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Tetra Building Needs New Roof, Other Repairs

by Karen Goff — March 27, 2015 at 9:15 am 54 Comments

Tetra Building/Credit: Yelp

A building inspection performed on the former Reston Visitors Center has revealed elements and systems that will need to be replaced in the next 5 to 10 years. Among them:

  • Major elements of the HVAC system are in need of replacement
  • The roof needs replacement
  • Exposed trusses and supports on the exterior need to be replaced
  • Some windows and siding need to be replaced
  • Some minor exterior drainage issues need to be addressed
  • Minor water damage on the interior needs to be repaired

RA land use attorney John McBride says the seller of the building, Tetra Partners, knew about the roof and HVAC on the 32-year-old building already and has agreed to pay for replacement. The rest of the list, compiled by Criterium Engineers this week, will be further examined and may be open to negotiation on the $2.65 million purchase price, McBride said.

RA announced in January it is seeking to purchase the 3.48-acre property that features a 3,128-square-foot building on the banks of Lake Newport. The building will be used for community and recreation space, as well as available for event rentals.

Purchasing the property, which is adjacent to other RA recreation space such as Brown’s Chapel Park, would give the association 98 continuous acres of open space and protect against overdevelopment, RA says.

The purchase cannot go forward until it is put to a member referendum in April.

On Thursday, at the second of two public hearings on the purchase, the RA Board of Directors heard from a half-dozen members in person and several more via emails read by President Ken Knueven. Reaction was mixed — some members, including Reston founder Bob Simon (via a phone conversation with Knueven) — said they approve of the purchase, but still need more information. Others said they did not understand the rush to acquire the property and questioned whether the expense of even putting the idea to referendum ($20,000 to $30,000) was necessary.

Much of the meeting centered on changes to the fact sheet on the purchase. See the revised fact sheet on RA’s website.

One of the changes: RA has factored in snow removal and landscape maintenance costs, which were originally left off because they will be done by RA staff. The additional annual expense of more than $15,000 means RA members will see an impact in their assessment a year earlier (2018) than originally forecast.

RA forecasts a $2.57 impact in 2018, $4.55 in 2019 and $4.43 in 2020, though RA CEO Cate Fulkerson said with new properties being added to the association by then, the increases may not happen at all.

The board narrowly approved the changes to to the fact sheet. South Lakes Director Richard Chew was the lone dissenter (two directors abstained and one was absent).

Said Chew: “Our support was contingent on a fact sheet that made a compelling case to our members. As presented tonight, the fact sheet fails to do so. It fails to spell out that there is a full develpment plan. … I am not convinced our failure to purchase will result in overdevelopment. It does not say how much it will cost RA to increase and enhance green space.”

Chew also said the fact sheet does not discuss how the $8.50 increase per member (in 2018-2020) may be mitigated.

The board voted to approve the conditional purchase contract and release the property appraisal once the contract is executed. It also voted to hold at least one community meeting in April for additional member comments.

  • Ming the Merciless

    Money pit.

    • vdiv

      Well, you know, this is exactly how I feel about the swimming puddles scattered about, and they are quite literally so. I am rather ambivalent as the RA will spend/waste (depending on your POV) money one way or the other — that is why we have them.

      I’d say knock it down and plant some extra trees.

      • JCSuperstar

        That building is starting to grow on me. Be a nice residence, that possible?

        • Greg

          It certainly would, but it’s a wooden structure 30 years old, and falling apart. Long live (not) cedar in our torpid climate.

          • JCSuperstar

            Very good point, but look at the location. Man, I can see myself fishing off that deck. Are there decent fish in our lakes? I see people trying, but I never have.

          • Ming the Merciless

            If you have $2.65 million you should make it happen!

          • JCSuperstar

            Hmmmm.

          • JCSuperstar

            Just did a Zillow. Damn, those houses on the lake are expensive. With no lots.

          • Greg

            It’s a stormwater retention pond full of all manner of suburban detritus (that we pay to have removed periodically). Imagine the values if it was a real lake.

          • JCSuperstar

            Agree. But man, $1.1 million for zero land. Guess I’ll stay in my bungalow.

          • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

            You could get a no money down, interest free loan from RA BANK. Appraisal won’t be an issue. We will show you the appraisal after the deal closes.

          • JCSuperstar

            Still be a cool residence.

          • JCSuperstar

            Zillow says the tennis court parcel, right there, is close to $900K. What’s with that?

        • Greg

          Plus, Hudgins would demand that you set aside at least 20 percent of the space for “workforce” housing. And, we’d need a few more lovely (RA DRB approved?) trailers to educate the accompanying rug rats.

      • Ming the Merciless

        The fact that we cannot prevent all wastes of money does not mean we should be ambivalent about a large and egregious waste of money like this one.

        • vdiv

          Don’t know about you, but the fact that I bought my domicile in Reston AFTER learning about the RA shenanigans makes me rather ambivalent at best.

          Hey, did you see those fancy rock-faced, backlit, train-sporting monolith signs were just installed on literally every road going into Herndon? Wonder how much those “poor” souls paid for that extravagance …

  • JCSuperstar

    Where was this Chew guy all this time. First he was for it then against it. Oh, he’s a candidate running in the elections. Well played.

    • clambj

      This is his way to get back in good graces after his bocce court disaster.

  • Greg

    This disaster deal needs to die. ASAP.

  • JCSuperstar

    Let’s keep the national politics out of here. Please…

    • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

      JC,

      Only using current events to make my point. RA is a microcosm of big government. Not partisan.

      • JCSuperstar

        I get it BO, just hoping this thread doesn’t turn into partisan diatribes.

  • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

    Karen.

    I’m curious about RA forecasting revenue from event rentals. Does anyone know if the renovation plan includes a catering kitchen and additonal restrooms? Is the building ADA compliant? Could wedding guests smoke cigars or electronic cigs on the deck, since its close to the RA path and the tennis courts? Will tennis players not be able to park or play tennis if there is a wedding reception? There are so many unanswered questions.

    • Ming the Merciless

      Their forecasting uses the innovative process they call “we totally made this up but trust us anyway”.

      If they make $500 a weekend from rentals, it will only take them 102 years to pay back the $2.65 million, yaay!

    • Karen Goff

      They have not gotten to the construction details yet. They did add to the fact sheet that there will be noise ordinances though.

  • John Farrell

    With his change of position last night, I voted for Richard this morning on line and encourage those living in South Lakes district who have yet to vote to do the same.

    We will each have to pay $8.50 PER YEAR FOR 30 YEARS to pay for this fiasco that provides no benefit to those of us who do not own a home on Lake Newport.

    • JCSuperstar

      Wow! A sitting board member uses his position over the other candidates to sway the election in his favor. Bitzer and Sigle have got to be loving the ethics of this one. I was for it, until I saw I was losing in the polls. Karen, this is a great story right here!!

      • John Farrell

        Are there polls of the RA election in South Lakes District? Do share.

        • JCSuperstar

          Have to assume there are.

      • Ming the Merciless

        So you don’t want politicians to change their minds when they realize they’re doing something stupid and the people hate it?

        • JCSuperstar

          I like your point, but I don’t have a lot of respect for people who change their minds with the direction of the wind. At least the other two (who I disagree with on THIS item) are sticking to their convictions and principles.

          • Reston Realist

            So why didn’t Mr. Chew look at the issues in the Tetra purchase BEFORE he was in favor of it, which was before he was against it during the election period, and which he will probably be in favor of after the election? Inquiring minds want to know?

            Hypocrisy is as old as politics itself.

          • JoeInReston

            Here was the opening comment:

            “I have previously indicated that I support the concept of acquiring and re-purposing this property. I have also made it clear that that support was contingent on a referendum fact sheet that must make a compelling case to our members – including a detailed discussion of the potential financial impact on the association and its members. As presented tonight, the fact sheet fails to do so completely”

    • Knotso Much

      That’s all it took? I know for a fact that the other candidates, Bitzer for one, have been asking hard questions about this issue. But they don’t have the luxury of incumbency. IMHO, you are being naive. Take a look at Chew’s past performance.

      • John Farrell

        Ms. Bitzer was present last night and made no statement reversing her earlier support for this boondoggle.

        Neither has Mr. Sigle.

        I have no knowledge of her “hard questions” since none have been shared publicly. No doubt Karen would have been happy to post an op-ed from either of them on this issue.

        When a candidate for office moves in my direction on the biggest issue facing that office, it would be hypocritical not to change my vote.

        • Reston Realist

          It would be hypocritical only if you BELIEVED Chew had actually changed his position . . . and there really is a tooth fairy!

          • John Farrell

            He voted against it last night.

            I don’t have to “believe in tooth fairies.”

          • JCSuperstar

            So you weren’t going to vote at all, for ANY of these folks, on solid principle. But, now — that this idiot agrees with you — you vote for him. Did you vote for the At-Large folks? Or is that still against your prior principle.

          • John Farrell

            As I wrote in my Op-Ed last week, I went to the Candidate Forum prepared to vote for two candidates and came away intending to vote for none because all 7 supported this mistake.

            One candidate changed his position and I voted for that one this morning.

            How is that not principled?

          • YouDidntListen

            He voted FOR signing the contract and AGAINST the referendum materials you dope!

          • JCSuperstar

            LMAO

          • JoeInReston

            Richard expresses his revised views on the project at the 2:39:18 mark in the youtube video here:

            https://youtu.be/jqHu0tXqr4w?t=9558

            He spends a great deal of time criticizing the lack of facts in the fact sheet. He didn’t sound like he was ready to sign the contract.

          • JoeInReston

            OK here is the later part where Richard approves the motion to approve the conditional purchase contract for the tetre property.

            https://youtu.be/jqHu0tXqr4w?t=18301

            Weird…

    • PayAttention

      You should go back and listen to the Youtube video– Mr. Chew only voted against the referendum materials, when the board came out of the 2nd executive session (what was the point of that!), he voted for having Ms. Fulkerson sign the provisional contract– how is that a reversal of position?

      • John Farrell

        Since I had gone home by then, I don’t know.

  • Joseph Morris

    According to this article, the structure needs extensive repair and maintenance, some to bring it into line with County building codes, and probably some to make it compliant with Reston Association covenants — or do these magically not apply to property owned by RA?
    Has the DRB filed a notice of covenants violation with the current owner or is it waiting for RA to assume possession before it will do so? (Fancy the DRB filing a notice of covenants violation against RA, mind-blowing, isn’t it?) Is there, perchance, a lien on the property prohibiting its sale until it’s ajudged to be in compliance?
    In either approach, will the DRB give the owners (current or future) the standard 60 days to bring the property into compliance, or is that standard only in effect for us poor mortals who happen to own property in Reston?
    Finally, in the latter scenario, would the DRB entertain a request for extension of time to effect the repairs beyond the nominal 60 days, just like it very seldom does for homeowners. Never mind financial hardship that this may impose.

    • Ming the Merciless

      It would be kind of amusing if the RA put a lien on the property to force the owners to comply with RA standards before selling the property to the RA.

      • Joseph Morris

        The word “ironic” comes to mind.

    • Greg

      Anyone can file an RA / DRB complaint for covenant violation on this or any property subject to the RA deed (including those owned by the RA itself). Use this form: you may remain anonymous:

      https://www.reston.org/portals/3/Property%20Owner%20Resources/Design%20Review/Property%20Maintenance%20Use/Complaint-Form-new-address.pdf

      Also, if a lien is filed, and it takes a long while to get that far, it’s a notice of a claimed violation. It is recorded and will run with the land, but it does not hinder a sale per se. I believe the RA can assess the costs to the property and may be able to suspend use of amenities if there is a lien filed or an unpaid balance or both.

      • Joseph Morris

        After thinking about this, I think it would be best to wait until after the referendum, just to avoid any games of “hot potato” over who has to address any claimed covenant violations. Also, it would probably be best if any complaint be filed by some Lake Newport resident, since they have a bit more standing as an affected party than I would, for example.

  • SomeGringo

    I find it surprising that more members actually spoke at the meetings to stop the Bocce court from happening than showed up to express opinion about this $2.65 million fiasco.

    With regards to comments below… As I understood it, Mr. Chew did not say he was against the project, he said was against the contents of the referendum package because it did not supply enough information for the members (you and I) to make a sound decision. He swayed my vote with that comment.

    You can be for or against this fiasco all you want, but if you don’t vote on it in April, you can be sure it’s going to get passed. And don’t expect to have enough financial information to base that decision on.

    • Knotso Much

      The Bocce issue was a shining example of secrecy, lack of transparency and incompetence of RA. People felt like they were being dismissed with no recourse. TETRA on the other hand is more complex. Information slow to dribble out, etc. “Mr. Chew did not say he was against the project.” Remember that later on. In his tenure on the board, it would appear that the frequency of “executive sessions” has increased.

  • Wings

    No reason not to put a Hooters there.

  • Cluster Tycoon

    Reduced to salvage value, mold damage. Obviously undisclosed, pending further independent third party inspection. Hopefully court-appointed.

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