This past week the Fairfax Board of Supervisors approved plans for a 25 story condominium — the first condominium of the new Tysons — within the north central district of Tysons. The project had some contentious moments going through staff review on its way to approval, including a debate about affordable housing and whether proffer payments could be made in lieu of onsite units.
The end result was a compromise to provide 65% of the affordable units either onsite or in another location within Tysons, and up to 35% of the remaining obligation to be met through contributions towards affordable housing — i.e. 13% of all units provided will be affordable units in this building or elsewhere in Tysons. Keep in mind that this 13% is higher than many other jurisdictions, including most of Fairfax, by itself, even without consideration of the additional 7% deferred to cash contribution.
The Arbor addresses affordability in another, perhaps more important, way. The condominium market in Tysons is extremely restricted. There is a huge population of people who are ready to make their first home purchase, and condominiums are an integral component for these first time buyers who are looking to escape the rent cycle and build equity. Especially in an area like DC, this ability to purchase a home that you own and build value in, is vital due to the high entry cost of more traditional housing formats. The Arbor being a condominium, inherently, may be the biggest boost of all.
Instead of getting another hotel in Tysons, the city is getting much needed, owner based, residential within a 1/2 mile from the Silver Line metro. While one condo alone won’t address affordability in the region and in town, it provides more assistance than no housing at all. Don’t get too used to seeing the abandoned 70s era office building next to Nouvelle, it looks like The Arbor is going to be another hot residential project coming to Tysons.