RA’s Tetra Appraisal Will Stay Under Wraps for Now

by Karen Goff March 23, 2015 at 8:30 am 37 Comments

Tetra building/Credit:YelpA Reston resident has filed a complaint with Reston Association after he said he requested a copy of the appraisal report for the Tetra building and was told he could not see it until RA had a conditional contract to purchase the building.

Reston Association CEO Cate Fulkerson told resident Irwin Flashman in an email that the board would discuss the conditional contract — the contract that is pending results of an April member referendum — at its meeting on Thursday, March 26.

Thursday’s meeting is also the final public hearing on the planned purchase. To review: Reston Association is seeking to purchase the 3.48-acre property adjacent to other RA properties such as Brown’s Chapel Park and Lake Newport Tennis.

The property, which contains a parking lot and a 3,128-square-foot-building, was Reston’s Visitors Center from 1983 to 2003 and is now office space for Tetra Commercial Real Estate. RA has sent a letter of intent to Tetra to purchase the building at 11450 Baron Cameron Drive for $2.65 million. Acquiring the building would give RA 98 contiguous acres of open space and prevent a developer from purchasing the property — and using the building for a commercial enterprise, which is allowed under the current Reston Master Plan designation. However, a recent Fairfax County tax assessment shows the value using that scale at $1.428 million. RA conducted its own appraisal, standard practice in a real estate transaction, to arrive at the $2.65 million purchase price, Fulkerson said at the first public hearing on the issue in late February.

RA land use attorney John McBride says an appraiser is looking at one property while an assessor is looking at a county full of properties — in this case, small offices, which will not be the “highest and best use” for the property.

McBride said an appraisal done in 2010 valued the property at $2.7 million — and the current owners originally wanted that price.

RA plans to borrow the entire $2.65 million. Fulkerson says $650,000 to be used to repurpose the building will come from a developer contribution. She has not yet said which developer, which Reston project and whether that deal is a final agreement or just an expectation. RA is also still seeking community feedback on the building’s purpose.

Some ideas that the association has proposed include after-camp care, community meeting space and event rentals. Uses such as event rentals would bring in income for RA, staff says.

RA says that there will be no impact on member assessments until 2019 and 2020, when increases of $3.64 and $3.68 are estimated. However, those estimates come with the current number of households in the association(21,618 households, including the new Harrison Apartments) and not the 600 new units that are expected to join the association in the next five years.

Flashman initially requested to see the appraisal on March 6. In more recent communication with RA, he calls the delay “unacceptable.”

“No opportunity for public comment after the March 26 date has been scheduled,” he wrote. “Comments made on March 26 therefore will not have had the benefit of information contained in the Tetra property appraisal, nor the draft conditional purchase and sales contract.”

“I believe the RA is obligated to provide the information requested in a timely fashion, which will allow members to make an informed decision on whether to vote for or against the proposed purchase,” Flashman wrote. ”

The board will discuss Flashman’s request at Thursday’s meeting.

Photo: Tetra Building/Credit: Yelp

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