Legacy By Grace

Best New Development: The Boro

The long-range Tysons land-use plan adopted in June 2010 by Fairfax County put a heavy emphasis on walkability and green spaces — something the auto-oriented community had really never known.

“Walkability is easy to create when it’s close to the Metro and destination retail,” said Tom Boylan, senior vice president of The Meridian Group, a Bethesda-based real estate investment and development firm. “The real challenge is to take that plan and elevate it into

an attractive neighborhood and to provide a diverse array of amenities and open space for people to enjoy.”

The Meridian Group met that challenge when it presented the county with a big, bold development plan, one that required the county board to rezone the 18-acre former Science Applications International Corp. office campus with 4 million square feet of mixed-use development adjacent to Leesburg Pike, and Westpark and Greensboro drives. The first phase of The Boro opened at the end of 2019, steps from the Greensboro Metro station.

The initial 1.7 million square feet features a flagship Whole Foods Market, ShowPlace Icon Theatre, 500,000 square feet of office, 250,000 square feet of retail, and 677 residential units, of which 140 are condos for sale. A 1-acre park sits

in the middle of the development. The goal, said Boylan, was to create a vibrant neighborhood that offers all the perks of living in a city.

To date, the condos are 80% sold and the rentals 70% occupied. “Having a grocery store and a movie theater as the anchor goes a long way,” Boylan said of its early success.

His comments, offered in August, are symbolic of Meridian’s confidence in The Boro despite the pandemic. The Showplace Icon closed March 18 but reopened Aug. 24 with limited capacity, staggered showtimes, cashless operation, mask requirements and additional cleaning — and the expectation audiences will grow as studios release more films.

All retailers that temporarily closed, meanwhile, have reopened, Meridian said in a statement, with many adapting to accommodate social distancing. And several even held their grand openings amid the pandemic, such as Santouka Ramen.

The Boro is located at among the highest points in Fairfax County, giving residents eye-catching views, Boylan said. “The views it offers are fantastic, even from the ground floor, and because of that, there is always a breeze.” From its highest vantages, he said, you can see D.C., Reston, Bethesda and even the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.

The Boro’s master plan calls for additional residential and office space, a hotel and a senior living community. It’s all designed, Boylan said, to deliver a neighborhood where someone could leave work, stroll across a park, do their grocery shopping or go to happy hour, and then return home — all without getting into a car. “We’re creating an entire district,” he said.

About the deal

Best New Development: The Boro

Address: 8301 Greensboro Drive, McLean

Developers: The Meridian Group, Kettler, Rockefeller Group Architects: Shalom Baranes Associates, Gensler, LandDesign General contractor: Clark Construction

Leasing: H&R Retail

Size: 1.7 million square feet

Cost: $850 million