Meet the woman behind Tysons’ transforming skyline

Julie Clemente wants to construct the region’s tallest building in Fairfax. Can she cut through the red tape to make it happen?

Julie Clemente in her Tysons office. (Photo by Christin boggs Peyper).

It’s a Monday morning in March, and Julie Clemente is pointing to brand-new renderings for a development that would bring the tallest building to the DC region.

“There’s the observation deck and these are offices down below,” says Clemente, president of Tysons-based Clemente Development Company, Inc., explaining details of The View at Tysons, a $1.3 billion project anchored by an office skyscraper that would soar 600 feet into the air.

That’s right, 600 feet.

The 55-year-old businesswoman is overseeing the vision behind the glitzy $1.3 billion project that, if approved, would break regional height boundaries with a skyscraper that would tower above the Washington Monument at 555 feet, and the Capital One headquarters building in Tysons that opened last year at 470 feet.

The goal of The View? To transform the Tysons skyline from dull to dazzling and put the Fairfax County city once known as a country crossroads on the map as an “iconic international destination,” Clemente says.

“Everyone is anxious for Tysons to transform into what it’s going to become—it isn’t the corner anymore,” she says.

The 3 million-square-foot project, planned by Clemente and New York-based Parkview International, would take years to fully build out. But Clemente hopes to gain county approval as early as July for the development, which would run along Leesburg Pike from Spring Hill Road to Tyco Road, adjacent to the Spring Hill Metro station. Plans for The View also include a five-star hotel, up to 125 high-end condos, a performing arts center, office buildings, retail and a civic plaza. All of it would be built across nearly 9 acres owned or controlled by Clemente Development. The project would be primarily financed by Saudi businessman Khaled Juffali.

Work on the skyscraper could begin as soon as a tenant commits to occupying the tower, which will target national and international companies “who want a significant, visible presence in Tysons Corner,” Clemente says.

But The View isn’t a slam dunk yet.

Clemente first submitted plans for The View in 2017, and after gaining feedback from the county, the company made revisions, including lowering the tower’s height from 615 feet to 600 feet and adding more office space than residential. If approved, the project’s tower would far surpass guidelines outlined in the Tysons comprehensive plan, which recommends a maximum height of 400 feet, but allows for extensions above that cap. (For comparison, DC limits height to 130 feet for commercial buildings.)

A public hearing has not yet been scheduled, but the county board could approve The View this summer or early fall, says Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

“It’s going to provide some signature architecture to help define Tysons,” she says. “The buildings will be works of art.”

She added that The View’s performing arts center and civic green also help to fulfill the Tysons plan, along with its Metro-accessible offices and homes. As part of the deal, Clemente is making a contribution of $750,000 to a future park in Tysons, as well as a $12 million proffer commitment to help create a proposed community center.

Bulova says she hasn’t seen pushback for The View or its height, especially after the company made revisions with feedback from county staff. She added that business and landowners were involved in a more than five-year planning process to create the Tysons blueprint, which calls for mixed-use development near Metro stations and the creation of an urban center.

Sol Glasner, president and CEO of the Tysons Partnership, couldn’t comment on individual applications, but does say that a diversified skyline is important for transforming Tysons.

“If you think about the great cities of the world, you think about the skyline,” Glasner says.

Clemente arrived in Fairfax County at the age of 5 when her father was appointed by President Nixon to design the first drug abuse prevention program in the 1970s. She lived in Lake Barcroft, “down the street from Bob Dole,” attending J.E.B. Stuart High School (now Justice High School) in Falls Church. After graduating in 1981, Clemente attended American University but left school early after her mother died to earn income in sales with Cellular One.

One of her clients was the Crippen family, the owner of a dairy farm in Reston that wanted a cell phone for a helicopter. She married Lock, son of the Crippen patriarch, and rose to become a partner in the family’s landfill and trucking companies. In 1993, she handled the sale of 800 acres of the Crippen family land to home builders in excess of $20 million.

In 2002, she remarried to Dan Clemente, founder and chairman of Clemente Development, and spent the next 20 years raising their two daughters. She finished her degree from American in 2006.

“It was important to me not only to have it, but to demonstrate to my children that you’re never too old to learn,” she says.

In 2017, she became president of Clemente Development, heading up new projects, including The View. Clemente credits her husband with the idea for an iconic tower—he grew up in Manhattan and “is used to very tall skyscrapers.”

But she’s the one who will see The View come to fruition, she says. “Everybody wants to know when it’s going to be in the ground and when it’s going to be real.”

This post originally appeared in our May 2019 issue. Want upcoming issues of the magazine delivered to your mailbox? Subscribe here.

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