Legendary developer Gerald Halpin, creator of Tysons, dies at 94

West-Group Management CEO Gerald Halpin, who saw the potential for what Tysons could become long before it emerged as one of the busiest submarkets for development in Greater Washington, died Monday in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He was 94 and moved to Wyoming in 2013.

Halpin launched West-Group in 1962 with co-founders Charles EwingThomas Nicholson and Rudolph Seeley. That same year, West-Group acquired 125 acres of farmland that would become, in combination with other rural land nearby, Tysons Corner.

“Jerry Halpin was a real giant in the Tysons development community and a visionary,” Fairfax Board Chairman Sharon Bulova said in a statement. “He was a true community-based developer and will be missed.”

The legend of Greater Washington real estate oversaw more than 12 million square feet of commercial and residential development across the D.C. region, including the West-Gate and West-Park office parks in Tysons.

Those office parks were modern for the time, though they did create the auto-centric, pedestrian-unfriendly Tysons that Fairfax County and West-Group’s successors, sparked by the expansion of Metro through Tysons and beyond, are currently working to undo. Millions of square feet of new residential and commercial construction are planned, much of it on the site of both West-Gate and West-Park.

Halpin recognized at least a decade ago that change was necessary in Tysons. The Coalition for Smarter Growth recognized him in 2013 “for his determined leadership in the transformation of Tysons, one of the nation’s most important redevelopment projects.”

“Without Jerry Halpin’s leadership, the new vision for Tysons might never have been realized. Tysons is the most important redevelopment initiative on the East Coast and Jerry Halpin is the most important private sector figure behind that initiative,” Coalition for Smarter Growth Executive Director Stewart Schwartz said at the time.

West-Group sold its Tysons portfolio, including 115 acres of land, to DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners in 2010 for $222 million in what the WBJ recognized as one of the best deals of the year. Halpin continued to keep his hands in the real estate business after that in varying capacities, including serving as chairman of D.C. developer Four Points LLC and hotel management firm Alexandria Management Corp.

Among those reflecting on his passing was Mark Lowham, CEO and managing partner at TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, who served as executive vice president of West-Group under Halpin before making the leap from commercial real estate to residential.

In a Facebook post, Lowham noted: “Northern Virginia lost one of its great, visionary leaders this morning with the passing at age 94 of my former partner and close friend, Jerry Halpin.”

Photo courtesy of Washington Business Journal. Click here to read the original story.