If there has been one project in Tysons that has been the focus of both intense criticism and hope it has been Tysons West. Being the first site parcel being developed with the Tysons Comprehensive Plan in mind, though technically the completion of their initial phase was a by right project, meant it would bear the brunt of local cynicism. Through a nearly two year process developer JBGR heard the concerns and goals of the community and County and found a balance and design that in many ways addressed resident objections.
The completion of the Wal-mart, as well as the 24-hour fitness, Noodles and Company, and offices last month, was only the first baby steps for this project. In September JBGR received approval of their multiphase rezoning that will surround the new Wal-mart with mixed use residential, office, and retail buildings. Wrapping around the existing Sheraton Hotel, to remain, will be 375 multifamily residential units and up to 50,000 square feet, constituting the next phase of the project. The new retail won’t just serve the residents in the towers above, it will also serve the existing neighborhoods around Westwood Drive. This neighborhood currently includes nearly 100 existing town homes and duplexes as well as several existing homes and town homes across from Old Courthouse Forest in Vienna, within a quick walk to the site.
The final phase of the project, phase III, includes two high rise towers. One of the towers will be a residential building with an additional 300 multi-family units; the other an office building and ground level retail of approximately 400,000 square feet. The most important aspect of this project is that it is proposed within walking distance from metro. What is currently a plain of vast parking lots and ugly expanses of unused asphalt will be transformed into a complete neighborhood. Detrimental excess pavement will be converted into pocket parks, outdoor seating, and dog parks. New sidewalks will connect to existing neighborhood with both metro and the new retail options around the community, and many of those improvements are already in place or preparing to be completed. JBGR has not yet set a time line on when to expect construction on the new mid-rise residential building. It is likely that once the Silver Line metro is up and running, in early 2014, that the market conditions may help accelerate residential development, and with it the much needed community identity that has been lacking for many residents and visitors.
As is the case with all things Tysons, the changes will take time to compile and mitigate what has been years of poor planning and haphazard infrastructure. The ultimate vision of Tysons West, much like the rest of the area, will not be accomplished for several years. However, if Phase I is any indication, JBGR is ready to take the next steps and help build what is becoming the hottest real estate sub market in the region.