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Tysons Corner Development Raises Questions

Discussion of future development slated for Tysons area sparks concern at MCA board meeting.

As busy as Tysons Corner already is, local residents may be surprised to learn that even more development is planned for the area. With the promise of Metro on the horizon, proposals for more retail, more apartment complexes and more commercial office space are already in the works.

"This is a taste of what is going to come in the next 20 years," said McLean Citizens Association president Susan Turner at last week's monthly board meeting.

MCA member John Foust presented his fellow board members with a series of poster-board depictions of future phases of development in Tysons. The applicant, Tysons Corner Holdings, LLC, is proposing an extensive mixed-use development that will take place in four phases on 79 acres of land.

"It's clearly bigger than a breadbox," said Foust. "It's being presented to the County as a mixed-use transit-oriented project."

According to Foust, the first phase of the project would not be contingent on the construction of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail. The second phase will only be permitted to commence if the funding for the Dulles Corridor project is confirmed.

"So the two biggest phases could be built before the rail system is in place," said Foust, adding that citizen groups have two major concerns, "proffers and transportation."

A major transportation study of Tysons is currently underway, but results are not yet available. Foust said that while the proposal promises construction of an additional lane on Route 123 and an additional lane on Route 7, I-495 is really more of a concern to local residents.

"I think they need a ramp up to 495," said Foust. "We would not be embarrassed to ask for that."

Susan Turner emphasized that the proposed development is just that, and that it was the duty of the MCA to start considering how it could be improved so that specific requests can be made when a public hearing takes place early next year.

"We have a huge responsibility to the community here," said Turner.

In Phase I, a 21-story hotel, a 27-story residential building and an 18-story office building are scheduled for construction. The major amenity offered in Phase I is a 120,000-square-foot open plaza that will potentially house an ice-skating rink in the winter months. More buildings and amenities are planned including parking garages, a stage area and an open lawn and play area. Stage 4 proposes a seven-story parking garage, gardens, a variety of courts for active use, and even an area for hang gliding and bungee jumping.

"I would say the amenities are quite piddling in comparison to the density," said Turner.

MCA member Carleen Wood-Thomas expressed concern over the lack of thought given to the impact of such increased density.

"It's totally inside the box — they haven't looked at schools, they haven't looked at playing fields, they haven't looked at anything like that," she said. "Has anybody looked at this in terms of secondary roads and how it's going to affect cut-through traffic?"

John Foust says that studies are currently underway, but added that he was wary of underestimations of impact. MCA member Darren Ewing also complained that impact on the surrounding communities did not appear to have been taken into consideration.

"3,000 new residents plus office people crossing paths, and they're going to be spilling over into our community," said Ewing.