'Desprawling' the Suburbs

Tysons Corner, Virginia, represents an unlikely pilot project for "desprawling" America's suburbs, but the expansion of Metro rail through the town has been seized by local officials as an opportunity to revamp the city's urban form and density.
April 22, 2010, 5am PDT | Nate Berg
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"It's hard to conceive of a less likely poster child for the livable-communities movement, which prizes dense urban-style neighborhoods where residents can live without cars. But Fairfax County is close to finalizing a radical multibillion-dollar plan to 'desprawl' Tysons by tearing up large swaths of the existing town and planning a series of urban villages with buildings up to 25 stories high. The idea, developed by local and county leaders over the last few years, is to bring 100,000 new residents to town and pack them together, transporting the texture and energy of city life to the exurbs.

Livability experts are understandably fascinated with the plan. 'Tysons Corner is a leading example of a suburb trying to transform itself into something else,' says Christopher Leinberger, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and a leading thinker on the future of America's suburbs. 'The people there see walkable urban areas and say, ‘We want that here.' They want that kind of urban excitement.'"

Jebediah Reed reports that when the Washington D.C. area Metro system expands through Tysons Corner, each of the four stations in the city will anchor new urban villages.

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Published on Saturday, April 17, 2010 in Good
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