Reston Real Estate: Just Listed

This is a sponsored post by Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate.

Inventory is holding steady with new homes coming on the market at about the same rate that they’re going under contract.

There are currently 117 houses on the market in Reston which is about 2 months’ worth of inventory. Spring is just around the corner and should bring with it a lot of new housing inventory, but will also bring out more buyers.

In my last Just Listed Sold blog post a reader commented that they thought the prices indicated a “Bubble” in the housing market — the unspoken threat being that surely a “burst” would soon to follow.

The market is moving at a pretty brisk pace but prices are not escalating at a rapid rate. Home value appreciation in Reston last year was at right around 5% which is slightly ahead of the historical norm of 4% for housing as an asset.

This better than average gain is offset by the fact that the Reston market has been a little flat for the past several years and has only recently begun to perk up, in part fueled by new construction around the metro. I don’t think there’s any indication of a housing market “Bubble.”

Here are a few of the new houses to hit the market in the past week:

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Town of Herndon Boards Consider New Outback Steakhouse, Walls at Chestnut Grove Cemetery

Updated at 8:55 a.m. — Corrects Outback Steakhouse location.

The Herndon Town Council and two of its boards held work sessions this week, taking up proposals for a new restaurant building, a massive mixed-use development and more.

Possibly soliciting public comment during the development of the proposed budget for the fiscal year 2020 was discussed at a Town Council work session on Tuesday (Feb. 5). The Town Council is set to take up the resolution next week on Feb. 12.

That same work session also held a public hearing on a comprehensive plan amendment for plans to revamp the South Elden area.

The Architectural Review Board on Wednesday (Feb. 6) discussed plans for a new Outback Steakhouse. (There’s one currently at 150 Elden Street.) The plan calls for a new 6,525-square-foot single-story commercial building and 82 parking spaces on an undeveloped site with 1.46 acres across from the Herndon Centre.

The board also continued the conversation about Penzance Properties’ redevelopment project, which would add three buildings in three phases at 555 Herndon Parkway.

The Planning Commission and Architectural Review Board previously provided dozens of suggestions and areas that needed improvement for the project, which is the first of its kind for Herndon. The Planning Commission will continue its consideration of the development plan at its public hearing set for Feb. 25.

Penzance’s redevelopment isn’t the only proposal that has hit some snags lately.

The Heritage Preservation Review Board held a public hearing on Wednesday (Feb. 6) revised plans for Aslin Beer Co.’s planned tasting room and bar at 771 Elden Street, which has recently faced design hurdles.

According to a staff report, the original application for the tasting room had a proposed deck area on the second floor that would inadvertently cover a stormwater management easement. The revised design takes away the deck, yet adds new elements that the staff report says need clarification.

“The Town and the applicant are working collaboratively to resolve this issue and a revision to the previous HPRB approval is being required as a component of this effort,” the report says.

Ira Saul, an attorney representing Aslin Beer Co., sent Community Design Planner Christopher Garcia a letter on Jan. 14 saying that all of the required materials have been submitted for the application to move forward at the Feb. 20 HPRB meeting.

“My understanding with [the Town Attorney] is that we are in a position to proceed with the HPRB application in tandem with the building permit revision, so that construction can begin expeditiously,” Saul wrote.

Later in January, the beer company told Alexandria Living Magazine that it plans to open a production facility and a 3,500-square-foot tasting room in the city’s West End neighborhood.

The board also held a public hearing on a proposal to add new retaining walls around a mausoleum and create new garden seating walls at the Chestnut Grove Cemetery (831 Dranesville Road).

The proposed retaining wall with an iron top rail is meant to minimize erosion, drainage and aesthetic issues, while the garden wall is set to be two feet high and be constructed in three separate segments, according to the staff report.

The Town Council is set for a public session next Tuesday (Feb. 12).

Images via Google Maps and Town of Herndon

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Proposed Reston Heights Changes Won’t Impact Retailers Previously Announced for Development

Roughly half of a dozen retailers won’t be affected by JBG Smith Properties’ newest proposed changes to the Reston Heights development.

The developer filed a request with the Fairfax County seeking to scale back planned office and retail space at the mixed-use development near the future Reston Town Center Metro station, Washington Business Journal reported.

The story says that the request includes the removal of existing entitlements for 215,000 square feet of office space, along with 3,600 square feet of retail space the company does not plan to construct at the 385-unit VY apartment community (11830 Sunrise Valley Drive).

JBG Smith told the Washington Business Journal via a spokesman that the request to eliminate the office space is a “change in strategy away from office toward residential in that location.”

Meanwhile, that change keeps the planned retailers intact.

The retail space reduction won’t affect any of the previously announced retailers coming to Reston Heights, a spokesperson for JBG Smith told Reston Now.

The developer announced several retailers for VY around this time last yearWillpower Functional Fitness, Allure Nails, Signature Thai, Super Chicken and Reston Kabob are all “coming soon” to VY, according to the apartment’s website.

The more than 3,000 square feet of retail planned to be removed would be in the base of the building, the spokesperson said.

The Reston Association declined to comment for this story because neither the RA nor its Design Review Board has received any information from JBG Smith about their reconfiguration plans. “Any reconfiguration of the project by JBG Smith will have to come back to Reston Association’s DRB,” Mike Leone, RA’s spokesman, told Reston Now.

JBG Smith would need approval from the county’s Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors to remove the office, Washington Business Journal reported, noting that this isn’t the first time the developer has sought changes to the site’s plans.

Images via VY and JBG Smith

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SunTrust Undergoing Demolition Inside Hunters Woods Plaza Safeway

The SunTrust branch inside the Safeway at Hunters Woods Plaza recently closed.

The branch at 2304 Hunters Woods Plaza shut its doors on Tuesday, Jan. 29, Hugh Suhr, a spokesman for SunTrust, told Reston Now.

The closure is unrelated to the recent announcement that BB&T will buy SunTrust Banks for about $28 billion, Suhr said.

While the spokesman did not confirm that the branch was getting demolished, a torn apart space and posted permit indicate just that.

Locals can find nearby SunTrust locations at Plaza America, South Lakes and the Safeway in Herndon.

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Broadway Actress Baayork Lee Coming to CenterStage

Baayork Lee, an actress, singer and dancer, is coming to the Reston Community Center to talk about her career this Saturday (Feb. 9).

Born and raised in New York, Lee started dancing at a young age. At the age of five, she had her Broadway debut in “The King and I.”

She has appeared in the original company of George Balanchine’s “Nutcracker” and starred in the original production of “A Chorus Line.” Lee has been active in the D.C. area, from directing “Carmen Jones” at the Kennedy Center to being a resident choreographer for the Washington National Opera for 18 years.

Now, at the age of 72, Lee is slated to direct and choreograph “South Pacific” for City Springs Theatre Company in Sandy Springs, Ga. later this year.

Lee will talk about her career, the state of Broadway today and her work with the National Asian Artists Project, a nonprofit which showcases works by artists of Asian descent, at CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road).

She is set to take the stage at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $15 for Restonians and $20 for everyone else.

Photo via Reston Community Center 

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Del. Ken Plum: Week of Absurdities

This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

[Note: This column was written before the release of the photos from Gov. Northam’s medical school yearbook.]

The 2019 session of the General Assembly has reached its mid-point, or crossover, when the two houses start to consider bills that have survived the other house. It also represents the final action on many bills giving an indication of what the ultimate legislation for the session is likely to be.

In the back of most legislators’ minds is the fact that when the legislature adjourns sine die (until another day) the election season will begin. The thought of going home to meet their voters motivates many votes. After all, that is the way it should be in a representative democracy. The results, however, create some absurdities.

Republicans appear to be planning to focus once again on abortion. Although Roe v. Wade — decided in 1973 — was supposed to set the rules for abortions, the debate still goes on. This week in a massive media campaign linked to fundraising, the opponents accused Gov. Ralph Northam, who is a pediatrician, and first-term Del. Kathy Tran, a mother of four (the youngest of whom she was nursing during the session last year), of favoring infanticide!

I witnessed the verbal ambush by some of the most skilled lawyers in the House who with some editing of the tape of their cross-examination of her created a false impression of her bill and what it did. Calling the episode absurd is a mild description; I think Gov. Northam came closer to an accurate description when he called it disgusting. (Read more at abortion restrictions bill.)

Thirty-seven states have ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. It is looking doubtful that Virginia will join that group this year. In floor speeches on the amendment, one of the women opposing the amendment said that she did not need “words on a piece of paper” to get what she wanted.

Bills that would have created an independent redistricting commission including my perennial bill have been defeated in the House. A bill introduced by the Speaker of the House that would create a commission to redistrict the legislature is far from independent in that it still has legislators picking their voters in order to protect incumbents and hold onto the majority. If the bill makes it through the legislature, it will be amended or vetoed by the governor.

It remains difficult for the majority to play fair especially when it holds control by such a slim sliver of power. A two-vote shift in both houses would put Democrats in charge of the legislature.

Major divisions continue to exist between the parties on finalizing the budget. Republicans favor a plan that continues the federal approach of giving tax breaks to those with the highest income. My bill to establish a partially refundable Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) was defeated. About half the states have used an EITC to help raise the income of working families. There is a slight possibility that Gov. Northam could get the EITC in a compromise budget as he is a strong proponent of it.

Several weeks remain for the legislature to work its will. Some good bills are passing that will be favorable to the people of the Commonwealth, and I will discuss these in future columns. With an election looming in the fall, we may still see more absurdities!

File photo

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Self-Driving Vehicles to Hit the Roads at Halley Rise This Spring

Tenants in two buildings at Halley Rise will have the option to hop into self-driving vehicles as soon as June.

Optimus Rise, a self-driving technology company, unveiled today (Feb. 7) a partnership with Brookfield Properties that will bring the self-driving vehicle program to the tenants of One Reston Crescent and Two Reston Crescent.

“We will deploy our self-driving system at Brookfield’s Halley Rise location this summer to provide users with autonomous mobility access between office buildings as we continue to scale our business,” Ryan Chin, the chief executive officer and co-founder of Optimus Rid, said in the press release.

The program’s initial phase will roll out three self-driving vehicles, which will be completely contained within the development site, starting in June, according to the press release. Tenants will be able to use Optimus Ride’s reservation system and on-demand ride services to get from the two office buildings to the parking lots at the Halley Rise site.

An operations team on site will monitor, update, provide maintenance, clean and charge the fleet service, the press release says.

The self-driving vehicle program fits into the goals of Vision Zero, a road traffic safety initiative to eliminate fatalities or serious injuries, and also adheres to Vision Zero speeds, Optimus Ride claims.

Formerly known as Reston Crescent, Halley Rise is located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive. The new $1.4 billion mixed-use development is transforming a 36-acre office park into:

  • 1,500 residential units
  • 1.5 million square feet of office space
  • 250,000 square feet of retail
  • an 80,000-square-foot Wegmans

The development is expected to be completed by 2026.

Rendering via Optimus Ride 

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Newly Started Colvin Run Stream Valley Restoration Expects Summer Completion

Stream restoration efforts are underway at Colvin Run Stream Valley at Wiehle South.

The Reston Association released a video on Tuesday (Feb. 5) detailing the project’s progress, which is expected to be finished by the summer.

Construction crews are working on small sections of the stream at a time as they use track equipment and various sizes of rocks to raise the bottom of the stream, according to the video. The rock is meant to reconnect the stream with the flood plain.

The Reston Association is working with the Wetland Studies and Solutions Inc., a consulting group that has designed and restored streams for Reston before. The Northern Virginia Stream Restoration Bank is funding the project.

Once the project is finished, the area will be stabilized with erosion netting and native plant seeds will be planted sometime in the fall, according to the video.

Until then, caution signs mark the walkable paths around the work site, which will only be closed during construction hours.

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Thursday Morning Notes

Free health expo — WUSA9 will offer information and free screenings with the Reston Hospital Center and the YMCA Fairfax County Reston today. Head to the YMCA Fairfax County Reston at 12196 Sunset Hills Road from 7 a.m. to noon and 2-7 p.m. [WUSA9]

The Hungry Hungry Games — Kids ages 12 to 18 can eat snacks and play life-sized Hungry Hungry Hippos from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Great Falls Library. [Fairfax County]

Dabke choreography — Dabke, which is based on a Middle Eastern folk dance, is a line dance often performed at celebrations. The dance performance — in partnership with Dance Place — will take place starting at 8 p.m. tonight at CenterStage. Tickets cost $20 for Reston residents. [Reston Community Center]

Temporary Reston road closure this morning — Southbound on Fairfax County Parkway at Walnut Branch Road shut down due to an accident shortly before 5 a.m. The parkway opened back up around 5:11 a.m. [Fairfax County Police on Twitter]

Silver Line test trains hit track problems — “The first test train on Metro’s Silver Line extension to Dulles Airport made it only 1,000 feet out of the Wiehle-Reston East station before running into trouble, sources told News4 … But the two-car train, pushed by an older locomotive, made it about 1,000 feet along an 11-mile journey before it ran into issues with the new tracks, sources said.” [NBC4]

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