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Big expectations for Tysons Corner ahead of Silver Line opening

Tuesday - 7/22/2014, 7:49pm  ET

Construction crews continue to work on the new Tysons Corner Center as the Silver Line launch nears. (WTOP/Max Smith)

WASHINGTON -- Lingering construction cranes above the Tysons Corner station aren't dimming expectations for massive changes as the Silver Line prepares to open Saturday.

"For a lot of our retailers ... to be able to take public transportation right to their doorstep is a real benefit when they're looking for prospective employees," says Tysons Corner Center Director of Marketing Bob Maurer.

While the mall has long been a hub for buses, the direct connection to Metro's new Tysons Corner Station opens the mall to shoppers who would otherwise head to Ballston or Pentagon City.

"Potentially those are shoppers, concertgoers that haven't been Tysons' shoppers before," says Maurer.

But despite similarities to other transit-connected malls (there are plans for an ice rink in the winter and concerts in the summer on the open-air plaza that connects the mall to the Metro station) Maurer says people from all parts of the region will have a new reason to boost business in Fairfax County.

"This is very different than any of those places. I think when the public gets to know this plaza it's going to be reminiscent of Rockefeller Center, it's going to be reminiscent of Bryant Park in New York, that was really our vision in building this," he says.

The Rockefeller Center inspiration will carry into the winter with fire pits and a giant tree for the holidays.

"All these trees are going to be illuminated, we're going to have a 50 foot tree in the middle, and the public can come in and, from an iPad, say, ‘I want the plaza to be blue', and they can change all the lights on all these trees," Maurer says.

The plaza also plans other events in front of the new Shake Shack, Hyatt hotel, 429 unit apartment building and the new Tysons Tower office building.

Intelsat moved into Tysons Tower this month, and Deloitte will move in in August. The Hyatt and Vita apartments open in January.

The direct connection from the Metro exit to the plaza is expected to open in mid- August after a crane working on the apartment building is removed.

The mall is also opening 22,000 square feet of new space adjacent to the elevated plaza. This includes a Zara store.

"I wouldn't say it's only because of the Metro. I think the impetus is we have a very successful shopping center… so we're bringing new people and new audiences to the shopping center by building around our development. The Tysons area obviously is booming right now and Metro certainly helps in bringing new people to Tysons, so it's a combination of things really," says Maurer.

"It's the right time for Tysons, the growth is now being well thought out, we've got public transportation and we encourage that, and more people want to live in Tysons and be closer to their work environments and to where they play as well," he adds.

Fairfax County hopes that Tysons develops a downtown feel that leads to more people leaving their cars at home in favor of taking the train, buses or bikes.

As part of that plan, there is no permanent public parking at any of the four stations in the Tysons area, and commuters won't be allowed to park at the mall.

"First and foremost our parking garages are for our shoppers and for our mall employees, and we want to make sure there is ample parking for them throughout, so prior to mall hours and after mall hours we're going to have controlled parking so those employees would need to have an access card to be able to get into the building and that just allows us to have that ample parking and not be a free parking garage for Metro riders headed into… the city," Maurer says.

Signs at the entrances to the mall's lots advise that parking is for shoppers only.

"We'll be giving notices initially to offenders and repeat offenders will be towed eventually," says Maurer.

And buying a coffee in the mall before heading into work won't be enough.

"If you're here 8-10 hours a day and your car hasn't moved, potentially that's going to raise some red flags," he says.

There is bike parking available at the Metro stations for commuters and at the mall for employees and visitors.

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