Reston Spring

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Fairfax County Struggles Between Urban And Suburban Development, WAMU, May 7, 2013

Although focused on southern Fairfax County, this article and broadcast by Michael Pope pretty much hits the nail on the head:  The County is having trouble managing the change from a suburban to an urban focus in key areas of the County (including the Dulles Corridor & Reston).  From our perspective, the County has not come yet to fully appreciate the difference in these two environments and the extent of the infrastructure investment that the process of moving from one to the other requires, not to mention operating in both environments.  This is especially true of transportation (roads, transit, and TDM), balancing jobs and housing, providing sufficient open space in urban areas, and several other dimensions of the urbanizing process, including Tysons.

There is no doubt that managing two environments simultaneously is challenging, but it is not clear that either the Board of Supervisors or the County staff full appreciate the complexity and change in thinking and funding (and taxing) that is required.  What we see now is an attempt to urbanize some parts of the County while using suburban development thinking, an almost certain path to failure on both counts.

Should Fairfax County develop as a suburban getaway, or follow the more urban path chosen by Ballston and Rosslyn?
William F. Yurasko (
In Virginia, one part of Fairfax County is experiencing a personality crisis.
This summer, a new Costco will open in southeast Fairfax County along the Richmond Highway corridor. The new big-box retailer will have a giant parking lot and fit the same pattern as suburban and exurban development motorists see as they navigate Loudoun County. At the same time, about a mile away, a new mixed-use urban development called Beacon of Groveton is opening its doors—a development similar to something people might see in Ballston or Rosslyn.
Edythe Frankel Kelleher, the executive director of the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation, says the suburban model is still an important part of Fairfax County. "Those folks still need to get in their cars and drive places. And when they get in their cars, they want to go to a Costco. They want to have that big, one-stop shopping."
This week, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation will select a consultant to conduct a long awaited study of the corridor one that will make an important determination about the preferred mode of transportation along Route One. Officials will be left to decide if it should be bus-rapid transit, light rail or Metro. . . .
Click here for the rest of this broadcast, including the audiotape.

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