3. Fortune 500 companies love it there already.
There are five companies on the Fortune 500 list of America’s biggest companies in Tysons: Freddie Mac (ranked 32), Capital One (124), Hilton Worldwide (289), Booz Allen (443) and Gannett (481). That’s more than 14 states and the District of Columbia. Those companies’ combined revenue last year totaled $125.7 billion, putting the gross domestic product of just those companies ahead of the African nation of Angola (population 20 million).
4. Since Silver Line construction began, companies have been flocking to Tysons.
Ever notice that all almost the buildings going up in Northern Virginia are near Metro stations? That’s because companies are moving into buildings near Metro and departing those elsewhere. Overall the office market in Northern Virginia has had a rough stretch the last four years, with companies vacating 3.9 million square feet more office space than they leased. In Tysons and along the Toll Road, however it’s the opposite: companies leased 915,000 square feet more than they vacated.
5. The fancy new offices are much, much more expensive.
Sure, it sounds nice to depart your boring old office building for one of the fancy new ones, but the price disparity between ‘Class A’ and ‘Class B’ buildings has grown dramatically. In 2003, the difference in asking rents was $0.41 per square foot. Now, with projects like Tysons Tower coming out of the ground, the gap is almost 24 times that — a $9.73 difference.
6. A lot of Tysons will remain inaccessible to Metro.
You can’t reach all of Tysons via Silver Line, unless you’re willing to walk more than a half an hour or ride a bus or shuttle. About a third of offices in Tysons are not within a half-mile of a Silver Line station. Similarly, when the second phase of the Silver Line opens, extending to Dulles International Airport and beyond, about a third of the offices in Reston Town Center will not be within half a mile of a Silver Line station.
Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz