Reston, VA

Spotify, the audio-streaming and media services provider, recently agreed to acquire Reston-based Megaphone, a podcast hosting company, for $235 Million earlier this week.

The company announced the acquisition on its website Tuesday (Nov. 10).

“The acquisition of Megaphone represents the next step in Spotify’s expanding the possibilities of this intimate and screen-less medium,” the company said.

Megaphone is currently headquartered in Reston Station.

CEO of Megaphone Brendan Monaghan and Spotify’s VP of Global Ad Business and Platform, Jay Richman, spoke about the acquisition and the future of the two companies.

Megaphone provides publishers with a suite of tools and technology to distribute, monetize and measure their shows wherever podcasts are listened,” Monaghan explained. “At the same time, we created a marketplace to aggregate unsold ad inventory from our publishing partners and sell that inventory to premium advertisers based on desired audience segments (demographics, psychographics and even geography).”

The acquisition will allow the company to continue to do this, in a new way.

“The acquisition will allow us to provide products and services to publishers and advertisers in more depth and at a faster pace than we have in the past,” Monoghan said. “We’ll be able to bring new products to our partners, like Spotify’s SAI technology to support even greater revenue generation for publishers and another way for advertisers to reach their desired audience.”

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Comstock Companies has long-term plans to redevelop Commerce Metro Center (1900 Centennial Park Drive) into a transit-oriented neighborhood called the Commerce District at Reston Station.

Now, through a lease-back transaction, the company has acquired United Bank’s branch building and a one-acre parcel located at the site. The lease-back allows Comstock to ensure United Bank remains on the site as the company finalizes plans to redevelop the office park.

United Bank’s property is located at the intersection of Centennial Park Drive and Sunrise Valley Drive near the entrance of Comstock’s Commerce District. The acquisition would allow Comstock to ensure that the front entrance of the transit-oriented development is pedestrian-friendly and accommodates transit, according to a news release.

“This strategic acquisition affords us the opportunity to focus on the project’s entry experience as we finalize our placemaking plans to remake this 1990’s vintage office park into an exciting place to live, work, and promote health and wellness,” said Timothy Steffan, EVP of Asset Management, Leasing & Development of Comstock. 

Comstock plans to redevelop 22 acres to the south entrance of the Wiehe-Reston East Metro Station into the Commerce District. Preliminary plans include upgrades to existing office buildings, new. Office, hotel and residential buildings, and new retail.

In Feb. 2019, Comstock acquired JBG Smith’s Commerce Metro Center Portfolio in Feb.  2019 — a move that will increase the Reston Station area to 4.5 million square feet once fully built.

The company is currently finalizing plans for additional development “while exploring options for enhancing open spaces and connectivity to Metro for the surrounding community,” according to the release.

Comstock’s Metro District station, which is near the north entrance of the station, is well underway. Most of the office space in that district — which includes three office towers — has already been leased to big companies like Google, ICF Global, and Rolls Royce North America.

Image via Google Maps

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Although cancellations of many major Reston events were announced this week, Reston Community Center’s summer concerts have returned to Lake Anne Plaza and Reston Station. 

The 2020 Summer Concert series is free to the public and features two different recurring concert series. The Take a Break series is held at Lake Anne Plaza on Thursdays from 7-8:30 p.m. The Summerbration Fab Fridays series is held at Reston Station on Fridays from 7-8:30 p.m, according to the Reston Community Center website. 

The dates and performances for Take a Break include:

  • July 30: Cheick Hamala Diabate
  • Aug. 6: Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet
  • Aug. 13: Mambo Combo
  • Aug. 27: Alfredo Mojica & Friends
  • Sep. 3: David Bach Consort

The dates and performances for Summerbration Fab Fridays include:

  • July 31: Far Away
  • Aug. 7: King Teddy
  • Aug. 14: Cristian Perez Band
  • Aug. 21: Seth Kibel Band
  • Aug. 28: Swingin’ Swamis
  • Sep. 4: Tobago Bay

RCC will be mandating social distancing protocol and masks to ensure COVID-19 safety at the venue, according to the website.  Additionally, patrons are requested to bring their own chairs or blankets for seating, and capacity will be limited due to social distancing. 

Photo via the Reston Community Center website

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Reston officially has a new Tesla supercharging station.

Comstock, the developer of Reston Station, announced the opening of the station today (Wednesday).

The new station will be located next to the kiss and ride facility inside Reston Station (11389 Reston Station Boulevard).

“We recognize that the quality of Reston Station’s architecture and tenant mix require us to bring the best local, national and global brands to our project,” said Tim Steffan, EVP/Asset Management, Development and Leasing for Comstock. “Tesla’s pioneering sustainability initiatives and brand platform are a great complement to our long-term vision to deliver best in class amenities to our market.”

Here’s more from Comstock on the announcement:

Designed and built by Tesla and capable of charging a Tesla battery in minutes rather than hours, Tesla V3 Supercharger Station will accommodate the simultaneous charging of 8 Tesla vehicles, including Model S, Model X and Model 3. Tesla’s third generation Supercharger is substantially more powerful than any other charging technology currently available, ultimately reducing the amount of time customers spend charging by an average of 50%. 

Photos via Comstock

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Comstock Companies, the developer behind Reston Station, says that Northern Virginia is becoming the “Silicon Valley of the East.”

Reston Station, a sprawling mixed-use development near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, is positioned to help make that change happen, according to an investor presentation released earlier this week.

The development, which includes several districts that are planned or already in construction, is expected to achieve comparable rents to Reston Town Center. New buildings, parking, amenities, and the Metro station have attracted corporate relocations from RTC, according to Comstock.

Currently, RTC commands a higher rent premium over other micro-markets within Reston. Overall, vacancy rates for Class A office space in Reston and Tysons are slightly lower than the region-wide average of around 18 percent, according to the company.

Once completed, Reston Station will include four districts: Metro Plaza, Commerce, West, and Reston Row. Major companies have signed leases at the project, including Google, Neustar, and ICF International.

Photo via Comstock

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Megaphone, a podcasting hosting and advertising technology provider, has signed a lease at Comstock’s Reston Station.

The company will take up roughly 10,000 square feet in the first office building at the mixed-use development, the tower designed by architect Helmut Jahn at 1900 Reston Metro Plaza.

With 165,000 square feet of leased space, Google is the anchor tenant of the building. Other tenants include Rolls-Royce North America (18,000 square feet) and infrastructure management firm Solar Winds (16,349 square feet) and digital identify firm Certipath (7,500 square feet).

Tim Steffan, executive vice president of assets management, leasing and development for Comstock, said Reston Station now has a diverse mix of technology firms.

“The addition of Megaphone compliments the impressive lineup of national and global tech players that have chosen Reston Station,” he wrote in a statement.

The company is. currently headquartered in DC.

ICF Global, a global consulting firm, will occupy the third office building currently being developed by Comstock. That building, which is located at 1902 Reston Metro Plaza, is set to be complete in 2022.

Neustar, a global information services company, is the anchor tenant for another office tower located at 1906 Reston Metro Plaza. The company plans to relocate its headquarters from Sterling to Reston Station later this year.

Photo by Bako Glonti

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Plans are in the works to secure more land to expand Reston Station.

Comstock Companies had purchased a six-story building in Commerce Metro Center, which is located at the south entrance of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, for $35.9 million.

The developer purchased two other buildings in the same park last year as it eyes the development of Commerce District, a new development district at Reston Station.

The company has already announced plans to build a new office building by world-renown architect Helmet Jahn as a companion to the current building he designed at the Wiehe-Reston East Metro Station.

The recently-purchased building, which is located at 11480 Commerce Park Drive, is occupied by tenants like Kittelson & Associates, Inc. and Young America’s Foundation.

Here’s more from Comstock on the purchase:

The Company currently has two additional Trophy-Class office towers currently under construction on Reston Metro Plaza, 1906 Reston Metro Plaza, 203,000 square foot building scheduled to deliver later this year, which is approximately 55%% pre-leased to Neustar, and 1902 Reston Metro Plaza, an approximately 225,000 square foot building that is scheduled to deliver in 2021 and is 100% pre-leased to ICF Global.

“This acquisition is consistent with our focus on select high-growth urban and transitioning “sub-urban” markets. The Reston Station neighborhood is at the forefront of the transformation taking place in the Dulles Corridor as a result of the arrival of Metro’s Silver Line” said Mr. Clemente. “Our objective in Reston is to create a world-class mixed-use and transit-oriented neighborhood that is consistent with Fairfax County’s Comprehensive Plan and that is a valued addition to the Reston community.”

So far, Reston Station’s first phase includes the BLVD Reston Station apartments and 1900 Reston Metro, the building designed by Jahn and anchored by Google Inc.

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Construction on new townhomes near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station is underway.

Union Towns at Reston Station is composed of 26 “luxury townhouses” behind the Lofts, a low-rise condominium building off of Sunset Hills Road.

Although construction is underway, it’s unclear when the project will be completed. The development includes an on-site dog park and green space, as well as members-only access to the nearby rooftop pool.

Prices for each townhouse unit start at $800,000, according to Union Towns’ website.

At a recent site visit, construction crews demolished an office building that is opposite the site as well.

Photo by Fatimah Waseem

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A new Italian steakhouse is coming to Reston Station’s third office building at 1902 Reston Metro Plaza.

Boston-based Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse has leased 11,000 square feet of retail space at the Wiehe-Reston East Metro Station’s plaza.

The restaurant, which serves up northern Italian foods like aged steaks, pasta, and desserts, occupies retail space in a building that will be the future headquarters of international consulting firm ICF. Plans also include a Davio’s “grab and go” Italian market with ready-made selections.

Steve DiFillippo, the chef and owner of the steakhouse, says he’s looking forward to expanding his Boston-based business into the area.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to open a restaurant in Northern Virginia and what could possible be better than being at Reston Station,” DiFillippo said in a statement.

The restaurant expects to open in 2022 when ICF Global occupies the office tower in 2022.

Here’s more about Davio’s from Comstock:

The concept behind Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse is simple, regional Italian food with a focus on the grill. Davio’s offers everything from prime aged steaks, fresh seafood and salads as well as handmade pasta creations. Davio’s takes great pride in serving guests with an expert kitchen and attentive staff in the dining room, offering an exceptional dining experience unlike any other with a focus on hospitality. Chef-Restaurateur, Steve DiFillippo published his first business and hospitality book, “It’s All About the Guest: Exceeding Expectations in Business and in Life the Davio’s Way.” For more information visit www.davios.com or www.stevedifillippo.com.

“Davio’s nationally renowned operation and award-winning menu compliments the existing range of offerings at Reston Station,” said Tim Steffan, EVP/Asset Management, Development and Leasing for Comstock. “We are delighted to have such a high caliber addition joining our food and beverage line-up in the Reston Station neighborhood.”  

Other retail tenants that are part of Comstock’s second phase of development are also forthcoming. CVS Pharmacy plans to open on March 1. Big Buns Damn Good Burgers and matchbox have not officially indicated when they plan to open.

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Reston Station, a major mixed-use project at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, will welcome its newest tenant on March 1.

After permitting delays and an anticipated opening in December, CVS Pharmacy will open at 1906 Reston Metro Plaza between the entrance to the station and Starbucks on the plaza.

The business will occupy roughly 8,451 square feet of space.

Here’s more from Comstock, Reston Station’s developer, on the opening:

Adding CVS to the project’s retail will provide convenient on-site access to prescription medication and pharmacy experts, health and wellness products, and flu shots to Reston Station’s office tenants and commuters. CVS Pharmacy serves millions of consumers around the country with programs including a curated grocery and food selection, elevated beauty, customer-driven personalization with the ExtraCare Rewards program, and an enhanced assortment of health and wellness products.

“The addition of CVS Pharmacy to the Reston Station neighborhood aligns with our commitment to provide convenience and service to our tenants and residents,” said Tim Steffan, EVP/Asset Management, Development and Leasing for Comstock. “We are pleased to welcome this national retailer to our community, and look forward to growing our retail tenants in 2020.”

The company was the first to sign a lease for plaza-level retail space in Reston Station’s third tower, which is currently under construction.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Since early 2014, a little over 10,000 residential units were approved in Reston. Just under 15 percent are considered affordable.

As the more residential development begins in Reston’s Transit Station Areas (TSAs) and Metro’s Silver Line ushers in more activity, nonprofit leaders and area community organizers wonder if Reston will hold true to Bob Simon’s vision for housing affordability.

“Reston was originally a very inclusive community. We have to ask ourselves, are we keeping that promise? Yes, we are a changing and growing community. But how can we achieve that balance between old and new?” said Kerrie Wilson, CEO of Cornerstones, a nonprofit organization that helps neighbors overcome economic hardship.

Achieving greater housing diversity is an aim of Reston’s comprehensive plan, which notes that most new affordable housing should be in multi-family units.

“Future development should ensure that a diversity of housing is available in the TSAs,” the plan states. “The residential component of mixed-use development should meet the needs of a variety of households such as families and seniors.”

But as Reston grows, will inclusive affordable housing keep up?

Tackling affordable housing is a regional problem and Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn (D) and other elected representatives have stated they expect to reexamine the county’s policies and procedures soon.

The county’s rejection of a proposal to redevelop Reston Town Center North — which would have delivered affordable housing units and redeveloped a homeless shelter and Reston Regional Library — was a significant setback for some local housing advocates.  The need for affordable housing — particularly workforce units — is expected to grow as more workers take up jobs in new mixed-use centers.

From a policy perspective, the county has aggressively pursuing affordable housing in every development that requires it, according to county officials. A variety of techniques — including land-use policies, federal funds, and nonprofit and for-profit housing partnerships — are used to preserve housing units and create new ones.

Last year, a panel created by the county to study affordable housing outlined several strategies and recommendations to the county’s board for considerations. The 37-page report – which was incorporated into the county’s housing strategic plan — is part of an ongoing conversation on how to tackle housing affordability.

“Reston has traditionally been a welcoming and inclusive community and a leader in affordable housing,” said Tom Fleetwood, director of the county’s Department of Housing and Community Development. “Still, Reston, like the rest of Fairfax County, is a challenging housing market for low-to-moderate-income families because this is a very desirable place to live.”

Per goals outlined in planning documents, the county aims to reach a net 15,000 new affordable units at up to 60 percent of the average median income within the next 15 years.

“We have certainly made significant steps forward. But a significant amount of work remains,” Fleetwood said.

Since early 2014 through June 2019, the county approved 10,045 residential units, including a 2,010-unit proposal by Boston Properties and a 668-unit proposal by Comstock for Reston Station. Developers are set to pitch $18.1 million into the county’s housing trust fund once the first non-residential use permit is issued, according to county data released to Reston Now last year.

Private developers have delivered 453 workforce dwelling units for rent and 188 affordable dwelling units for rent in Herndon and Reston, according to county data.

“We are trying to work through every application to get affordable housing and we have gotten some affordable housing through every development,” said Bill Mayland, branch chief of the county’s zoning evaluation division.

He noted that it can be challenging to incorporate inclusive affordable housing units — whether workforce units or affordable dwelling units — in high-rise buildings, especially if condominium fees are charged in addition to rent.

Creativity is a common word used by experts as a solution for affordability challenges. Working outside of county land use and zoning provisions, some communities across the country have embraced more unconventional means to secure affordable units for rent and purchase in existing and new development.

At Cornerstones, the staff has successfully pursued a scattered-site model by working with developers to make specific units affordable. Recently, the nonprofit doubled its Reston housing stock by adding 48 units from the Apartments at North Point.

But in the town center and other rapidly growing areas, developers are not always open to experimentation beyond the county’s existing requirements. The hope is that the oncoming Silver Line train at Reston Town Center — which could begin operation by early 2021 — will boost developer’s confidence in the residential market and add more pressure to incorporate more affordable units as more people and jobs come to the area.

Others say that the county should consider dedicated one penny of the real estate tax to affordable housing projects.

Fleetwood says that he expects renewed discussions on housing affordability – including reaching more income levels – to continue in the coming weeks.

“My assessment is that the county’s policies have been productive and helpful. I think they are going to continue to evolve so that we have a policy that works over the long-term and for our developers. It is a continuing and evolving partnership.”

Editor’s note: Interviews were conducted in late 2019

Photo by Bako Glonto/Flickr

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Changes to Reston Station Promenade — a project with nearly 1.3 million square feet of development north of the Wiehe-Reston East Metro Station — were officially approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday (Jan. 28).

Comstock plans to convert a planned 250-unit residential building into an office building, slashing the total number of to 340. The hotel along Reston Station Boulevard will also be shifted so that most of the building faces Wiehle Avenue.

The company also scrapped a woonerf — a Dutch-style living street without sidewalks and curbs that are shared by pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars. The street, which was one of the more unique design features of the site, was removed to improve walkability for pedestrians and discourage car traffic.

By rotating the hotel’s orientation 90 degrees, the new design brings more daylight into the Promenade — and it makes the entire development more visible to Metro riders coming north from Reston Station, Comstock’s development next to the Wiehle station,” according to the county.

Comstock will also convert an urban plaza into a corner park. The company also plans to pitch in $2.3 million for the construction of an athletic field.

Comstock will also purchase board-owned property for $3 million in order to shift density within the development and create space for a more cohesive design. Selling off the 1.3-acre area owned by the county is expected to bring in roughly $9.6 million annually for the county.

Photos via Fairfax County Government

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Blackboard Inc. Opens New Global Headquarters — The leading education technology company officially opened the doors of its new global headquarters in Plaza America on Monday. The company considered “best value, convenience to public transportation, commuter routes, airports, and life-style amenities” when making the decision to choose Reston. [PR Newswire]

Big Activity at Reston Station — Chris Clemente, Comstock’s CEO, talks about “big activity” at Reston Station. [Commercial Observer]

Sunoco Gas Station in Herndon Robbed — The gas station on 12370 Coppermine Road was robbed on Friday, Jan. 25. Police believe a man threatened a store clerk with a knife and took off with cash and merchandise. The suspect is described as black and in his 20s. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Editor’s note: A press release from the company previously misstated a location was planned at Reston Station.

Australian fitness company F45 Training will open a location in Reston Town Center, according to a company news release.

F45 Training plans to open at 11840 Freedom Drive in Reston Town Center by May this year.

Here’s more from the company about the expansion in Reston:

The rapid growth of F45 Training indicates that F45 is filling the gap left in the fitness industry by traditional gyms, where members commit to a cheap membership fee to work out individually, but pay for high-cost personal training sessions.

“We are very excited to have F45 Training as a part of Reston,” says Tariq Mojadidi, Studio Manager of F45 Reston Town Center and F45 Reston Station. “What we will bring to the Reston community is very unique and unlike anything else that is offered in terms of boutique fitness. F45 offers a unique concept, where personal training is offered in a group team environment, and trainers will work with you to correct your form, prevent injuries and offer nutritional support. The concept is a perfect fit for the Reston community.”

F45 Training combines elements of three separate cutting-edge fitness training styles: High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Circuit Training, and Functional Training. The blend of these three training concepts offers a variety of different 45 minute workout experiences, keeping F45 members challenged, eager to grow and set to have fun. This combination of cardiovascular, strength and resistance training has been proven to be most effective in burning fat and building lean muscle.

The business will begin offering limited memberships on March 1. Membership reservations — which include discounted month-to-month rates — are available online.

F45 also plans to open a location in South Riding in April.

Photo courtesy F45/Facebook

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A new tenant at Reston Station, Comstock’s mixed-use development at the Wiehe-Reston East Metro Station, has delayed its opening plans.

CVS Pharmacy plans to open sometime in March at the project, according to a company representative.

The healthcare giant initially hoped to open by mid-December. A “coming soon” sign remains plastered on a fence near the construction site.

The roughly 8,451-square-foot store will be located at the entrance of Metro’s north pedestrian bridge at the station.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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