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DC Developer Signs on for Controversial Reston Tower

by Karen Goff February 10, 2015 at 11:00 am 1,798 18 Comments

Rendering of 23-story tower planned for Reston Parkway/Credit: RTC Partnership

When D.C.-based developer Akridge announced on Monday that it had teamed with RTC Partnership LLC to construct what will be Reston’s tallest building, it brought a somewhat dormant project back in to the spotlight.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the $210 million project back in Sept. 2012. The 330-foot tall tower will replace an aging five-story office tower at 1760 Reston Parkway.

“This will stand as a stark example of what world-class design is called for in the principles of Reston,” Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said at the September 2012 BOS hearing. “We will not have to remain in the sameness of heights and density as a measure of world-class design.”

The journey to approval of the tower — which will hold 420,000-square-feet of office space at Reston Parkway and Bowman Towne Drive — was not without controversy.

Opponents of the project were concerned about the scale of the building, calling it “incompatible with Reston. Also of concern was additional traffic as the building, which will contain a parking garage, will be nearly one mile from the Reston Town Center Metro station, which is scheduled to open in late 2018.

Critics of the project included Reston Association and the Fairfax County Planning Commission staff, which said the building was out of scale with its surroundings.

The building was approved by the supervisors anyway. The current  building was zoned Planned Residential Community in 1978 and is under no height restrictions. The proposed density of 4.08 Floor-Area Ratio on the 2.36-acre property is actually less than several surrounding buildings or proposed buildings, representatives for RTC Partnership pointed out at the time.

The project was recently mentioned at last month’s Board of Zoning Appeals hearing on whether Reston National Golf Course could be considered residential. The building was mentioned as one that was approved by the Board of Supervisors contrary to the staff report.

The proposed height of the building makes it 125 feet taller than Reston’s tallest building, One Freedom Square.

However, with a high-density project coming at The Spectrum, which surrounds 1760 Reston Parkway, as well as the new, 14-story residential towers at The Harrison nearly ready to open across the street, the building will not be such a contrast eventually.

The building will feature a large rooftop plaza, grand lobby, floor-to-ceiling glass, panoramic views from the Blue Ridge mountains to D.C., 9.5-foot ceilings, five levels of screened parking above street level, ground-floor retail and roughly 18 floors of office space.

Reston founder Robert E. Simon, who has long been a proponent of higher density in Reston, called the project “a perfect location” back in 2012.

“The question is ‘is this is good location?'” said Simon. “It is a perfect location. Town Center starts at and goes to This building will be right in the center and will be appropriate.”

No start date has been set. The Washington Business Journal reports that the building is seeking an anchor tenant to prelease at least 150,000 square feet before proceeding with construction.

Photo: Rendering of planned 23-story tower/Credit: RTC Partnership

  • Terry Maynard

    Actually, this building is out of place and the result of bad planning and zoning by the County.

    Back when Martha Pennino was our supervisor in the mid-1970s, this parcel was zoned for UNLIMITED density–apparently the ONLY parcel in the county with unlimited density. I suppose we can be somewhat grateful that the developer stopped at a 4.08 FAR density and 330′ height. NTL, it will be about twice the height of an adjoining redeveloped Spectrum Center–much as pictured in the image above.

    And its height and single-use are inconsistent with the County’s TOD policy and the Reston Master Plan, no matter what public officials now say about it to avoid looking silly. It is more than 1/2 mile from the RTC Metro station and, under the County policy and Reston plan, the most dense development (large FAR) should occur nearest the station. Being beyond the 1/2 mile arc, development is also in a part of the TOD area and should be predominantly residential and certainly mixed-use. This is just a very tall office building with many floors of parking at its base (plus ground-floor retail).

    Far from being “world-class architecture”–it’s a tall rectangular block with a parking garage underneath–this future office building will, as Reston 2020 said at last week’s Community Meeting on the Reston Master Plan, “stand above Town Center like a developer’s massive middle finger directed at the County’s transit station area policy objective and the community’s transit-oriented design goal of tapering density away from the Metro stations.”

  • Chuck Morningwood

    Just what Reston needs: another steel and glass monument to ugliness and developer greed.

    • Dexter Scott

      Indeed, Reston should return to the pastureland it once was before greedy developers like Robert E. Simon and Gulf Oil Corporation got their hands on it and defiled it with ugly concrete brutalism.

      • east297

        Really, and where do YOU live?

        • Dexter Scott

          Mingo City on Planet Mongo.

          • east297

            Wow…no wonder you are in a fog!

          • Dexter Scott

            Ming knows all.

  • Bowling 4 Bollards

    Cathy Hudgins’ remarks sound as if tey came straight from the developers’ press release. And Bob Simon ( “Mr. Highest Density” to you, pilgrim) must be delusional in his approval of this project, knowing full well it does not comport with contemporary planning guidelines for Reston. The Bd. of Supervisors chose to ignore their own planning people and simply roll over for the developer on this one.

    • Robert Mowbray

      Not the first time, nor the last (see the LADP land swap) that our officials have rolled over for a developer.

      • GetALife

        Robert- you really ill informed. Your officials didn’t “roll over” for a developer. They made a great deal for the rest of Reston.

    • Mike M

      Long tradition. I called her predecessor once about a cable company that cut a gap in my community’s border fence. They recited a Cox Cable news release that did not address my issue in the slightest. Vote Hudgins out! No matter the opposition. They get two years if they do as she does.

  • Dexter Scott

    Build it and they may not come…

    When landlord Monday Properties broke ground in 2010 on the Washington-area’s now-tallest building, the move appeared savvy. The company was starting construction early in a national economic recovery on a prime site in a region known to do well even during recessions. So far, the tower, which was completed in 2013, hasn’t done as well as the developers hoped. It has yet to find a single tenant.

    Instead, the 35-story office building at 1812 N. Moore St. in the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington, Va., has become a glassy symbol of a Washington-area economy whipsawed by federal austerity measures even as the rest of the country strengthened.

    Government contractors, once expecting expansion, shed office space, as did federal agencies and even lobbying and law firms. Washington-area office vacancy rates rose to 17.1% at the end of 2014, up from 14% in mid-2011, according to real-estate services firm JLL.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/washington-d-c-areas-tallest-office-building-sits-without-tenant-1423593650?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsThird

  • Mike M

    Should contribute to World Class traffic jams! Go Kate Hudgins!

    • vdiv

      How are these people still in any position of power?

      • Guest

        Ummmm . . . we keep VOTING FOR THEM!

      • Mike M

        Too many Restonians are obsessed with Party. They zombie into the polls and pull the lever next to the D. They forget that it is almost irrelevant at this level. They forget they can vote out any dirtball after two years of sell out. Only then would the pols get the message and the people get their democracy back.

  • Cluster Tycoon

    All it takes is another economic downturn and all these developers will scatter like cockroaches and abandon their principles in short order. also, somewhat shortsighted perhaps, that too many locals are clamping onto big Mommas skirt hoping that she will intervene if things should not work out. News flash, the sixties are over and so is big government, the master plan, and a whole lot of other institutions that are just holding the taxpayer hostage. just sane

  • Colleen Browning

    Heartbreaking

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