Charlottesville’s downtown pedestrian mall

If you haven’t checked your home’s walk score, you should. Walkability contributes to higher property values, a more livable neighborhood and a healthier community.

by James A. Bacon

Walk Score, a web-based service that measures walkability, is taking the urban planning profession by storm. Using an algorithm that awards points based on the distance to amenities within a location’s walking distance, Walk Score purports to measure the walkability of a neighborhood, city, county or even an entire region. The algorithm is far from perfect but it gives a pretty good rough cut.

Walkability matters a great deal. This crucial amenity affects property values; houses with higher Walk Scores enjoy higher property values per square foot. “In the typical market, an additional one point increase in Walk Score was associated with between a $500 and $3,000 increase in home values,” writes Joe Cortright in “How Walkability Raises Home Values in U.S. Cities.” Walkability also affects public health — there is a strong correlation between a person’s weight and how much he or she walks.

Walk Score rates places on a 1-100 scale, with 90-100 rated a walker’s paradise, 70-89 as very walkable, 50-69 as somewhat walkable, 0-49 as car-dependent.

Not surprisingly, the most walkable parts of Virginia are close to the urban core of the Washington metropolitan region, with Arlington and Old Town Alexandria racking up very high scores. As seen in the map to the left, high-walkability areas are shown in green, shading off to yellow, orange and red for lower levels of walkability. Northern Virginia has smaller islands of walkability in Reston, McLean, the City of Fairfax and… get this… Tysons.

The Tysons example points out the limits to the Walk Score methodology. Although the business district has a relatively high level of density, which means destinations are relatively close to one another, the ubiquity of parking lots and the paucity of pedestrian-friendly streets makes it one of the more pedestrian-hostile places outside the Daytona Speedway. Additionally, there is a poor balance of residential and retail-commercial; the only reason people working in Tysons have for walking is to traverse the parking lots to get to their cars and drive home! (See the metro-wide heat map here.)

The Walk Score people freely concede that their system, based on Google Maps, does not take those factors into account. “Walk Score simply measures the straight-line distance to … locations and makes no adjustments for ease of walking or other obstacles to walking,” states the website. “In essence, Walk Score is a measure of the proximity of a range of typical goods, serviecs and activities to a particular household.”

Among metropolitan areas, the highest score outside of the Washington area is Charlottesville, with a walk score of 63. There is high walkability around the University of Virginia, downtown and the area in between. Downtown, with its pedestrian mall, ranks especially high. (See the heat map here.)

Considerably lower down the scale comes another college town, Harrisonburg, which rates a “somewhat walkable” score of 53. (See map.)

Right on its heels is Richmond, with a score of 51. (See map.) The city has a highly walkable core, extending from downtown to Shockoe Bottom in one direction and to the Fan and the Museum District in the other. Other than one small patch — the so-called Libbie & Grove area — the region is a lost cause otherwise. Walk Score bequeaths a walk score of 9 to my suburban Henrico neighborhood, meaning that “almost all” errands require a car. That’s “almost all,” as in 99.9%. Not only are stores and restaurants two or three miles distant, but there is no connectivity between subdivisions, with the result that the only way to reach those destinations is Parham Road, a four-lane, divided road with 45 mile-per-hour speed limit and no sidewalks.You would have to be insane to walk anywhere! Read more.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


38 responses to “What’s Your Walk Score?”

  1. DJRippert Avatar

    “Additionally, there is a poor balance of residential and retail-commercial; the only reason people working in Tysons have for walking is to traverse the parking lots to get to their cars and drive home!”.

    This is just another of those urban legends that get repeated ad nauseum on this blog.

    The population density of Tysons is 4,000 per square mile. The density of the so-called city of Richmond is 3,211 per sq mi.

    Tysons Corner has its problems. However, the belief that it is a collection of offices and stores with no people living in the area is, as I say, an urban myth.

    The biggest problem in Tysons is the VDOT-driven road design fiasco. Once again, NoVa has sent an ocean of taxes to Richmond. Once again we have relied on a Richmond-based organization for competence. Once again, we have been disappointed. For all the complaining over minor issues with the MWAA board, I am thrilled that the RTD programs are not being run by the usual gang of suspects in Richmond.

    And before anybody starts chanting the nursery rhyme of land use – tell me why the population density in Tysons is 4,000 per mile while the non-city of Richmond is 3,200.

    We’ve had a lot of good discussion on this blog. However, we need to go to the next level through the use of facts and figures.

  2. Don, you have confused so many issues here that I barely know where to start! But I cannot let your obfuscations go unanswered!

    In the post I acknowledged that Tysons has a “relatively high level of density.” What does the comparison to the City of Richmond have to do with the price of eggs in China? The comparison serves no useful purpose whatsoever.

    You raise “the belief” that Tysons is a collection of offices and stores with no people in the area. Also extraneous. I insinuated no such thing. I stated that there was a “poor balance” of residential and commercial-retail. That wording presupposes that there is some, albeit an insufficient amount, of residential.

    Next, you revert to your standard, blame-it-all on Richmond/VDOT rhetoric, as if Fairfax County bore no responsibility whatsoever for the land use patterns within its borders. That is simply delusional.

    Finally, you totally confound the difference between density, which is but one aspect of land use, and the configuration and design of streets, which is quite another. But street design is just as important, if not moreso, than density for walkability.

    By almost any metric, Tysons is utterly unwalkable. The fact is, the older sections of Richmond highlighted in green (not the more recently developed areas, which the city totally mucked up) are highly walkable.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      “Fairfax County bore no responsibility whatsoever for the land use patterns within its borders. “.

      What land use patterns? Zoning that separates residential from commercial? Apparently not in Tysons.

      If Richmond is so walkable and, therefore, attractive – why does it have a county level population density?

      The street design in Tysons does suck – so, who designed the streets? It sure sounds like VDOT (aka Richmond) is designing the streets when it comes to the Charlottesville Bypass. Didn’t VDOT (aka Richmond) also design the streets in Tysons?

    2. DJRippert Avatar

      “That wording presupposes that there is some, albeit an insufficient amount, of residential.”.

      What density would you suggest in order to create balance?

      Seven Corners in NoVa is the most densely populated CDP in Virginia with 12,777 people per sq mi. Nobody walks there either.

      Here’s a basic exercise for you:

      Tysons is approximately 5 sq mi.
      There are 640 acres per sq mi
      There is no water in Tysons
      Therefore, Tysons has 3,200 acres

      What is the right assumption between residential vs retail/commercial vs infrastructure/open for Tysons?

      For the sake of argument, let’s say 1/3, 1/3, 1/3

      That yields 1066 acres for residential.

      The current population of Tysons is 19,627

      That’s 18 people per acre for the residential third I assumed.

      What is the number of people per acre in the residential space that would give the area “balance”?

      Hint: If you can’t answer this question then you have no business claiming that, “That wording presupposes that there is some, albeit an insufficient amount, of residential”.

  3. well…. dare I add to this?

    Tysons is traversed by monster roads of which no sane person would attempt to cross… there is density for sure but it is contained in isolated “pods”.

    It’s pretty bad when you have to get in a card to get to a place you can almost hit with a rock but that’s the way that Tysons “works” and no… I do not think it is Richmonds “fault’.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      Pods? Tysons is 4.9 sq mi. Roughly a square of 2.2 miles by 2.2 miles. Most people can walk 2.2 miles in about 30 minutes.

      The walkability does suck but that has nothing to do with Jim’s statement that, “Additionally, there is a poor balance of residential and retail-commercial; the only reason people working in Tysons have for walking is to traverse the parking lots to get to their cars and drive home!”.

      Now, shouldn’t walkability in a place like Tysons be just about the cheapest, easiest thing to solve? Sidewalks and pedestrian walkways? So, why has no attention been paid to that?

  4. ” get in a CAR to get to a place….”

  5. I think using the citywide (region wide?) comparison is a mistake.  It
    confuses average density/walkability with what really matters: neighborhood density (and the number of such neighborhoods).

    For an example of the flaw, the Los Angeles region’s average density is
    higher than New York’s  (arguably a misleading use of data often cited by Cato’s Randal O’Toole). But LA is far less walkable because it’s got lots of mediocre density compared to NY’s very high density in some areas and very low density elsewhere.

    While Charlottesville is doing a lot right, it may only be more walkable (in that definition) because there is less sprawl AROUND it that’s being
    averaged in.  Richmond has a number of walkable, connected neighborhoods, way more than other cities of its size in America.  Choosing some arbitrary boundary, though, from which to average the density, doesn’t seem all that informative.

    If Richmond has 50,000 people living in very walkable neighborhoods in a metro/city of 1M, that’s arguably a more walkable city than one with 10,000 people in similar conditions in another metro/city of 1M, even if the latter city’s “average walkability” is a few points higher.  And once you get below 70 or so in Walkscore, it’s pretty much not walkable.

    1. yeah, I AGREE.

      Richmond, for instance is cut by I-95 – isolating neighborhoods that formerly were “connected” – as does the PoWhite Parkway and your major 4-6-8 lane “Boulevards”.

      Roads DO cut up the cities into, if not isolated neighborhood enclaves, “walk-impeded” pods …. not sure how to articulate it other than to say that most cities are “pods” of neighborhoods that may or may not connect where people live to where amenities are.

      I have NoVa as an opposing example earlier because in NoVa, you can have these very large apt/condo complexes that are dense but they are completely surrounded by busy roads and you really cannot “connect” outside the boundaries very well without driving.

      that same complex with sufficient crosswalks or crossover bridges, etc, WOULD be “connected” so I think there is more to this.

      You can also see this in Richmond where in several places – where interstates or toll road was put in that they put connecting pedestrian bridges to compensate for the loss of sidewalk connections.

    2. reed fawell III Avatar
      reed fawell III

      Joeyk –

      Good comments. The right mix of densities for mixed uses to build walk-ability and workability within a matrix of otherwise good planning, are easy to find. So are wrong mixes with bad planning easy to find.

      Thus, there’s no mystery to the numbers. Nor are such numbers and percentages theoretical. The timing, pace, and mix needed to build successful mixed uses within a good overall plan are found by looking into existing built out communities. What fails can also be determined. See, for example, the relevant figures on R/B corridor versus Tyson’s Corner.

      Larryg’s 21 April 8:39 am comments are also highly relevant. Mix uses must be properly arranged and inter-connected to work in tandem within an area on a whole variety of levels to meet an endless variety of needs. In this complex arena, art, craft, and ad hoc experience come into play.

  6. Excluding roads, Tysons is 1700 acres. Tysons was planned and developed to be a suburban office park with some residential It took advantage of its locations near the Beltway, Route 7, Route 123 & the Dulles Toll Road. It also is close to I-66. It has been, and continues to be, successful. Tysons produces about 10% of Fairfax County’s real estate tax revenue. It also generates horrible traffic jams. It’s not very walkable due to long distances between likely destinations (restaurants, stores and offices) and the wide streets. Other key factors against walking include the lack of a grid of streets with relatively short blocks, the lack of sidewalks in some locations, the often oppressive weather, and the physical barriers of the Toll Road and the Beltway.

    The more I’ve worked on Tysons, the more I am convinced the missing grid of streets is key to many of Tysons problems. Its construction in Tysons is critical for the major change from a suburban center to an urban one. The grid will be built, but over many years. Meanwhile, the County is attempting to ensure safe walking paths within the immediate 1/4 mile TOD area. People should be able to walk safely to and from Metro stations for short distances. But it won’t be like New York for many, many years, if then.

    Another important factor is the availability of locations to walk to — such as banks, restaurants, drug stores, etc. From what I’ve seen, these locations will be missing for some time. The Tysons plans lack sufficient retail to support an internal city.

    1. reed fawell III Avatar
      reed fawell III

      You’re right on target. One gathers, after a quick look at recently submitted and/or approved site plans, that Fairfax planner’s still don’t get urban planning. As opposed to suburban office parks with ancillary retail focuses on serving office workers during business hours (as opposed to the necessary ingredients of a living breathing 24/7 community).

      The problem is often cultural. And driven by users rather than planners. Thus, very large office users, particularly those who are also owners, can drive the plans and call the shots. Often their ideas on what they need and want conflict with the synergy needed in urban surroundings. (This too can account for the gross overloading over office versus residential.) But they still want to be in Tysons, or are already their but need more space.

      This happened in R/B corridor. Large well integrated site plans were bifurcated because one corporate user insisted on a dominate corporate visibility over others in the neighborhood. Walkable friendly neighbors then turned their corporate backs to one another.

      Habits are hard to break. Particularly in Fairfax, I suspect, where the headquarter office park has been king of the hill since Genesis.

      1. I guess I would assert that Fairfax “planners” are essentially doing what they are ordered to do by the BOS who, in turn, are influenced by people who will bring more tax revenues and less demands on services, i.e. residential.

        One thing is clear. There seems to be no advantage for developers to build affordable housing nor does it benefit Fairfax because low-end residential is essentially subsidized because it usually consumes more in services than it generates in taxes.

        1. reed fawell III Avatar
          reed fawell III

          No, the building of healthy ratios of office, retail, and residential on the bedrock of good infrastructure will never fail to create far more long term benefits to far more people at far less cost, and will keep on giving, assuring a community’s continuing success far into its future.

          Conversely, to build otherwise is to build a drag into the community’s future, and to build obstacles to the success and well being of those who are saddled with having to live and/or work there. Of course, those most responsible for the problem typically have the wealth to avoid its consequences. Many simply live and work elsewhere. They get the money. Everyone else gets the problem.

          1. …but if you are a county and you want to minimize the expense of services, you work to maximize property tax revenues and that does not come from affordable housing especially if there are kids involved.

            it’s just the reality. A kid in Fairfax costs what 12-14K a year to educate and how much would an affordable house contribute in property taxes to that cost?

            Our county does not want them either. They incentivize 55 and over housing developments and discourage the kind of development that is going to generate large numbers of school-age kids.

    2. DJRippert Avatar

      Lacks retail? Tysons has not one but two massive shopping malls that are nothing but retail. These may not fit Jim Bacon’s “Mayberry Mentality” of Aunt Bee’s Sweet Tea Shop but they do have a LOT of restaurants and retail outlets.

      Will people be able to walk there? Well, in an area of only 4.9 sq mi, many should be able to walk to these malls. But will the new design accommodate that? we’ll see.

      1. reed fawell III Avatar
        reed fawell III

        Mega malls are not urban retail but suburban regional retail. Thus they are antithesis of what Tyson’s needs. They’re one of Tyson’s major problems.

        1. well.. if you ask the businesses in the mega malls if they want to go instead for an Arlington type situation, I have a feeling they’d not.

          If you are Fairfax and you’re faced with Mega Mall or nothing, what do you do – let Loudon build the Mega Malls that Fairfax people will shop at?

          1. reed fawell III Avatar
            reed fawell III

            Mega Malls are a dying use in many places.

      2. Megamalls are dying but not WalMarts which are becoming their own stand-alone malls that offer a ton of products and services.

        the nature of retail is changing. Most malls depended on anchor stores to draw traffic in and then the smaller operations could benefit from spillover traffic but that’s not working the same way anymore.

        1. reed fawell III Avatar
          reed fawell III

          The second Tyson’s mall built in the late 80s by Sears was a dinosaur disaster from the get go. Sears Roebuck executives, like with their own company, had not a clue. The first mall of course was a raging success but huge traffic magnet. Today, ways need be found to integrate those suburban uses into an urban fabric. Surely those efforts are underway.

  7. developers build what is profitable to them, not necessarily what is “good” for the buyers or perhaps to put a negative spin on it – most buyers are not good judges of things like connectivity and walkability and thus they are more “wowed” by other things and I’d suggest that very few buyers make walkability a deal-breaker.

    But the problem is, just as with congestion on major roads, that people who buy such places, themselves, add to the automobility problem.

    so who is responsible for making sure that developers build facilities that preserve and protect connectivity and walkability and would-be buyers of development that do not meet these goals – are informed, “incentivized”, have their behaviors changed so that both they and the neighborhood will benefit from better choices?

    If you look at this situation where developers build bad development and buyers are more than willing to buy bad development – what is the solution – without having government involved?

    answer that question.

    1. This is where a Comprehensive Plan comes in. Local government, plus the stakeholders (landowners, neighbors, developers, other business, community organizations), get together and propose acceptable uses for areas and the necessary public facilities. If there is a desire to reduce growth in auto traffic and to encourage walking, there needs to be plans and requirements for sidewalks and paths.

      Problems arise when government tries to plan without active participation from all the affected stakeholders. When they are all present, the give and take will likely keep out the unreasonable proposals.

      Further refinement comes when landowners propose conceptual and final development plans. Again review by all affected stakeholders is likely to produce a reasonable result.

      1. reed fawell III Avatar
        reed fawell III

        I’d guess the big problem is lack of strong, effective, serious leadership.

        1. reed fawell III Avatar
          reed fawell III

          It so, decentralized system of governance may have much to do with this.

      2. reed fawell III Avatar
        reed fawell III

        TMT – “Further refinement comes when landowners propose conceptual and final development plans. Again review by all affected stakeholders is likely to produce a reasonable result.”

        I agree. Here’s where a much improved version of plan can become reality.

    2. reed fawell III Avatar
      reed fawell III

      As to Larry’s comment. “developers build what is profitable to them, not necessarily what is “good” for the buyers or perhaps to put a negative spin on it – most buyers are not good judges of things like connectivity and walkability …”

      That is true to a point, depending on time and place. As a lawyer, I did my first corporate office park (11 separately owned Hq. buildings ) in Reston in 1971. Quite likely all would have gone into the R/D corridor 15 years later.

      Secondly R/D corridor began to rocket past Tyson’s Corner once the former established itself to the point that tenants and owner/occupants could see what was going on in R/D corridor versus Tyson’s Corner.

      Obviously too, many, like in West Park, had and still have their basic needs filled in Tyson’s. Others got locked in before lock down gridlock surrounded what otherwise would satisfy their needs quite well. So many tenants and owner users seeing what was going on stopped coming. Otherwise Tyson’s Corner would likely be largely be built out by now.

      So Tyson’s shot itself in the foot. And everybody has paid heavily for their mistakes, including many developers. For example, land in those still existing used car and storage lots on the east side of the north end were trading at R/B corridor per sq. foot land prices in late 80s. Considered near ripe for development then, they are still vacant development wise now.

      In short, Tyson’s Corner cost many developers and their lenders fortunes. Gone, down the drain, kaput. Meanwhile the R/B corridor is about built out, and struggling to find ways to satisfy demand and keep its goose laying golden eggs by expanding into adjoining single family neighborhoods.

      Tyson’s Corner’s dysfunction still hinders its growth. Yes, its throwing off big revenues, but it’s financially hugely inefficient, relative to what it could have been. Or may well still be, if folks will do the right things. Right now its still sputtering along belching a fumes and smoke out its back end.

      1. reed fawell III Avatar
        reed fawell III

        Correction: That Tyson’s land was trading at those prices in mid-1980s.

  8. how many businesses really care if their business can be walked to?


    how many people who look for a place to live – care about where it is “walkable”?

    I would assert that neither business nor folks looking for places to live have that requirement as a deal-killer and that if that is going to happen (or not), it will happen because those nasty “central planners” make it a priority.

    Clearly, Fairfax County, does not care about this issue as long as businesses are climbing all over each other to locate in Tysons – and THAT’s why Tysons is not very walkable.

    there are no advocates for “walkability” … pure and simple.

    if there were – Tysons would be a different critter.

    so did Arlington happen by accident or by design? And if it happened by design – was central planning involved in design?

    My view -honestly – is that you don’t get walkable communities by leaving it up to the private sector. Their mission is to operate a business, make a profit, survive – not make sure that communities are “walkable” – unless it helps their bottom line.

    there may be some developers who will do the right thing if it does not hurt them economically but they won’t risk their own ventures either.

    I’m usually one that is opposed to the blame game in general but in this case, it would seem that in the past – perhaps even now – outside urban cores – there is sentiment in planning to segregate “uses” – ergo – residential is supposed to be “residential” and it’s “messy” to have different uses in the same spaces.

    In my own county – the planners have recommended that rural areas – not have commercial – not even “pods” and that existing country stores and the like are “grandfathered” and if they burn down will require a rezone from Agricultural to Commercial – with the planners not so much in favor of it – because the Land Use component of the Comp Plan designates entire areas for ONE USE and everything else has to be an “exception”.

    I think Fairfax might have a similar attitude about Tysons – that it’s PRIMARILY intended NOT as a place for people to live, work and play but instead a place primarily for businesses.

    so I went out on a limb here… too far?

  9. re: The Comp Plan and stakeholders….

    I think there is a problem with the process and let me explain why.

    Developers (who are also stakeholders) do not care about “details” such as walkability in a comp plan as long as it accommodates businesses and the things that businesses need (like parking).

    Residents – existing residents ALSO do not care about walkability in a place they will not be moving to. Rather their concern is how new development will affect their current location and circumstance and their “input” is not necessarily to create a more walkable place as much as it is to try to protect their interests – i.e. NIMBY, ” we already have too much traffic”, etc.

    so the comp plan process does not address the most important constituency – i.e. the people in the future who might live there – and thus would vote for more affordable housing and more walkability and more amenities and services.

    I’ve watched down my way as the call has gone out for citizens to help revise the comp plan and invariably the people who show up are the people who, now that they have moved here in their cul-de-sacced subdivision, oppose more of them – on the grounds that they will “degrade” quality of life.

    They argue instead for “compact” live,work,play,shop development away from where they live for newcomers which if you think about it is hugely ironic because Fairfax residents are advocating that people move somewhere else – not in Fairfax where it will make traffic worse!

    so back to the front – what should the Comp Plan process be, who should be in charge of it (planners? or no-one?) and who should participate?

    bonus question: Do participants who are protecting their existing interests essentially have conflicts of interest?

    again, my view.. and I hope it gets rebutted.

  10. reed fawell III Avatar
    reed fawell III

    There’s truth in what you say in your two comments just above. The difficulty is that I could reverse most all of those statements and find just as much truth in those polar opposite statements as well.

    Developers, planners, resident activists, corporate users often play positive rolls in getting things right, and also negative rolls that get things wrong. The best of intentions can lead to poor results. At the same time, actions driven by purely selfish intentions can also lead to good results.

    It’s sometimes true that everyone is to blame, and/or deserves credit. More likely than not a fortuitousness confluence of events achieve the excellent result (when everyone in the neighborhood rushes in to claim credit).

    In the case of Tyson’s Corner: perhaps it’s closest to the truth to say that an unfortunate confluence of events achieved a poor result relative to the potential for benefit and gain that was otherwise available. It’s also now evident that most of those now involved know this to be true. That is why the new comp plan for Tyson’s Corner lists goals very similar to, if not identical with, those goals listed within the R/B corridor comp. plan.

    This suggests that many folks would start all over again in Tyson’s if they could. Of course they cannot. What happened has happened. Now the best one can do is try to “re-scramble” the eggs. Find a way to knit today’s disparate suburban uses and infrastructure into a mixed use urban city.

    This is remaking of what’s there is a daunting task. The reasons are many. Not the least of them include that fact that many conflicting interests and cultures that are now fully and legitimately vested in Tyson’s corner by reason of its development over the past 50 years, since 1963. This suggests that good results will require years of hard work, a project at a time.

    1. reed fawell III Avatar
      reed fawell III

      Correction to last paragraph: Not the least of them include that fact that many conflicting interests and cultures ARE now fully and legitimately vested in Tyson’s corner by reason of its development over the past 50 years, since 1963.

      Elaboration to last sentence of 3rd to last paragraph: That is why the new 2010 comp plan for Tyson’s Corner lists goals very similar to, if not identical with, those goals listed within the R/B corridor comp. plan that was in place and at work more than 30 years earlier.

  11. I think Fairfax has a specific strategy with regard to residential housing costs and it is to externalize it to other counties even as it imposes traffic demands when they commute to jobs in Tysons.

    I think there are two paths for Fairfax if they want to grow economically and that is do they grow both residential and business or do they just grow business and mute residential.

    The existing residents of Fairfax – are part of the decision and they apparently would rather see exurban commuting rather than have more internal residential growth – also.

    So I do not think it’s a contest between different factions and one side prevails… it’s a strategy that is being executed. Tysons is no accident. It’s a plan.

    1. reed fawell III Avatar
      reed fawell III

      You’e right Larry. There is an underside to all this. And you have nailed it.

      Some in Fairfax focused simply on making money short term, irrespective of the costs that their profits impose on others. It’s been in play in Fairfax for a very long time. It’s deeply cynical. Especially when it hides behind pretty words and pictures, as in the original Dulles Task Force Report.

      Corporate office space has been the king of, and major industry in, Fairfax for a very long time. It’s quite profitable for some, and quite costly for others. Many interests intend to keep it that way. It explains much that goes on, including much of impetus behind north south connector as well.

      Zoning trumps Comp. Plans in Virginia. Remember that.

    2. I think Fairfax County’s residential growth is limited largely to: 1) Tysons, 2) Other rail stations; 3) un-built, but approved developments; 4) some housing in commercial business centers; and 5) tear-downs and infill development. The County has a goal of at least 10% open space, and has stated intentions to protect both suburban housing and low-density areas (e.g., Clifton & Great Falls). There will be more housing built, but the County is not going to double its population.

      Additionally, the County is looking for more commercial development to take the pressure off residential real estate tax increases. See Sharon Bulova’s remarks of today (4/23/13) re the adopted FY 2014 budget and tax rate. The County has a standing goal of raising 25% of all real estate tax revenues from commercial and industrial property. The estimate for FY2014 is 19.96% — We have a way to go.

      I don’t see this strategy changing absent a change in the spending appetite of the Supervisors.

      1. reed fawell III Avatar
        reed fawell III

        BINGO! That explains the ongoing deceit at Tyson’s Corner.

        1. reed fawell III Avatar
          reed fawell III

          Meanwhile, Fairfax figures that its office and commercial will turn Loudoun, Prince William, and points south and west into its bedroom feeder communities. Hence the north south transit Connector.

          What a future Fairfax has in store for itself and its neighbors. Including Maryland on the far side of the I-495 American Legion Bridge.

      2. I’m not sure commercial development actually pays taxes. Those taxes just become expenses that they incorporate into the sales price of the goods and services they sell.

        they essentially become tax collectors for the county.

        but you cannot expand commercial tax revenues just by expanding commercial unless you have more rooftops to sell stuff to/collect taxes.

        Clearly Fairfax intends to export residential to the exurbs and is, to it’s credit, trying to provide choices/alternatives to SOV but the fact that they are going to provide the parking for the commuters tells you what they expect to happen.

Leave a Reply