Reston Association Gets OK to Purchase Tetra Building

by Karen Goff May 11, 2015 at 6:40 pm 1,164 61 Comments

Tetra buildingReston Association members have approved the purchase of the former Reston Visitor’s Center.

Nearly 33 percent of eligible member households voted in the member referendum, which ended on Friday. There were 5,676 ballots returned, and the vote passed with 52.92 percent of the vote, Reston Association President Ellen Graves said.

The vote authorizes RA to purchase the 3.48-acre property and its 3,128-square-foot building for up to $2.65 million. RA plans to repurpose the building — which from 1983 to 2003 served as Reston’s Visitors Center and currently serves as offices for Tetra Partners commercial real estate — for community and event space and a lakefront park.

Part of the refurbishment will be paid by Comstock, which will contribute $650,000, and by the seller, Tetra Partners, which will pay $275,000 for new roofing, HVAC system and other repairs.

The property off of Baron Cameron Avenue sits in between Lake Newport Tennis and Brown’s Chapel Park and will give RA 98 acres of contiguous space.

The referendum capped a contentious couple of months, where RA faced vocal opposition to the purchase. Opponents objected to the purchase price, which was far more than the $1.2 million recent Fairfax County tax assessments, as well as RA’s information that commercial development would happen if RA did not make the purchase.

“I understand the significance of the outcome of the referendum,” RA CEO Cate Fulkerson said. “I have great respect for all who participated, either in community meetings or by voting.”

At a special meeting on Monday, Fulkerson and Graves expressed the association’s sadness that the deal will go forward without Tetra founder Bill Lauer, who died suddenly last week.

“It was a great pleasure working with him,” said Fulkerson. “He will be sorely missed in the community.”

The board also voted last night to allow RA to sign financial terms for the property’s mortgage. RA Chief Financial Officer Robert Wood said the association talked to three banks. The most favorable terms came from Access National, which is offering RA a loan of $2.7 million with an interest rate of 3.35 percent locked in for 10 years, at which time RA would most likely refinance.

Graves said a community task force will now form to get community input and form a concept plan for the property.

The task force will be made up of one resident from each of RA’s districts (Lake Anne/Tall Oaks, Hunters Woods/Dogwood, South Lakes and North Point); three residents of the neighborhoods adjacent to the property; and a member from each of RA’s advisory committees.

Fulkerson said her main goal now if to “mitigate expenses so it has little or no impact on member assessments.”

RA estimates that it will create revenue of more than $100,000 annually from event and meeting rentals, as well as after-camp and after-school child care programs.

Preliminary estimates by RA say that member assessments could be impacted as soon as 2018.

  • 30yearsinreston

    Now we find out that the RA CEO ‘negotiated’ with the Tetra owner
    We also find that the ‘task force’ is stacked with those in the homeowners association
    Members are now stsuck with paying for this white elephant that benefits about 20 landowners

    • JCSuperstar

      What are you implying? I would think the CEO, Staff, and Attorney would have to discuss interest in purchasing. You sure do have a tendency to throw the hyperbole around.

      This transaction has been conditional until today’s approval by the Members.

      Mind you, I would have preferred the markets prevail with regard to Tetra, but I laugh at the conspiracists. Do you also believe Jade Helm 15 is a planned take over of Texas?

  • Greg

    Been there; read those lips before: Fulkerson said her main goal now if to “mitigate expenses so it has little or no impact on member assessments.”

    She will be long gone (like her mentor Milty) but the debt, higher assessments, and unmitigated expenses will be here for decades.

  • JCSuperstar

    Well, we can thank all those people who shared they were NOT going to vote as some form of protest. They received bad advice and might have swung this the other way.

    Well done.

    • JoeInReston

      This was talked about very early on in the process, but by the time the voting period came up, there were no mentions of it. In fact, I can remember in one discussion thread somebody where indicated that a quorum had been reached. I don’t think this was a factor at all.

      The fact that 47.08% voted against this despite a) the lack of a counter point in the referendum materials b) the endorsement of the RA board and Rescue Reston, is fairly impressive.

    • Reston Realist

      I think the participation rate may have been at a record high for any RA vote, referendum, election, or anything else. I think the people that cared even a little bit one way or the other voted.

    • Reston Realist

      Found this over on Maynard’s “summing up” op/ed from a week ago (https://www.restonnow.com/2015/05/04/op-ed-summing-up-ras-tetra-deal/)

      Might want to check your credibility JC.

      • JCSuperstar

        I have no idea what that chart is supposed to tell me. If you think this is some sort of beauty contest, well, your ignorance of blogging will get the best of ya.

        The fact is — as I stated — there were a significant number of people who shared they were not going to vote in protest. According to the last (April 5) poll by Reston Now, over 23% purposefully shared they were not going to vote.

        M. Farrell was the first to recommend such an action. Not the best advice, if taken.

        Other than that, the majority have spoken.


      • fakeyFAKE

        Ha! I wonder how many of these are Terry Maynard using fake email addresses!

        • JCSuperstar

          Not all of them. Let’s not forget Farrell, Flashman, etc.

        • Terry Maynard

          If any, none of them are lower than your score.

      • Billy Jean

        What does this mean?

        • JCSuperstar

          Something that allows you to say — “…hey look at me I got a score of 5.508986…”

          • Terry Maynard

            If any, none of them are lower scores than yours.

        • John Higgins

          Friends, do a little math. (Would have been nice if that was done regarding Tetra, but that horse expired.) The “score” is simply a measure of how many “votes” were recorded per posting. Since one has an option to vote up or down, I read it to tell – on average – the frequency a posting generates a reaction. I would guess there are more “ups” than “downs”, but if anyone can confirm, I would be interested to learn.

          • JCSuperstar

            Disqus fosters discussion and community on nearly two million websites around the world so we’ve learned a thing or two about what makes communities better. Addressing things whack-a-mole-style doesn’t work.

            Comments are sometimes thought of as the after-party once a post goes live. If you’re always playing defense and your strategy is to only to erase the bad actors and offensive comments, you’ll have a boring party.

            So instead, play offense.

            And by that I mean focus your time and technology on a strategy to surface more of the good comments and discussion. Technology and design can play a significant role here.

            For example, the first comments a reader sees are a de facto front page of the comments section. Like the first thing you see when picking up a newspaper or the homepage of a site, it sets the tone for the rest of the experience.

            With some math and design, Disqus built a Quality Quotient to address this challenge. It’s a scoring system designed to float the best comments to the top, turn down the not so great comments, and flag users who repeatedly post lower quality comments.

            We do this with a set of algorithms that analyze user reputation, other users’ reaction to comments, and the text content itself. But it’s not a pure popularity contest either.

            Less popular voices don’t get silenced but offensive ones do get flagged for the publisher to moderate. Think of it as a smarter community scoring system.

            Since moving to this new system last summer, we’ve seen abuse reporting decrease by almost 80% and moderator actions decrease by about 25% per week.

            This means more of the good stuff is driving more discussion while the bad stuff is not able to ruin it for everyone. As a result, we’re seeing Disqus users spend more time than ever in discussion with an average visit lasting over 6 and a half minutes.

            Online comments are the modern day letter-to-the-editor. More people have more things to say than ever. Everyone with an interest in building an audience should welcome this.

            But the path to better online discussions starts with strategies that support and surface the best of what people have to say. Serenity now.

          • RAmember2

            A very long winded way of saying . . . nothing, absolutely nothing!

          • John Higgins

            Very informative, thank you.

          • Crazyville

            The “votes” are “upvotes” (net of down votes presumably). In short, it is a good thing to have a vote.

          • John Higgins

            Thank you

          • Billy Jean

            Votes on what topic– I can do the math (thank you very much Mr. Higgins) but there’s zero indication of what’s being voted on- only the column VOTES.

          • JCSuperstar

            Like Facebook, Google, WordPress, etc., Disqus built a scoring system designed to float the best comments to the top, turn down the not so great comments, and flag users who repeatedly post lower quality comments.

            Just remember reputation and credibility are not a math exercise. The real purpose is for the the moderator and, in particula, Disqus for ads. Those with high scores are sought after by online adware.

            Read the Disqus privacy and data disclaimers.

          • JCSuperstar

            Sharing: We may share Non-Personally Identifiable Information, including information obtained through tools such as cookies, log files, device identifiers, location data and clear gifs (such as anonymous usage data, referring/exit pages and URLs, platform types, number of clicks, etc.):

            (i) in any manner permitted for Personally Identifiable Information;
            (ii) with our third-party business partners for use in anonymous advertising targeting;
            (iii) for the purposes described in the section above.

            We may also aggregate or otherwise strip data of all personally identifying characteristics and may share that aggregated, anonymized data with third parties.


          • RAmember2

            So THAT’s why you go for the low score!

          • JCSuperstar

            Nope. The score is useless to me.

    • edgyone

      Are youcongratulating yourself?

      • JCSuperstar

        No, disappointed. And even more upset with those that mislead so many here. Stating you are not going to vote is – I’m sorry — just outright stupid.

        But, you know what Forest says about stupid.

        • edgyone

          You misled people. The property is not worth what we are going to pay. Your stand is it is worth more. I voted no. not that the comments on this site matter.

          • JCSuperstar

            Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

    • Russell Reston

      A man (or woman or LGBT) with dignity will vote right.

      A man (or woman or LGBT) with reality will vote to get by.

      In some marriages, the bride has to choose YES, not NO, to
      respect family “referendum” and save family’s “value judgement” for “green
      space” and “property rights”.

      In true love, a sweat heart can decide YES, or NOT YET to
      protest or post-pone the bilateral “referendum” for life-time human bonding.

      In Reston, the people had only YES or NO and no NOT YET choice.

      The winner takes all. RA has Tetra by winning referendum
      from YES of 17.46% of Reston ( 33 x 52.92). Can RA take all the love of Reston ?

      RA can “mitigate $$$” to “patch” the broken wall of Tetra. Can it patch the broken hearts of 15.53 +% of Reston ( 33 x(100 -52.92))?

      In “good faith”, is Tetra price right and “value judgment” for RA?

      In “good faith”, loose the vote or the dignity / integrity ? Win the vote or the heart ?.

      God do know … Can you tell ?.

      • ShakingMyHead

        Not sure why you felt the need to insert this LGBT when I think PERSON would have covered it.

        I would predict that this will pass and that people who voted no will be ok.

  • Reston Member

    Future headlines-
    Repairs on Tetra Property Greatly Exceed Estimates
    Tetra Property $100k Annual Revenue Falls Woefully Short of Expectations
    Developer Proffer in Limbo
    RA Parks and Recreation Offices Move to Tetra
    Lake Anne Construction Hampers Use of Tetra Property
    Lake Newport Residents Make Tetra Noise Complaint

    • Reston Realist

      *RA members complain about Tetra-driven fee increases.
      *Tetra building not repairable, and environmental law prevents replacement
      *RA unable to participate in community RNGC acquisition due to Tetra expense; developer set to build 8,000 apartments
      and 10 yrs from now:
      *Interest rate on Tetra loan doubles, RA assessment fees to jump

    • Cluster Tycoon

      Since you know the future so well what are the lottery numbers? Maybe just win and buy the place already, I am sure RA won’t refuse a local PowerBall multi-millionaire the right to live in a seaside mansion. Live work and PLAY, lottery that is. Good luck

      • Crazyville

        If he knows the lottery numbers, why should he tell you and have to split the pot?

        • Cluster Tycoon

          I don’t smoke Crazyville. You split the pot, if you ♡feel♡ like it

  • SaminReston

    I think this is great.

    • Greg

      Why’s that Sam?

      • SaminReston

        I know that by giving you reasons you’ll go on and on about why you think I’m wrong; so rather than doing that I’ll just say that I think its great that this property will be available for use by Reston and not at the whim of a private owner.

        I voted yes and I’m glad it passed.

        • meh

          Yup, public parks are great for mimes to gather and homeless people to loiter. Its even better when they over pay to make this possible.

  • IGuessItIsMyMoney

    This is really sad…. While I generally agree with the democratic process, I find it deplorable that the information from which members were to make an informed decision was so biased. All of the information links on the reston.org site paint a pretty picture. For me the worst was Ken Knueven’s assertion that net price should be reduced by the $650,000 which we could have used elsewhere. Although I always disagreed with the purchase, until that i had an open mind that the RA board was actually attempting to look out for our best interests, but that statement just defies logic.
    I no longer trust the board is looking out for our best interests.

    • SimpleSally

      I think the RA Board did what they felt was the best thing, it’s just that in this case it didn’t match up with your view. With regard to how the $650,000, it looks like the Board felt this was the best place to spend it; again, it didn’t match to your view but that doesn’t mean the Board acted without thoughtfulness. Knueven’s math process may have been simplistic but I don’t think it was nefarious.

      Sometimes what we as individuals want doesn’t line up with what our leaders want. I did want this property so I’m happy with the way the vote came out but I appreciate that those who wanted something else are disappointed but I don’t think that means our RA Board is untrustworthy. I think claiming conspiracy or back-room deal when things don’t go the way we want them is unproductive.

    • edgyone

      If this election is subject to state laws it is illegal for the reasons you gave. I don’t think the election is bound by those rules so it is likely a moot point. It would be better if Reston followed more democratic procedure, but that wouldn’t be the reston way.

  • Ricky Spanish

    3004 persons voted for this referendum out of a total population of 60,448. HUZZAH!!!!

    • Karen Goff

      To be fair, the number of eligible homeowner ballots were just over 17,000 and the total ballots returned was 5676. It is not done by individual residents.

    • Ginger Waltrip

      That’s about 1/12 of the population, but they made it know that there was going to be a voting. Those that felt it could affect them came out to vote. Its ok that the own the property rather than it going to a private owner.

      Ginger Waltrip – Interior Designer

  • Chazz Michael Michaels

    Where to stand on this result?

    1) Another great win for American Democracy. The voices of the great people of Reston were heard. With a whooping 33% voter return, the wheels of democracy were rolling.

    2) Counting on the low voter returns, the elite aristocracy of the RA carefully controlled the outcome to get their desired outcome.

    • ShakingMyHead

      Oh please! 33% was probably as good as any turn-out in Reston. You’re just PO’d that your side was unable to make a convincing argument even though they did stoop that that charming little video.

      The membership decided this one, take your beef to the nearly 53% who voted yes!

      • Chazz Michael Michaels

        “99 percent of all statistics only tell 49 percent of the story.”

        Ron DeLegge II

  • Chuck Morningwood

    Is it me, or might it be time for a Little Revolution in Reston?

    • MacaroniSalad

      I bet Pancho Villaa already resides in South Reston

      • JCSuperstar

        I suspect the infamous three amigos are planning some sort of legal action — which in reality, only hurts the members, as they will end up having to foot the bill to defend it.



          I am missing something here I think. Who are the 3 amigos you are referring to?

          • JCSuperstar

            Mssrs: Farrell, Maynard, Flashman.

          • Rodney Dangerfield

            Flash, Maynard and Bo?

    • DisgruntledinMidReston

      I am not a happy live, work and play camper with regard to how those in a position of responsibility at RA misled us, their neighbors and fellow residents, and hustled this very, very poor decision to their preferred conclusion.
      Guess I let my guard down after Restonites nixed that plan for an RA palace construction project, or the successful effort to stop TPTB from building a giant rec center on top of a park. I pay dues for parks, trails, tennis and pools – not to enhance certain parties back scratching.


    I demand a recount!

  • james dean

    some questions. was it appropriate for RA to spend RA funds advocating for a “yes” vote? how much money did RA spend advocating for the referendum approval?

  • novatom

    Why was this put to a general vote? Why couldn’t the council decide for us? Oh wait… I think I know the answer.

  • Samantha

    I’m going to say the same thing here that I said in my post on the other Tetra story– which by the way is getting a bit old.

    Some of us didn’t want this but now we have it. Complain as we might I think it’s highly unlikely that the RA Board did anything illegal or even sneaky, my point is that now we really need this sucker to do well otherwise we’re going to be paying for it out of dues.

    So take your good ideas to whatever the input process is going to be so that it doesn’t get turned into a private park for the Lake Newport owners. Let’s make sure it’s a beautiful wedding venue, a great business retreat, a whatever is paying top dollar location so that is earns more money than projected. So that our dues are protected.

  • Mike M

    Yes, “Liberal Fools” is a bit redundant. Why do I live here? I like things other than the Liberal fools.


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