With no Zip code of its own, Tysons Corner has long struggled to define its sense of place, despite success as a major shopping and employment hub.
It isn’t an official city and residents and businesses there have traditionally had mailing addresses in McLean, Falls Church or Vienna. Until now.
Fairfax County received approval this week from the U.S. Postal Service for the use of Tysons Corner or Tysons as an official address. It can be used in the 22102 and 22182 Zip codes of McLean and Vienna, which make up the majority of the Tysons area.
“It gets very confusing for people: Are you in Tysons Corner? Are you in McLean?” said local developer Aaron Georgelas, who plans to build a high-rise development near a future Metrorail stop in Tysons. A postal address is “is the most basic thing, so simple, but it can be very important.”
There are 11,800 mailing addresses in the McLean Zip code, and 10,600 in the Vienna one, according to the Postal Service. Using the Tysons address is optional.
The census has used the Tysons Corner designation to describe the community for statistical purposes. But a Tysons address is a significant step in the county’s long-term plan to remake the suburban sprawl of office parks and shopping malls into a transit-oriented, urban downtown.
Tysons may get its own Zip code one day, since it is projected to have 200,000 workers and 100,000 residents by 2050.
For now, “we wanted to get something in place that people can start using,” said Barbara Byron, director of the county’s Office of Community Revitalization and Reinvestment.
At least 12 projects are in the works since the county approved more urban building rules for Tysons Corner last year, allowing greater density in new developments. A designated address is expected to help Fairfax create a brand around Tysons, one that will be distinguishable to potential new businesses and residents.
Rob Jackson, president of the McLean Citizens Association, which represents about 26,000 households in McLean, Falls Church, Vienna and Great Falls, said the Tysons designation will help shape the area’s identity over time.
“With the projected growth [in Tysons], I think something like that is certainly worthy of its own address,” he said. “It will be an entity unto itself.”
Lisa Samuels, who has a McLean mailing address, said she plans to switch to the Tysons one because her condo is in the job hub’s core near Capital One’s headquarters off Route 123.
The Tysons address “certainly helps associate where I live,” said Samuels, a former marketing executive.
Besides, Samuels added that she does not “fit into” McLean because of its reputation as an area with high-income households and palatial estates.
Several members of Congress, business executives, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and former secretary of state Colin Powell all call McLean home.
But Samuels does not.
“I always tell people it’s like living in 90212 and not 90210,” she said. “I live in Beverly Hills, but I don’t really live in Beverly Hills.”