Work, Play — But Not Live — in Reston for Many Millennials

by Karen Goff June 10, 2015 at 9:00 am 1,953 15 Comments

 While the Silver Line is having an impact on how younger workers get to Reston, it is not necessarily expected to attract them to live in Reston.

That is what several real estate developers said at a forum “The Future of Reston and Herndon” organized by e-news company Bisnow in Reston on Tuesday.

The Silver Line opened its first phase last July, and Wiehle-Reston East, the end of the line until Phase 2 opens in 2019, immediately became one of Metro’s highest-traveled stations. Metro officials say people are taking public transportation both to Reston and from Reston to other workplaces in Arlington, Tysons Corner and D.C.

But they still can’t take Metro around Reston, which is what Millennials (people ages 18 to 35) want.

“A lot of people are saying ‘this is it’ when talking about the Silver Line,” said Greg Trimmer, Principal with The JBG Companies. “But JBG’s position is the Silver Line is not really the panacea. It is a great thing to have, but it is really a commuter line. It presents some challenges as well. People are not going to take the Metro three stops to get some lunch. We will see people taking it 5 or 6 stops to get to a job.”

JBG has four mixed use projects under development: Reston Heights, RTC West,  1831 Wiehle Ave. (in application process) and at Fairway Apartments. There are also multifamily developments either planned or under construction at Wiehle-Reston East (Comstock’s BLVD and the new Bozzuto/Charles Veatch building) and Lake Anne/Crescent (Lake Anne Development Partners), among others.

Several panelists said the residents of other recently-built residential buildings such as The Harrison and The Avant are trending older.

“We are seeing a huge boom in multifamily construction,” said Trimmer. “But the population of millennials in Reston has actually dropped. We are seeing growth in Reston in people in their 40s and 50s and retirees.”

Trimmer said if Reston properties try to compete with buildings in the District “it is not a fight Reston is going to win.”

Said Randall Scott, Principal, Coretrust Capital Partners commercial real estate: “We view Reston as a new town, edge city type place. In our experience, millennials will gravitate to an urban core such as D.C. initially. It remains to be seen whether they will stay there or be where there are open spaces and great schools eventually. Our view is we will get  terrific inflow and outflow on the Silver Line.”

The Silver Line, has, however, been a great work perk, even after just 10 months.

Reston was planned all along to be a transit-oriented community, with offices and residential, an urban-style town center and walkability. That puts it ahead of the game when it comes to Tysons Corner, said Sonny Small, CEO of Renaissance Centro, which built the recently-opened The Harrison apartments. The Harrison is also seeing older residents, many of whom are moving from other properties such as single-family homes within Reston.

“The Silver Line is a fabulous amenity,” he said. “Reston has the original bones already. The interesting part will be how neighborhoods other than Reston Town Center evolve.”

Tony Womack of Tishman Speyer commercial real estate said he has clients looking at Reston office space that were not looking here prior to the Silver Line.

“The younger workforce can get out here,” he said. “Older executives are already out here.”

Photo: The Avant apartments at Reston Town Center

  • Mike M

    In a nutshell, “The rent is too [email protected] high.”

    • qwerty

      Apparently it was found to be structurally unsafe during a recent inspection. No word on when this will be fixed!

  • Guy Montag

    What a shock. The cost of rent is way out there and if you want to purchase a home you’ll have to drop close to $400,000 if you want neighbors that speak English.

  • TheAverageJoe123

    The cost of rent at places in Reston like Avant and Harrison is why too high for Millennials. Hell, it’s too high period. You are wowed with common areas that you will never use but the actual living space does not warrant the price. You can own for these rental prices, especially for anything above a small 1BR. It’s Reston, not NYC, SanFran, or DC.

    • Karen Goff

      Actually, and this is for a whole other story, it is not. When comparing to similar amenity filled apts in DC/Clarendon, it is actually cheaper. Somehow younger people are finding ways to pay those prices, juts not here.

      • TheAverageJoe123

        Well then maybe it is perception issue. When I divorced, I wanted to live in a very social place and found that Clarendon/Ballston although amazing seemed too young, DC appeared too hipster and snobish, National Harbor too far, and was just not sold on Shirlington, so RTC was the right porridge for me.

      • Gregory Toland

        I agree. Millennials are single. You can get $4500 for 3 bedroom/3 bath at the Harrison. Young people can afford $1500/month easily, especially considering RTC is surrounded by the IT sector which pays well.

        • TheAverageJoe123

          good point. I am past the point of having roommates and wasn’t even thinking along those lines.

        • TheKingJAK

          The problem is that these people actually cannot afford the higher prices and increased levels of expenditure, they simply dig themselves further into debt under the illusion of being able to do so.

  • JCSuperstar
  • Cluster Tycoon

    Rents would be 20-40% lower if local high density communities were properly managed and made a conscious effort to reduce their HOA fees, that is a fact. The reason for high HOA fees vary by building but mostly they are related to personnel costs (concierge), landscaping and maintenance, but also amenities (swimming pools and gyms). Also, some building HOAs faced unexpected short fall of reserves due to the developer’s shoddy construction practices, including but not limited to providing basics such as garbage disposal and building security.
    My realtor did an over the thumb calculation of a two bedroom unit at the Heron House, assuming a 10% downpayment towards my mortgage – combine monthly mortgage payments, taxes, and HOA fees and I could be living in a nice single family home in an exclusive neighborhood nearby. The Heron House example is not the exception but rather the norm (ignoring RELAC for a moment). So for an owner/investor its very difficult to make money in rental properties unless they have the courage to put in a lot of their own cash.
    So when someone says rents are too high, perhaps revisit what happens at that building with respect to the HOA and how well these costs are being managed – because its ultimately the renter that will carry the burden of these fees. The owner, in most cases, barely breaks even or has negative cash flow.

    • Reston Realist

      From the management’s point of view, the HOA fees are just about right–they maximize their profits, keeping condos full at the highest price possible.

  • vdiv

    There’s no social/night live in this place and people are way uptight.

  • LakeNewportLady

    I think the problem is the lack of nightlife out here. No music venues, no dance places and the only bars you can easily walk to are if you are close to the town center – and those are really just restaurants. You can’t compete with Arlington/DC when it comes to that. When I was in my 20s (15 years ago) I lived in Arlington in a one-bedroom for $1800/month – I think that cost is similar to some of the new buildings here.

  • Rob Norwood

    Millennials have no desire to use metro to “get around.” In DC, they don’t use metro to get around – it isn’t 1992 anymore. They take the bus, use bike share, use Uber, or just plain walk.
    40- and 50-somethings, usually married, and sometimes retired people. That’s the development market. The existing residential base outside RTC and new buildings? Car-centric families and retirees. It isn’t exactly UNsuccessful, but it does mean Reston is less forward-thinking than two decades ago.


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