Reston, VA

Microsoft Corp. plans to expand with about 45,000 square feet in Reston Town Center, according to a recent earnings call by landlord Boston Properties.

The expansion is an addition to the 400,000-square-foot tech hub that is planned for the development.

Here’s more from the Washington Business Journal on the expansion:

The new space adds to what Redwood, Washington-based Microsoft is already leasing at Two Discovery Square, which stands at 12012 Sunset Hills Road. It’s also separately establishing a tech hub at Two Freedom Square, at 11955 Freedom Drive, bringing its total footprint across those two buildings to above 600,000 square feet, according to earnings data and company officials familiar with the situation.

In late May, Microsoft announced that it would invest $64 million to establish a new tub hub that would bring 2,500 new jobs to the area.

Photo by Franck V./Unsplash

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Reston Company Goes Public During ‘Tipping Point’ — “Reston’s SOC Telemed is the latest Greater Washington company to make its debut on the public markets, opening Monday at $10 per share on the Nasdaq stock exchange.” [Washington Business Journal]

How Fannie Mae Helped Boston Properties Land Volkswagen’s Headquarters —  Fannie Mae agreed to give back two floors in the town center’s next phase, previously known as Reston Gateway, to help Boston Properties (NYSE: BXP) seal the nearly 200,000-square-foot lease with Volkswagen Group of America.” [Washington Business Journal]

Return to School Information Available — The Fairfax County Public School system has published a number of guides to help students and parents navigate the return to school. [FCPS]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Boston Properties, owner of Reston Town Center, held its Third Quarterly Earnings Call earlier this week where the current state and future of Boston Properties in Reston were discussed.

Chief Executive Officer Owen Thomas says Boston Properties (BXP) has performed well, despite the pandemic.

“Despite a challenging recessionary environment, BXP continued to perform well in the third quarter, demonstrating the durability of our business,” Thomas explained. “In the quarter, we collected 99% of our office rents and 97% of rents overall. We completed 811,000 square feet of leasing, 40% being either new requirements or expanding existing customers, and we increased our average net rental rates on our second-generation leases by 20%.”

BXP properties that have recently been sold was also discussed, including Patriots Park in Reston that was sold for $325 million, according to Thomas, or what equals out to $450 a square foot and a 5.6 cap rate.

“This 724,000 square-foot asset is fully leased and sold to an asset management company,” Thomas said. “BXP built and subsequently sold Patriots Park in 2014 at roughly the same valuation.”

President of BXP Douge Linde later chimed in to discuss leasing activity around the country. Northern Virginia is the second market that relaxed its restrictions since the start of the pandemic, following Massachusetts, according to Linde.

“In Northern Virginia companies are actually required just to social distance and there are no limits to the occupancy threshold, and employees drive to their office,” Linde said. “We estimate our census is well under 15%. At this time, the return to work is not about transportation constraints, and it’s not about elevator constraints either.”

BXP also finalized a few leases in Northern Virginia, according to Linde, including Microsoft in Reston Town Center.

“They leased an additional 45,000 square feet and extended the 2028 expiration on 164,000 square feet to 2033,” Linde said. “We’ve also completed another 96,000 square foot of leases, 8 transactions during the quarter there. We are in negotiation on 5 more leases, totaling 65,000 square feet, for vacant space in the Town Center.”

Restonians should expect to see Volkswagon in Reston as BXP recently signed a 20-year lease with the company.

The future of BXP in Reston was also discussed by Chief Financial Officer Mike LaBelle.

“We’ve already signed leases for this space in Reston, and we expect it to be occupied in 2021,” LaBelle explained. “We partially offset the impact of the occupancy decline with revenue growth from a full quarter of contribution from our 100% leased 1750 Presidents Way development in Reston that we delivered in the second quarter, and $2 million of growth in our parking revenues.”

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Boston Properties, the owner of Reston Town Center, has taken a hit in earnings since the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the regional economy.

According to a quarterly earnings statement, the real estate owner’s funds from operations were down by 14 percent in the second quarter this year when compared to this time last year. The company earned $236.9 million for the first three months ending on June 30.

Boston Properties CEO Owen Thomas attributed the earnings drop to layoffs, rent concessions with struggling tenants, and dips in parking fees from office tenants that are now working remotely.

Still, the company reported some big wins. Earlier this year and in the thick of the pandemic, Microsoft signed a 400,000-square-foot-lease in Reston Town Center.

It’s unclear how the pandemic will pan out for the company. Rent collections remain high, with collections of 94 percent of rents overall, Thomas said.

I’m particularly proud of our team’s commitment to serving our customers with the highest level of professionalism that is our standard at Boston Properties,” he said.

He also noted that greater acceptance of part-time work from home may act as a headwind to office demand growth.

“So longterm, we think the product is here to stay. And the question is, who is going to be providing that and who is going to get through this pandemic most successfully?”

Photo by Jay Westcott

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Boston Properties, the owner of Reston Town Center, says that rent collection and leasing activity in April has remained strong this month despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

During a quarterly earnings call yesterday (Wednesday), company representatives said that roughly 90 percent of its office and retail tenants paid rent for April 1. The company’s first-quarter revenue is up from four percent over the previous year.

The company has signed a 135,000 square foot lease with a defense contractor at RTC. Construction of a 276,000-square-foot building that will be fully occupied by Leidos is also complete.

In Northern Virginia, leases amounting to 900,000 square feet of space are in active negotiations.

CEO Owen Thomas said it is difficult to determine where market rents are today and how the pandemic will impact the overall market.

As in past recessions and economic slowdown created uncertainty, which reduces some users need for space, business leaders can become more cautious and reluctant to invest capital in new offices.”

The complete transcript of the call is available online.

Photo by R. Dawson/Flickr

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Many businesses in Reston Town Center have closed in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Northern Virginia and beyond.

Readers have described the town center as a ghost town as an increasing number of businesses put up signs announcing temporary closures on their storefronts.

BowTie Cinemas closed yesterday (Monday), noting that it’s concerned for the “health and safety of our customers, staff members and the greater movie-going community.”

Few tenants indicate when they plan to reopen. But the Apple store says it will remain closed until March 27. J. Crew, Kendra Scott, and the Crafthouse are also temporarily shuttering.

Paddywax Candle Bar, which offers guests a chance to make candles in a workshop-style setting, is also closed for all workshops until March 30.

Reston Town Center tenants are encouraging customers and guests to find resources online.

While most retail tenants are closed, many restaurants and bars remain open for now.

Ted’s Bulletin is still open for dine-in, but with adjusted hours of 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sweetgreen is also open.

Morton’s The Steakhouse is also open, but is closely monitoring the situation.

Jackson’s is open and is offering more carryout options.

We will update this list as we confirm additional closures.

Photo by Heidi Clark

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Monday Morning Notes

School Buildings Closed — All Fairfax County Public School buildings are closed until further notice. Beginning today (Monday), grab-and-go food distribution sites will be set up at 18 locations. Breakfast is served from 8-10:30 a.m. and lunch from 10:30 a.m.t o 2 p.m.[Fairfax County Public Schools]

Local Parks, Libraries Closed — The Fairfax County Public Library System and local parks will be closed for due weeks to the novel coronavirus threat. [Patch]

Telecom Entrepreneur Dies — John McDonnell Jr., who started Recon-Based Transaction Network Services, died in March at a hospital in Florida. He was 82. [The Washington Post]

Boston Properties Sell Properties — The company has sold its New Dominion Park property, including 499 Grove St., in Herndon to an affiliate of USAA Real Estate. [Washington Business Journal]

Photo by Cbreezy

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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

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Boston Properties is looking to reduce the amount of parking at Reston Gateway, a mixed-use project currently under construction between the Reston Town Center Metro Station and RTC.

The company wants to provide 1,663 fewer parking spaces than previously approved plans outlined. The move — which would parking by 20 percent — is being considered because of the project’s proximity to the future RTC Metro Station. Parking for residential units would drop by an average of 38 percent. The company also wants to drop any requirement for parking in the lodging component of the hotel on the site.

The county’s planning staff approved the request, noting that the mixed-use center is near a Metro Station where mass transit should be encouraged via parking reductions:

The character of high-density, mixed-use development, both at the subject site and surrounding neighborhoods, and the proximity to rail and other forms of transit, provides opportunities to reduce parking demand. Analysis of multi-family development adjacent to Metro stations has shown that residents of this type of housing are less likely to own one or more personal vehicles. The availability of Metrorail and other transportation options at the site will encourage people from other neighborhoods and communities to travel to the redevelopment area for work and leisure activities using alternative modes other than their personal vehicle. Collectively, these support the applicant’s proposal for this parking reduction based on the proximity of mass transit.

The proposal heads to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a vote on March 10.

The project includes nine blocks with nine buildings spread over 33 acres. It’s located on the north side of Sunset Hills Road between Town Center Parkway and Reston Parkway. Four office buildings, three residential buildings with 2,010 units, two hotels and more than 162,000-square-foot in retail and restaurants, are planned on the site.

Crews are working on the first phase of construction, which includes four new buildings at the intersection fo Sunset Hills and Town Center Parkway. Fannie Mae plans to lease about 850,000 square feet of office space at the site.

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17Fifty — the newest office tower in Reston Town Center is nearing completion. Leidos, the full-building tenant of the 17-story building located at 1750 Presidents Street, is gearing up to move into its new headquarters by March 2020.

A spokesperson for Boston Properties told Reston Now that the top of the building has been topped off and the the work to enclose the building has been completed.

The company is now working to construct the interior space for Leidos, a Reston-based information technology contractor.

The new building has roughly 276,000 square feet. The tower is designed by Shalom Baranes Associates.

County permits for the building’s sprinkler system were recently processed.

Photos by Jay Westcott

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Facebook has inked a lease for roughly 75,000 square feet in Reston Town Center.

During a quarterly earnings call this week, Boston Properties President Doug Linde disclosed that the company reached a deal with the social media giant.

County permits indicate Facebook will take up space at 1818 Library Street, a 250,000-square-foot building in the town center.

No other information about the deal was immediately available.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

 

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Uncle Julio’s, a Mexican restaurant in Reston Town Center, has reached a settlement in a lawsuit the business filed against Boston Properties in late 2018 over its paid parking policies.

In early August, the case was voluntarily dismissed and all parties were ordered to pay their own legal fees. Uncle Julio’s, which has been located in RTC since 1992, sought $5 million from Boston Properties to account for the effects of paid parking on its business. The restaurant argued that the system — which has been in effect for more than two years — led to $1 million in losses annually.

A spokesperson for Uncle Julio’s told the Washington Business Journal that the issue was resolved “amicably.” The business plans to continue to offer validated parking for all customers for dining at Uncle Julio’s.

Here’s more from the WBJ report: 

One of the issues Uncle Julio’s had raised in its complaint was that its closest parking garage in the development had become less accessible as a result of another parking-related lawsuit at the property. According to the Uncle Julio’s complaint, after Jackson’s restaurant sued over paid parking, a judge issued a preliminary injunction preventing Reston Town Center from enforcing the pay-to-park system on Jackson’s customers in the Orange garage. Subsequently, according to Uncle Julio’s, the pay-to-park system was disabled at the Orange garage.

“As a consequence, patrons throughout the Reston Town Center now attempt to park at the Orange Garage in order to avoid the imposition of parking charges,” stated the complaint, which was amended in March. 

In March 2017, Boston Properties and Jackson’s Mighty Fine Food & Lucky Lounge settled a dispute over the paid parking system — part of a continuing uproar from local businesses and residents over the parking system. Previously, public backlash has pushed Boston Properties to cut back hours when payment is required by allowing free parking on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends.

Image via Google Maps

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Recently, Reston Town Center shed its iconic logo of the Mercury Fountain in favor of a more modern and simplistic design.

For weeks, Boston Properties and their public relations company TAA PR have been mum about the rebranding effort, as well as the latest on a planned renovation to RTC’s common areas.

In response to multiple requests from Reston Now, company representatives said they have some “exciting news to share” about the future of RTC in the coming weeks. In absence of hard details, Reston Now is turning to its readers to get their thoughts on what they think about the new logo and what message the new design seeks to convey.

RTC’s first logo features a line drawing of the 20-foot Mercury Fountain, which was designed by sculptor Saint Clair Cemin and anchors the pavilion. While the new logo retains the original blue palette, its circular form — with a ‘C’ rested in the center — lends itself to many interpretations.

A new crop of tenants are expected to open up in RTC by 2020, including Jinya Ramen Bar, The Candle Bar and Muse Paint Bar. The company also announced plans to renovate most of its gathering places in over the next several months. 

Until more details are made public, we’d love to know your thoughts about the new logo and the future of RTC in the comments below.

File photo

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Artists of all ages and skill levels can now save the date for ChalkFest at Reston Town Center.

The annual event, which challenges artists to create chalk drawings on Market Street, is set for Saturday, September 14 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Registration is open in the following categories:

  • Professional artist: $25
  • Amateur artist: $25
  • Families and kids: $15

Prizes will be given to winning artists in each category. Participants will also get the chance to vote in the “audience choice awards.”

ChalkFest is presented by Public Art Reston and Reston Town Center. All proceeds from the event will benefit Public Art Reston’s projects and programs.

Last year’s event was cancelled due to the forecasted rain, but in 2017, the event drew more than 4,000 people.

Photo by Public Art Reston

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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

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