Next weekend was supposed to be the debutante ball for the new Tysons Corner, as community leaders try and lure city-dwellers to head west on the Silver Line.
While the party will still be happening, the intended audience will have a hard time getting there, due to the construction delays on the new Metro line.
“People will have to arrive by foot and by car,” said Michael Caplin, executive director of the Tysons Partnership. “It’s deeply disappointing and will hurt attendance this year.”
Silver Line service was originally expected to begin by the start of 2014 but the timeline has continued to slip while testing and the correction of problems uncovered during testing has continued.
The Partnership had originally scheduled an event in April to welcome Metro, but canceled it in January when it was unclear how long the delays might last. The May 31 and June 1 date, Caplin said, still seemed safe.
By the time it was clear that the new rail line would not be running, there were too many contracts and sponsor commitments in place to back out.
The Great Tastes of Tysons Festival will include food, beer and wine tastings, art, and live entertainment. It will be held at the new Lerner Town Square at Tysons II, also intended to show how redevelopment is already changing Tysons into a more walkable, urban community.
“There are so many people who have never been to Tysons, it’s astonishing,” Caplin said. “We so want to lure them out with an exciting event.”
Instead, the Partnership is focusing on getting the approximately 18,000 Tysons residents to consider experiencing their community in a way they probably haven’t done as much before — on foot.
The delays have also put regional marketing campaigns on hold while Tysons businesses and landowners await the opening date, Caplin said.
“The hotels have missed the summer tourist season, which is painful,” he said.
It is also making it harder for offices to lease space, he said. “Without the Metro actually being there, it takes away some of the urgency,” he said.
At the end of the Silver Line in Reston, Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) said the community went ahead with a planned Bike to Work Day pit stop at the Wiehle-Reston East Station, even though there are no trains running.
“Everybody came to the site at Wiehle and they were all excited,” she said.
Now that the opening date is beginning to come into focus, with the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority’s announcement that it expects to take ownership of the rail line by the end of the month, more community events that have been on hold can move ahead, Hudgins said.
“We expect to have some community days out there,” she said of the Wiehle station.
There is a new development under construction above the new Wiehle parking garage, but that area is not yet undergoing the massive transformation planned for Tysons.
The Partnership’s next scheduled events are in September, at which point, Caplin is hoping, visitors should be able to arrive by Metro.