TYSONS, Va. (WDVM) — Fairfax County is 10 years into transforming the Tysons area from a suburban office park to a multi-use area with park space. The county’s vision was to coincide with the Tysons Metro station, which opened in in 2014.
The county is also working on stream valley restorations and installing three new trails.
Since its comprehensive plan was adopted, the county has constructed four new athletic fields and 10 new urban parks, including Ken Lawrence Park, named for the county’s late planning commissioner. The county isn’t done yet; it plans to transform many of the area’s surface parking lots into park space as new developments are opting for parking garages instead.
There are exceptions, however; Fairfax County’s Zoning Evaluation Division’s Branch Chief Cathy Lewis says the comprehensive plan was drafted with two options in mind: car dealerships along Route 7 can keep their sprawling parking lots, but other developers may have to compromise.
In 2019, one of the county’s builders agreed to develop the comprehensive plan’s 5-acre “signature central park,” which will be dedicated to the county once it’s constructed. The park will be part of The Mile: a mixed-use development that Lewis likens to the Mosaic District.
“[The developer understands] that they will be in a unique position to market their apartments to people because you’re literally backing on to a park,” Lewis said. “If you have those spaces it attracts people. If you look at the Mosaic District they have a little tiny park in the center of it and it becomes this gathering space that activates the development and makes people want to spend time there.”
“There are about a dozen buildings that will be built – brand new buildings: residential, office, retail,” said Senior Park Planner Andrea Dorlester, who’s been working on the project with Lewis since its inception 10 years ago. “There’s going to be a lot of park space in that area; maybe about 11 acres, including the 5 acre signature central park.”
If developers opt for park space, the land owners will be in charge of maintenance, not the county. Lewis says getting developers on board was tougher in the beginning. “We had to get creative,” she said. “I think the developers are starting to get it. They’re starting to understand the importance of these parks and one move I hope they start to take is the importance of making sure that everybody keeps their park spaces going and activated because it just benefits the whole area.”