Reston, VA

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn kicked off his first Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ meeting today (Tuesday) by calling for a review of Reston’s Comprehensive Plan.

The proposal, which was approved by the board,  initiatives a 12 to 18 month period of public engagement to update the plan, which was last updated five years ago.

In a statement, Alcorn noted that more than 30 rezoning applications have been approved in Reston’s transit station areas since the last plan was last reviewed. He hopes to set up a community task force and start a series of public meetings.

Alcorn hopes to tackle the following topic areas, which were presented to the board today (Tuesday): 

  • Projected population thresholds for Reston, and how to ensure that population, infrastructure and the environment are all in balance
  • Land use in the village centers (Hunters Woods, South Lakes and North Point) – including clarification of what type of future redevelopment proposals might require an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan
  • The adequacy of existing plan language to generate additional affordable housing, and improvements to plan language to encourage preservation and enhancement of existing communities that now provide affordable housing
  • The adequacy of existing and planned pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure for accessing Silver Line stations
  • The adequacy of existing Comprehensive Plan guidance to facilitate urban-scale mobility and development design in the TSAs while protecting the stability of nearby neighborhoods
  • Existing Comprehensive Plan transportation improvements to ensure that they are aligned with planned development
  • How the Comprehensive Plan could better facilitate enhancement of Reston’s natural environment, encourage energy efficiency and support sustainable green neighborhoods
  • How the Comprehensive Plan could address concerns about monopolization of ownership in Reston, and ways to encourage diverse ownership and/or management over the long term
  • Whether the historic practice of promoting privately-owned and managed open space sufficiently addresses public needs during the next 50 years of Reston

In a previous interview with Reston Now, Alcorn said he hopes updates to the plan will help better manage growth and infrastructure in the rapidly changing community.

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The first phase of a massive, mixed-use project with a Wegmans, Pinstripes, and self-driving cars is underway.

Brookfield Properties broke ground on the project, called Halley Rise and formerly called. Reston Crescent, in October.

The first phase, which is set to be completed in 2022, includes 450,000 square feet of new office space, 640 residential units, 200,000 square feet of retail and two new parks, a company spokesperson told Reston Now.

Wegmans, which will anchor the retail space, is expected to be open in 2022. Pinstripes, a restaurant with a bowling alley and bocce court, is also planned.

Future phases will also include a movie theater — under a mile from Bow Tie Cinemas in Reston Town Center — and food and drink options.

When the 36-acre development is built out, it will include 1.5 million square feet of office space, 250,000 square feet of retail and 1,500 residential units, 15 percent of which are affordable.

Staff photos by Jay Westcott

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More than two years after joining forces to buy Worldgate Metro Plaza in Herndon, two developers have once again partnered to buy a property in the area.

Newmark Knight Frank, a real estate advisory firm, sold the office building on 2100 Reston Parkway to Moore and Associates and Harbert Management Corporation, an Alabama-based investment management firm.

The seven-story, 178,667-square-foot building includes a fitness center, lounge, game room, and conference facilities with 562 parking spots in a two-level garage near the building.

Here’s more from Newmark Group, Inc. on the sale:

With 76 percent of the building already leased, the new owners have a great start on fostering a strong tenant base in a highly-desirable area of one of the country’s fastest growing markets.

“2100 Reston Parkway is located on the main north-south spine of the dynamic Reston submarket. It is easily accessible to the amenities located at Reston Town Center,” said NKF Executive Managing Director James Cassidy. “The property will benefit from all of the adjacent development south of the Toll Road including Brookfield’s transformational, Wegman’s-anchored 4.1 million-square-foot Halley Rise project and JBG Smith’s Reston Heights development.”

“The building is also proximate to the soon-to-open Silver Line Reston Town Center Metro station and will continue to perform well due to the buyer’s continued strategic improvements to the asset in the tightening Reston market,” added Cassidy. 

The details of the deal were not disclosed publicly.

Photo via Google Maps

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The Washingtonian’s Benjamin Wofford gave Reston a big nod in a feature published over the weekend.

Titled, “The Very Uncivil War Going Down in America’s Most Civil Suburb,” Wofford writes that the once inclusive suburb is now “whiter, older and richer than its founder ever intended,” locking itself in a battle for its soul and the preservation of open space.

Calling the opponents of a recently deferred plan to increase Reston’s population cap “the Yellow Shirts,” the article lays out a narrative of the battle to preserve the community’s two golf courses, issues of affordability, and nimbyism. The article has drawn interesting responses from readers.

Wofford points out some interesting U.S. Census Bureau statistics:

Lately, though, the town has followed the familiar arc of an aging suburb. Since 2000, according to Census data, the number of children has fallen by nearly 10 percent. Reston is now 17 percent whiter than Fairfax County. 

He chats with one of the “Yellow Shirts”:

To that sect of the Yellow Shirts, who insisted they were not entirely opposed to growth, the fight was about preservation of idyllic values. But at the core of the movement, sentiments about Reston’s evolution were more inflamed. “It’s not even hardly recognizable!” complained Tammi Petrine, one of the earliest activists. “If I could think of another place to go, I would. Because this is a shitshow.”

A local Restonian offers his assessment of the demographics of Reston:

Bouie was willing to see the worst in this admission. “When they’re saying they’re against Metro, they weren’t thinking about people from Reston going to DC. They were thinking about people from DC coming here,” he said. “Cranky old white people,” Bouie sniffed. “There’s no diversity in that group.”

One of Bob Simon’s first salespeople — Chuck Veatch — offers his persepctive:

He chided the competing caricatures of Reston that had taken root in the haze of infighting, either a municipal kibbutz or a gated hamlet in Mar-a-Lago. “It’s not a socialist utopia,” he chuckled. At the same time, the Yellow Shirts misunderstood that “the success of the community is not about how much money your house is worth.” Amid the partisan bickering, everyone had misplaced something elemental: the town’s shared sense of community, a distinct virtue in the face of the booming metropolis surrounding it. “Bob started out by weaving the social fabric of Reston first,” Veatch said.

The article appeared in the December issue of the magazine.

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Walter Alcorn, the incoming Hunter Mill District Supervisor who won a five-way Democratic primary, plans to prioritize managing growth and infrastructure as he takes over for retiring Cathy Hudgins on Jan.  1.

As cranes scrape the skies and community consternation about development continues to rumble, one of Alcorn’s top priorities is to update and improve Reston’s major planning document — phase two of Reston’s comprehensive plan.

“Our biggest challenge is clearly managing the growth that we’re undergoing right now, both in terms of mobility and change and our quality of life,”  Alcorn said in a recent interview with Reston Now.

He hopes to incorporate measures that manage growth and infrastructure — including population projections that can guide infrastructure needs, planning for public facilities like transportation and schools,  and expectations for public open space. Alcorn also hopes to incorporate language to preserve existing affordable housing and clarify expectations surround the future redevelopment of Reston’s village centers, some of which are in need of revitalization.

Although Alcorn has not pitched specific recommendations — a public feedback process in early 2020 will guide the community conversation — the Democrat has one specific idea: breaking up the ownership of Reston Town Center.

Alcorn says the county can incorporate language in the comprehensive plan to “call for diverse ownership of Reston Town Center” in order to break up the “monopolistic” ownership of Reston’s core from Boston Properties. The move would address concerns related to vacancies and the departure of small businesses following the company’s seismic shift to paid parking in 2017.

For now, the controversial discussion on increasing Reston’s population density per acre in the Planned Residential Community district — the community’s primary zoning district has been indefinitely delayed.

Alcorn believes the county should reexamine Reston’s comprehensive plan before reconvening discussions on the tabled PRC proposal.

“We need to fix the comprehensive plan,” Alcorn told Reston Now. “My first priority is to fix the comprehensive plan.”

He also wants to explore ways to streamline how Reston-related development proposals are reviewed, particularly between the Hunter Mill District Land Use Committee, which advises the supervisor’s office on land use issues, and the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee. Possible proposals include improving the public input process, adding county staff support to attend meetings and improving the sequencing of the multi-step approval process.

“Many times, these groups are asked to make recommendations on zoning before they can even see proffers associate with rezoning,” he said.

Other county-wide initiatives Alcorn hopes to take a lead on include:

  • A land use reform initiative to create affordable housing opportunities, in conjunction with other supervisors
  • Efforts to improve pedestrian mobility through regional initiates and more comprehensive planning beyond the county’s bicycle master plan.

As he begins his term on Jan. 1, Alcorn hopes to leverage his experience as a former planner with the county to ensure the vitality and promise of Reston remains.

“I come to this job with good knowledge of the land use process and also a commitment to engage the public and the community in that land use process,” he says. “We’re at an interesting time in Reston with transit-oriented development underway and older communities that are in need of retention. That is something that is new.”

Photo via Facebook

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Reston Hospital Center‘s $72 million expansion is expected to be completed by the first quarter of next year, a few months later than originally estimated.

The completed pieces of the project include a new 18-bed inpatient rehabilitation center, an expanded 24-bed Intensive Care Unit, a second lab for the cardiac services unit, a new parking garage for patients and visitors at the West Wing entrance, and four rooms for high-risk obstetric patients.

A new cafeteria and seating area has also been opened.

Progress on renovations to visitor areas, including a new cafeteria, glass concourse, main entrance, and lobby, is underway, according to Todd McGovern, said director of marketing and communications for the hospital.

McGovern said the upgraded main entrance and lobby will improve navigation between the main entrance, west wing entrance, pavilion entrances, and the emergency department.

“We will be making an additional investment into the modernization of several patient care areas to elevate our entire facility to a consistent level for a best-in-class patient experience,”  McGovern said.

The new patient-visitor parking garage, which has more than 400 parking spaces, opened in the summer of this year.

The 231-bed hospital announced its plan to expand on its 30th anniversary. The phased project will add more than 63,000 square feet to the building, which is part of Tennessee-based health giant HCA Healthcare.

Photos via Reston Hospital Center

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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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The county is planning to sell a roughly one-acre parcel of land north of Reston Station Boulevard.

Under the proposal, which will be considered by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors tomorrow (Tuesday) will consider selling off the land so it can be integrated in the rezoning of Reston Station Promenade, a mixed-use project by Comstock that was approved in April last year.

The sale of the land would “enable a more efficient redevelopment” of that project, according to the county.

If approved, the developer would pay roughly $3 million for the parcel and offer a density transfer of roughly 147,690 square feet to the plaza area near the county-owned Wiehle-Reston East garage.

County officials estimate that transfer would bring in a rental stream of roughly $8.6 million from Comstock, which currently pays an annual base rent of $2.9 million for its leases with the board at Reston Station.

Rents will increase as Comstock builds more pieces of its mixed-use project under a 99-year lease between the developer and the county.

An appraisal states the sale area has a value of roughly $10.8 million.

County staff recommend approval the sale, which would result in more density near the Metro Station, simplify the ownership structure  of Reston Station Promenade.

Approval of the sale will require amending the lease with Comstock.

One major change in the lease includes a requirement for Comstock to permit electoral campaign and voter registration activities on the plaza near the entry to the north entrance of the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station.

Earlier this year, free speech advocates and candidates seeking office raised concerns about Comstock’s restrictions on campaigning and electioneering at the plaza, which is considered a public space. County Concerned about civil rights violations, Board Chairwoman Sharon Bulova threatened legal action if Comstock did not take steps to allow campaign activities on the plaza.

The board is expected to make a decision on the sale tomorrow. More information about the proposal is available online.

Photo via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Reston Town Center North, a 47-acre site that serves as a transition from Reston Town Center to surrounding residential areas, now has a new name: Cameron Green.

With a rebranded mixed-use redevelopment proposal, a conceptual approval for a grid-of-streets plan was approved by Reston Association’s Design Review Board earlier this week.

The plan includes nine acres of open space, with a central green — which is intended to act as a “Reston park in a new forest” that rests in the center of the site. The project will also include an athletic field and a county recreation center.

The central green is intended to be more neighborhood-focused and have “a Reston community feel,” according to application materials submitted to the DRB.

At a Tuesday meeting, the DRB unanimously gave conceptual approval for the plan. Members noted that the panel would have an opportunity to follow up on the inclusion of trees and the placemaking nature of planned open space once the development team submits a zoning application.

Richard Newlon, the DRB’s chairman, said plans approved for conceptual approval often differ significantly from the final and completed product — a change that he said raises some concerns.

In some cases, the final product is merely “in the spirit” of the conceptual approval, Newlon added, noting that dots denoting trees may look “cute” on paper.

Future concerns about trees and buffering could be addressed in future discussions, Newlon said.

Photos via handout/Reston Association

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Global consulting firm ICF International Inc. has inked a full-building lease at Comstock’s Reston Station, according to a company release.

The firm will occupy 1902 Reston Metro Plaza, an eight-story, 250,000-square-foot office building at the mixed-use development atop the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station. The company plans to relocate its headquarters of three decades in Fairfax by the end of 2022.

The glass and steel building, which sits on top of parking and restaurant space, is expected to be complete by 2021.

“We are confident that Reston Station has everything we need to provide one of the best employee experiences in the Washington D.C. metro area,” said John Wasson, Chief Executive Officer of ICF. “Having our global headquarters in the heart of a rapidly expanding technology corridor directly supports our strategic growth plans and provides so many more conveniences to our employees.”

ICF is the latest tenant to join the development. Search engine giant Google has moved into Reston Station’s first office building and other companies like Neustar, Rolls-Royce North America, British Telecom and Spaces by Regus are also in the pipeline.

“We look forward to welcoming ICF and its entire team to the Reston Station neighborhood,” said Christopher Clemente, CEO of Comstock Companies. “Comstock is committed to creating a world-class development that provides world-class companies a remarkable neighborhood and an attractive platform for our tenants to recruit and retain talent needed to grow their business.”

ICF is a global consultancy and digital services provider that has more than 7,000 employees.

Photo via Comstock

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As phase two of the Silver Line opens early next year, Fairfax County Public Schools are looking to secure funds to begin planning for a new elementary school near the Silver Line.

On Tuesday, Nov 5., voters will consider a bond referendum for $2 million in planning funds for the project.

A site for the new school has not been finalized. A spokesperson for FCPS also declined to release the pyramid the school would be located in until a location has been selected.

“Fairfax County Public Schools is collaborating closely with Fairfax County land use and government staff to identify sites,” said Lucy Caldwell, the school system’s director of news and information.

Developer Pomeroy/Clark LLC plans to dedicate six acres of land for the school — a condition of approval for the developer’s mixed-use project at the intersection of Sunrise Valley Drive and Frying Pan Road.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the project in June, which includes 2 million square feet of residential uses and an elementary school in five separate land bays spread over 44 acres.

The plan depicts a five-story, 135,000-square-foot elementary school — details that are contingent on the future approvals of the final development plan for the school and pending discussions between the school system and land use staff. 

The applicant worked closely with Fairfax County Public Schools on the site design to ensure that adequate parking, bus circulation, and recreation space can be provided for the school,” according to the county. 

School renovations and construction projects are financed through the approval of bonds.

File photo

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The future of a wooded patch of land nesting between a childcare facility, Reston Regional Library, and Paramount Condominiums is uncertain.

Norton Scott is appealing the county’s rejection of its plan to develop the 0.8-acre site with a 13-story condominium building with 58 for-sale luxury units — adding a new mix of housing units to the Reston Town Center market.

County planners say the developer’s plan exceeds the allowed density in the area and does not provide a public street connection between north Reston, Reston Town Center, and the future Reston Metrorail Station.

Reston’s master plan, which was approved in 2013, calls for extending Library Street to the Reston Town Center North site — a connection that county planners say is necessary to improve the street network in the area.

But Norton Scott is seeking to exercise a by-right plan, which comes after the county rejected a plan from MRP and Norton Scott in May 2018 for a public-private partnership on blocks seven and eight of the area known as Reston Town Center North.

The county deemed the proposal for Reston Town Center North– which would have included a civic plaza, a new library, a pedestrian underpass, and a new shelter, and a new performing arts center — too expensive.

County officials said they only received one submission for the project after a request for proposals was issued in 2017 for the project.

After the rejection and seven years after purchasing the site from Trammel Crow Company, Norton Scott says it wants to move forward with a new project on the site, which it is calling Library Square.

“The county kind of closed the door on other possibilities,” Chelsea Rao, senior vice president of Norton Scott, said. “We are a company and we want to monetize our assets.”

Rao also says the project would add a for-sale product in RTC’s housing market that hasn’t been seen for almost a decade.

She says the company is willing to work with the county to ensure the site extends well with the other areas in Reston Town Center north. But asking for a road to extend throughout the site interferes with the developer’s by-right plan.

In a Feb. 7 memo, county planners concluded the development plan could not reasonably accommodate a future extension of Library Street as a public street.

Access between the surrounding parcels does not align with the extension of the street, making the inter-parcel connection “futile,” according to the county’s planning department.

The county wants the developer to align its project with the existing Library Street and connect with the proposed connection associated with Library Street near Reston Town Center.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors deferred a decision on the appeal to Oct. 29.

Photos via handout/Fairfax County Government

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One of Reston’s first office developments has officially been approved for major redevelopment.

A 32-acre piece of Isaac Newton Square — which is roughly a quarter-mile from the Wiehle-Reston East Development — will be transformed with 2.8 million square feet of new construction, including around 2,100 residential units.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors officially approved the project, which is a joint venture between MRP Realty and landowner Peter Lawrence. Cos., on Tuesday (Oct. 15).

Isaac Newton Square is currently developed with around 437,000 square feet of office and industrial space. The first industrial tenant in Reston came to Isaac Newton Square in November of 1964. Reston’s first residents came a month later.

The redevelopment plan includes 10 blocks of development, including 300 hotel rooms, 260,000 square feet of office space and around 69,000 square feet of retail.

An athletic field is proposed along the southern edge of the property. Parking garages throughout the site will provide 3,920 of the 4,063 total spaces on the site. The full-size athletic field, which would be located next to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, is nearby a planned amphitheater and a public civic plaza.

The existing internal roads on the site — Isaac Newton Square North, East, South and West — form the basis of the grid-of-streets for the site. Isaac Newton South, a two-way roadway, is the only public road proposed on the property, providing a second access point from Wiehle Avenue.  Southbound traffic turning right from Wiehle Avenue on westbound Isaac Newton Square will use a proposed 88-foot taper.

Subsequent development plans for specific blocks will go before local and county planning bodies as the project comes close to groundbreaking.

Photos via handout/Fairfax County Government

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Campus Commons on Tuesday — the first major redevelopment project in a transit-oriented area in Reston near established neighborhoods.  Although community criticism pushed developer TF Cornerstone to amend its plan, citizens and resident groups remained concerned about the scale and impact of the 12-acre development.

TF Cornerstone plans to redevelop 1900-1902 Campus Commons Drive with two residential towers with 656 units, an office building, and seven public parks. Two office buildings will remain on the site.

The scale of the project — as well as a controversial proposed on-grade pedestrian crossing at Wiehle Avenue and the Dulles Toll Road — prompted the eruption of community consternation and the formation of Rescue Sunrise Valley, a community group that pushed the developer to scale back the site.

Last month, TF Cornerstone shifted roughly 86,550 square feet from an office building near Sunrise Valley Drive to a residential building and reduced its height from 12 to seven stories. The setback along the curb of Sunrise Valley Drive was also increased to a minimum of 50 feet.

The approval of the project highlights the challenge of transitioning the community to mass transit. Community planners rely on the hope that transit-oriented developments like Campus Commons will reduce the number of vehicles — a transition that will likely happen over time and raises questions about community impacts in the interim.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting, residents said the project adds additional congestion in an area that already has high traffic volumes.

Although the developer’s plans show an on-grade crossing at the intersection of Wiehle Avenue and the toll road, TF Cornerstone will work with the county to explore three options for a pedestrian bridge. The study group, which will also represent local residents, will work for up to three years to explore the best way forward. TF Cornerstone committed to constructing the bridge of contributing $1.5 million to help finance any alternative.

Michelle Kimmel, a member of the Coalition for a Planned Reston, said that while she supports transit-oriented communities, Campus Commons does not hit benchmarks for well-planned development, especially because it is not harmonious with existing residential areas.

“We got people ending up on a pork chop in the middle of the toll road,” Kimmel said. “It’s just beyond me how this project can succeed.”

Reston Association President Cathy Baum said the project illustrates the association’s longstanding concern about high densities planned for transit station areas and the inadequacy of transportation to keep up with development.

Baum also encouraged the board to remove the on-grade crossing at Wiehle Avenue from plans “as an assurance to our members that it is truly not an option.”

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins thanked residents for their involvement in the project and said she hopes the county will work diligently to ensure the developments like Campus Commons reduce traffic in the long-term. Hudgins also noted that the county’s planning documents call for redevelopment projects like Campus Commons in the corridor of Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset. Hills Road.

Hudgins also said she hopes the developer will continue to work with residents as the project is built.

Photos via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Hudgins Reflects on 20 Years as Supervisor — Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, who has been a supervisor for 20 years, fears Reston has lost its welcoming spirit for newcomers. [Washington Business Journal]

CoreSite Announces Opening of New Data Center — “With over 100MW of expected capacity for the Reston Campus Expansion, and the multi-cloud capabilities of the CoreSite platform, we are in a position to deliver the maximum degree of scale, operational flexibility and performance throughout the entire lifecycle of customers’ digital transformation journey,” writes Juan Font, CoreSite’s senior vice president of general management. [Data Economy]

County Offers Held to Prevent Opioid Overdoses — “According to the latest statistics from the Virginia Department of Health, there were 324 fatal overdoses caused by opioids in January-March of 2019 in the commonwealth. Unfortunately, those are the highest first-quarter numbers ever recorded. Twenty-two occurred in Fairfax County.” [Fairfax County Government]

Photo by Jay Westcott

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