0
Votes

Tysons Debated in McLean

County officials speak about latest on Tysons redevelopment.

Joe LaHait, deputy coordinator for the County’s Department of Management and Budget, speaks to community members at a meeting on Tysons Corner redevelopment at the McLean Community Center Tuesday, Oct. 2.

Joe LaHait, deputy coordinator for the County’s Department of Management and Budget, speaks to community members at a meeting on Tysons Corner redevelopment at the McLean Community Center Tuesday, Oct. 2. Photo by Alex McVeigh.

The McLean Citizens Association hosted a program about Tysons Corner transportation funding Tuesday, Oct. 2 at the McLean Community Center. County officials briefed the public on ways to pay for the $2.3 billion in projected costs.

Currently Tysons Corner has 46 million square feet of office, hotel, retail and residential space, which includes more than 100,000 workers. There are 17,000 residents.

The Tysons Task Force was created in 2005, and in 2008 the County’s Planning Commission Tysons Corner Committee made major revisions to the recommendations, which included greatly reduced density in response to community concerns.

The Tysons Corner Comprehensive Plan was passed June 22, 2010. It calls for concentration of density around the four Metrorail stations, with no limit on building density within a quarter mile of each station, but with a building height limit of 400 feet. Based on growth estimates from George Mason University, total office development is limited at 45 million square feet.

THE PLAN calls for an effective limit of 84 million square feet, because for approval beyond that number, the development must not generate additional vehicle trips.

“The County’s ultimate goals are about 200,000 workers and 100,000 residents, they want to balance, they want to give people the ability to work, live and play in Tysons,” said Rob Jackson, co-chair of the MCA’s Tysons Corner Liaison Committee. “The County also wants to reduce the relative single occupant vehicle use, get people to take transit, to walk, to bike. Single occupant vehicles will continue to be the chief mode of travel to and from Tysons, even after the silver line, so we’re going to see more traffic, but what we want to do is see many people take other options… they‘ve got to change people’s behavior, or they can’t build all the buildings. It’s a major change in behavior and the way we think and do things.”

The County has planned for increased bus service in Tysons as a way to supplement the rail in an attempt to reduce automobile use.

Jackson also pointed out the massive infrastructure needs of a redeveloped Tysons.

“If you’re going to put 100,000 people living there and 200,000 people working there, we’re going to have public safety needs, as well as schools, libraries, parks and recreation, storm water management, a community center, open space, drinking water, sanitary sewer,” he said. “These facilities are required to serve Tysons residents so they don’t need to drive to meet their needs.”

Currently the planning commission is working on a financing plan to recommend to the County Board of Supervisors for adoption later this fall.

Joe LaHait, deputy coordinator for the County’s Department of Management and Budget, said the County is currently planning on selling $25 million in general obligation bonds annually from fiscal year 2018 to 2030, which is in addition to the $233 million annual baseline of general obligation bonds sold.

He also said the county is sticking by its financial management principles while working on the financing plan and keeping county residents in mind.

“We’ve designed it to not require an increase on the real estate property tax rate,” he said. “We’re adhering to our normal debt ratios, where our annual debt service payments remain less than 10 percent of our total disbursements, and our net long term debt will not exceed three percent of taxable real [estate] and personal property in the County.”

MCA Hosts Tysons Corner Program

“We’ve heard the MCA loud and clear saying that no more than 25 percent of the costs should be borne by the County [taxpayers].”

—Walter Alcorn, chair of the Tysons committee

ONE CONCERN of groups like the McLean Citizens Association was that the taxpayer portion of the funding be capped at 25 percent of total costs of the $2.3 billion in projected capital costs for Tysons Redevelopment. Walter Alcorn, chair of the Tysons committee and an at-large planning commissioner with the County, said, “We’ve heard the MCA loud and clear saying that no more than 25 percent of the costs should be borne by the county [taxpayers],” he said. “In effect the developers and commercial landowners are projected to carry about 61 percent of the total capital costs in this financing plan. Basically over the next 40 years, they would end up paying about 62 percent of the $2.3 billion in capital costs.”

Alcorn said the general obligation bonds, which is the county’s primary finding source, will comprise about 21 percent of the capital costs over the next 40 years.

“In addition to that, state and federal aid end up being about 10 percent of the total, and this is ongoing state and federal funding that comes in on a regular basis to fund capital needs, like Metro, and other expense,” he said. “And we are asking for more, frankly, from federal and state sources… it could be somewhere between six and nine percent.”

Del. Mark Keam (D-35) attended the meeting, and he said he wasn’t optimistic about any funding for Tysons from the state.

“At the state level, I don’t think we can expect a lot of new funding, certainly not from anything the General Assembly can authorize this year,” he said.