REAL ESTATE : Urban Land Institute May Study Orange County’s Traffic Problems

Compiled by Michael Flagg, Times staff writer

Researchers for the Urban Land Institute are wrapping up a study of two District of Columbia suburbs with sprawl and traffic problems, and they say Orange County could be next on their list.

One of the areas under study, Tysons Corner in northern Virginia, closely resembles Orange County, said senior research associate Michael Beyard.

It sprouted from empty fields to become the 15th-largest concentration of offices in the country.

The institute is looking at ways to create denser urban-type clusters of offices, shops and housing at Tysons Corner and Bethesda, Md., an older suburb that somewhat resembles Pasadena in the Los Angeles area.


That would mean people could shop and work closer to their homes, cutting down on traffic and sprawl, Beyard said.

But redeveloping the mess at Tysons Corner in Fairfax County could be tough, Beyard acknowledges, because the original buildings “were poorly thought out, conceived of as single entities, which doesn’t work when you string them out for 20 or 30 miles.”

Fairfax County voters recently chose an advocate of slow growth as the county’s top elected official. In Orange County, activists are trying to get a measure on the June ballot that would curtail development.

The institute will publish its recommendations for redevelopment in the two suburbs this spring, Beyard said.


Then, the institute will pick a locale for its next study, probably by about May. In addition to Orange County, suburbs of Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta and San Francisco are under consideration.