Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tysons redevelopment in the Wall Street Journal

As most of us are aware, remaking Tysons into a walkable, mixed-use, transit-oriented development will be no small undertaking. It took many years to develop what is there now, a car-oriented area with acres of parking lots and congested streets. How SoHo Can Save the Suburbs: Smart 'edge cities' are turning their shuttered malls and aging office parks into hip hotspots describes attempts to transform Tysons and other similar places into more livable, walkable, bikeable communities:
Perhaps the biggest retrofit of all is happening in Tysons Corner, Va., the virtual archetype of an auto-dependent, sprawling edge city. Located near the junctions of three major highways, it boasts 25 million square feet of office space and four million square feet of retail space. Decades ago developers hailed it as the wave of the future—one of hundreds of new satellite centers that would render our old downtown commercial centers obsolete. But Tysons Corner has lately been losing out. Its perpetual traffic gridlock and its lack of human energy have caused home-buyers to choose other places. Some companies that were headquartered there have even moved back into the District of Columbia.

Now developers and landowners are seeking to make it more walkable, with a more integrated mix of uses. In June, the county's Board of Supervisors adopted a comprehensive plan that would transform Tysons Corner into a "24-hour urban center where people live, work and play." Its hallmarks will be green construction, access to public transportation and abundant public amenities, like parks and bicycle trails—something that sounds very much like a real city.
The full version of the WSJ column, where the image above appeared, is entitled Suburban Renewal by Richard Florida.



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