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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the alteration of Boston Properties’ plans for Reston Gateway to swap previously designated retail and parking space for offices after holding a public hearing on Tuesday (July 13).
The decision came two months after the county planning commission approved the proposal to amend the mixed-use development’s site plans and proffer conditions in May.
Mary Ann Tsai with the county’s department of planning and development noted on Tuesday that “no change is proposed to the approved overall gross floor area, or FAR, of the development.”
Submitted to the county in October, the application suggests replacing retail space and garage parking with offices and a screened level of above-grade parking. It will transfer up to 78,000 square feet of office space to Block D from parcels earmarked for Fannie Mae and and Volkswagen’s North American headquarters.
“The big move with this application is to take four stories of above grade structured parking and essentially turn them into office space,” Cooley partner Mark Looney, a legal representative for Boston Properties, told the board.
“That office space is coming from other blocks within the existing development where there was office space allocated to them, but they were being developed with less than what the maximum potential was,” Looney said.
Boston Properties, the developer of the multi-phase development, also proposed providing additional design elements on the street level as a part of this application. These elements could include façade articulation, decorative materials, and additional lighting.
Looney added that, while the developer thinks it has made “great strides,” further discussion and work will still need to be had to address these potential changes with Public Art Reston, Town Center Design Review Board, and Fairfax County planners.
Looney said this application is designed to shift square footage “into what used to be an above-grade structured parking facility to improve to overall design of the building itself.”
Located adjacent to the impending Reston Town Center Metro Station, Reston Gateway will expand the town center by 4.4 million square feet of development when finished, adding 2.2 million square feet of offices, 93,000 square feet of retail, 2,010 residential units, and a 570-room hotel.
The first phase, which encompasses the Fannie Mae and Volkswagen buildings, is currently under construction and expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2021.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission gave its support this week to the Reston Gateway developer’s plans to swap retail space for offices.
Boston Properties, the developer behind the multi-phase development being constructed next to the forthcoming Reston Town Center Metro station, wants to switch its designs for a structure previously slated for retail, restaurant, and residential use by scaling back retail space and bringing offices there.
The overall development calls for office space for Fannie Mae as well as Volkswagen of America in Blocks A and B, but Boston Properties wants to transfer office space approved there to Block D, legal representative Mark Looney said at the meeting.
“That was planned to be a residential building from the beginning,” Looney said of Block D, a site located along Town Center Parkway that potentially could have two residential towers of up to 36 and 12 stories.
The proposal calls for up to 78,000 square feet of transferred office space in Block D. According to a county document, the square footage of development in Block D would be reduced from 731,000 to 650,832 with the changes, which would eliminate restaurant space and reduce retail space by 63%.
Phase I of the project, which consists of Blocks A through D, permits up to 2.23 million square feet of development.
Looney, an attorney with Cooley helping to represent the project, told Reston Now that the parking garage reconfiguration would mean more parking spaces for Block D are underground than above ground. The parking garage will still have at least four levels above ground, he said in an email.
County staff also have worked with the developer regarding the aesthetic of the building, given the proposed adjustment.
With the parking garage on the ground level, design improvements such as artwork are envisioned to facilitate pedestrian use.
“We will work with Public Art Reston on the extent of the public art, we will show it to the zoning administrator for their input and then ultimately, the Reston Town Center [Association]…Design Review Board has final say over what’s to be installed,” Looney said. “But we hope that that collaborative process will result in a better building and a better design for all concerned.”
Images via Fairfax County
Fairfax County’s planning staff recommends allowing Boston Properties to replace garage parking, retail, and restaurant space with office space in the next block of the massive Reston Gateway mixed-use development.
In a report released last week, the staff says they support amending the plans to permit an office building in Block D of the development. The report states that this would “maximize” unused office space and place offices closer to the impending Reston Town Center Metro station, putting them about a quarter mile from the entrance.
The proposed office building could go as high up as 44 stories. The county has already approved plans for two residential towers — potentially 12 and 36 stories tall — with below-grade parking.
In its proffer conditions amendment application, which was submitted in October, Boston Properties said that the requested changes shift previously approved density for office space in the development to Block D, which will result in “higher tax-paying square footage.”
The changes would add 78,000 square feet of office space to this block, according to a chart in the report.
However, overall square footage would drop by about 80,000 square feet, since the proposed changes would reduce residential space by about 20% and eliminate retail and restaurant uses from the block.
There will still be a parking garage, but it will change from a four-level parking garage that sits above ground-level retail to a screened, ground-level parking garage below office space.
To compensate for moving parking to street level, Boston Properties has proposed providing a sculpture, landscaping, seating and wall murals, or “a similar form of activation along the Town Center Parkway façade to foster pedestrian activity in this area.”
The staff report supports this proposal and recommends having additional elements like horizontal lighting, colored changeable lighting, and variations in building and decorative materials.
“Collectively, these design elements should provide visual activation and interest to the parking garage façade that better supports and engages the pedestrian realm with the removal of ground level retail,” the staff report says.
Block D occupies about two acres of land on the east side of Town Center Parkway between Century Street and Founders Boulevard. The development plan includes pedestrian pathways, sidewalks, and bike lanes along Town Center Parkway, along with a 700 square-foot plaza with seating, tables, benches, landscaping, and public art.
This is in keeping with the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan‘s requirements for the Reston Town Center Station Center District, which notes that “redevelopment should create a series of urban plazas and parks to provide gathering places for people of all ages to enjoy festivals and community events.”
First approved in 2018, the 4.8 million square-foot Reston Gateway complex is now at the tail end of its first phase of development. Blocks A and B, where Fannie Mae is set to move in 2022, are mostly office space with mixed-use retail, and Block C will have a 570-room hotel plus retail and restaurants.
Block D was expected to be a parking garage with residential, retail, and restaurants, but if the Fairfax County Planning Commission approves Boston Properties’ proposed changes as scheduled on May 19, the block will now consist of office space, a smaller parking garage, and some residential units.
The first phase of Reston Gateway is slated to open in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Image via Fairfax County
Boston Properties wants to replace garage parking with office space in the final block of Reston Gateway, a massive mixed-use development that’s currently under construction steps from the Reston Town Center Metro Station.
Although the first phase of the project was approved by the county in 2018, the company wants to tweak some aspects of Block D by adding roughly 80,000 square feet of office use on the first four floors of the building. Ground floor retail on the first floor and three levels of above-ground parking are currently approved for the block, which flanks Town Center Parkway.
The project extends Reston Town Center towards the south and includes 2.2 million square feet of office space, a 570-room hotel, 93,000 square feet of retail, and 2,010 residential units. The first phase of the project, which includes four development blocks, is well underway.
In an application to the county, Boston Properties noted that the requested change simply shifts previously approved density for office space to the block, ultimately resulting in ‘higher tax-paying square footage.’
‘This request only strengthens the development program by increasing the habitable space at the corner of Town Center Parkway and Founders Boulevard and enhancing the building architecture there by replacing an above-grade parking with Class A office,’ wrote Molly Novotny, a senior land use planner with Cooley, a Reston-based land use firm.
So far, Fannie Mae is set to occupy Blocks A and B next year and the hotel and retail elements in Block C will be completed by 2023.
The proposed change to the project was reviewed by the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee on Monday.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission is set to hold a public hearing on the project on May 12.
Images via handout/Fairfax County Government
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted in favor of deferring a decision on a request to reduce parking at a major mixed-use project near the future Reston Town Center Metro Station.
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn (D) motioned that the board postpone a decision on the proposal by Boston Properties to a later date.
“Considering the history of Boston Properties and parking in Reston, I deferred the decision on Reston Gateway in order to get more information on Boston Properties’ assumptions on parking needs at Reston Gateway,” Alcorn wrote in statement to Reston Now.
The developer is seeking to provide 1,663 fewer parking spaces than what was already approved for Reston Gateway, a mixed-use development currently under construction between Reston Town Center Metro Station and RTC.
Alcorn said that he wants to take a closer look at the assumptions Boston Properties used to guide its decision. For example, the company assumes that “residents and visitors to the development will require parking at rates no higher than similarly-located transit-oriented development in Arlington,” he said.
Overall, the proposal aims to reduce parking by 20 percent. Residential parking for the 2,010 units planned on the site would take the biggest hit, with an average reduction of 38 percent.
So far, county staff backed Boston Properties’ proposal, which it says is acceptable because of the site’s proximity to the Metro station and the need to reduce parking demand by encouraging other modes of transportation.
Reston Gateway includes nine buildings spread over 33 acres. The first phase of the project — which includes office space anchored by Fannie Mae — is currently under construction.
Handout via Fairfax County Government
In recent years, Boston Properties has proffered to set aside a parcel of land in a recently approved mixed-use development for a new performing arts center. The circular center would be located on Block J as part of Reston Gateway, 4.8 million square feet of development near the future Reston Town Center Metro Station. It would contain up to 50,000 square feet and would sit near an office building with eights levels, including three levels of underground parking.
The proposed proffer has prompted Reston Community Center to explore Reston residents’ opinions on the center and whether or not RCC should play a role in pushing the initiative forward. These questions will be posed in a community survey that will be conducted this summer.
RCC Executive Director Leila Gordon told Reston Now that if the center determines it should construct such a venue, it would seek a bond referendum to fund the construction. Gordon said that RCC’s Board of Governors has no intent to raise the current tax rate.
If RCC takes part in the effort, it hopes to ensure the facility is large enough to host dance, choral and orchestral music, and theatrical musics with large casts. Its primary service audience would be community-based non-profit arts organizations and Fairfax County Public Schools’ arts programs.
Gordon also reiterated that RCC will not compete with the Wolf Trap or negatively impact its operations. RCC also hopes to ensure the center is accessible to all — with affordable rents for local art users and affordable ticket pricing.
Others have also discussed leveraging cash contributions from the county, nearby towns like Herndon and Vienna, and other entities.
“If those were to be realized, those contributors would potentially achieve calendar access to use of the new venue, and/or perhaps some role in its mission. This would be a complicated scenario to pursue, but it’s one worth exploring,” Gordon wrote.
Discussions are preliminary, as RCC has not yet discussed future possibilities with Boston Properties or the county’s land use staff.
Rendering via handout/Fairfax County Government
Fairfax County is looking into who should pay for and manage a community-based performing arts center set for Boston Properties’ Reston Gateway project.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a feasibility study with private and public entities at its meeting last week on Tuesday, March 19.
“The community has demonstrated strong interest and support for such a facility,” Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins wrote in her motion, which Chairman Sharon Bulova read due to Hudgins’ absence.
The 60,000-square-foot performing arts center is slated for the mixed-use project, which includes nearly 2 million square feet of office space, two hotels with 570 rooms and 162,300 square feet in retail and restaurants. Located on the north side of Sunset Hills Road between the Reston and Town Center parkways, the project will connect the future Reston Town Center Metro station to the border of Reston Town Center.
Block J has been identified as a possible location for the performing arts center, according to Hudgins’ motion. The feasibility study aims to assess if the county or another entity can finance, construct, maintain and program the performing arts center.
Before the board voted, Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth cautioned the board about the upkeep the performing arts will require.
“Having worked through a lot of this sort of thing with the Cap One project in Tysons, we found that operating and maintaining some sort of arts center is costly,” Smyth told the board. “It requires the right people to do it.”
Boston Properties’ Reston Gateway project, which sets between Reston Town Center and the future RTC Metro Station, will include plans for an athletic field.
Reston Gateway, the first major development on the north side of the station, will bring four office buildings, three residential buildings with 2,010 units, two hotels and 162,300 square feet of retail and restaurants, to the north side of Sunset Hills road between Town Center Parkway and Reston Parkway.
The development has triggered the need for a new athletic field, according to Fairfax County officials. The county’s Board of Supervisors approved the project in July. Several options are included in Boston Properties’ plans.
A full-size, synthetic turf field on an offsite property was pitched by Boston Properties’ officials as the preferred option. Information on the property under consideration has not been publicly disclosed. If the deal, which is currently under consideration, falls through, the developer may build a new field on top of the Purple Garage in RTC. Another alternative is pitching money that would go towards building a new field — a proposition that has some residents concerned due to limited developable land in the planned urban core of Reston.
If no alternatives are feasible, Boston Properties may dedicate 50,000 square feet at Reston Gateway for a performing arts center in lieu of the field.
As of late July, developers have committed $10.3 million to help fund athletic fields in the greater Reston area. All funds are unspent.
Photos via Fairfax County Government
The development proposal, which includes 2.2 million square feet of office space, a 570-room hotel, 93,000 square feet of retail, and 2,010 residential units, heads to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on July 31.
Boston Properties plans to develop the property in two phases. During phase one, blocks A through D will be building and two existing high-rise buildings on Blocks E through L will remain. During phase two, office buildings will be removed to make way for Blocks E through J. Sixteen percent of the residential units — 322 units — will be workforce dwelling units.
Noting that the project overall seemed strong, Planning Commissioner Ellen Hurley cast the only vote against the proposal. Hurley said she was concerned the developer reduced income requirements for affordable units to 70, 80, and 90 percent of the area median income — a reduction that she said was unfair to the commission.
“If the policy is not working, then perhaps we should revise the policy,” Hurley said.
The project, which runs from the door of Metro to the border of Reston Town Center, is located on the north side of Sunset Hills Road from Reston Parkway to Town Center Parkway.
The commission approved a five percent parking reduction for off-street parking in phase one and a nearly 11 percent reduction in off-street parking for phase two. Overall, the plan contemplates a reduction of 660 parking spaces.
Part of the deal includes the conveyance of a 60,000-square-foot performing arts center planned in phase two of the development. The building would be conveyed to the county’s board or another entity. If the plan fails, Boston Properties will provide required contributions for an athletic field, according to Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner John Carter.
Carter said he was comfortable with the parking arrangement, especially for residential units. Affordable units will receive one space reduced at a set price based on the income tier and all spaces will be unbundled from units.
Parking reductions for Reston Gateway are acceptable because the development sits on top a Metro Station, Carter said. Unlike the recently approved residential building on 1801 Old Reston Avenue, street parking options and planned sidewalks should encourage more pedestrians to walk in the area, Carter said. A full commitment to the road fund will also be provided.
The breakdown of each block is below:
- Block A: A 420-foot office building with retail and restaurant uses
- Block B: A 380-foot office building with retail and restaurant uses
- Block C: A 249-room hotel with retail and restaurant uses
- Block D: A 600-unit residential unit with retail and restaurant uses. The block will include a five-level parking garage
- Block E: A 930-unit residential building with retail and restaurant uses, as well as three levels of underground parking and six levels of above-grade parking
- Block F: A 480-unit residential building with two levels of underground parking and five levels of above-ground parking
- Block G: This block is pending a Planned Residential Community amendment. It could contain a hotel, retail, restaurants and a six-level parking garage, as well as office uses
- Block H: A two-level building with 6,000 square feet of commercial uses on the ground level and a possible landing area for the second level of a pedestrian bridge across Sunset Hills Road from the Metro Station
- Block J: An office building with three levels of underground parking. This block could be conveyed to the Board of Supervisors for a future performing arts center
Handouts via Fairfax County Government
Reston’s Planning and Zoning Committee will vote on three major projects at its 7 p.m. meeting tonight in the North County Government Center.
Votes are scheduled for Reston Crescent, a 26-acre property where nearly 4.2 million square feet of development is planned Reston Gateway, a mixed-use project north of the future Reston Town Center Metro Station, and the replacement of the fire station at 1820 Wiehle Avenue.
The agenda of tonight’s meeting is linked here. The committee’s next meeting will take place on June 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the North County Government Center.
Photo via Boston Properties
During the company’s quarterly earnings conference call Wednesday, BXP Chief Executive Officer Owen Thomas lauded a recent lease signed with Fannie Mae for the mixed use project. Fannie Mae will anchor two office building in the project, which also includes 3.5 million square feet of development.
The new mixed use project is designed to complement “the amenity base and community environment of the highly successful Reston Town Center,” Thomas said.
Fannie Mae plans to occupy the building in the first quarter of 2022. A mid-sized hotel, more than 600,000 square feet of residential development and 90,000 square feet of ground floor retail is planned on the site.
BXP President Doug Linde said he was pleased by the strength of Reston Town Center, which he called “a magnet for private sector contractors and technology tenants.”
“We have recently signed two expansion and extension deals with technology tenants for 112,000 square feet. One tenant grew 30% and the other grew 40 percent. And we are negotiating a third expansion and extension this time growing 115,000 square feet tenant to a 160,000 square feet. We are also in early renewal discussions with tenants for more than 300,000 square feet of space,” Linde said.
The company opened the Signature, a residential high-rise in Reston Town Center, in January.
So far, 11 percent of residential units or 86 of the 508 units are leased, Linde said.
Overall, the real estate investment trust reported an income of $176 million, up from $97 million this time last year.
A public hearing for Boston Properties’ Reston Gateway project, which is designed to bridge the future Reston Town Center Metro Station with the community’s urban core is set for June 27 before the Fairfax County Planning Commission.
Boston Properties has proposed to include up to 3.5 million square feet of transit-oriented development on 33 acres immediately north of the future RTC Metro Station.
The Reston Planning & Zoning Committee will receive a presentation on the proposal at 7:30 p.m. today in the North County Government Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive).
Fannie Mae will lease roughly 850,000 square feet of the property. At full buildout, Reston Gateway may include up to 1,700 residential units, 570 hotel rooms, 200,000 square feet of retail and nearly 2 million square feet of office space.
Boston Properties has secured another win after inking a deal with Leidos Holdings, Inc earlier this year.
Fannie Mae will lease 850,000 square feet in the future Reston Gateway, a 27-acre project that could include up to 3.5 million square feet of transit-oriented development, according to release by Boston Properties.
The financial services company had been scouting for space as it moves to consolidate its services and secure a new hub. Comstock Partners’ Reston Station was one project Fannie Mae was considering.
The company already leases space at several local sites, including a 185,000 square foot lease at One Reston Crescent that was signed in 2015.
Boston Properties touted the binding lease commitment, which validates “Reston Town Center’s unique position as a top experiential development” in the country, the statement read.
Fannie Mae will move into the new space as the anchor tenant in 2020. Reston Gateway could include up to 150,000 square feet of retail and a hotel and more than 1 million square feet in residential.
Rendering via Boston Properties
Monday, September 13
- An International Murals Festival (varies) – D.C. Walls is an international mural festival highlighting public wall art across the city and region. Take a self-guided tour and celebrate the murals that make up the city.
Tuesday, September 14
- Fermenting Hot Sauce (6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.) – Head over to maker space NoVa Labs in Reston for a lesson on fermenting your very own hot sauce. The class will teach you about fermenting techniques, styles from across the world, and different types of chilis. You’ll also get a chance to blend your own very small batch sauce.
Wednesday, September 15
- Country & Western Line Dancing Lesson (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.) – Swing your partner round and round at Frying Pan Farm Park. Learn a variety of country and western line dances with the help of the Fairfax County Park Authority. All – singles, partners, and families – are welcome.
Thursday, September 16
- By the Seashore (10:30 a.m.) – Take a magical journey to the beach in this sensory-filled production at Plenty Amphitheater at Lee District Park in Alexandria. Best for children up to three years old, the show is at an outdoor amphitheater, and runs 20 minutes.
Friday, September 17
- “Can I Kick It?” Featuring Black Panther (7:30 p.m.) – Gerald Watson and DJ 2-Tone Jones take the 2018 Marvel hit Black Panther to the next level by adding a fresh, new soundtrack alluding to martial arts films of lore. Taking place on the Mason Pond Lawn at George Mason University, the event is open to the public.
Saturday, September 18
- Alexandria Old Town Art Festival (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) – The 19th annual art festival will take place at John Carlyle Square this year. It’s free admission, there’ll be dozens of vendors, and the festival is consistently recognized as one of the top in the area.
- Buckets N Boards Comedy (5 p.m.) – Take the family to this high energy musical comedy show featuring tap dancing, percussion, and buckets. It will take place in McLean Central Park and run about 90 minutes long.
- Rosslyn Jazz Fest (1 p.m. to 5 p.m.) – One of Arlington’s premier music festivals is back this year with local acts, food, fun and music. Taking place in Gateway Park this year, the 2021 version is a culmination of a series of events in Arlington celebrating jazz. Though the festival is free, registration is strongly encouraged.
Sunday, September 19
- Korus Festival (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) – This celebration of Korean-American culture, music, food, and dance is back and is now set to take place in the Bloomingdale’s parking lot in Tysons Corner Center.
- Mutts Gone Nuts (7:00 p.m.) – Dogs make for great comedy. Head on over to the Reston Community Center for a dog and comedy show full of tricks, jokes, and barks. As the listing says, the show will leave you “howling” for more.
A majority of Reston residents would support having a larger performing arts venue in the area, a survey commissioned by Reston Community Center suggests.
RCC has been mulling the possibility of bringing a new performing arts venue to Reston since at least the summer of 2019, when it partnered with the Center for Survey Research at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service to conduct the community survey, which also measured public opinion of the organization’s facilities, programming, and priorities.
Center for Survey Research Director Dr. Kara Fitzgibbon presented the community survey results to the RCC Board of Governors on July 26. The board also reviewed the findings of a strategic plan survey that RCC sent out earlier this summer to see if people’s feelings had changed in the intervening two years.
According to the UVA presentation, 68% of the 1,906 people who responded to the 2019 survey are somewhat to very interested in Reston having a larger performing arts venue, with the largest percentage (29%) saying that they are very interested.
An additional 12% of respondents said they would be slightly interested, while 11% said they wouldn’t be at all interested, and 9% felt that RCC’s existing facilities, such as the CenterStage theater, are sufficient.
“The levels of general support indicate that the opportunity is one that RCC should explore and help the community realize in one way or another,” RCC Executive Director Leila Gordon said by email. “What happens next will be determined through study, engagement and development of a plan to realize what the community wants.”
Gordon says RCC’s interest in having a larger performing arts venue “is longstanding,” spurred in part by a proffer from Boston Properties for up to 65,000 square feet of development in its Reston Gateway neighborhood near the still-closed Reston Town Center Metro station.
Gordon told Reston Now in June 2019 that if a facility comes to fruition, RCC would advocate for it to have a stage spacious enough to accommodate dance, orchestral, and theatrical shows with large casts, and it would primarily serve community nonprofits and public school arts programs.
She clarified by email yesterday (Tuesday) that Boston Properties has offered to include that amount of space in “Block J” of its mixed-use development, but it hasn’t committed to making that an arts center.
A Fairfax County spokesperson confirmed that the proffer is still on the table and that the county has until July 2022 to decide whether to accept it.
RCC’s community survey indicates that the level of support for a new performing arts center would vary depending on whether it is built by a developer or by the community center, which would require voter approval for a bond referendum to fund the project.
The percentage of “very supportive” respondents goes from 37% if the facility is built by a developer to just 14% if RCC has to finance it. 32% of respondents said they wouldn’t be at all supportive of RCC issuing a bond to fund the project.
“The RCC board has long maintained that such a venue requires multiple funding partners to realize,” Gordon said. “We will continue to explore the opportunity with the community and see where it leads.”
The Center for Survey Research distributed the questionnaire to a sample of 5,500 Reston households. A version of the survey that anyone who lives or works in Reston could answer was also made available online and in paper form from Aug. 5 to Sept. 16, 2019, according to the presentation.
This year’s strategic plan survey obtained 267 responses. Respondents named facilities upkeep and modernization as their top priority, though some said RCC’s programs are “too niche” or duplicative of Reston Association offerings.
Gordon says she didn’t register any significant changes from 2019 to this year, but the number of people who cited time constraints — either from their own busy schedule or RCC’s schedule — as a barrier to participation in the 2019 survey stood out.
“To the extent we can, RCC works collaboratively with Reston’s nonprofit and civic infrastructure to get Restonians the most ‘bang for the buck’ from their community investments,” Gordon wrote. “Ultimately, the 2019 Community Survey helps all of us better understand what people are seeking in their spare time (what precious little of it they have!) and how we can fulfill their expectations.”