When the new Tysons West development got off the ground in 2012 in Fairfax County, Virginia, a standout feature of it was a new, urban concept Wal-Mart. You might do a double-take: What? An urban Wal-Mart? A pedestrian-friendly Wal-Mart?
While Wal-Mart evokes images of suburban sprawl in our minds, the Tysons West Wal-Mart – located a few miles outside Washington, DC – is meant to be a key retail component of what is to be Fairfax County’s future city – Tysons. And that future city is being designed as pedestrian friendly.
Tysons West is a Work in Progress
For workers and residents in Tysons today, the area’s walkability is a work in progress, as University of Virginia urban planning professor Andrew Mondschein discovered during an afternoon research walk in Tysons in late Fall 2015: many of the area’s decades-old roads still retain a vehicle-only focus.
Although, as the Washington Post’s transportation and development reporter Lori Aratani wrote that day, “good walking paths and areas with an abundance of trees do exist in Tysons.” A more pedestrian-friendly environment is on its way, such as the ambitious urban plans for The Boro section of Tysons, just east of the Wal-Mart. The Boro will feature seven parks totaling over four acres.
National Walk@Lunch Day: It’s a Start
National Walk@Lunch Day, now in its 10th year, was initiated by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association to help improve the personal health of Americans. On Wednesday, April 27, businesses and state legislatures across the nation will encourage employees to wear comfortable shoes and take a walk at lunch.
It’s a concept that Wal-Mart shoppers in Tysons will need to get used to, seeing that the Tysons West Wal-Mart was built with limited parking availability – not the huge ground lots we are used to seeing. Urban concept indeed.