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RA Will Answer Tetra Questions at Community Meeting

by Karen Goff April 8, 2015 at 3:00 pm 25 Comments

Tetra building Reston Association will hold a community meeting on Tuesday, April 21 (6 p.m. at Brown’s Chapel) to answer questions about the planned purchase of the Tetra Building.

RA announced in January it wants to purchase the building at 11450 Baron Cameron Ave. The 3.48-acre property, which features a 3,128-square-foot-building and parking, sits on Lake Newport and served for 20 years as Reston’s Visitors Center.

The 32-year-old building is currently owned by Tetra Partners, a commercial real estate company, as serves as its office space. It is currently zoned convenience center and an addition of more than 6,900 square feet would be permitted to be added if a business bought it.

RA wants to use the building for community and recreational space in general and camp programs, after school care and classroom space in particular. It also forecasts revenue of more than $100,000 annually from event rentals such as weddings, parties and corporate retreats.

RA has put in a conditional contract on the property for up to $2.65 million, but the price could change based on repairs (including a new HVAC, roof and water damage) that need to be done per a recent inspection.

Fairfax County’s most recent tax assessment values the land and building at $1.2 million. RA says in its fact sheet on the purchase that the assessment is different than an appraisal value of $2.65 million, which looks at the “highest and best use of the property.”

The purchase plan needs votes from a member referendum to proceed. The referendum begins April 13 and will run through May 8.

At the meeting, RA staff will address current zoning of the site vs. RA preferred zoning; potential community recreational uses and interior renovations; conditional contract and appraisals; and the building condition based on property inspections, both from Criterium Engineers and RA Covenants administration.

RA members will have a chance to vote on the referendum at the meeting.

Meanwhile, RA has added more information on the building to its Tetra page on the RA website. Among the new files: zoning information, Criterium Engineering’s property condition report, and renderings of past restaurant proposal, which features a large addition overlooking Lake Newport.

Also, a group of Tetra purchase opponents have started a blog called Say No To Tetra and a Twitter feed StopTetraNow!

  • Terry Maynard

    RA’s five-year pro forma does show gross revenues running over $100K/year, but it also shows operating expenses running at about $50K/year and loan payments running at $183K/year, a net loss of three-quarters of a million dollars over 5 years. Reston 2020 has taken a 20-year look at the finances that show:
    –Net losses over the time span will approach $2 MILLION (that RA members will have to pay)
    –The cumulative losses will add more than $80 to each RA member’s annual assessment fee over 20 years (not counting RA fee increases just due to inflation).
    For the full financial picture, read this: http://www.reston2020.blogspot.com/2015/04/how-much-will-purchase-of-tetra-cost.html

    • Rodney Dangerfield

      I realize you are opposed to the purchase, but the analysis on your blog is disingenuous at best. The “losses” you cite include paying down (OFF) the mortgage, so in year 21 they would be very much positive. Also, $80 over 20 years is only $4 a year.

      • Terry Maynard

        Nice tag, Rodney!

        First, please note the post says the $4/year is in addition to the average of about $25/year in regular RA assessment increases over the next 20 years, so it’s an added roughly 20% impact to an already significant annual increase.

        Moreover, showing 20 years of estimated costs is less disingenuous than showing just 5-1/2 years as RA has done in its so-called “fact sheet,” I would submit. And, as the post states, the Reston 2020 post pretty much uses all of RA’s optimistic, if not disingenuous, revenue and cost projections. So it’s not like it tries to be deceitful.

        And certainly Reston 2020 is not presuming that a property that may be worth about $1.25 million (if it’s in good condition) is worth $2.65 million because it could possibly have a posh lakefront restaurant there (which it can’t because of environmental restrictions & easements). Now THAT’S disingenuous!

        But, yes, I do believe that RA’s purchase of this property is unwarranted (especially at $2.65MM). It will use scarce RA homeowner-provided capital that might be used more wisely later in helping to acquire Reston National Golf Course (as RA President Ken Kneuven has suggested) to preclude future attempts at turning it into thousands of apartments. I certainly don’t think we can afford to do both–especially at the outrageous price RA is willing to make us pay for Tetra.

        • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

          Thanks Terry,

          I agree. I wonder if there are commercial real estate brokers involved in this transaction or if it is a “for sale by owner”. If there aren’t, why not? Their expertise could be invaluable. If there are, please name them, as it would be interesting to see who is earning the commission and we could determine whose interests are being protected.

          • John Farrell

            While the seller is a broker, the contract states that there were no brokers involved in the transaction.

          • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

            Thanks John!

      • Ming the Merciless

        I wonder what would happen if you went to the bank for a business loan and your business plan included massively overpaying for your site and not having a profit until year 21.

  • John Farrell

    We know that the majority of RA voters cast their votes within the first 7 days after ballots go out.

    So RA has graciously agreed to finally answer questions on this issue but only after the majority of RA members will have already voted.

    Just the epitome of transparency and accountability.

    Not.

    • Eve Thompson

      John,
      the RA Board decision to add a “Town Hall” style meeting was made in response to Mr. Flashman’s request and our desire to have more dialog style communication– something that is difficult to achieve at a Board Meeting.

      To presume negative and even underhanded intent on the part of the Board is unnecessary and unfair. We’re all volunteers here–we all believe that we’re acting in the best interest of the community by giving them the opportunity to vote Yes or vote No on whether or not they want to add this parcel of land to our open space.

      I don’t think that demeaning your volunteer board is necessary or additive to the discussion at hand.

      • Rational Reston

        Ms. Thompson, I must disagree to an extent. The RA Board has a history of shenanigans (like the vote to remove the limits on the RA Board’s governance — sorry I forget the exact vote, but I’m sure that Mr. Farrell or Mr. Maynard will remind you– where they moved moved the vote end date to get a quorum).

        The RA Board MUST act in a more transparent way, yet the RA agrees to this after a member requests it? Was this not an idea thrown about any of the RA meetings or discussions? Does your share of the $12000 iPads not tell you to do this? These moves are way too reckless with respect to Tetra and fall right in line with many RA decisions.

        I have lost ALL faith in the RA Board and the people who work for RA.

      • John Farrell

        We’re all volunteers, Eve.

        And being volunteers does not justify the rush and secrecy surrounding this transaction.

        Nor does it explain why it was necessary for Mr. Flashman to have to ask for a Town Hall session instead of such a meeting being held at the instigation of any Board member BEFORE the Board first voted to hold the referendum or voted to approve the contract.

        Just such a session was held, at Browns Chapel, ironically, on the indoor tennis facility at the instigation of the North Point Board member months before the Board voted not to hold a referendum on that building.

        It is irrefutable that the current transaction has not been handled in a deliberate and transparent manner.

        How such an observation can be seen as “demeaning” may be revelatory of the attitude of the current RA Board toward the membership.

        • JCSuperstar

          First point, I will vote No on the referendum. Second, I admire the willingness of Ms.Thompson to chime in. Third, the responses to Ms. Thompson tell me you’re not opposed to the Tetra purchase. Rather, you just hate the RA Board in general. Shame on you.! Good luck swaying the community with these attitudes. Starting to remind me of the Tea Party fanatics.

          • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

            JC,

            I too will vote NO on the referendum. But calling those of us who oppose it “crazies” is uncalled for. We can hate the actions of the board without hating the individuals themselves. There is little hope of swaying the community, because most people do not even know what is going on. They do not pay attention.

            And FYI, Ted Cruz Super Pacs raised over 31 million dollars since his announcement. Record breaking. So perhaps people should take lessons from him.

          • JCSuperstar

            Bo, I’ll have to respectfully disagree with you. Nobody here entertained the idea to talk to a neighbor. Rather, we decided to take her down on her first attempt to talk to us idiots. I’m sorry, that just sucks. And I thought you were a Libertarian, where’s your support for my man Rand.

          • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

            I love Rand. And I love Cruz. I’d like to see a CRUZ/PAUL ticket.

          • Reston Realist

            There is much to “hate” about the way the RA Board insists on acting in secrecy and sometimes stupidly (as in this case where both secrecy and stupidity are in play), but they are not “hateable” as people in other circumstances.

            At least I don’t hate them as people and I do appreciate the time they are willing to put in for our community. Now if they would just do more of that publicly and wisely, I’d be fine!

          • JCSuperstar

            Unfortunately the hate, more times than not, is focused on the individuals. Reston Member groups are apparent targets as well. That is unfortunate. I know it’s easy to be a troll, but…

      • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

        Unnecessary? Perhaps. Unfair, not really. Every time the board does anything that the members don’t like, the board members hide behind the
        “we are all volunteers” banner. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Something has to be done. If the board can’t hear how upset people are by this kind of action, then they are not listening. We are sick to death of the spending, the secrecy, and the “we know what it best” attitude of this board. The sad fact of the matter is, however, that the board knows only a few members pay attention, much less vote. So they are free to do as they please and we are sent the bill.

        • Betty Bellomo

          Can’t stand the heat? Ha! From the cowards who attack, and smear while hiding behind their fake names! Oh- that’s really rich. When did you last attend a meeting?

          • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

            A couple of weeks ago if you must know Betty.

          • JCSuperstar

            But to be fair. They are volunteers. I for one thank them, as I would not (never, now how, no way) put myself through that kind of hell.

    • Cluster Tycoon

      Exactly. And why does it take two weeks to announce the results of an electronic vote? Keep going John, I can smell steak.

  • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

    No, that would be Barack Obama. Dershowitz said Cruz is by far the smartest student he ever taught. Obama wouldn’t have gotten in to Harvard if not for affirmative action. At any rate, the left goes so hard after Cruz because they fear him. Personally, I can’t wait to see him debate Hillary. It will be a blood bath. However, I will support whomever gets the nomination. But back to RA business.

  • Wings!

    If the RA would franchise a Hooters and build that at the former Tetra Property, that would be a money making opportunity. I could see myself spending a lot of time and money there on some cold beers and hot wings.

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