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Planning Commission Approves RTC West Expansion

by Fatimah Waseem September 14, 2018 at 12:00 pm 32 Comments

The expansion of RTC West, JBG Smith’s mixed-use project less than quarter-mile walk from the future Reston Town Center Metro Station, is getting closer to final approval. The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously approved the project, which adds up to 576 multifamily units, 700,000 square feet of office space and 1.4 million square feet of new development to the existing office park, on Thursday night.

The developer plans to embark on a multiphase expansion for the area, which is bounded by the Washington & Old Dominion Trail to the North and Reston Town Center Parkway to the east, over the next several years. The site is currently home to three six-story office buildings, two parking garages, and retail tenants like Cooper’s Hawk Winery, Nando’s Peri-Peri and honeygrow.

A timeline for the project is pending approval.

If approved and built, the project will add another mixed-use component near the future RTC Metro Station. RTC West is next to the recently approved Reston Gateway project. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will vote on the project on September 25.  The site design incorporates the future Town Center Parkway underpass that would connect Sunset Hills Road to Sunrise Valley Drive through a tunnel under the Dulles Toll and Access Road, according to the application.

Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner Frank Carter said the county worked with the developer to address several issues, including the distribution of workforce dwelling units. The project will provide affordable units at 80, 100 and 120 percent of the Area Median Income. Parking will not be assigned to each residential unit. In order to simplify the process, Carter said affordable units will receive parking at 70 percent the price of parking for market-rate units. The entire project is expected to provide around 2,900 parking spaces for residents and employees. 

Carter said that if parking works like the parking in RTC, the arrangement should be sufficient. The site plan accommodates 57 on-street parking spaces, encouraging people to use other ways of getting around other than cars.

The plan, which includes 3.4 acres of open space, is as follows:

  • Buildings 1, 2, and 3: Existing six-story office building with retail on the ground floor will remain. 
  • Building 4: A one-story freestanding restaurant, Cooper’s Hawk Winery, will remain.
  • Building 5: A new eight-story office with 160,000 square feet, including 10,000 square feet of retail.
  • Building 6: A new 22-story office building with 396,000 square feet, including 16,000 square feet of retail.
  • Building 7: A 20-story residential building with 293 multi-family units.
  • Building 8: A new 22-story residential building with 283 multi-family units. This building wraps the north facade of a second parking garage.
  • Building 9: A new seven-story office building located on top of a current parking structure.
  • Building 10: A one-story freestanding restaurant located on the common green.

A new right-only entrance from southbound Town Center Parkway at the north of the property line will be added to the development. The site itself will contain existing internal streets with on-street parking. Other planned improvements include a new westbound, shared right-turn lane and a five-woot on-road bicycle lane on Sunset Hills Road. A five-foot wide bicycle lane will also be provided on Town Center Parkway.

Photos via Fairfax County Government

  • Dumb

    More housing, more traffic – where are these kids going to go to school?

    • 30yearsinreston

      No new schools planned or paid for just free houses

  • Mike M

    Approved! Next!

  • GhostCrab

    Pretty neat stuff being built around the Silver Line. There’ll be associated challenges (schools, traffic etc) but I’m stoked to live in an area that’s thriving.

    • Why do you bother?

      Thriving, perhaps, but no one will be driving…just sitting in gridlock.

      • CeeTee55

        Maybe they could walk, bike, use public transit instead?

    • 30yearsinreston

      Troll

      • GhostCrab

        I moved to Reston this year and started reading RestonNow and the comments, so l’ll have to admit I knew my comment was provocative. But you know what? It’s honestly how I feel and I’m not alone (well, maybe alone in the comment section but not in the real life community). I think there’s legitimate anti-development arguments but they only tell one side of the story.

        The amenities in Reston are partly what attracted me to buy here and they’re only getting better. It’s also the continuous development that’s going to keep home values afloat when the next recession inevitably hits.

        Now they just need to redevelop the golf courses…
        http://revisionisthistory.com/episodes/11-a-good-walk-spoiled

        • JoeInReston

          GhostCrab is the future of Reston.

          The interests of the people who have lived in Reston prior to the recent built up have been sacrificed for the interests of future Reston residents. These new residents will be mostly young, mobile, and childless.

          They will move into Reston seeking the urban life. They won’t give two hoots about how the changes negatively impacted existing residents. It won’t matter that our commutes quadrupled in time. It won’t matter that schools are overcrowded. It won’t matter to them that they are living on top of what used to be a golf course.

          Then they will have their first child and move west seeking the suburb life open space, bigger housing, and lower cost of living. Eventually DC development will encroach their suburb and they will fight against unrestricted urban growth. Their politicians will sell out like ours.

          Rinse and repeat…

          • GhostCrab

            I actually mostly agree with what you’re saying about the cyclical nature of development, although I don’t necessarily feel it’s a bad thing.

            I grew up in Germantown, MD during the 80s and 90s and saw the town go from about 10,000 residents to 90,000 in my 20 years there. There was only one elementary school when I was little; now there’s around 12. I grew up playing near construction sites and every school I attended had portable classrooms. Commutes haven’t quadrupled in my lifetime – they’ve always been horrendous (if anything, I feel it’s actually improved with the growth of telework).

            I do have some sympathy for those whose nostalgia is being trampled upon, but Gen Xers, millennials, and forthcoming generations have been betrayed by societal institutions and as a result don’t give two hoots about preserving the socieital legacy they’re inheriting. College is exorbitantly expensive, the government is putting its bills on a credit card we’ll have to pay off, and we’re not going to have jobs for life that cap off with a gold watch and fat pension. So yeah, it sucks for existing residents that are negatively impacted by change, but that’s just how the world is nowadays.

            Ironically, my wife and I did exactly what you said – “have their first child and move west seeking the suburb life open space, bigger housing, and lower cost of living.” It’s just that place you’re describing for us is Reston.

            Finally, I don’t want to see the golf courses paved over, but I would like to see them turned into parks where more than the handful of people that are interested in playing golf and have the means to do so are able to enjoy the open space.

          • YIMBY

            GenXer here with 20 years in Reston. I’m with GhostCrab. It was RTC and the new urbanism vibe that attracted me here in the first place. It feels like people just haven’t been paying attention until now because this development has been on the books for quite a long time, in broad strokes if not in the particulars. I remember reading about plans for RTC West, for example, years before metro came to Reston.

            It makes sense to develop around the transit lines, and I largely welcome it. Besides that, I get that change is hard but one thing that makes Reston special is we’re NOT meant to be a car-bound suburb, raise-the-drawbridges community like so many others. I hate to see people adopting this NIMBY mentality here and the horror of highrises is particuarly strange. This is how you preserve green space and prevent sprawl, people! Sustainable planning 101.

            That said I am more sympathetic to concerns about development going on away from the transit hubs. Dense development where it makes sense should be encouraged though.

            I just wish we could get more homegrown restaurants and businesses on the order of Mosaic District and Ballston and fewer chains and corporate eateries.

          • TheKingJAK

            Vienna is straight winning in the area of breweries, restaurants, and the like, but it all comes down to how they’ve managed to maintain their township character.

            As for high-rises preserving greenspace, that’s a laughable joke that is tossed around far too often. You maintain greenspace by not building to being with! The land is limited no matter how you look at it, and the more people you cram into it, then the more crowded it all becomes. Worst of all is how the current density layout cuts Reston in half, which is NOT how any downtown is supposed to work. The community has major chokepoints due to the very nature of the Toll Road and now Metro line, and ever increasing density in the area will serve to further isolate Reston into two very different/separate communities. Sure, Reston Town Center is meant to be the modern downtown, but not the entire corridor.

            As for this development having been on the books, the original master plan never called for it at such levels. After all, if that happened to be true, then why would the master plan have to be changed so often? Additionally, how can anyone not see how absurd it is that a master plan is constantly being changed? If you can change a master plan with such ease, then it really isn’t being honored as a master plan to begin with.

          • TheKingJAK

            A golf course represents something to do, while a park is an idle patch of land. We already have enough parkland, therefore we need more outdoor activities.

          • TBex

            I reject the idea that people who prefer urban environments will change their mind when they have kids. Many of us choose to raise our children in urban environments, where they develop a better sense of community and more socially and environmentally sound ways to live. My daughter is annoyed when I tell her we have to use the car to do something, and she’ll probably stomach more inconvenience than even I do to avoid it, when it’s her call (which will be sooner than it was for me, growing up in a car-dependent neighborhood. She’s been able to navigate basic routes from home to the coffeeshop, park, and library since before she was 2; I just followed her and held her hands to cross the street).

          • TheKingJAK

            Lol, people in urban areas have a greater sense of community? No.

          • TBex

            I talk to my neighbors on the street while we’re walking the same routes. What do you call yours from your car while you drive by each other on the highways at 60mph?

        • TheKingJAK

          You definitely are in the minority within the real life community, but you’re probably not seeing it due to the fact that your general circle of association doesn’t include many Restonians. I’ve yet to meet a single Restonian who enjoys the ever increasing loss of community which permeated the very existence of Reston for much of its history, with such sentiments transcending generations and politics.

          As for the development keeping home values afloat, that’s not how it works within an already developed community. Once you overdevelop you eventually reach a breaking point of flight, and once past that factor good luck stemming the loss. Funny, isn’t it, how communities all over the country and world have maintained level populations for centuries at times while still remaining vibrant? In fact, the most happening and sought after locales limit how many people live there, and how much is built; and it shouldn’t be surprising that towns/likewise independent communities within Fairfax tend to do better than more heavily county controlled areas. Vibrancy =/= Development.

          No hate towards you, but I do hope that you take more time to look into it all, and that you also understand the entire spirit of what Reston has actually been. Much of what is currently happening within Reston is dictated by people who don’t live within the community, with some of them living all the way across the other side of Fairfax County. If Reston was a town, and the People of Reston were behind these decisions, then so be it, but that simply isn’t the case. The level of control that Restonians have over their own community is limited, and THAT is the truly appalling aspect behind so much of what is occurring.

          • Greg

            ” If Reston was a town…”

            And for that failure three guesses on whom the blame falls.

    • Greg

      Welcome to Reston– you, your generation, and your children will be the change agents that will see Reston forward. The elders, curmudgeons and grand dames we may be from time to time, are slowly but steadily moving on (but not under, as there, still, is no cemetary in Reston. But I digress.).

      Sadly, many of us will be forced to leave as increasing property taxes will be the burden that forces us from our (large, comfortable suburban) homes regardless of the development and redevelopment we were told years ago would come with Metro. Now it’s here, ugly as it may be, and no one should be surprised, let alone shocked.

      Traffic and schools have always been a problem. For almost 20 years, there was no way to get to Reston from what is now the toll road (it didn’t exist until the mid 1980’s), and most of the schools have either been expanded or have had trailers for decades or both. As mind boggling as it may sound, these are good problems to have and there are thousands of communities across the USA that wish they had them.

      My advice: keep and take more interest in county government, get elected, and see that your dreams come true! Our current supervisor is elderly, has failed us on nearly all levels, and no longer, if she ever did, represents her constituents well. She’s been in office far too long.

  • Scott

    My favorite line:
    “The site plan accommodates 57 on-street parking spaces, encouraging people to use other ways of getting around other than cars.”
    (read: parking will stink here)
    As if anyone could reasonably get to this tiny parcel via any means but a car.

  • Greg

    “north,” not North.”

    “Honeygrow.”

    Who’s X? “… X said X said affordable units will receive parking at 70 percent the price of parking for market-rate units.”

    “…and a five-wood on-road bicycle lane…”

  • 30yearsinreston

    Bike lanes soon to be followed by rickshaws

    • CeeTee55

      Whatever that means.

      • mastema

        maybe now is the time for you to listen and not talk, if you do not understand.

        • CeeTee55

          *Yawn*

          • mastema

            k. see you around town.

  • Chkitout1

    Those Democrats are really supporting you Reston voters.

  • ewh410

    I often find the reporting lacking when it takes so much time to figure out where the heck the expansion is happening, I.e., exactly what streets. Graphics should be better.

  • James

    “Use of alternate transportation encouraged” That basically means the developer won’t have to pay for road improvements. NOBODY is going to get their groceries using public transit. Going across Reston on a bus required me to make SIX changes. It’s called pay off the planning board, hold a couple of “discussion meetings” and then get your kickback from the developer. Who cares if resident don’t want it. It will already have been built. WELCOME DC AND TYSON CORNER GRIDLOCK!

  • James

    Load up your kids on the public bus or metro for soccer practice… are you kidding me?

  • Walter Hadlock

    In all the comments, and coverage, I have not seen any remarks about just who, or why, someone in Reston might use the Silver Line. With Reston’s developments being advertised as “self contained”, i.e. residential, commercial, and places to eat and shop, why would you need to go anywhere? It will be interesting to see ridership figures for the various Silver Line stations serving Reston. This is especially true since each station from Reston into Loudoun County is going to be surrounded by the same sort of development. There could be one in Loudoun County where the property owners decide on data centers instead of the residential/commercial/retail formula.

    • The Original Drive By Critic

      The Silver Line, like the toll road, may be of (increasingly expensive)convenience if one is travelling east-west or west-east. If your ultimate destination lies elsewhere, you are out of luck. A train ride from my home to the Town Center? Dream on! I will use my car just like everyone else. (Except I don’t go there anymore, I will not pay BP to park there during the week ). I would feel better about most of this new development if it wasn’t such a dense massing and jumble of buildings. Money makers for the developers/landlords but navigating around them will be a genuine pain in the neck.

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