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Fairfax Planners Propose Tax District to Help Pay Tysons Corner Transportation Costs

Tackling how to pay for transportation needs of the "new" Tysons Corner.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission has proposed creating a special tax district in Tysons Corner to help pay for $1.2 billion in transportation improvements needed to transform the area into a city of 100,000 people in the next 40 years.

The Planning Commission holds a public hearing tonight on its proposal to ask the Board of Supervisors to create a tax district that would include  developers and existing residents.

"Half of the funding ($253,000,000 in 2012 dollars) should be generated by a Tysons-wide tax district, whose boundary would be the same as the Tysons Corner Urban Center," the proposal states. "The Tysons-wide Road Improvements will be contained within this boundary and will serve to benefit the entire community within Tysons."

The proposal also says: "The Tysons Corner Urban Center would by law also include residential property owners. These residential property owners are currently exempt from the Dulles Phase I Rail District taxation*, but would be subject to this service district. As of January 1, 2012, residential property owners make up approximately 10 percent of the total assessed value of properties in Tysons."

The Fairfax County Board rezoned Tysons Corner in 2010 to transform the melange of parking lots, car dealerships and office building into a new city that would be the economic generator of new dollars for Fairfax and Northern Virginia.

The plan calls for a new city of high-rise offices, hotels, apartments and condominiums, restaurants and shops  around the four new Silver Line subway stations now under construction along Route 123 and Route 7. The subway acts as the spine of the new city.

"The boundaries of the proposed Tysons service district are those traditionally used to define the 2,100 acres that are Tysons Corner: Dulles Toll Road to the north, Magarity Road to the south-east, Gallows and Old Courthouse Road to the southwest,"  said Michael Caplin, executive director of the Tysons Partnership, which represents primarily Tysons' developers.

The tax district proposal comes from "the committee that worked through the issues of the comprehensive plan," said Providence Supervisor Linda Smyth. "They have a very good record of trying to work through the issues. . . this is just a step in the process," she said.

The vast majority Tysons Corner is located in the Providence District.

The transportation plan for Tysons Corner includes everything from widening Route 7 from Route 123 south to the Beltway, building Jones Branch Road over the Beltway so that it connects to Dolley Madison Boulevard to new streets,  sidewalks, bike and walking paths.

That transportation "infrastructure" will cost an estimated $1.2 billion over about 30  years.

The developers will pay also the total costs all of the new streets. They will build those streets as they build their new developments around the metro stations.

 Cost: $561 million.

The idea of the new city of Tysons is to get people out of their cars and onto public transportation. To do that the county will ask the state and federal government to pay for expanded bus service to  get riders from the subway stations to their offices or homes and to get residents and workers around the new city.

Tonight's public hearing: 7 p.m. in the Board Auditorium in the Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA
22035).

Committee mark-up of the proposal: June 26th on 7 p.m. in Rooms 9/10 in the Government Center (12000 Government Center
Parkway, Fairfax).

*The Tysons Corner business community created a tax district earlier to help pay for the new Silver Line from Falls Church through McLean and Tysons Corner to Reston.

Kara DeArrastia June 21, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Actually the Tysons Corner Committee mark-up of the proposal will take place in Rooms 2/3 of the Government Center. Thank you.
Navid Roshan June 21, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Thank you PATCH! Finally someone calling the number correct, 1.2 billion is an accurate number as far as how much the costs will be over the next 40 years for TYSONS specifically. Route 7 widening outside of Tysons, and other projects outside of Tysons should not be counted as a cost for Tysons. If Fairfax deems those improvements as needed it will need to use general funds from VDOT, but it is antithetical to the desires of Tysons developers and residents. 1.2 billion spread over 40 years comes out to 30 million dollars a year (also a number that would be more useful than 1.2 billion since 40 years is a long time) in today's dollars. The new projects will create a tax base close to 300 million based on current assessed values for similar structures such as the ritz/tower crescent/park crest at final build out (based on 30 billion in assessed value). The money is there now that the agreement seems to be looming.
anne gruner June 21, 2012 at 01:36 PM
The Comprehensive Plan to turn Tysons into a true urban city, sounds lovely. But earlier plans gave us the Tysons traffic nightmare we have today. Even with new high density residential units, it is estimated that 70% of the Tysons workforce still will commute there from outside. There is debate as to how much the Silver Line Metro will ease traffic congestion. Do we really want a city of 100,000 at Tysons Corner? Are we sure we are not turning a ‘traffic Three Mile Island’ into a ‘traffic Chernobyl?' And two year's after the Plan, there is still $1.6 billion in unfunded transportation requirements-grids of streets, walkways, widening of rt 7, etc--not counting the new schools, posts offices, public services, etc required.And the plan mandates developers spend some $500 million for subsidized housing for those making $70-120,000! That $ should be spent on the infrastructure needs, which will otherwise be shouldered to large extent by taxpayers. Years ago, as a young government worker making $18,000 a year, I shared a rented house with 3 others. Nobody subsidized me! Today, as a McLean resident and property owner, I am fearful. As a taxpayer, I am alarmed. Please attend meeting tonight if you are as concerned as I am!
Rob Jackson June 21, 2012 at 03:49 PM
According to Fairfax County staff, $5.46 billion is needed by 2050 for road and non-rail transit to support an urban Tysons as contemplated in the new Comp Plan. That includes projects within and without Tysons. This is a bit more than $2 million each week. Most people will still drive SOV to and from Tysons. Major road improvements are needed for people to get to, from and around Tysons. Some of these are outside Tysons, but are needed just as much as the projects inside Tysons. Without them all, Tysons will not work. It will not be an attractive place to work or live. Also, since the intensity approved for Tysons was greater than what was studied by the County staff, even more road improvements are needed. The cost is going to be even larger. In sum, we need an enormous sum of money for Tysons to be successful.
Navid Roshan June 22, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Sigh, the comments posted here are just not realistic. First of all your 5.46 billion is just WRONG. You are lying. I write about this on my own website, every day I follow Tysons News, and I am in the trenches, no one who is a legitimate policy maker or in anyway following the costs believe it will cost 5.46 billion dollars. Ok? Lets just get that squared away. Secondly, a grid of streets is something that naturally will get built with each project, I kept telling FFX this, and FINALLY someone is listening and conceding that this 500 million dollar fake cost should be removed. Its not a cost, its something that developers since the beginning of time have paid for as part of construction costs. Thirdly, Walkways cost 77 million, no scratch that, in fact walkways and ALL bike improvements for the new city over the next 30 years cost a whole 77 MILLION DOLLARS! Do you understand why car infrastructure is stupid? That doesnt even pay for 1 years maintenance for the portion of Route 66 between Arlington and FFX parkway. Fourthly, Post offices? are you serious? Fifth, School plans are all part of the comprehensive plan, they have been analyzed and are part of the funding that becomes available by the fact that only 30 million a year is needed for ALL transportation infrastructure. Again, you wont need more schools UNLESS tysons is successful, (if no one lives there then why do you need schools?). If everyone is living there, then tax base will increase 300 million
Navid Roshan June 22, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Next, Seriously about the 500 million? NO ONE, and I speak to a lot of people who actually deal with real numbers, is taking this number by old man herrity, seriously. It has been disproven 100 ways till sunday. I dont even care about subsidized housing, honestly I kind of agree, but to make this even part of the discussion on cost is just absurd. Once again, if no one is living in Tysons then it wont be an issue right? Its only an issue if Tysons is a success, well frankly Id like to have 300 million more annually for FFX county and figure out the wrinkles, then not have it at all. The traffic night mare isnt because of previous plans, this is the biggest falsity. The fact is THERE WERE NO PLANS. The plans that were in place were not grounded in ANY city planning, in fact they poked fun at traditional city planning by calling tysons an "office park" on steroids. In other words, its sprawl, but for commercial offices. THis finally is adding order to the chaos. A city of 100,000? Charlotte is a city of 1.2 million and THEY LAUGH at the traffic that we as an area have because they have appropriately used their land and incorporated proper land use. The amount of people isnt the issue, its how stupidly we are arranging them, allowing the real crooks, sprawl developers who provide no concessions or post construction funding, to reap all the profit and provide no infrastructure tax funding.
Rob Jackson June 22, 2012 at 10:40 PM
County staff presented the $5.46 billion figure (2051 dollars) at the January 25, 2102 meeting of the Planning Commission's Tysons Committee meeting. Spreadsheets containing year-by-year estimates were distributed. The meeting was reported in the January 30, 2012 edition of the Washington Examiner. It was also in the online edition 1/28/12. http://washingtonexaminer.com/article/170479 These costs do not include the two additional rail lines that are needed, according to Fairfax County, to handle growth after 2030, when the road system's capacities are exhausted. Neither do they include the additional road projects being studied now by Fairfax County DOT. FC DOT's existing estimates were based on lower levels of development at Tysons than were approved by the Supervisors on June 22, 2010. FC DOT is conducting three comprehensive traffic studies to model the additional traffic congestion that will come from the added density that can be built. The staff will present the new facility needs and cost estimates when the three studies are completed. Costs will only increase. An urban Tysons will be very expensive. That does not mean Tysons will not be successful or that it will not produce considerable tax revenues. But billions are needed for transportation improvements.
anne gruner June 23, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Supervisor Herrity (not an "old man") has repeatedly asked for an analysis of what the subsidized housing requirement would cost developers and the county staff has been unable to provide it. The $500 million excludes the $70 million ongoing cost in loss of tax base from workforce units that have capped tax values. Condos at Tysons do not seem like 'affordable' housing to me. Will the occupants be able to rent them out? I am not a supervisor, planner, or civil engineer, but is there a chicken and egg problem here? You don't need the schools until 100,000 people are living there, but don't you need to have the schools and other facilities to attract the 100,000 residents? And what happens to the local schools in the mean time? ( The cp calls for a new library, two new urban fire stations, satellite police station, a variety of urban pocket parks, access to athletic fields, tennis courts, swimming pools and upgrades to water, waste management, electrical, etc.) For local residents, the concern about congestion and cost is genuine and growing as they observe the skyline change at Tysons.
Navid Roshan June 25, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Rob, As I indicated in my original post, it is absurd, and an exercise in futility to report dollar amounts in 2051 dollars. Are we to believe the FFX board are pyschics capable of projecting not only the local economy but the national economies inflationary projections 40 years in advance? Regardless, values in today's dollars should be use, and doing so (if one were not trying to commit scare tactics) would reduce the amount for the 2050 budget (something that again shouldnt be extended because we have no idea what kind of infrastructure will be needed in 40 years) to 3 billion dollars. Additionally, when you review the actual narrative that the Commission has written, something I have done, they concede that the "cost for tysons" has been inflated by Table 7 to include projects that have VERY LITTLE to do with Tysons which is why the group called for only a 10% assistance to those projects that are County Wide, and constitute approximately 1.2 billion of that 3 billion dollar cost. So we are down to 1.8billion. Now consider that the cost noted includes 300-500 million in ROW acquisition/construction that will be provided by developers that naturally construct streets and walkways through their properties. Lets be conservative and call this now 1.5 billion dollars. 1.5 billion over 40 years, is less than 40million per year (hardly something to be afraid of). We have to start analyzing what these numbers actually represent, not just the total "scary" number.
Navid Roshan June 25, 2012 at 12:43 PM
There are already several schools that serve the general region that have been analyzed for improvements and can take more students at this time. If significant residential construction occurs, many of these developments such as Arbor Row, are providing schools properties as part of their concessions. Spring Hill Station has already dedicated a fire station as part of its construction/property. It is not chicken and egg, it is called trigger development. The facilities will be built slightly ahead of when they might be "fully" needed. As far as condos in tysons, to my knowledge the mix of rent vs condos is going to remain similar to most cities in the world based on my review of the projects (though market conditions do shift) at about 4 rental units for every 1 condo unit. The affordable housing I believe will be incorporated into the rentals not the condos to my knowledge. The "affordability" of them is what is in question and what has been debunked from (Old Man, a description of his general carmungenous) estimate of 500 million which is just pulling numbers from thin air. This isnt about subsidized housing (which many are painting it out to be) its about making it so the new city will NOT only be affordable to corporate execs. That cost is indirectly hidden in the cost for services/food/business in a city which doesn't control its affordability. Its a smart move to ensure blue and white collar can be part of the change.
Navid Roshan June 25, 2012 at 12:46 PM
If people in 1960 saw that widening Route 50 for 8 miles would cost 150 million dollars, I believe their heads would explode at the thought and people would scream that the county will be saddled with a debt that can never be returned. Thats the funny thing about 40-50 years, its a long time, and how we view an amount of money is completely different. In 1960 a 25,000 salary was also a solid living, anyone think that today?
Rob Jackson June 25, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Navid, you raise good questions. Why does anyone care about 2051 dollars? People care because the Supervisors are going to make a decision on funding that will obligate taxpayers until at least 2051. People want to know how much taxpayers will be obligated to pay. A key factor not being discussed is that most people living near Tysons oppose the urbanization. They may not think Tysons works well, but most don't want to grow even more because they fear more congestion and higher taxes. Very few people who don't own property in Tysons or who don't work for a landowner or developer believe development in Tysons will benefit them. Ordinary people don't believe development keeps their real estate taxes lower. And that big development will keep them even lower. Table 7 lists the projects Fairfax County believes are necessary to make Tysons function at 84 MSF. Some are located within Tysons and other outside. Yet if you ask the question, but for the added growth at Tysons would the ones outside Tysons be needed on the same scale and schedule as set forth in Table 7? No. If Tysons will not function at 84 MSF without one of these projects being constructed, it belongs on Table 7 regardless of where it’s located. Moreover, it is likely Table 7 will get larger and more costly.
Rob Jackson June 25, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Much of the $5.46 B is the cost of transit, which is necessary for Tysons to grow beyond 84 MSF. The Strawman puts those costs on taxpayer even though the cause of the costs is development at Tysons. A lot of people don't like the Strawman's allocation of costs. The McLean Citizens Association and the Reston Citizens Association support making landowners/developers pay 75% of all costs, with certain adjustments for state and federal money. I know a number of people from all over the political spectrum who believe developers should pay 100% of the costs. The County needs to do more disclosure about Tysons and not less.
Mike DeMeo September 13, 2012 at 10:41 PM
www.tysonscornerurbancenter.com

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