Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Capital One's Tysons redevelopment needs more housing, Nikolai Fedak, Greater Greater Washington

Nikolai Fedak writes in the Greater Greater Washington blog about Capital One's plan to put 14 new buildings where two now stand near the "Tysons East" Metrorail station.  That station lies east (inside) the beltway and is generally bound by it, the toll road, and Rt. 123, although Mitre and others have large properties on the other side of Rt. 123.  It is not at the heart of the Tysons re-development area and has limited roadway access to the surrounding highways, yet the now-approved Capital One plan will see roughly five million square feet of development. 

Capital One Campus, 2025? Photo from Fairfax County.

The key point in Mr. Fedak's post is that there is an insufficient residential component in the planned development to prevent a major increase in traffic, and more residential space should be included. 

While Capital One's ambitious plan should be applauded for conforming to the proposed guidelines for Tysons Corner as an urban center, the proposal's lack of a strong residential component is a key factor mitigating the project's potential to be a major positive influence. In its statement of justification, Capital One notes that its "proposed mix of uses mirrors [the Tysons Corner Comprehensive Plan's] recommendations of office uses up to 65% with a minimum residential component of 20%," stating that its own plan contains 25% residential and 65% office.
There's no way around the fact that more office space is coming to Tysons, but only the significant addition of residential space there will make a dent in the traffic that cripples the area. Instead of being forced to give up office space for residential, Capital One should be allowed and encouraged to develop as much residential as possible on top of its existing plans, as long as the new housing units come with very limited additional parking space.

The lesson he offers for Tysons East is applicable to Reston, and especially Reston Town Center, where the current plan proposal calls for roughly the same two-to-one non-residential to residential development scheme over the next 20 years.  As we have stated before, this mix of uses will generate a massive increase in traffic congestion and all the negative consequences it carries--more pollution, higher transportation infrastructure costs, etc.  The time to prevent that from occurring is now, not after a new plan, zoning ordinance, and site proposal have been offered.

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