Former API Building May Become New Residential Development

by Karen Goff July 8, 2015 at 3:00 pm 1,708 33 Comments

Former API building/Credit: Showcase.comThe former American Press Institute headquarters may be a future housing development.

Vienna-based Sekas Homes has submitted a Fairfax County rezoning application for the property located at 11690 Sunrise Valley Drive. The company seeks to change the parcel from industrial to Planned Residential  to construct 37 urban-style single family attached dwelling units, as well as parking and recreational amenities, the application says.

The existing office building and surface parking will be removed, the application said.

Access will be provided via a single full movement access point off of Roland Clarke Place and the development will be served by private streets and alleyways, the applications said.

The building was occupied by API from 1972 until 2012, when the organization merged with the Newspaper Association of America. The modernist building designed by architect Marcel Breuer was sold for $5 million in 2013.

The building site is adjacent to JBG’s Reston Heights, which contains two hotels, the Mercer Condos and offices. Further expansion of Reston Heights is set to begin soon for the parcel that formerly contained Chili’s Bar & Grill.

The expansion, approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2013, will have a six-story residential building, a 15-story residential building, a five-story building that incorporates a parking garage with residences and retail space; and a 10-story building that mixes office space, parking and retail space.

JBG recently announced that 24-Hour Fitness will be an anchor tenant.

Meanwhile, there also may a big new development in the works for the south access point of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station.

CESC Commerce Executive Park, L.L.C. has filed a rezoning application for 1850 Centennial Park Drive, 11400 Commerce Park Drive and 11440 Commerce Park Drive  to rezone from Industrial District to Planned Development Commercial (PDC).

Those office buildings are located on the south side of the Dulles Toll Road from the metro station. There is direct access from a stairway between the office buildings and the toll road.

The applications calls for approximately 500 new dwelling units, a hotel with approximately 175 rooms, a new office building of approximately 400,000 square feet, and “complementary retail/active uses integrated into the ground floor to enrich the pedestrian experience.”

The property owners say two existing office buildings will be retained (totaling 356,496 square feet of office space). The application also includes an option to convert the proposed hotel to multifamily residential, and the proposed new office building to multifamily residential and/or hotel.

That development would be one of several in the immediate vicinity of the Metro station. Comstock’s 528-unit BLVD apartments at Reston Station will begin leasing later this year. Construction has recently begun on a project by The Bozzuto Group and Chuck Veatch at Sunset Hills Road and Reston Station Boulevard that will bring 421 units. Developer JBG has also filed a rezoning application to turn an office building at 1831 Wiehle Av. (Sunset Hills and Wiehle Avenue) into 504 residential units.

API building/Credit: Showcase.com

  • Mike M

    I think this is the beginning of a major trend in our area. The commercial real estate industry continued to build office space even after it became clear that demand would decline in the long run. So you will see all kinds of studies and proposals to convert to housing.

    Impact on the public roads? Well, ladies and gentlemen, that’s our problem.

    • Cluster Tycoon

      The way things look right now the economy will tank and a lot of these plans will be on hold. Also bear in mind that job growth in this area is not very high so the real estate boom in this area is not sustainable.

      As for traffic I hope it gets worse. This is one of the most pedestrian and bike unfriendly regions in the US and I expect this to continue UNLESS we have total gridlock on our roads which basically means people will be forced to walk and bike. At that time perhaps there will be renewed interest in making our streets safer.

      • Mike M

        You are not alone in your contempt for drivers around here. But my job and many other things are not accessible via bike and foot. So, I think your attitude is a little unrealistic and vindictive. Heck, there aren’t even sidewalks along most of the roads in FFX.

        • Bike troll

          A sidewalk is cheaper to build than another lane… Everything is accessible by bike or foot. You just have to be willing to travel by bike or foot.

          • guest

            Not everyone CAN travel by bike or foot!!! How ridiculous and narrow minded! Weather is also a concern for the most physically capable.

          • Cluster Tycoon

            If we had proper path connectivity for bikers I would be home before you even if it rained. Because even if it rained hard for thirty minutes or so, I would wait it out and then start my commute. Which means I would be home before you!!!! In my mind it would only take minimum effort to get the reston area revamped for bike and ped traffic. Minimum effort compared to big projects like soapstone overpass. Minimum expense considering ffx county being the richest county in the US of A! Hard to believe unless you see it for yourself.

          • Cluster Tycoon

            Bike pedestrian or wheel chair!

          • Mike M

            It’s all about you and your biker buds. You think we need to be more like you. Right? I am not walking nor biking down Hunter Mill Road to work. That would limit future employment options severely and so would be silly. I am all for more sidewalks, but . . . how about your Board of Supes?

          • SmartReston

            While I agree we cannot build without building up the necessary infrastructure there is a thing called induced demand the more you build the more people use it – so building more roads is not going to solve traffic in fact it could make things worse

          • Mike M

            We agree on covering the agreed development with the required infratructure. Kate Hudgins and Sharon Bulova don’t agree.

            I find the concept of induced demand a little whacky. But thanks to you and others for outing your attitudes about roads and drivers.

        • Cluster Tycoon

          Basically the hazards are all related to crossing the freeway. Then issues with local roads, although wide enough – no bike lane. Major intersections are also poorly maintained, ped lights not working or too short with sidewalks not cleared or obstructed. Path ways sandy, bumpy, uneven etc.

          I travel all over the US, this is one of the worst places here to get around. Judging by the comments nobody cares.

          RA maintains hundreds of miles of path ways, even plows them. Yet the freeway overpasses are not easily accessible or dangerous to cross.

          NoThing personal here, just the facts. Work live and pay.

          • David

            RA has 55 miles of paved pathways – not hundreds. They are generally well maintained. We have a nice new raised pedestrian bridge across the Toll Road. It is called the Wiehle – Reston East Station. Soon there will be another one near RTC. There is also a nice underpass to the other side of the Toll Road. That is the W&OD Trail. The Wiehle Ave bridge and the Reston Parkway bridge have sidewalks. The worst Toll Road crossing by far is Hunter Mill Road which requires walking in the road which is already narrow and heavily used by cars.

          • Greg

            Come stroll along the RA “pathways” adjacent to Reston Parkway. Between maneuvering around the overgrown vegetation and poison ivy infestations, be careful not to trip over the heaved pavements or step in the dog excrement. There’s plenty of English ivy, burning bush, garlic mustard, and Japanese honeysuckle to admire, though, on that “well-maintained” pathway. Oh, and RA’s thousand-dollar “no smoking” signs sure do add quality to one’s life, don’t they?

          • David

            I have strolled on some of those pathways. English ivy, etc. would be a job for the Habitat Heroes, previously known as Weed Warriors. I am not even sure who owns those pathways you are unhappy with, but the ones I know RA owns are fine (Glade, Nature Center, Lake Thoreau Loop, and many others in the South Lakes area. The no smoking signs are a waste of money. I hope they got many for a thousand dollars.

        • Cluster Tycoon

          I never said anything about drivers. It’s funny how you twist everything into a battle between x and y. It’s not in my interest to argue, I mostly care about getting around with minimum effort, time and expense. The mode of transportation may vary. I would switch back to horse if it seems appropriate. But that doesn’t mean I hate the cow.

          • Mike M

            You said you hope traffic gets worse. That amounts to wishing drivers ill. Pretty simple. Just reading what you said. I agree with all of it except the comment about hoping traffic gets worse so people (drivers) are forced to bike and walk. Not realistic. Not a nice wish.

          • Cluster Tycoon

            Ok agree. My apologies.

    • Terry Maynard

      Mike–Virtually all the area between Sunrise Valley Drive and the toll road has been designated “high-density mixed-use” (office-residential with a dash of retail) as a result of the recently concluded 5-1/2 year Reston Master Plan revision. There will be much more of this to come, and most of it will be traffic-clogging office space.

      • Mike M


        The trend will transcend that strip. Office space may be rapidly losing its demand.

        • Terry Maynard

          Agree absolutely!

          The BOS (& even some developers) does not yet “get” that large office space–whether grand office buildings or office space per worker–are a thing of the past for a number of reasons well documented by Reston 20/20 and others.

          Someday we homeowners will wake up to find out that we are paying by far the largest share of County property taxes, a distribution that has been generally evenly split in the past. With housing demand only moderate (and prices about the same), the first step will be a hike in our property tax rate next year (after the elections) to close a $200 million County budget funding gap.

  • Greg

    Yassss! One fewer (abandoned) Brutalist eyesore blighting Reston (assuming “removed” means demolished). The sooner it’s gone, the better.

  • Rational Reston

    Always love the knee-jerk reactions to ideas like this that predict tons of traffic.

    First the API building plan is a revitalization of a property that is outdated and unused. Second it will be within walking distance of the new Metro stop.

    This is replacing a place where people drove to work (hundreds?) over a decade ago to a place where hundreds of people will live and high percentage will take Metro or even work in nearby facilities (they’ll still have cars but they won’t all be entering the roads during the morning and evening rush hours).

    The Reston/Wiehle plan seems like it’s to change an expansive blacktop parking lot into home and businesses (once again) within walking distance of Metro.

    In these cases, out with the old (ugly and inefficient) and in with the new seems like a positive to the area.

    • Nyla J.

      I bet there’s going to be a ton of traffic.

    • Reston Realist

      Dear Rational–If the API building has no occupants, a new building with occupants (residents) will generate more traffic–unless the occupants are prisoners. We can hope the new building will generate a lot of Metro riders too.

      • Rational Reston

        Yes it currently has no occupants so any cars would add to traffic. But just a few years ago, the building was occupied and that added many cars to the Reston mix. I did specify the timeframe where there were people using the building.

    • Mike M

      Why don’t you write a several page article that explains the analysis on why the new development will actually decrease traffic. You can probably get the local paper to print it across two weekly editions. Are you the dishonest developer tool that did that about Metro?

      Even when the building was fully employed, it had fewer cars going in and out than will the new development. And when it was fully occupied, the other massive development next door was noweher near as traffic generating. So what’s “rational” about your view. Have you been to that end of Sunrise Valley at 6PM on a weekday? It has been getting progressively worse. This will definitely compound the mess.

      • Rational Reston

        Never said it would decrease traffic. But I don’t think it will cause traffic of apocalyptic proportions either.

        I agree that that end of Sunrise is a nightmare during the evenings. But the new development offers direct access to Reston Parkway which would hopefully relieve some of that.

        But realistically, the attractiveness of a place to live in that area is the direct access to Metro, not to hop in a car and drive.

        • Mike M

          Let’s all take metro to the kid’s soccer game, school, work, Safeway, gas station, barber shop, Lowe’s, friend’s house, restaurants. If it’s not on Metro, it’s not!

          • MaggieSays

            But do we all do these things during rush hour only?

          • Mike M

            Not always. And no one said that. But in many cases yes. Especially going to work and all the activities that people try to get done at the same time, immediately before and after.

          • MaggieSays

            Not in denial about the traffic increases, but I assumed the traffic would increase when I heard we were getting a Metro stop. I’m not sure what everyone else was expecting would happen. Decreased desirability of property close to the Metro stop?

          • Mike M

            I expect my elected officials to do their part to look out for their constituents. But then I know a lot of these constituents will howl louder than I will, then go ahead and vote again for Hudgins and Bulova because they are Democrat and everyone knows that a Republican superviros would instantly turn us all into slave labor. Right?

  • reston is changing

    Are these comments copied and pasted from every older article talking about development in Reston?


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