Developers: Silver Line Impact Will Outweigh Woes in Long Run

Rendering of RTC West/Courtesy JBGIt’s been a little more than two years since Metro’s Silver Line opened. It hasn’t exactly been a smooth transition — track work, delays, expense for users and a frustrating layout at the Wiehle-Reston East parking garage among the issues.

But developers say those factors are not only out of their control (and users’ control), they are short-term problems in a longterm plan.

Speaking at Bisnow’s “Fairfax County the State of the Market” event Wednesday at the Marriott Fairview Park, Boston Properties Senior Vice President Pete Otteni says he does not see Silver Line problems dampening commercial development in Reston.

“It has the potential to be transformational in the longterm,” said Otteni, whose company owns Reston Town Center. “But transit isn’t a panacea and isn’t THE thing that drives retail growth. It’s a meaningful contributor to where people want to live, work and play, but not THE thing.”

Sonny Small, CEO of Renaissance Centro (The Harrison) said if not for Metro, then “we wouldn’t be having this conversation” about major development in Reston and Tysons.

“There are still issues,” he said. “But over time, [transit] will be an important ingredient.”

Small and Otteni, along with Greg Trimmer of The JBG Companies (Reston Heights, RTC West), pointed out that Reston already has an advantage when compared with Tysons.

While Tysons will likely be the “edge city” developers envision in about 20 more years, Reston is quickly heading that way because it already is a place where people live and has a specifically designed master plan, the panel said.

“Tysons in 20 years will be absolutely different,” said Trimmer “It will be a city. A similar thing can be said about Reston. I am cautiously optimistic about Reston. We are adding significantly less amount of density [compared with Tysons] due to natural constraints. In Tysons, there are big, massive plans. Reston does not have that. Reston has a road network in place. For Tysons, it is a much steeper climb because a bigger road network needs be be built.”

The panel gave an update on a few Reston projects in the pipeline:

Boston Properties is in the “early stages” of rezoning efforts for 22 acres that sit between Reston Town Center and the future Reston Town Center Metro Station. The site is currently home to “the headquarters of a secure agency” and the former park and ride lot, said Otteni.

Otteni said BP plans to file the rezoning plans for an eventual 3 million square feet early next year. He said that project should be complete “around the time Metro arrives” in 2020.

Trimmer said in addition to work on Reston Heights and RTC West, JBG just filed with Fairfax County two master plans: one for more than 1 million square feet of mixed-use development near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro and another to add 1 million square feet to the RTC West development.

Small said he has a condo building “in Reston Town Center on the drawing board.” Reston Now reported last year that Renaissance Centro planned to rezone a low-rise office building on Reston Parkway across from RTC for that purpose.

Photo: Rendering of offices and retail at RTC West, which is currently under construction near the future Reston Town Center Metro station.

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