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May 10Doug Smith

Northern Virginia Communities: Tysons Corner Center

May 10Doug Smith

The Tysons Corner Center is a place I try to avoid entirely during November and December, when the crush of holiday shoppers makes it difficult to enter and exit the mall area and find a parking place. However, it is arguably the premier shopping mall in our area, and the test group among high-end retailers for bringing their stores to the East Coast. Wikipedia helps fill in the details:

Tysons Corner Center, located in the Tysons Corner unincorporated area in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States (between McLean and Vienna, Virginia), opened to the public in 1968, becoming one of the first fully enclosed, climate-controlled shopping centers in the Washington Metropolitan Area. It is the largest shopping mall in the state and in the Baltimore-Washington area. Tysons Corner Center is located 12.5 miles (20.1 kilometers) from the Central Business District of Washington D.C. and neighbors the more upscale Tysons Galleria mall to the north.

Tysons Corner Center was one of the first super-regional malls in the country, drawing customers from a multi-state area. As of 2008, the mall’s four department store anchors are Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s. Tysons Corner Center is the 11th largest mall in the United States. A second, more upscale mall, called Tysons Galleria, operates across the street from Tysons Corner Center within the Tysons II office development (with many people referring to the mall itself as “Tysons II”); it opened in 1988. To distinguish, many call the original mall “Tysons I.”

From its opening until the 1990s, the mall contained a wide and diverse retail mix. Discount chain Woolworth’s operated a store in the mall until the entire chain went under in 1997. Hot Shoppes cafeteria also occupied space in the mall until 1998. These types of stores shared space with higher-end tenants such as Liz Claiborne and A/X Armani Exchange. In the 2000s, under the ownership of Wilmorite Properties, the mall re-tenanted with more upscale stores, reflecting the demographics of the surrounding area, and has served as the primary launchpad location for a number of successful retail chains. LL Bean opened its first full line department store outside of its Freeport, Maine headquarters in 2000. Apple opened the first of its retail stores at Tysons in 2001. In 2007, Canadian-based clothing retailer Garage opened its first U.S. store at Tysons. Many retailers have flagship stores at the mall, including Pottery Barn and Victoria’s Secret.

Soon after Tysons Corner Center was constructed, the land surrounding the area — which had previously consisted of farms, auto dealers, and rural residences — became prime real estate, prompting the construction of hotels, office buildings, and apartment complexes. Major retailers near Tysons Corner Center include Crate and Barrel, Tiffany & Co., Hermes Paris, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci, some of which are located in Fairfax Square.

Originally, the mall consisted of 1.2 million square feet (110,000 m²) on one level, three department stores (Hecht’s, Lansburgh’s, and Woodward & Lothrop), and 100 specialty stores, including Jelleff’s. In 1988, the mall was expanded to add a bottom floor, at which time Lord & Taylor and Nordstrom opened; this was the first Nordstrom east of the Mississippi River. Today, the mall has 2.1 million square feet of retail space on three levels, 16 movie screens, and nearly 300 stores.

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