Tetra Price, Uses Lead RA Town Hall Discussion

by Karen Goff April 22, 2015 at 9:00 am 41 Comments

Tetra outdoor space rendering/Credit: RA

It was standing-room only at Brown’s Chapel on Tuesday night as Reston Association members attended a mostly civil town hall meeting to discuss RA’s plans to purchase the former visitors center property from Tetra Partners for up to $2.65 million.

Members are in the midst of a referendum that will either move the process forward — RA would like to close the deal by late July — or kill it.

The general consensus of those at the meeting seemed to support the idea that purchasing the 3.48-acre property to fend off development, preserve green space and add an RA amenity was a good one — but the price is too high.

The 2015 Fairfax County tax assessment values the property — which features a 3,128-square-foot contemporary building that needs both structural repair and interior renovation — at $1.2 million. RA’s 2015 appraisal says the building, when considered for its highest and best developed use — is worth $2.7 million.

Town Hall meeting on Tetra purchase“I am in favor of RA purchasing, but not necessarily in favor of the price,” said Stuart Patz, a member who is in the commercial real estate business. “It doesn’t make sense to me. My take is you are trying to find a use for the property, and you are coming up with a use that doesn’t make sense.

“I applaud you for working on this, but I hope you can negotiate the price.”

RA estimates it will generate $122,000 annually from event rentals, meeting space and after-school and after-camp child care programs. Several in the crowd said they were skeptical that RA would generate that income.

“As a community, we are screwed if RA does not bring in $11,000 a month,” said one member in attendance and asking RA CEO “what is your track record?” when it comes to event rentals.

Fulkerson pointed out that $122,000 is a conservative estimate. The conference center at RA’s headquarters, for example, was estimated to bring in $6,000 in 2014 and instead brought in $15,000.

Said one homeowner: “I would never think about renting space at headquarters, but I consider [the Tetra property] beautiful. I think it is going to be a great thing for RA to generate revenue.”

Fulkerson also presented new renderings of the site as it exists today and what it will look like after RA renovations, including a park area on the banks of Lake Newport, which would be RA’s only lakefront park. Also included: an active play area, covered outdoor space and a lakefront lookout site.

“I like to think of this parcel as the missing puzzle piece in this part of Reston,” said Fulkerson. Acquiring the property, which is in between Lake Newport Tennis and Brown’s Chapel Park, will give RA 98 connected acres of open and community space.

“We have easements, but we cannot do anything with the property [now] was it does not belong to us,” she added.

Other news from the meeting:

RA has secured a loan rate of 3.35 percent, below what it originally estimated, Fulkerson said.

The parking lot currently has about 100 spaces, but may lose 30 of them after RA adds trees and reconfigures the outdoor space.

It will cost about $260-270,000 for interior renovations. That is in addition to the $257,000 of systems repair the recent inspection determined the 33-year-old building needs. RA hopes to negotiate the latter from the price or get the seller, Tetra Partners, to pay for the repairs.

Comstock is the developer behind the previously reported $650,000 developer contribution. If the referendum does not pass, RA will get to keep the money for another purpose, said Fulkerson.

Fulkerson also dispelled the misconception that RA used to own the property. When the building served as the Reston Visitors Center from 1983 to 2003, it was owned by the developers that were building the North Point area. It was then sold to Tetra. RA has never owned the property.

The referendum runs through May 8.

Photos: Top, new rendering of Tetra outdoor space/Courtesy of RA; Bottom, citizens ask RA CEO Cate Fulkerson questions at meeting. 

  • John Farrell

    The covered structure blocks the spillway as do several of the trees. The County won’t approve those changes.

    • Ken Knueven

      John, I have to respectfully disagree with your points.
      As was stated last night, the $650,000 is paid up front, at time of closing on Visitors Center (i.e. June/July, this year). This is whether the referendum passes or fails.
      Let’s applaud Cate and Team for getting proffers from property owners in the Corridor, as these owners are only encouraged to work with RA. They are forced to proffer to the County
      Remember, and you make this point all the time yourself, property owners in the Corridor pay over $1700, per new unit built, to the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA). None of those dollars have to be allocated to Reston, rather they can go anywhere in the County.
      So, now, RA is demonstrating the proper value proposition to convince these developers to specifically proffer in our direction. Well done in my opinion!
      With regard to the little tiny arbor in the renderings. It is a conceptual plan, so the locations of things can and may move (if needed.) Note, the structure is adjacent to the spillway, not on it. Here again, per our Land Use Resolution I, the Members will participate in the final use plans of the Property.

      • JCSuperstar

        Mr. Knueven, thank you for coming back into the fracas here. Question: Why interfere with a Reston Property Owner’s right to do what they are allowed to do within their rights? This goes to the Reston Golf Course as well.

        • Ken Knueven

          Superstar, (love that)…

          Actually if you read our Land Use Resolution I, you’ll see Reston Association woks actively and productively with the developers in our area.

          The Resolution provides a mechanism, approved by the Supervisor’s Office and Planning & Zoning to enter into discussions early in the process. This allows RA to work with the developer, set expectations, what our Essential Elements are, how the DRB will get involved.

          All of the above allows the Community to get involved with the developer early in the planning phase, versus reacting after the fact — which was the old model with past boards.

          With regard to the Golf Course and Tetra — my feeling is Reston has limited open land in it’s portfolio. All of us can see the numbers of new residents coming into Reston are going to be impactful on our spaces. I believe it is imperative, this or any board to protect and preserve our open spaces wherever possible for the sake of our residents, future residents, their children and their children’s children.

          This is not about cost, it’s about opportunity cost. Doing nothing, is not a responsible thing to do. Just ask our friends at Rescue Reston, what would they say if we chose to do nothing regarding the Golf Course?

          • Ming the Merciless

            Because nothing is more responsible than overpaying for no good reason!

          • JCSuperstar

            Well, as I said, your cause is good. But, I believe you are stretching your authority and ability when getting into the rights of Property Owners.

      • Reston Realist

        Well, Mr. Knueven, “Folks” can get all the information RA is willing to provide at said webpage, but they certainly can’t get all the information they NEED.

        That’s why we have RestonNow, Reston 2020, and SayNoToTetra (I think that’s what it’s called). They provide more and often quite different information.

        • JCSuperstar

          Hah. RR, everyone has one — you can finish the quote.

      • John Farrell

        The State Code was recently modified to give the owner the right to delay payment of the proffers until occupancy permit. If Comstock is waiving that arrangement, I hope the waiver is in writing.

        The Comstock proffers were negotiated under the prior regime.

        The Zoning Ordinance requires the rec proffers for residential projects to go to the Park Authority or the adjacent HOA which is RA. The disappointing part of RAs performance in this arena over the last several years has been its inability to get all of the residential recreational proffer money, especially given the few FCPA properties within RAs boundaries and, unlike Mclean Civic Association in Tysons, to get no recreational proffer money from non-residential projects.

        • Ken Knueven

          Your opinions are yours, but they are totally misplaced, pure conjecture on your part. Let me say once again — the $650,000 is up front ($300,000 proffer, and an additional $350,000 to be used towards Tetra). Period.

          You are correct on one thing, prior boards at Reston failed to take the initiative to get involved with the County regarding where we stand. I will argue with you all day and night — that has taken a 180 degree turn for the better.

          You should be proud of what your neighbors have accomplished and are continuing to accomplish.


          • Ming the Merciless

            We should take pride that our “neighbors” want to use our money to overpay massively for a dilapidated property for no compelling reason! Thanks, neighbors!

          • Ken Knueven

            Emperor Ming, pardon my contradiction to your majesty. But, everyone knows you despise the planet Arboria — all of its trees, vines, greenery, happy people. So I must take your comments with a grain of salt.

          • Ming the Merciless

            Ming knows that bad economic choices do not lead to happiness. Just the opposite. Ming knows that if the objective is to plant more trees, this can be achieved at vastly less expense on existing RA properties.

          • Ken Knueven

            Your Majesty, with all due respect to your power and conviction, your slaves and those you wish to conquer, disagree with you.

          • Ming the Merciless

            It is not Ming you disagree with, but mathematics.

          • John Farrell

            If you have Comstock’s commitment in writing to pay the $650,00 “up front,” it too should be posted on the RA website.

          • Ken Knueven

            We have had it posted since January John.

            “To finance the purchase of the property the Association would obtain a loan from a local bank. In addition, the Association intends to use $650,000 from developer contributions to off-set expenses that will be incurred to renovate, repurpose and maintain the property once obtained.”

          • John Farrell

            That statement didn’t even name Comstock. The first RA disclosed the name of the developer was last night.

            That statement is not a writing on Comstock letterhead or signed by the President or Managing Partner of Comstock.

          • Ken Knueven

            Because as we state on the Web Site, we are still in the process.
            John, I will have to get back to my day job shortly, but, happy to meet with you and have a friendly discussion regarding your specific concerns. We’ve done it before. 🙂

          • Ken Knueven

            Gotta go folks, conference calls await. Have a great day!

          • John Farrell

            We met on February 6 2013 and you promised to light Browns Chapel field #2 and we’re all still waiting. And that cost 1/4th what the Tetra wants.

            We met on January 29, 2015 and I asked about the Tetra property and you said, “The referendum will never pass. Don’t worry about it.”

            We met at Aldrin in March and I asked what was the total borrowing capacity of RA and you promised to find out and get back to all of us who were in attendance. And we’re still waiting for that answer.

            You’ll pardon me if I’ve grown skeptical over the efficacy of “friendly discussions.”

          • Ken Knueven


            I believe it outright slanderous to even think of making the false statement you put forth. I never made any such statement about the referendum.

            More importantly, you know I have been possibly the biggest supporter of this referendum — ask anyone. The Board, Staff, my Supporters, and the Members I have met, know this as well.

            My actions (including those here on Reston Now) speak for themselves.

            I see no further need to respond to your outright fabrications.
            Obviously, once again, you must feel you are on the wrong side of the discussion. If this is your attempt at saving face, so be it and good luck.

            Respectfully… taking the high road.

            Gotta go now. Headed to the Government Center to testify regarding the Phase II Master Plan

          • John Farrell

            I can prove the truth of two of those statements and the other was reported to several people at the time it was heard.

          • As cate said in the meeting (and Ken had already mentioned in this written conversation) “the $650,000 is up front ($300,000 proffer, and an additional $350,000 to be used towards Tetra).”

          • Sally Forth

            Why is RA devoting Comstock’s entire proffer to Tetra? Won’t RA have ANY expenses providing services to the 100’s of new units coming into the RA family from the BLVD building???

          • I believe cate had mentioned that Comstock had added an extra number of dollars to the sum with the expressed wish to have it used in the Tetra deal.

          • Sally Forth

            Charles, do you believe that RA’s service to the 100’s of extra, NEW members from the BLVD project will cost RA nothing? Regardless of Comstock’s pledges or wishes, where are the funds to service these new members coming from? Comstock is paying proffers for a REASON. The new residents they are bringing to Reston need recreation and RA is the provider. Now do you understand the question? I would hope RA would bank some of the proffer for use in paying for BLVD’s future needs ; not rush out to spend it on Tetra, an ancillary facility that is not within walking distance to BLVD.

          • I do agree with you that new members will need new services that will inevitably cost much more than the 650,000 that Comstock has offered, but as i had stated in the previous statement cate had mentioned that Comstock had given this money with the hope it would be used for Tetra. I am not disagreeing with you, but I am just speaking for the 350,000 extra dollars that Comstock pledged to the association specifically for Tetra.

          • JCSuperstar

            Get a life, my god. Next you’ll be posting your neighbors mow their lawn to 8″ versus your 4.”

          • Rodney Dangerfield

            4″ is pretty long … 3″ is a good cut length!

          • Where is covenants when you need them!

      • Reston Realist

        Ken–Re the $1,700 for parks per new home, why don’t you engage the Parks folks on this property to see what they might contribute? If you want our money to stay here, give FCPA an opportunity to make it happen. Otherwise, why should they spend it in Reston?

        • JCSuperstar

          They are. At Reston Town Center North. They’re always looking out for Restonians.

          “But we are hoping [to pay] through a combination of developer proffers and park bonds.” said Bouie.

          “The Fairfax County Park Authority has outlined a land swap that will enable it to eventually move forward on an indoor recreation center for the area known as Town Center North.

          Park Authority Chair Bill Bouie said Friday the park authority has committed to a deal, pending a public hearing and park authority board vote, that plans for a 90,000-square-foot recreation facility to be built on the same block as the new North County Government Center on Fountain Drive.

          This is a very big deal — one we have been working on for a number of years,” said Bouie. “This satisfies a number of parties. We still don’t know the cost — and there is no money for the rec center at this point. But we are hoping [to pay] through a combination of developer proffers and park bonds.”


          • Reston Realist

            Hmmmm….Whose “they”???
            I don’t see RA mentioned anywhere in that article or your quotes, but that’s OK. Did RA have anything to do with it?
            As I recall, RCA–your seeming nemesis in your recent trolling–were the ones that pushed for a county rec center, not a Reston tax district center, and they wanted it in Town Center North, not Baron Cameron Park. As usual, RA stayed mum for fear of offending the County rather than sticking up for their members.

          • JCSuperstar

            The question was asked: why doesn’t RA get the FCPA to assist?

            Looks like the FCPA is a little busy already doing land swaps and dumping many tens of millions of bond dollars into Reston Town Center North.

            When is the last time the FCPA provided dollars TO the RA? Anyone, anyone, Bueller, Bueller?

            And they do such a great job of maintaining their parks and facilities.

  • Reston Realist

    The anti-Tetra group takes a different slant–and it is a slant–on last night’s Town Hall meeting. https://saynototetra.wordpress.com/2015/04/22/ra-community-meeting-on-tetra-more-show-and-tell-but-few-answers/

  • LakeNewportGuy

    I can’t tell for sure by this small image but it appears that they did not study actual usage of people running and walking their dogs around the loop. It was fine with a gradual turn to continue the loop, this looks like a series of hard turns just to get through this new development.

    • Dodge

      The image you are seeing is just a conceptual rendering to start a discussion, based on what was said last night. The actual design would be months to a year away after additional discussion, so don’t focus on the details of image.

  • Wings!!

    Reston needs a god damn Hooters!

  • LakeNewportLady

    Bottom line on this whole thing is the price is ridiculous. The fact that Tetra said they wouldn’t negotiate says a lot. They couldn’t sell it to anyone else so now they are hoping the RA will buy it because apparently they are the only ones who will accept a no-negotation sale. I live on one of the streets across from the building and I voted no. I’d be fine at purchasing it for a reasonable amount….I’d also be fine with it being a restaurant. Also, the fact that one of the biggest line items for revenue from RA is weddings is ridiculous. Who would have their wedding there? There is no parking, peak summer season will have kids from the RA camps running all around AND one of the concerns is the noise from a restaurant now for the neighbors?! Really? Has anyone in RA been to a wedding – that will cause noise too…so you might as well just scratch that “projected revenue.”

  • 30yearsinReston

    a restaurant site that has parking for 70 cars and is hidden in the woods is going for 3$Mill ?

    No wonder Clydes and Wo Le Oak walked


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