Re-planning an edge city: Tysons in the post-suburban era

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While suburban sprawl has continued almost unabated in the US, recent evidence suggests that urban qualities are gaining foothold in suburban America. The prevalent explanation for the growing appeal of urban qualities emphasizes the preference of the young and talented workforce for urban-like environments together with the environmental benefits of compact, denser, and transit-oriented development. This paper examines the case of an archetypal edge city, Tysons (previously, Tysons Corner), which is being transformed into a ‘real’ city. It contends that while Tysons has remained attractive for businesses, local decision-makers, planners, developers, and property owners anticipated its prospective decline in attractiveness and prepared a long-term plan in order to secure its competitive edge. To support this argument, this paper analyzes two recent comprehensive plans, accompanying planning documents, newspapers and magazines, and interviews with local decision-makers, planners, and stakeholders. Similar to the transformation of inner cities through regeneration and gentrification, edge-city de-sprawling/retrofitting should not be interpreted solely from a demand-driven standpoint; instead, retrofitting is a means to buttress longstanding performances of capital investments within the built environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102919
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • De-sprawling
  • Edge cities
  • Post-suburbs
  • Suburban retrofit
  • Tysons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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