Narrow Margin Moves Tetra Purchase Forward

by Karen Goff May 12, 2015 at 9:00 am 57 Comments

Tetra buildingThere was both a high turnout and a narrow margin of passage in the Reston Association referendum to purchase the Tetra building.

The referendum passed, RA announced Monday night, and the association will now move forward to close on the purchase by late July.

According to RA’s official vote tally, 5,676 ballots were returned out of a possible 17,511 eligible households. There were 2,926 votes in favor of the purchase (52.9 percent). That’s just 323 votes more than the 2,603 that cast a “no” vote. There were 147 abstentions, which did not count in the vote tally.

The nearly 33-percent turnout was actually quite large for a RA vote. For instance, in the 2015 board elections that wrapped up in March, ballot returns were between 15 and 20 percent, depending on district.

RA will now move forward to secure a $2.7 million loan for the property and organize a committee to get member input and envision a transformation of the 33-year-old building.

The 3,128-square-foot building and its 3.47 acres housed Reston’s Visitor’s Center for 20 years. Since 2003, it has been office space for Tetra Partners, a commercial real estate firm that purchased the building for $750,000.

RA plans to repurpose the building  for community and event space and a lakefront park.

Part of the refurbishment will be paid by developer 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 more than double the $1.2 million recent Fairfax County tax assessment. They also questioned RA’s information that commercial development would happen if RA did not make the purchase.

RA Chief Financial Officer Robert Wood said Monday the association talked to three banks about loan terms. 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.

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.

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.

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