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Transforming Tysons: Georgelas Plans Prepare For Public Hearing

Meeting in Vienna drew nearly 100 residents, who got an early preview of parts of the plan for an "arts and entertainment"-heavy district

The first Tysons Corner rezoning applications show two neighborhoods with capacity for more than 2,000 housing units, ground-level retail space and some buildings nearing 300 feet in height, developers revealed Thursday night at a meeting in Vienna.

Nearly 100 people filled the meeting room in Vienna’s Town Hall to learn more about the plans, which McLean's Georgelas Group has been developing for more than two years.

In advance of the applications' review at a Fairfax County public hearing next week, developers, county staff, engineers and supervisors began to answer questions and share more details about the three-part, 30 year plan that, if approved, will drastically change the look and feel of an area traditionally marked by low-rise industrial space and car dealers.

The Georgelas Group, a well-known family-run development group founded in McLean in 1963, first submitted plans last June for a mixed-used area known as Tysons West. The three neighborhoods, abutting the future Tysons West/Spring Hill metro station, would be connected by an urban street grid that could also connect to the Dulles Toll Road.

“Imagine standing at the ice skating rink in Reston,” said Aaron Georgelas, a lead developer on the project. “That’s the type of feeling we’re trying to create here, but there will be escalators to a metro. The feeling will be very similar to Reston – we want to be an arts and entertainment district, with a strong focus on things like art galleries and theaters.”

Georgelas told the crowd his firm had gone through a demonstration project similar to these Tysons plans about 10 years ago, when they helped Arlington County re-envision the corridor along Columbia Pike.

“We’re trying to fix some of the jobs/housing imbalance that exists in this area," he said.

Georgelas offered more details about the two parts of the plan appearing before the county’s planning commission.

 “Part A” highlights include

  • One 300-foot-tall building with about 2 million square feet of residential area, with some space for retail
  • Between 300 and 478 family housing units (right now, the plan calls for 400 units)
  • Eighty of those units will be "workforce housing units," priced for tenants whose salaries fall below the median income
  • Lots of planted growth at the entrance, a walk-up, brownstown style building, a rooftop pool, on-street parking

Part B

  • Four residential buildings
  • A new, relocated fire station
  • Between 1,000 and 1,900 residential units, 200 to 400 of them “work force housing” units
  • A connection of Spring Hill Road to Tyco Road, and possibly the Dulles Toll Road.  The county is conducting a study for best access points on the toll road, which could take a year or more to complete, County Staff said. “If you live in Vienna like I do,  I want to do anything I can to pull traffic off of 123 coming into Tysons corner,” Georgelas said. “This will help do that.”

 The applications also include

  • $1.5 million in donations to Fairfax County Public Schools
  • Bike lanes in all streets with traffic speeds safe to handle bicycles
  • Accommodations for the planned Circulator Bus, in some cases giving the vehicle its own lane.

To see either plan in their entirety, click here.

If approved, construction on Part A could begin within six months, Georgelas said. Part B would take five to 10 years.  Infrastructure like Metro would be in place before residents and retail businesses moved in, he said.

At just more than 24 acres, the largest part of the plan, Part C, has not been finalized; all three neighborhoods will need about 30 years to reach completion.

Residents praised plans for bike lanes, parking (mostly underground and in garages), arts and a focus on multi-modal transportation.

"if you live in a 1,000 square foot apartment your life is not in that apartment,"Georgelas said. "Your living room extends out into the street and that’s something that we’re focused on."

Others, while cautiously supportive of initial plans, wondered what it would mean for fields, schools and roads already at capacity.

No cost estimates were given at the meeting, though it was a concern for some residents who said developers should be absorbing most of the costs.

“We taxpayers are going to get stuck with the tab and I don’t think that’s right,” said one man to a faint audience applause.

Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth said the county is still exploring several  financing options.

“No number right now is final,” she said.

For a closer look at plans by the numbers,

For more questions and answers from the information session,

A public hearing for the plans will begin at 8:15 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Fairfax County Government Center.

Paul Turner September 05, 2011 at 11:29 AM
Of course this comes with more traffic. The roads cannot handle what we have today.

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