Macerich unveiled the latest addition to its Tysons Corner Center property. However, the mall's newest space is not occupied by a retail store, but rather, a brand new Fairfax County Community Services Center.
"We are about being a profitable business, but we know that in order to be a profitable business, we have to be of real value to the community," said Charles Waldron, Senior Vice President of Property Management for Macerich. "We want to make this property more endearing to the community… this is not tokenism, this is a genuine effort for us to endear ourselves to the community."
The new center is designed to promote the County Residence Information System (CRIS) program, which provides Fairfax County residents with instant access to information on community agencies and services. The facility will provide free tax preparation to county residents with household incomes of $37,000 or less, "English in the Workplace" classes to assist those who need to improve their English comprehension for work, fashion merchandising classes through local "Classroom on the Mall" courses, and Red Cross blood drives.
"Already this facility has been heavily used," said Waldron.
In addition, the Community Services Center will be used for a Fairfax/McLean District police sub-station that will allow shopping center detectives to run crime prevention seminars, child fingerprinting and other security educational programs. The Fairfax Fire and Rescue office will also offer AED/CPR training and emergency preparedness training.
"Some of the educational services that will be provided include Neighborhood Watch, information and prevention tips on identify theft and gang awareness programs," said Fairfax County Police Major Sharon Smith, who oversees both the McLean and Mason District stations. "This will provide a meeting spot for our agency and the retail operators that we serve."
FAIRFAX COUNTY CHIEF and Fire Marshall Michael Neuhard said that the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks illustrated the importance of community relationships.
"The Fire and Rescue department values partnerships and we value being involved in the community," said Neuhard. "We can't do it all, we need the community to be involved."
Neuhard added that the facility will enable fire and rescue department members to avoid traffic congestion issues.
"They can be closer to you and be where they need to be," he said.
Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth noted that with the advent of Metro to Tysons, "we have to provide services."
"I guarantee you that we are going to put this [facility] to good use," said Smyth.
Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Gerald Connelly did the honor of cutting the ribbon at the grand opening of the new Community Services Center.
"Fairfax County actually doesn't have any space in Tysons Corner," said Connelly. "This is helping to provide a community space, a meeting space, and it's providing a police sub-station… the mall is a public plaza and the government has got to be there."
Connelly also pointed out several significant statistics about the mall.
"A lot of people in Fairfax complain about Tysons… yet it is an important center of economic activity," said Connelly. "It is actually the 15th largest retail site in the U.S., and it is the sixth largest mall in America. 21 million people come to this mall every year, and that's more than I believe, visit any of the monuments downtown. This is an important place. Tysons is transforming itself and the mall is keeping up with that."
The new Community Services Center is located across from the Gap, inside Tysons Corner Center. Right now it is only open on an "as needed" basis, but eventually it will operate during regular mall hours, which are 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday - Saturday, and 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. on Sundays.