An organization that stands to benefit from a potential townhome project plans to communicate with neighbors and share its stance with planning leaders.
The board of directors for the Reston Association, which provides recreational amenities and sets standards for building exteriors, agreed yesterday (Thursday) to draft a letter to get input from residents near the Fannie Mae redevelopment project (11600 American Dream Way).
It’s looking to send the letter to the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee, an advisory board to the Fairfax County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors, as the committee looks to vote on a project that involves potentially adding townhomes there.
Board members expressed their interest in having the townhomes be added to the Reston Association, where dues-paying members contribute an annual fee that covers maintenance and operational costs of amenities such as pools and tennis courts.
The organization also stated that it wants to preserve public access to the property, noting that a current arrangement allows people to traverse through the development along American Dream Way to access Plaza America Shopping Center at Sunset Hills Road.
The Planning & Zoning Committee deferred a vote Tuesday (Jan. 25). RA acting CEO Larry Butler said key concerns noted by community members involved the number of townhomes in the project and public access to the shopping plaza.
In other news:
- Irwin Flashman announced his candidacy to run for a board of directors position.
- Director Bob Petrine said the fiscal committee is looking to see whether RA should continue waiving a credit card surcharge that the association absorbs for members when they pay their assessment fee, and the committee could give a recommendation to the board.
- The board agreed to add Reston Arboretum, a yet-to-be-built development at 12700 Sunrise Valley Drive consisting of 40 townhomes, to the Reston Association.
- The board approved a contract with Titan Pool Service for $176,555 for a Ridge Heights pool project.
A proposal to potentially add up to 90 townhomes near Hidden Creek Country Club is up for a planning committee vote tonight, a decision that will serve as a key indicator for how Fairfax County officials handle the project.
The Reston Planning and Zoning Committee, an advisory group to the Fairfax County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors, is slated to vote at the 7:30 p.m. virtual meeting on the 28-acre project at 11600 American Dream Way.
The property owner — an affiliate of Connecticut investment firm Wheelock Street Capital — has been making adjustments on the project in response to meeting with the committee and public. It purchased the property from Fannie Mae in 2018 for over $95 million.
Scott Adams, an attorney with McGuireWoods, presented in November before the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee. Changes include 9.28 acres that will be publicly accessible open space and repositioning gates on American Dream Way to only restrict access to the existing office compound.
“[Thoughtful], high quality site design is proposed to create a development that will further the Comprehensive Plan goals of mixed use development, significant park spaces, trail, and public art,” Adams previously wrote in a November 2020 statement seeking to justify the project.
The law firm hosted meetings in December and January with community members, too, but residents are still voicing concerns.
An affiliate of the investment firm, Wheelock Communities, acquired Hidden Creek Country Club in 2017 for $14 million and has sought to convert the golf course into a residential community. Residents have voiced their opposition, with Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn backing their views on keeping the course, suggesting that public officials wouldn’t allow that kind of development there.
Even with the Fannie Mae redevelopment changes, the project conflicts with the Reston Comprehensive Plan as well as the character of the community, according to Reston Citizens Association President Lynne Mulston, who noted the association was merely acting as a messenger for nearby residents’ concerns. (The county is still studying the possible comprehensive plan amendment.)
“Ninety townhomes is just too much,” Mulston said, noting how residents have sought to scale back the project. “It’s just way out of whack.”
Earlier, residents raised concerns about how the project could affect northern neighbors’ access to American Plaza Shopping Center, providing access to Whole Foods groceries and other amenities. Fannie Mae previously worked with Reston Association to create a sidewalk in the area, Mulston said.
“As with any rezoning in Reston I encourage the applicant to work with County staff, concerned members of the community, and Reston P&Z to address issues raised before the application goes to public hearing before the County Planning Commission, currently scheduled for March 9,” Alcorn said in a statement.
The project would still keep the option to create two office buildings, a previously approved use, officials have noted. The former Fannie Mae office building is slated to remain.
The glass skyscrapers towering next to the Dulles Toll Road and over Sunset Hills Road have begun welcoming their largest tenant, according to Boston Properties President Doug Linde.
Formerly called Reston Gateway, the development has offices for Fannie Mae and Volkswagen Group of America next to the Reston Town Center Station. On Oct. 19, approximately 285,000 square feet of the project was placed in-service, according to property owner and developer Boston Properties.
Fannie Mae takes up most of the office space, 703,000 square feet, at the renamed Reston Next office complex, and the federally created corporation is consolidating its operations from three Reston locations to save $250 million.
Fannie Mae and Volkswagen fill up the vast majority of space with 15- and 20-year leases, respectively, but Linde told investors on an Oct. 27 earnings call that they’re still looking to lease 160,000 square feet. According to Boston Properties, the development called for approximately 1.1 million square-feet available for offices.
The comments came as the company remarked on the benefits of office space as compared to remote work, even though businesses are reevaluating their office needs amid a pandemic-fueled shift in telecommuting.
Reston Next is 85% leased, and despite the significant vacancy in northern Virginia, parts of Reston are under 10% vacant and continue to “dramatically outperform,” according to the company.
Boston Properties refused to comment on the new buildings. Fannie Mae was unable to respond to questions before this article published.
Construction of the project began in 2018.
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 move comes after Wheelock’s plans to redevelop the nearby Hidden Creek Club were opposed by neighboring community groups and Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn.
The company, which bought the sprawling 29-acre property in 2018, plans to build the townhouses in four blocks on open space.
Although the county’s zoning allows the Connecticut-based company to build two more office buildings on the site, Wheelock chose the residential route to complement existing office space on the site.
“The introduction of an option for residential use will help to complement and balance the existing office use on the property, and will create positive traffic impacts relative to the full office build-out option,” according to the application.
Its plans for the golf course, which it purchased in 2017, are more uncertain. Wheelock has proposed general plans for a community park and between 500 and 2,000 residential units. No formal proposal has been filed with the county yet.
But Alcorn publicly stated he would block any efforts to redevelop the golf course, which requires rezoning and is a flashpoint in several community groups’ efforts to maintain Reston as a community with two golf courses.
The Fannie Mae proposal is in its early phases. The project heads to the Fairfax County Planning Commission on Sept. 22 and a staff report isn’t expected until Sept. 7.
Meanwhile, Fannie Mae is expected to move into Boston Properties’ next phase of development in Reston Town Center next year.
Image via handout/Fairfax County Government
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
You may have noticed some new faces this February around McNair Elementary School (2499 Thomas Jefferson Drive).
About 15 volunteers from Fannie Mae’s Reston office have been helping out at the school.
“As a new partner, the firm has offered to provide volunteers on a monthly basis as a way to give back to the Reston and Herndon communities,” according to Fairfax County Public Schools.
The volunteers have been busy supporting read-aloud initiatives and the school’s holiday luncheon, according to FCPS.
The school community can expect the volunteers to help through the end of the year.
Image via Google Maps
An affiliate of Connecticut-based Wheelock Street Capital has bought the office building on 11600 American Dream Way from Fannie Mae further expanding the companies footprint.
The news, first reported by The Washington Business Journal, expands Wheelock Communities’ footprint in Reston. The company purchased Hidden Creek Country Club, which is just next to the office building previously owned by Fannie Mae, in October last year.
The company hopes to convert the golf course into a public park with between 500 and 2,000 residential units. A formal development proposal has not been submitted to the county, but discussions are underway. A spokesperson for the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reston Now.
Wheelock Street Capital, an affiliate of Wheelock Communities, bought the Charter Oak Apartments, in February. The community is also next to the golf course.
Photo via Fannie Mae
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
Under SEC investigation — ComScore, a Reston-based audience company, issued new financial statements showing it overstated revenue by $127 million. [Washington Business Journal]
29 acres are up for grabs — Fannie Mae is expected to vacate three major buildings in the area as it moves to Reston Gateway in 2022. Who will fill the void? [Washington Business Journal]
If you’re heading out to Wiehle-Reston East parking garage — Parking may be limited at times as construction continues in the area. Commuters can park at Reston South Park & Ride for free. [Fairfax Connector]
Flickr pool photo via vantagehill
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
Before we head off into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now in recent days.
The following articles were the five most-clicked links on Reston Now this past week.
- M & S Grill in Reston Town Center Closes
- New Details Surface in the Murder of Reston Couple
- Memorial Service Set for Couple Murdered in Reston
- Longtime Business Leaves Reston Town Center
- Fannie Mae Eyes Move to Reston’s Core
Feel free to discuss these topics, your weekend plans or anything else that’s happening locally. Have a great weekend!
The mortgage giant, which recently made a deal to leave its upper Northwest D.C. location to build an new building at 1150 15th St., longtime site of The Washington Post headquarters.
Meanwhile, The Washington Business Journal reports that Fannie Mae is also planning to lease about 180,000 square feet at an undisclosed location in Reston to support a new commercialization platform it is developing in collaboration with Freddie Mac.
Fannie already owns and leases space at 11600 American Dream Way in Reston, as well as in Herndon, but company spokesman Andrew Wilson told WBJ it has maxed out its space in Reston and needs to expand to roll out the new platform for the mortgage industry.
Fannie Mae occupies nearly 1.5 million square feet of owned and leased space in the region, including a lease set to expire next year at Monument IV at Worldgate in Herndon.
Fannie plans to combine its operations there into the new space, which Fannie has identified says it cannot disclose yet.
Photo: Current Fannie Mae Reston space near Plaza America/file photo