As Tysons Corner begins its transformation from mega-office park to vibrant urban center, different parties are working in various ways to make the Tysons vision a reality.
Private landowners are designing and executing redevelopment plans. Fairfax County is making sure that there is sufficient infrastructure to support the redevelopment, and the Tysons Partnership is working to create a sense of community in a part of the county that has long housed many more businesses and retail stores than people.
Michael Caplin, executive director of the Tysons Partnership, is the lone employee of this organization working to make sure the finer details of the vision for Tysons — things like signs and community events — don’t get lost in the bigger picture.
“I’m supposed to help manifest the space between people’s projects,” said Caplin, who was hired to lead the nonprofit about a year ago.
The partnership also serves as a mechanism to bring Tysons businesses and residents together with county staff to discuss how the county’s vision for Tysons will be implemented.
“They needed a venue for convening everybody who is a stakeholder to address the issues that come in time,” Caplin said.
It is organized into six councils focusing on subjects such as transportation, marketing and community amenities. The councils meet, on average, every other month and the meetings are open to all Tysons Partnership members.
“It’s a great cooperative problem-solving machine,” Caplin said.
The county’s plan for Tysons is long term, extending to 2050. But, Caplin says, the changes are already happening now.
“The buildings are rising like stalagmites,” he said.
The Ascent, a new luxury apartment building under construction near the future Spring Hill Metro Station, will offer 400 new apartments about the time that Metro service begins, at the end of this year or early next year. On the other side of Route 7, a new retail complex anchored by an urban-style Wal-mart, also is expected to be open by the time trains start taking the tracks.
The first phase of redevelopment around the Tysons Corner Center also is under way, expected to be complete in late 2014. It includes the 22-story Tysons Tower office building, a new 300-room Hyatt hotel, a 28-story residential building and a central plaza that will serve as a landing point for Metro riders and a central space for community events.
There are also smaller changes that will begin to change how people view Tysons, Caplin said. Wide sidewalks currently are being installed along Route 7, along with light posts, trying to make the congested commuter corridor more appealing for pedestrians.
The Tysons Partnership is in the process of getting county approval for signs and banners to help people identify where they are and navigate Tysons on foot.
“It gives you a sense of cohesiveness,” Caplin said. “There will be a harmony among them so the final product is visually appealing and gives you a sense of place.”
The partnership also is working to create a sense of community by organizing events.
The first major event will take place this June — the Tour de Tysons Grand Prix Bicycle Race. The event will feature a day of short races for both serious cyclists and infrequent riders as well as vendors and activities.
“We hope that will become an annual event,” Caplin said.
He also is working to develop an event series for 2014 that could include outdoor concerts and festivals.
“We need people staying after work and doing stuff together,” he said,