- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2006

The mix of uses planned for an expanded Tysons Corner Center would revitalize the area, Fairfax County residents told the county’s Planning Commission Thursday night.

Macerich Co., the Santa Monica, Calif., company that owns Tysons Corner, plans to more than double the size of the shopping center over the next 10 to 12 years. The four-phase project, which includes office and residential buildings, a hotel, additional retail and multiple plazas, is tied to the expansion of the Metro to the site.

“It would bring the life into Tysons Corner,” said Patricia Nicoson, president of the Dulles Corridor Rail Association. “Once we get Metro we can make this mix of uses work.”

Residents made comparisons between the proposed Tysons expansion and the active developments near the Metro stops in Ballston and Pentagon City in Arlington.

“If there was ever an opportunity to create a 24-7 community, this is it,” said Justin Sparrow, of the Urban Land Institute’s young leaders group, pointing out that under the proposed plan, residents and office workers would be able to walk more than they can now.

Nearly 100 people turned out for the meeting, and 43 spoke. Thirty-five were in favor and eight were opposed. The Fairfax County Planning Commission postponed its decision until Nov. 2. Its recommendation will go to the county’s Board of Supervisors, which will approve or deny the rezoning request.

Under the proposed plan, four residential buildings would be added to the site. Macerich said the mix of uses means many people will be able to live and work in the same area, cutting down on traffic. The company has said 8 percent of the housing will be deemed “affordable.”

But some, including commissioner Walter Alcorn, pointed out that the remaining 92 percent of the housing could be too expensive for many people, especially those who work in the mall.

“Anybody who works at Nordstrom isn’t going to be able to afford a half-million dollar condo,” said resident Michael Hudson, who requested a scaled-down version of the plan.

Members of the McLean Citizens Association, a community group, spoke against the project, saying Macerich isn’t able to expand or rezone its space under the county’s current comprehensive plan, which doesn’t allow such expansions. Macerich says their project is within the county’s plan.

John Foust, representing the association, requested that the expansion be put on hold pending land use and traffic studies.

Mr. Foust said the community should have more input on the future of Tysons. In response, Macerich officials said they have met with various community and business groups in the area, including the McLean Citizens Association.

Edward E. Alexander, of McLean, said he and his neighbors are concerned the redevelopment will overpower the area.

“We are aware Tysons Corner is the economic center of Fairfax County,” he said. “But this is not the time to let one developer from far away push Fairfax into an urgent, illogical development in an extremely limited area.”

Fairfax County Convention & Visitors Bureau President Arnie Quirion and business owners spoke in favor of the additional people — and “shopping” tourists — the site would bring.

“As a hotelier, when Arnie [Quirion] was talking about billions [of dollars coming to Fairfax through tourism, such as Tysons], I was like, ‘yes!’,” said Michael Woodhead, representing the nearby Holiday Inn Tysons Corner and Courtyard Tysons Corner. The project “is going to drive Tysons Corner as a tourist destination.”

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