Virginia’s New Suburbia

Not your grandfather’s suburb. Artist’s rendering of The View at Tysons re-development project.

by James A. Bacon

Virginia’s suburbs are undergoing profound demographic changes with tremendous implications for politics and real-estate development strategy, argues Greg Weatherford in Virginia Business magazine.

The suburbs are less white than they used to be. Northern Virginia, unsurprisingly, is leading the way. As of 2018, 49.4% of Northern Virginia residents identified as members of a racial minority, up from 36.5% in 2010. NoVa residents are younger, and a higher percentage, 27%, have been born in another country. Youth and ethnic diversity are demographic attributes that are strongly affiliated with Democratic voters.

The demographic shift is accompanied by changing tastes of suburban dwellers, many of whom no longer place a premium on living in a single-family dwelling in a subdivision. Increasingly, suburbanites are seeking “walkable urbanism” — enclaves where they can live in apartments or condos, don’t have yards to care for, and can stroll down the street to a pub or grocery store.

Weatherford argues that the new suburbia signals a complete reshaping of what we traditionally have thought about the suburbs. Virginia, he quotes Rachael Bitecofer at Christopher Newport University as saying, is “in the middle of a long-term realignment. It is going to have big ramifications.”

Virginia’s traditional urban cores have prospered over the past decade as young people decided that city living was more exciting than life in the burbs, and as businesses relocated to urban locations in order to hire them. Suburban communities, whose land use patterns were locked in place with rigid zoning codes, were slow to respond. But suburban county governments, pushed and prodded by market-sensitive developers, are getting the message, and they’re allowing more walkable urbanism to develop. This process is farthest along in Northern Virginia, where Arlington pioneered suburban re-development around the Washington Metro system three or four decades ago and Fairfax County has committed to a massive make-over of the Tysons area. But more walkable urbanism is being developed in Hampton Roads and the Richmond metro as well.

County jurisdictions still have competitive advantages over center cities. Their tax rates tend to be lower, schools better, crime less ubiquitous, and municipal services more responsive. When combined with walkable urbanism, those attributes make a powerful combination for attracting new residents. As a consequence, the migration back into city centers has slowed in recent years.

The suburbs, once associated with white flight, are open to foreigners and minorities. Nearly 60% of African Americans now live in suburbs, points out Fabrizio Fasulo, director and chief economist at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Urban and Regional Analysis. Nationally, one third of the country’s suburban population is composed of African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics. (In western Henrico where I live, students at the local elementary school, Maybeury, speak 40 different languages.)

Bacon’s bottom line: Virginia Business is on the mark. There are at least three broad sweeping lessons to be drawn.

Counties, embrace walkable urbanism. If Virginia’s counties want to remain competitive in the quest for educated talent, they had better get on board with walkable urbanism. Some localities get it. Others are moving sluggishly.

Central cities, don’t get cocky. Urban-core localities enjoyed a decade-long renaissance because they had what the market wanted, walkable urbanism, and counties did not. The counties are catching on. Meanwhile, center cities — I’m talking to you, Richmond — still have high taxes, under-performing schools, and city services that suck. Better get your act together.

Republicans, reinvent yourselves. Democratic Party dominance in the suburbs is not some temporary phenomenon due to Trump Derangement Syndrome. It reflects fundamental demographic shifts. If the GOP is perceived as the rural white party, it will never recapture the suburbs. The GOP must reinvent itself as the prosperity-and-opportunity-for-all party or resign itself to permanent political-minority status. Given the determination of General Assembly Democrats to move Virginia to the left of California or New Jersey — something Virginia voters never bargained for — having a competitive Republican Party is more imperative than ever.

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58 responses to “Virginia’s New Suburbia

  1. Good column. However, I think you overlook a few things.

    1. Rebuilding poorly planned suburban areas (like Tysons) is expensive and painful. Right now Tysons is like an awkward adolescent. It still lacks density, true mixed use and walkability. Someday it may get there. As for now, it’s kind of a mess. Too much employment and too little residential. Commuters pour in and out, increasingly from Maryland, and overwhelm the Cabin John Bridge as well as surface roads leading to the bridge.

    2. If Virginia Republicans want to win statewide offices they need to take a long, hard look at Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan – a moderate Republican in his second (and last) term.

    3. Attractive urban areas are high value, high cost, high tax places. Looking for fast growing, walkable, mixed use urban areas with low costs / taxes is like hunting unicorns. Fun to contemplate but unrealistic.

    • I agree with No. 1 and No. 2.

      I don’t agree agree with No. 3. Yes, urban areas are high-value places. But if they are high-cost and high-tax places that’s for reasons other than their human settlement patterns. Walkable urbanism of moderate density hits the sweet spot for taxes generated as ratio of the cost of building/maintaining supporting infrastructure.

      If urban jurisdictions are high cost and high tax, it’s because of other policies those jurisdictions choose to pursue — dumping money into schools, social programs, and other urban priorities. They are high tax despite their human settlement patterns, not because of them.

      • You can’t have walkable urbanism with moderate density. If you really want people to live, work and recreate within walking distance you need density. When I lived in Manhattan I walked to and from work every day. Walked to restaurants, theater and bars. Shopped for everything from custom dress shirts to fly fishing equipment in stores within walking distance. However, I paid through the nose for my studio apartment on 57th between 3rd and Lex. Why? Because walkability came from density and density, by definition, is created by land scarcity relative to population. Scarcity, in turn, raises prices – for everything. Stores need to charge more to pay their rent. Policemen and firewomen need to be paid more to be able to afford to live in the area. Their salaries are paid with taxes. Waiters and waitresses have to make enough money to live so food costs go up. Or, subsidized housing has to be provided. Any change in the transportation system means astronomical eminent domain costs. Tunnels start to look cheap in densely populated cities.

        Maybe we’d better define “walkable”. To me it means easily being able to live and work without needing to use a private motor vehicle.

  2. Not exactly new stuff

    • What’s new is the status of Tysons which is very much a work in progress. The jury is out as to whether the Tysons redevelopment plan will work. Given the governance structure of a strict Dillon’s Rule state, a sprawling county and a Census Designated Place (i.e. Tysons) of 4.26 sq mi and about 25,000 residents I have my doubts. Tysons needs to incorporate as a city with a strong and autonomous charter. This would take them out of Fairfax County (completely) and give them some relief from Richmond.

      In a world where wealth is built in cities Virginia has a 401 year history of being unable to create cities. That needs to change.

  3. I agree with Don. And would add that Virginia Business Magazine is serving up to the unwary a warmed over and highly simplistic hash. The grains of truth in article are all blown up into a big Madison Avenue illusion. It is amazing are far we have regressed after lost decades of digging in long term obstacles to reformation.

    In Arlington, forty years ago, it was largely different save for Rosslyn, when we build what we promised in Arlington from Courthouse to Ballson. It took 20 years, from 1960 to 1980, to get the plan right before the successful building really started, after numerous false starts and dead ends, and another say 20 years (1980 – 2000), to get base frame rejiggered and new bones laid down. Amazing achievements are still being built there to ever greater advantage, including Rosslyn now. What a monumental achievement. But most to this was built on open urban brown fields on good bones and grids of smaller obsolete structures on efficient mature street grids. This allowed larger margins for error, and greatly eased the nightmare of dense heavily vested rights issues, and intractable heavy dysfunctions baked in decades before. Tyson’s lacks these advantages. Instead its got a mess to unwind. TooManyTaxes likely has much to say on this matter.

    • I agree that Tysons is a mess, and that fixing Tysons may prove so expensive that it ultimately proves inflexible. But that’s not the point of either the VB article or my post. What the Tysons effort signifies is a significant change of thinking in Fairfax County, a jurisdiction that practically invented suburban sprawl, which reflects a broader thinking across Virginia’s suburban jurisdictions.

      “Is Tysons Fixable?” is a different question that we can discuss in another blog post.

      We could ask similar questions of other counties. Henrico is approving more mixed-use development, but the developments occur in small, scattered patches. They aren’t connected. They lose economies of scale and fall far short of the potential. But the insufferably conservative mentality in Henrico is beginning to change, and the county is re-writing its zoning code. Change is coming.

      • Jim, I disagree.

        The real question is How can we fix Tysons? so we can really get on with the business of fixing the whole damn region!

        Fairfax is up to its old games, using the usual bright shiny trinkets to distract from real solutions.

        • Reed is right. Attempting to reform the un-reformable is not progress. Underestimating the true costs of fixing Tysons and watching the effort fail is not progress. Reston works because Robert E Simon had the vision to imagine how farmland could become walkable urban suburbia. His plan essentially forced high density at the core and his plan worked (at Reston scale). Today the CDP of Reston has almost exactly the same density as the City of Richmond. In 2017, the average price of a home in Reston was $456,000. The good news is that 57% of Restonian housholds earn more than $100,000 per year. Almost twice the percentage for the US as a whole.

          Walkable urbanism – Great opportunities for the educated. High salaries. High costs. High taxes.

      • It is strange to see Jim Bacon using the phrase “insufferably conservative mentality”!

    • I agree with Jim Bacon’s number #3. Republicans, reinvent yourselves. The GOP must reinvent itself as the prosperity-and-opportunity-for-all party or resign itself to permanent political-minority status.

      Has the GOP even given this serious thought, much less built the political infrastructure to sell its visions, plans, and ideas, much less set up the framework to deploy them? If not, the GOP will go the way of the moderate Democratic Party. Then everyone but Bernie’s true believers will hold our destiny in their hands.

    • Yep, Arlington reformed itself from typical suburbia to high density, walkable urbanism (population density of 8,000 per sq mi – more than twice that of the City of Richmond). Guess what else it got?

      https://www.arlingtonmagazine.com/arlington-virginia-affordable-housing-crisis/

  4. johnrandolphofroanoke

    You know in Loudoun County a Republican dominated Board of Supervisors ushered in a 30 year period of suburban growth. Strange how everyone has forgotten about that. Yet this growth brought in tens of thousands of new families with a much different political ideology. Now that the Democratic Socialist party is in charge what will be the long term politics for Loudoun County? I would not be surprised to see this flip back but in a much different form. Old fashioned Democrat vs. Republicans politics is old 20th century news.

    • That is a good point about the Loudoun Republican Board of Supervisors. I can remember when a Democrat-dominated board fought the developers and tried to preserve farmland.

      • They actually did succeed west of Rt 15, at least that was the idea. We’ll see how long that lasts once Eastern Loudounites figure out how much of their tax revenue is going to subsidize Western Loudoun. Those from the eastern side of the county will have plenty of time to consider that question as they sit in traffic every morning and evening.

        • johnrandolphofroanoke

          Much of Western Loudoun and Northern Fauquier is in land preservation thanks to the efforts of the Piedmont Environmental Council. Millions of dollars in tax credits exchanged for easements and development rights. Mosby’s Confederacy will be recognizable for decades to come.

    • I totally agree with you John. There is unfolding now a huge opening and opportunity for the Republican Party.

      The big question is do Republican Leaders have the vision to define Loudoun’s, and Virginia’s future and sell that future to voters. I mean, really, unless a modern day Venezuela is Loudoun’s preferred future, the Republicans should take the place in a landslide, given what is happening now. People in Loudoun, including those of color, are far smarter, prouder and self interested than the leftist Democrats now in power know.

    • Do you remember the old bumper stickers … “Don’t Fairfax Loudoun”? I’m ready to commission some new bumper stickers … “De-Loudoun Fairfax”. lol.

      • johnrandolphofroanoke

        I remember those bumper stickers. That was a huge big deal back in the late 1980s. I like to call Loudoun “Loudounfax County”. Might as well merge it with Fairfax.

  5. Just to demonstrate how much that area of Henrico has changed, just over 40 years ago (my goodness, has it been that long?), my daughter attended Maybeury and I doubt if any language other than English was spoken by the parents of the kids in her class.

    There is a lot of talk about walkable urbanism and medium density housing and how that is what today’s young workers want. I wonder if they are still going to want that when they start having children.

    • I’d love to hear some examples of walkable urbanism at mid density. Throwing down more sidewalks and bike lanes in typically mid density suburbia won’t make it walkable or urban. This sounds like Smart Growth hallucination.

      When the young workers have children they will move out of the “cities” just like they have for generations. However, for every child that leaves there is a retiree who wants to move in.

      • Examples of walkable urbanism at mid density (typical building with five to six stories):

        Barcelona

        Paris

        • Jim –

          I’m amazed to find that we’re arguing over the definition of density rather than walkability. I’ve been to Paris and Barcelona many times. Beautiful, walkable, urban, mixed use cities. Generally mid-rise architecture as you say. However, Paris has a population of 2.1m and a density of 53,000 per sq mi.

          You could certainly build a walkable city like Paris or Barcelona in Virginia, architecturally speaking. The problem is that you couldn’t fill it with people. How do you want to define walkable? Let’s say that 50% of the employed in a walkable area live within 2 miles of their employer and 75% of all shopping, dining, entertainment, etc trips are taken within a 2 mile walk. Let’s take restaurants. How many restaurants need to be in our theoretical 4 sq mi walkable area for 75% of the dining experiences by people living in that area to be walkable? And how many people have to live within an area to support a restaurant? Let’s say it takes 10 restaurants to make up 75% of dining experiences and it takes 2,500 residents to support a restaurant. That’s 25,000 people in a 4 sq mi area with a density of 6,250 per sq mi. That’s the minimum density that would work as a starting point for walkable urbanity. Things have to be within walking distance and there has to be a lot of things worth walking to.

          So, we’re looking for at least 25,000 people living in a population density area of 6,250 per sq mi. Obviously, more people at the same or greater density would also work. Core Reston? Old Town Alexandria? The Ballston – Rosslyn corridor in Arlington? Some neighborhoods in Richmond? Guess what? They all walkable. Density creates walkability; walkability does not create density (below 6,250 per sq mi in my SWAG).

          Tysons barely has 25,000 people and a density of 4,600 per sq mi. Given my SWAG, it’s 2/3 the density required for walkability. We need to add another 10,000 people or so to get to minimum walkability level. If you can get to that density then store owners will insist on opening in the area, citizens will demand more walkability as it gets too crowded to seriously consider driving, etc.

          If we can figure out how to create density in an area with some minimum number of people we can “create” walkability. The big question is how you get the density up to minimum walkability level without the area being walkable yet. You have to do it by zoning I believe.

          • so a question to Bacon and DJ. Is New York City “walkable” in the context that you speak?

            would it matter if NYC did not have Central Park and other parks and was mostly city sidewalks?

          • Interesting questions: How much density is required to achieve “walkability”? And how critical is walkability to achieving workable density? And how does a community evolve from a suburban pattern of development (low density, low walkability) to a more urban pattern of development (higher density, higher walkability)?

            My sense is that density and walkability evolve hand in hand. A high-functioning urban area needs both, as well as a supporting mass transit system.

            I would point to Richmond’s Fan neighborhood as on the low-density end of the walkability range — but it is walkable.

            An important point touched upon in other comments is that all the walkable pieces need to interconnect with one another. Small, scattered islands of walkability don’t do much to change transportation dynamics.

          • “Small, scattered islands of walkability don’t do much to change transportation dynamics.”

            Congratulations, you win a cookie.

          • All I know of New York is Manhattan. But I would say it is highly walkable. A couple of weekends ago, my wife and I stayed in a hotel near Times Square. We walked everywhere — didn’t even need to take the subway.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            As to Jim’s 5:06 question, where does parking fit in, if at all, to jump-start, build, and/or maintain this mix, and at what intervals, types, and locales along the development timelines? How does this now apply to Tyson’s corner to force, or regulate change to walk ability, and at what intervals, to best sustain and maintain livability, revenue and income.

      • With us baby boomers retiring and the birth rate going down and couples waiting longer to have children, you may be right.

      • johnrandolphofroanoke

        7 pedestrians have been struck and killed so far in 2020 just in Loudoun County. So much for walkable/bikeable communities. 1 in 10 are obese in America. There are many folks who see a walkable community as a nice path to the Golden Corral.

      • In NOVA and Prince William County specifically, Smart Growth Hallucination is too kind a phrase. The jurisdictions have largely taken concepts such as “walkable urbanism” or “live, work and play” communities, and bastardized them into the justification for “small area plans” that solely benefit residential development at greatly increased density. The problem, by and large those “small area plans” are located far from transit notes, existing commercial and/or workplace development, instead proposed in areas where cheaper rural greenfield land can be purchased. A prime example is the “Independent Hill Small Area Plan” proposed along Rt. 234, halfway between Dumfries and Manassas, across from a landfill, and in area without so much as a bus stop. Why would they do that, because the property is controlled by one of the most favored developers.

        It is indeed a Smart Growth Hallucination but one caused by the tabs of acid the County staff is force feeding the residents as if they were engaged in a large scale mind control experiment that would make Timothy Leary blush.

        Of course staff didn’t stop there as the residents were getting wise to them, to further complicate matters, they are now proposing a new layer of zoning definitions and ordinances (MUZD) to layer upon the existing hash of codes so as to render the zoning ordinance effectively meaningless and allow the developer to build whatever, wherever and whenever it wants.

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        • I often do not agree with Mom – but he’s got this right. We seen this down Fredericksburg way… “walkable” is the new buzzword but it’s all confined to within a given project… heaven forbid the walkable extends to other developments in the area.

          • “he’s got this right”, reaching for my bourbon bottle now.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            What is it, the weird in Virginia and Virginian land developers generally, but particularly around Rt. 1 around Dumfries to Manassas, and rest of it north into Alexandria?

            As early as the late 1940s, I remember the intractable clutter and thicket along route 1 – poles, wires, signs, amid trashy motels, walk-ups, gas stations, tiny convenience stores. As late 195os and early 60s I recall my parents driving past the very same dilapidated roadside Dumfries walk up that my parents shared as “living quarters” with another young just married newly minted Marine couple, both living there in 1934. That strip of pavement that seemed frozen in amber, took the lives of many young marines coming back from liberty in DC as far back as the 1920s, I was told laters.

  6. Most ordinary people cannot afford to live in Tysons. Many of the apartments and condos are being rented/purchased by citizens of foreign nations. There are a lot of younger people residing there as well. I suspect many are sharing an apartment. Studios tend to start around $2200 to 2400.

    I don’t have good information about empty nesters. We are seeing a strong push for senior housing in the McLean CBC because people want to downsize and stay in the area but not live in Tysons. A big exception is the Mather, a full-cycle senior living complex from independent living to nursing home care, that will be built in Tysons.

    Traffic continues to be ungodly. Much of the Maryland resident base uses apps like Waze and Google to avoid congestion on the Inner Loop of the Beltway and American Legion Bridge. This takes them through residential neighborhoods on narrow streets, often with parking on both sides. Take a 30-foot-wide street, add the parking and speeding cars and trucks, and its a mess. Lots of angry people. I turned in the driver of a large van that barely made around a tight corner without smashing four or five cars.

    And while Tysons’ real estate taxes are producing growing revenues, they area insufficient to sustain Fairfax County’s annual spending spree. Real estate taxes are up about 25% (including assessment changes) in the last 5 or 6 years. And we see lots of virtue signaling. Damn it’s important to show residents that illegal immigrants are more important than anyone else.

    Fairfax County will continue to get older, with many people in the middle moving out. The County will consist more of a rich and poor county. The troubles are there aren’t enough rich people to pay all the freight and lower-priced homes are appreciating at a much higher rate than more expensive ones.

    • Most ordinary people cannot afford to live in Old Town Alexandria, Reston, Bethesda, DC (other than SouthEast, and even that area is gentrifying), Manhattan, SanFrancisco, London, etc. It’s the way of the world. High density, walkable urbanism is wonderful and wonderfully expensive. There’s affordable housing in the decrepit areas of Springfield near the beltway but it’s not walkable, high density or urban.

      • I agree. I think this obsession with “affordable housing” in the most desirable places in a nation is absolutely ridiculous. You can upzone, run a Rapid Bus Transit line all over the city with service every 5 minutes, etc. and you are still not going to create housing affordable to a guy who works fast food, retail, etc. In the end, people want to live in Arlington. They want to live in Old Town. They want to live in the Fan. That market-based demand is too deep and too great for policymakers to keep obsessing over service worker housing in those places. I wish it was otherwise, but it’s not. Mr. Market has a way of winning.

    • Virginia should drop its reciprocal income tax agreement with Maryland. If you work in Virginia you pay Virginia taxes. If you work in Maryland you pay Maryland taxes. Too many people living in Maryland and working in Virginia not contributing what the should to Virginia’s tax base. Either that or put up toll gantries on every road leading to the Cabin John Bridge in Northern Virginia. $5 per crossing would be useful. Put the money in a kitty for expanding the bridge or building a new bridge.

  7. As a side note on walkable urbanism, McLean Virginia (zip codes 22101 and 22102) checks in at 24.88 sq mi with a density of about 2,000 per sq mi. So, it’s about the same size as Arlington County with 1/4th the density. That seems like a good definition of mid density. Tell me how you make it walkable at that density where the definition of walkability is that most people don’t need to own a car.

  8. Above comments are terrific. They hold mountains of lessons to be learned as to how zoning, density, and land use can power growing wealth and health compounding for generations within well planned places

    Here’s Don paraphrased – “In 2017, the average home price in Reston was $456,000. 57% of Reston households earn more than $100,000 per year, twice US average as a whole.”

    Meanwhile a few miles up the road in Tysons, how its poorly planned and built, even for the rich, so now breeds growing social and economic dysfunction that results in ever more sterile dystopias that destroy peoples wealth, health, and social well being for ever more miles all around until society wilts then collapses around its core where Studios start around $2200 to 2400, with lots of singles, and empty nesters amid traffic ungodly on 30-foot-wide parked streets with speeding cars, trucks, anger people, a mess. Meanwhile Tysons’ real estate taxes can’t sustain Fairfax County’s annual spending spree so up about 25% in last 5 or 6 years. Plus lots of virtue signaling as Fairfax gets older with many middle class moving out, leaving only rich versus ever more poor without enough rich to pay all the freight and lower-priced homes grow pricier at a much higher rate than more expensive ones.

    Where does all this end? Why can’t it be reversed? And how? Or shall we just leave the mess behind to feaster, and die, while building ever more of it down the road that will also die along with the original mess, on gridlocked roads few can afford to drive? And all of this gridlocked mess without apparent end after 40 years and counting.

  9. I think what happened to Loudoun is not that unusual. It’s happened to the Fredericksburg Area also.

    The GOP pretty much loves land-development – lots of business opportunities.

    But they don’t love who moves in when they want services, parks and other costly things nor the Dem-voting minorities!

    It’s no big secret. The GOP tends to like business and business opportunity – and the Dems tend to cater to what workers and the “un-rich” want – i.e. walkable urbanism financed with tax dollars and govt controlled zoning.

    The GOP tends to like the way that low-tax “rural”works and uber-tax “urban” gives them massive heartburn.

    But, like DJ, I do not think there is such a thing as low-tax urban… and that’s why there are few prosperous urban places that are low tax.

    Ok.. so now I’m putting on my helmet and ballistic vest… 😉

    • johnrandolphofroanoke

      So true Larry. This story repeats itself around the nation. I think that is going to change though. Old fashioned Republicans are a thing of the past now. Just like old fashioned conservative Democrats in Virginia.

    • Larry, you’ve never met a Democrat from Fairfax County. They readily give massive density without also providing a path to the infrastructure necessary to support that density. For example, when Fairfax County proposed increasing total development from 84 MSF to 113 MSF, while adding some more transportation infrastructure, it filed a 529 traffic study with VDOT. VDOT’s comments clearly stated that the added infrastructure was going to be insufficient to support the added development.

      In other words, Fairfax County supervisors approved more development than they new could be supported. And guess what political party has controlled the BoS for years?

      • Oh I’m well aware TMT. I just ask what the GOP would have done with Fairfax?.. worse?

        • “Oh I’m well aware TMT. I just ask what the GOP would have done with Fairfax?.. worse?”

          Not to worry. Larry. GOP is stuffed Donkey in Museum. Irrelevant. Democrats own it all, the massive mess. You’re tilting at ghosts and myths. It’s time to find a new enemy.

        • That is an absurd question. The GOP has not controlled the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors since Tom Davis was chair back in the 1990s. None of the Tysons re-planning occurred back then.

          Asking what the GOP would have done is as crazy as asking what the Democrats would have done during the Civil War. An interesting topic for a novel but simply immaterial to the results.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            TMT says:

            “Asking what the GOP would have done is as crazy as asking what the Democrats would have done during the Civil War.”

            His comment asked twin questions. We can answer both, with near certainty.

            The Democrats during the Civil War comprised most all who fought on the side of the Confederacy.

            Not one historian to date that I know of has found a single Republican who owned a slave.

          • I don’t think it is a crazy question at all. Dems and GOP have very different views about things like taxes, zoning, private and public property.

            I’m asking how the GOP might do things different than the Dems when “designing” a place like Tysons or for that matter any place with regard to “walkability”.

            DJ says “walkability” as currently done by Tysons is more of an amenity concept than function transportation.

            New York city – is very different with regard to buildings, sidewalks and “connectibility” between live, work, shop and play compared to places like Tysons.

            Oh, the Civil War? Where Dems and Republicans were the opposite of the way they are now? The Dems in the Civil War were the Conservatives who defended slavery, no?

  10. I’m not sure density is the only key to walkability and I also question what density really means… does it mean live, work , play and shop or something else?

  11. re: ” All I know of New York is Manhattan. ”

    Is Manahattan “walkable” the same as Richmond or NoVa “walkable”?

  12. Many things go into the definition of “walkability.” One factor is how pedestrian-friendly the streetscapes are. How much room do the sidewalks provide? How easy is it to cross intersections? How visually interesting are the streetscapes? Are there places to sit down and chat or eat a sandwich?

    Another factor is the quantity and quality of destinations that are available within convenient walking distance. How many restaurants, retail stores, yoga parlors, post offices, magazine stands, bookstores, coffee shops, etc. etc. are located within, say, a 15-minute walk? Destinations would include other residences where one might have family and friends, and include offices and other places of business. The more destinations that can be reached by foot, the more walkable the place is.

    • To me walkability is irrelevant unless it leads to a significantly less car-centric community. I don’t know why but I’d guess that when 75% of adults in a community who can afford a car don’t own one you are “significantly less walkable”. Manhattan clearly has achieved this goal. Tysons has clearly not.

      TMT correctly forecast the fiasco that is Tysons today. Enough new density to completely overwhelm the roads without enough density to create a walkable community where 75% of the adults who can afford a car decide they don’t need to own one.

      Can Tysons become walkable (by my definition)? Not under today’s regime. Or, I should say – no time soon under today’s regime. Assuming that Tysons can attract more and more businesses it will attract more and more residents. At first, this seems like a virtuous circle on the way to walkability. However, the Democrat controlled Fairfax County BoS will continue to allow developers to build close to (but not walkable from) the employment in Tysons. This will further constrict surface roads and prevent Tysons from achieving truly walkable density.

      The solution is for Tysons to incorporate as a city which would put it outside the corrupt influence of the Fairfax County’s BoS. The charter should stipulate a number of key human settlement pattern requirements. For one, there should be a fairly wide swath on the edge of the city where development is forbidden. A green belt if you will. Public parking should be banned in core Tysons and all curb cuts from the various highways going through core Tysons should be closed off. A free (to the rider) circular bus system should provide transportation from the large garages on the edge of the green belt to locations within core Tysons (see the system that serves Vail, CO for an example). The state commits to continued infrastructure funding for Tysons (essentially giving the residents back the money they already gave in taxes) so long as Tysons sticks to its charter and manages its decisions on the way to becoming an urban, mixed use walkable city.

  13. At the end of fiscal 2024, the existing statute that prohibits any part of a county from splitting from a county expires. It’s been in effect since 1987. Would Tysons be interested in splitting from Fairfax County? Could they afford to do so without major tax increases to support all of the necessary infrastructure and basic government functions? I’m not sure.

  14. One must always keep in mind that a key goal of Fairfax County elected officials, most especially then BoS chairman Gerry, Connolly, was enrichment of wealthy Tysons landowners who make big campaign contribution. While there are certainly good things about the Tysons Comp Plan, the entire process is one of the most stark examples of crony capitalism in the history of the United States. Probably why the Post loves it.

    • I see only one viable solution to Tyson’s Corner, particularly at its core. That solution seems obvious and straightforward, given all the other massive constrains already in place.

      That solution is to confine all new construction in Tyson’s core to high and mid rise residential to include related commercial that is strictly ancillary to existing and to be built residential, until all the uses in Tyson’s corner are brought into balance. This solution would require a moratorium on new office construction until balance is achieved.

      If this targeted mix is imaginatively and creatively executed within Tyson’s core, I strongly suspect that the revenues and benefits, along with cost savings county wide, generated by such new residential development and ancillary uses, to Fairfax County, Tyson’s corner generally, and the entire region, all these revenues and benefits taken together, would be far higher, pervasive, and longer term, than is commonly known today, and exponentially so. The proof is plain to see. Fairfax need look no further than Arlington County’s success with the Ballson Rosslyn Corridor.

      I see no other workable option.

  15. What’s the Washington Times and Washington Examiner have to say about it?

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