RA Staff, Committee Began Tetra Process in Fall 2014

by Karen Goff April 10, 2015 at 4:20 pm 23 Comments

Tetra building Reston Association staff began looking into the purchase of the former Reston Visitors Center in the fall of 2014, long before the RA Board of Directors voted unanimously to move forward with a member referendum on the purchase.

After a lengthy executive session during its regular meeting on Jan. 22, where the board was presented with details on the 3,128-square-foot building owned by Tetra Partners, the board voted to pursue a voter referendum for April.

But according to documents released by RA, the board signed an appraisal agreement with The Robert Paul Jones Company in December 2014 that said the appraisal would be performed by Jan. 12, 2015. The fee for the appraisal would be $5,000.

RA CEO Cate Fulkerson said the early appraisal agreement was done so RA staff would be as prepared as possible when presenting the idea to the entire board. She said she first informed the board leadership team (Ken Knueven, Ellen Graves and Michael Sanio) of the opportunityto purchase the building last fall.

“The leadership team asked me to earmark time during the Jan. 12 Board Planning Committee to discuss the opportunity during executive session and also be ready to discuss the matter further during the Jan. 22 Board meeting in both executive and open session,” Fulkerson said.

“In preparation for those meetings, they asked that I be prepared with as much information as possible to discuss the matter, including an appraisal of the value of the property. As with any item presented to the Board, staff provides as much back up information and documentation as possible to enable the board to make an informed decision.”

RA, which entered to a conditional contract in late March, is seeking to buy the building, which sits on 3.48 acres adjacent to Lake Newport and Brown’s Chapel Park, in order to maintain open and community space and fend off any interested developers who could turn the spot into a commercial enterprise, which is allowable under zoning rules and the Reston Master Plan. The building is approved for additions that could extend it 50 feet into Lake Newport and add nearly 7,000 square feet of space.

RA is seeking to borrow up to $2.65 million for the purchase of building, which could be used for a variety of community programs and special event rentals, its says. The appraisal, completed in late January, values the building at that amount. Recent county tax assessments value it at $1.2 million. RA says the difference is due to estimating the building’s highest-and-best use, and not just space.

Renovations and repurposing of the building are estimated to cost $250,000, RA says. It is also expecting $650,000 from a developer contribution.

Meanwhile, RA documents show that Tetra Partners wanted $2.7 million for the building or they are not selling. Tetra also said several restaurants had toured the building, but there were no current commercial offers.

RA will hold a community meeting on the planned purchase on April 21, 6 p.m. at Brown’s Chapel.

The referendum starts Monday and runs through May 8. The results will announced May 11. The referendum needs votes from 1,751 households (10 percent of eligible households) to be valid.

See more Tetra-related documents on RA’s website.

  • John Farrell

    So RA staff and Board leadership have been pursuing this for more than 6 months but kept it secret for most of that time. Why?

    • Secret Observers

      HOA principles of operation is …. to secretly manipulate and control public to avoid accountability. It would be too naïve to believe in “transparency” or public information of HOA. Time will tell and the truth (secret) will reveal itself :):):)….

    • NotWorried

      How would you imagine it should have worked? I don’t see a big issue here. The board didn’t go out a buy the property- its coming to the membership to decide. You seem to be searching for bad news.

      • John Farrell

        The CEO had an obligation to make an immediate report to the entire RA Board by the CEO during an open meeting of the approach being made at the owner at the immediately next Board meeting last Fall.

        That didn’t happen.

        • NotWorried

          So vote no!

          • John Farrell

            Obviously but this problem is not limited to this transaction.

            It’s a pervasive problem that existed under the prior CEO and regrettably continues under the new Administration and goes to the RA culture and the appropriate supervision of the CEO by the Board.

          • JCSuperstar

            I’m sorry, I’ve been following this since it started. I will vote NO, as I anticipate the property is suited to be developed, and I hope it becomes a lovely restaurant at that venue. I would love to see a restaurant there. I anticipate a lot of feedback from the neighbors, but it is their right to vote NO. We will let the community decide.
            But, I am flabbergasted by the few here that believe the Reston Board is a bunch of crooks. My god. They are your neighbors and they are volunteering, doing the best they can. What’s with you?
            And if I hear “we are all volunteers” one more time, I will cringe in disbelief. No. We are not all volunteers. I have a full time job and could not contemplate doing what a few of my neighbors are doing on our behalf. Are you willing? If so, I didn’t see you as one of the candidates. Hmmmm.
            Any of you here can jump into the deep end if you want — run for the board. I am willing to admit there is no effing way I want to do that. What’s your excuse?
            This dialogue started well with regard to the pluses and minuses of this referendum. Informative, make people think. But, some of the myopic people (I’m sorry, pariahs) here believe this has been signed and delivered with criminal or simpleminded intent. Get real. How cruel.
            Funny, I read the “Conditional” contract and know it’s my vote that counts. Nothing happens until Reston citizens vote. Pretty straightforward.
            I started chiming in a month or so ago on many topics here, because I found all of the diatribes entertaining. Guess that’s where I’ll have to keep my expectations.
            Good luck hating the world…hope you don’t have children.

          • John Farrell

            Since you asked, yes, I’ve formed and advised HOAs; I have run for the RA Board and currently served as President of my Cluster.

            There are standards for how HOAs are supposed to be run. Unfortunately, RA has a history of failing to meet even the minimal standards regarding openness and transparency.

            RAs abuses have led to repeated legislation by the General Assembly.

            Thanks for asking.

  • Secret Observers

    ….”staff provides as much back up information and documentation as possible to enable the board to make an informed decision.”.
    …. for a “rare opportunity” to freely risk millions dollars in long-term debt rushing to buy a property in order to “save” a building with unknown foundation located on unknown soil and unknown subsoil with unknown risks of underground EROSION, LANDSLIDE, FLOOD, and possible … SINK HOLE.
    …. May God bless RA to save TET RA from ….any Act of God. in the next 20 years until $2.65 ++ MIL debt is paid off 🙂

  • Reston Member

    What a fabulous location for a restaurant. Beats Lake Anne by a mile. I vote Yes for a restaurant.

    • Reston Realist

      Unfortunately, there is no room there for a restaurant because of Chesapeake Bay watershed environmental restrictions and RA easements.

    • JCSuperstar
    • JCSuperstar

      Actually, Reston Member, you need to vote NO to get a restaurant. Voting NO keeps RA from interfering. Vote NO to let a developer, entrepreneur, chef create a beautiful place there.

    • Wings!

      I’ve been saying it for 6 months. Reston needs a Hooters. This is a perfect opportunity for the RA to buy a franchise and operate it from the TETRA property. However, the price of the TETRA property needs to be examined again… 2.6 million is insane….

  • Reston Member

    Anxiously awaiting for the vote form in my email. Can’t wait to cast my vote as “NO”. How many opportunities do you get to save $2.65 million?
    What’s interesting is that the proposed uses by the RA Board will have no benefit whatsoever to 99.99% of Reston residents. .

  • Cluster Tycoon

    US Cable Wake Parks has a strong chance here to team with RA to turn this property into one of the world’s premier water sports facilities and secret negotiations are near completion with announcement of free season passes for all registered and good standing members, must have paid assessments in full for 2015. Vote yes for purchase of Tetra property, new head quarters and club house for the Reston Marlins.

    • Mike M

      That’s good news, thanks Cluster.

      • JCSuperstar

        Reston Association needs to get out of the way and let free enterprise do what’s best for the property. It is a perfect venue for a beautiful restaurant.

    • JoeInReston

      Lets presume this rumor is all but inevitable and certain to happen. Advocates should still vote no because they are paying too much for the property. Why pay 2.65 million for a property if it worth less than 2 million? No swim property is worth overpaying that much.

  • edgyone

    Vote NO. The appraisal started with the assumption a restaurant can be built there and there is evidence that is not the case. Why pay for an appraisal with a flawed assumption? Also, the property was never on the market or publicly listed for sale. That would be a resonable condition to determining the value. Vote no to RA stupidity.

  • Robert Mowbray

    If you oppose this purchase, you should not vote at all. The referendum fails without a quorum..

    • Reston Realist

      You’re betting a quorum won’t be reached, but the Board will probably extend the timeframe if it doesn’t reach a quorum as it has done before.

      A safer approach is to just vote “NO.”

  • Michael P. McHugh

    That’s good news, thanks Cluster.


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