The Best State for Business — CNBC ranked Virginia as the best state for business in the country. The Old Dominion’s success comes from the military as well the demographic of the best workforce in the country, according to CNBC’s Scott Cohn. [CNBC]
A Roundup of New State Laws — The county offers a round-up of several new laws that went into effect on July 1, including new rules on handheld cellphone use in work zones, the legal age for tobacco use, and rear-facing car seats. [Fairfax County Government]
Striking the Target — “Reston Hospital Center has received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association‘s Get With The Guidelines® Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. The award recognizes the hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines.” [Reston Hospital Center]
Free Yoga for All — Enjoy free yoga with Beloved Yoga at Reston Station Plaza today from 6:30-7:30 p.m. [Reston Station]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Parents Respond to Herndon High School Porn Case — Concerned parents gathered this week to discuss the case of a former Herndon High School drama teacher who is accused of possessing child pornography and unlawful filming. Police believe Raphael Schklowsky may have also set up two cameras at the school. [WUSA 9]
Fireworks Safety Demonstration Tomorrow — As the Fourth of July approaches, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department is hosting a demonstration on how to safety use fireworks. The demonstration is set for 10 a.m. at the Fire and Rescue Training Academy. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]
Free Yoga at Reston Station — Beloved Yoga will offer free yoga lessons today (Thursday) from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the plaza. [Reston Station]
Registration Deadline for Lake Anne Cardboard Boat Regatta — The deadline to register a boat to participate in the event is on Monday, July 1. The event is set to take place at Lake Anne on Saturday, August 10. [Reston Historic Trust & Museum]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
In anticipation of the Democratic primary tomorrow, Comstock Companies is now allowing campaigning and electioneering for two days at Reston Station Plaza after the county threatened legal recourse due to potential free speech violations.
Chris Clemente, Comstock’s CEO, told Reston Now that the company is inviting all candidates on the June 11 ballots to campaign at the plaza today and tomorrow “on their own schedules and without the need to coordinate schedules with Comstock.”
The temporary change comes after Comstock came under fire for its longstanding restrictions on soliciting, including campaigning and electioneering, at the plaza. The county says the forum qualifies as public space — even though Comstock leases the property from the county through a 99-year ground lease. Comstock disputes this claim.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova lashed out against the company when she learned about the policy late last week. Bulova accused the company of favoritism and civil rights violation after she said it allowed Maggie Parker — Comstock’s vice president of communications — to post campaign signs but barred her opponents from approaching voters.
“Allowing one’s own employee to engage in such highly protected activity in a public area, while excluding other candidates from doing the same, is clearly wrong and cannot be tolerated,” Bulova said in the letter, which threatened legal action.
Parker said that she never campaigned at the plaza and purchased large advertisements from the company at the plaza and on Comstock’s building — a possibility that she said is open to all other candidates.
Ads cost between $2,000 and $3,500 per week.
Claire Gastanaga, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Virginia chapter, said the lease to the private company does not renege individual’s free speech rights.
Ray Morrogh, the county’s commonwealth’s attorney, directed the Fairfax County Police Department to decline any requests to prosecute individuals for campaigning at the train station and the plaza above it.
“It would not be appropriate to prosecute anyone exercising their First Amendment rights in public areas,” Morrogh wrote in a May letter to the police department.
Clemente did not indicate what led to the two-day allowance for campaigning.
“Although we had hoped to provide the residents of the Hunter Mill District an opportunity to meet all the candidates in a casual setting during these last days of the campaign, we were unable to secure commitments from all candidates to participate in a coordinated event,” he said.
The debate over whether or not the plaza qualifies as a public forum was catapulted into the county spotlight after candidates running for Hunter Mill District Supervisor attempted to campaign at the plaza.
Over the past several weeks, candidates, volunteers for their campaigns, and a representative for a local advocacy group said they were kicked off the property and told to apply for permits.
Photo via Fairfax Connector
(Updated at 4 p.m.) Fairfax County Chairwoman Sharon Bulova is pushing back against Comstock’s restrictions on campaigning at Reston Station Plaza.
In a strongly-worded letter sent to Chris Clemente, Comstock’s CEO, today, Bulova said she was very shocked and disturbed to learn that Comstock was unfairly restricting public access to the property.
The company has allowed Maggie Parker, its vice president of communications and also a candidate for the Hunter Mill District Seat, to campaign on the plaza, Bulova said.
“Allowing one’s own employee to engage in such highly protected activity in a public area, while excluding other candidates from doing the same, is clearly wrong and cannot be tolerated,” she wrote.
But Parker says that she has not campaigned at the plaza because of Comstock’s policies.
“I think the letter is unfounded because I don’t think the chairman has all of the facts,” Parker said. “I am doing nothing that the other candidates are not able to do. I am tired of being bullied and I’d like to step forward with the elections and the people’s business.”
The free speech issue has sparked recent debate on the legality of the developer’s longstanding policy to bar soliciting, including electioneering and campaigning, at the plaza.
Bulova has directed the county’s attorney to evaluate legal remedies against Comstock, noting that the plaza may constitute a public forum. As a result, free speech rights may be violated.
“As the county attorney completes her research and the board evaluates its legal remedies, I ask Comstock to do the right thing without necessity of legal action,” Bulova wrote.
Several candidates running for the seat of Hunter MIll District Supervisor and residents have told Reston Now they’ve been told to leave the plaza after attempting to distribute campaign materials or campaign.
Laurie Dodd, a candidate who was concerned about the policy after friends campaigning for other candidates were told to leave the property and apply for a permit, pushed state and local officials to take a stance on the issue. Although the state and county’s election bodies said the issue was not within their jurisdiction, Dodd said Bulova was open to discussing the matter. At her request, the American Civil Liberties Union took the matter to Bulova’s office.
Walter Alcorn, also a candidate running for the seat, also expressed concerns about restrictions on campaigning at the plaza.
In previous days, county officials told Reston Now that state election law allows campaign activities on the property, but declined to discuss the issue further. The plaza was constructed through a public-private partnership and Comstock leases the plaza from the county through a 99-year ground lease, according to the county.
Clemente told Reston Now that its policy is out of respect for Metro commuters and others who come to Reston Station. He previously noted that he was open to scheduling a candidate meet-and-greet on the plaza as an exception to the policy.
Here is the text from my letter: pic.twitter.com/4vW5kGc49x
— Sharon Bulova (@SharonBulova) June 7, 2019
This story will be updated.
Some residents are concerned that restrictions on political campaigning at Reston Station Plaza raise free speech issues. But local and state officials versed in state election law say the question of whether or not campaigning is allowed on the plaza is a gray area.
That’s because Comstock Companies, the developer of Reston Station, leases the plaza from Fairfax County through a 99-year ground lease. The county says that state election law still allows campaign activities, including voter registration, on the private property.
Several residents who have unsuccessfully tried to campaign and distribute leaflets on the plaza say they’ve been told to request permits from Comstock before distributing materials.
But Comstock’s CEO Chris Clemente says that Comstock has no such policy for requesting permits.
“I cannot respond to the reports you have received about a days-long permit process since that is simply not true,” Clemente told Reston Now in a statement.
He clarified that Comstock has not revised its policy prohibiting soliciting on its private properties “out of respect for the privacy of residents, visitors, and commuters.” Instead, Clemente said Comstock’s policy revision was restricted to scheduling a candidate meet-and-greet for a few hours at the plaza. Candidates would get the chance to meet with voters and distribute campaign materials with no cost.
“To date, we have not seen any indication of interest from any of the campaigns (except Maggie Parker’s) to participate in such an event. What we have seen from some of the candidates is public criticism of Comstock for not allowing random soliciting of Metro commuters. It makes me think that the candidates, with the exception of Maggie Parker, have no interest in discussing their vision for the Hunter Mill District with members of the public,” Clemente said.
Parker, who is Comstock’s vice president of communications, is a candidate for the Hunter Mill District seat and has campaign signs on the property.
Other candidates can purchase advertising space for either $2,000 or $3,500 per week on two plaza locations. Parker said she paid for her ads on Comstock’s property. Comstock and Comstock-linked entities have filled up more than half of her campaign coffers — which exceeds all of her challengers’ fundraising for the latest reporting period combined.
Joanne Collins, a representative for Herndon-Reston Indivisible, said Comstock’s security told her to leave the plaza after she tried to hand out leaflets about Tuesday’s primary. Collins said she requested a permit from Comstock, but was told the process would take several days — possibly after the June 11 Democratic primary.
Residents say that the Fairfax County Board of Elections and the Virginia Department of Elections are mum on the issue. Laurie Dodd, a candidate for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisor’s Hunter Mill District seat, lodged a complaint with the state’s elections department, but was told the issue wasn’t within its jurisdiction.
Dodd said she was told the department only addresses issues within 40 feet of voting machines. The Attorney General of Virginia’s office offered the same statement, she said.
Others said they would file complaints with the county’s election board after the election in order to spend more time campaigning in other parts of the Hunter Mill District.
Dodd also noted that the cost of purchasing signage at the plaza was too high, especially since the election is just days away and the process would require Comstock’s approval.
The Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney is looking into whether or not free speech rights are at risk of being violated.
According to the Washington Business Journal, Comstock Companies retained Jahn to build the second building across the Dulles Toll Road opposite from the first building at 1900 Reston Metro Plaza. The building is part of Comstock’s development plan for Commerce Metro Center.
Although the buildings are similar, the new structure is expected to be more of a parallelogram than a trapezoid.
Here’s more from the May 31 story:
“He wants to sort of match the angles. He likes the direction of that design,” said Tim Steffan, executive vice president of development and asset management at Reston-based Comstock (NASDAQ: CHCI). “There’s an angular similarity to it.”
The building, still in the concept stage, could be 17 to 23 stories and between 375,000 and 500,000 square feet. 1900 Reston Metro Plaza is 16 stories and 365,000 square feet.
Jahn and his firm, Chicago-based Jahn Architecture Inc., originally submitted a proposal for a residential concept at Reston Station as part of an international design competition but were not selected. Comstock later commissioned him to design the 1900 Reston Metro Plaza office building.
Comstock does not expect to break ground on the building for at least another year, according to the report. Two buildings at 1902 and 1906 Reston Metro are currently in progress with a delivery date of mid-2020. No major leases have been announced for the office buildings.
Photos via Comstock/Washington Business Journal
Two new restaurants are coming to Comstock’s Reston Station by early 2020.
Matchbox will take up a 6,000 square feet in Comstock’s Helmet Jahn building at 1900 Reston Metro Plaza. Big Buns will occupy 3,000 square feet in the BLVD apartment building at 1908 Reston Metro Plaza.
The latest tenants join other businesses like Starbucks and Founding Farmers in what Comstock is now calling the “Metro Plaza District.”
Comstock issued the following in a release today (Monday):
“We are delighted to add matchbox and Big Buns to our best-in-class merchandising at Reston Station,” said Tim Steffan, EVP/Asset Management at Comstock. “In choosing Reston Station, these popular brands will benefit from the high-traffic and upwardly mobile demographics of one of the largest mixed-use, transit-oriented developments in the Washington region.”
Strategically located midway between Tysons Corner and Dulles International Airport, Reston Station is among the largest mixed-use, transit-oriented developments in the Washington, D.C. area. Covering nearly 40 acres spanning the Dulles Toll Road and surrounding the Wiehle Reston-East Metro Station at the terminus of Phase I of Metro’s Silver Line, Reston Station is already home to more than 1,000 residents, numerous corporate headquarters, multiple retail establishments, and several restaurants. Comstock recently announced that Google has leased several floors in the Helmut Jahn designed office tower and anticipates additional announcements regarding additional leases in the near future.
The restaurants are expected to open later this year or by early 2020.
Reston’s outdoor venues will come to life this summer as Reston Community Center puts on six entertainment series over the next several weeks.
“Everyone likes to get outside in the fresh air during the summer months,” said RCC Executive Director Leila Gordon. “RCC is taking our ‘show on the road’ with these series and bringing people together right where they are. We want families and friends to enjoy the spirit of Reston all summer long.”
In addition to traditional staples like Thursday dance nights at Lake Anne Plaza and performances at Town Square Park in Reston Town Center on Saturday mornings, RCC has added two new entertainment series to its line up.
In “Lunchtime with the Arts at Mason,” student performers from George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts offer free lunchtime concerts on select Thursdays until October 24 at Reston Town Center’s Town Square Park from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Performances range from show tunes to euphonium ensembles. The series kicked off on May 9.
Reston Station will be home to the “Summerbration Fun Brunch” series, which brings entertainment and activities to Reston Station Plaza starting tomorrow (June 1). Attendees will get the chance to enjoy music and engaging activities on Saturdays and Sunday through August 25. The program takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Parking is free on weekends in the Metro garage.
“Summerbration” concerts, which take place on Fridays from 7-9 p.m. at Reston Station, will continue this year. The concert schedule includes familiar groups like Scott Kurt & Memphis 59 and the band Oasis Island Sounds. Several concerts will also include professional dance instruction. Three hours of validated parking is available in the ParkX garage. The series ends on August 23. RCC presents this series in cooperation with MSE Productions, Inc. and Reston Station, the event’s host.
A Family Fun Entertainment Series in Reston Town Center’s Town Square Park also continues on Saturdays from 10-10:45 a.m. This series is geared toward kids and begins on June 15. The series is presented by RCC in cooperation with MSE Productions, Inc. and is hosted by Reston Town Center Association. Garage parking is free on Saturdays.
On Sundays, Sunday Art in the Park with the Shenandoah Conservatory continues at Town Square Park. The first performance is set for Sunday (June 2) from 7-8 p.m. This series is presented by RCC and Reston Town Center Association in cooperation with Shenandoah University.
All series are free and open to the public.
Photo courtesy Reston Community Center
Summerbration, a live entertainment series at Reston Station’s plaza, kicks off on Friday, May 31.
The series features live entertainment under the stars at the open-air plaza atop of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station. Concerts are on Fridays from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
The complete schedule is below:
- June 7: Alfredo Mojica Friends
- June 15: Jason Masi Band
- June 21: Scott Kurt & Memphis 59
- June 28: Scott Kurt & Memphis 59
- July 5: Oasis Island Sounds
- July 12: Cedar Creek
- July 19: Far Away
- July 26: New Line Brass Band
- August 2: Swingin’ Swamis
- August 9: By & By
- August 16: Four Star Combo
- August 23: Battery Lane
The series is presented by Reston Community Center in cooperation with MSE Productions, Inc.
Photo via Reston Station/Facebook
The redevelopment project by Pulte Homes brings 12 two-level townhouse-style condos and 32 one-level condos just a short walk from the Wiehle-Metro East Metro Station.
Megan Skupien, a spokeswoman for Pulte Homes, said the company has sold out its two-story condos.
Heading into the grand opening weekend, almost 50 percent of the one-level condos, which have two bedrooms and two bathrooms, are sold out.
“We couldn’t be happier as we head into the weekend,” Skupien said.
All infrastructure work has been completed, with the exception of topping off the remaining roads. Other road construction work will happen in cooperation with other developers and land owners.
Construction on the project, which is located at 1825 Michael Faraday Drive, began last spring. The county approved Pulte Homes’ proposal to replace an office building and parking lot with a residential development in November 2016.
Residents of The Lofts will be Reston Association members.
Photos by Fatimah Waseem
Comstock has hired Mike Daugard to lead acquisitions of new properties as the real estate company moves forward on major projects near Metro sites.
Before joining Comstock, Daugard worked with the Washington Real Estate Investment Trust, Rubenstein Partners, JLL, Lowe Enterprises, and The Mills Corporation.
“We are thrilled to have Mike Daugard on the Comstock team,” said Christopher Clemente, CEO of Comstock. “Mike is a seasoned industry professional with deep market knowledge and insight that enhances Comstock’s ability to identify attractive institutional investment opportunities, increase assets under management across asset classes, and drive bottom line results.”
Daugard graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a B.S. degree in Finance. He has been an adjunct professor at the school for the last six years.
He will probe ways to expand Comstock’s properties in the area, negotiate transaction details and identify acquisition opportunities.
Comstock announced his hire on Monday (May 13).
In a few months, Google employees will start occupying their new office space at Comstock’s Reston Station development.
“The global technology company has had a longstanding presence in Reston and will start moving its current employee base into Reston Station later this summer,” Comstock said in a press release.
Building permits last month indicated that the tech giant has been busy fixing up its top floors of 1900 Reston Metro Plaza.
“Google first opened a small office in Reston back in 2005 and we’ve since grown to close to 200 employees, working on major projects across engineering, sales and more,” Liz Schwab, the head of external affairs for Google in Virginia, said in the press release. Its current office is at Reston Town Center.
The new Reston location fits into the company’s larger expansion as part of a $13 billion round of investment in new offices and data centers across the U.S., along with plans to double its workforce in Northern Virginia.
“We’re confident that Reston Station will be a great new home for us and will provide room for future growth,” Schwab said. “We’re proud to call Reston home.”
About nine floors below Google’s future Reston Station offices is a co-working space called Spaces.
Spaces opened at 1900 Reston Metro Plaza back in December and currently occupies the fourth and fifth floors of the 16-story, Helmut Jahn-designed building, Maggie Parker, a spokeswoman for Comstock Companies, told Reston Now. (Google is set to take the building’s top four floors.)
Spaces boasts roughly 42,000 square feet of office space, a 6,000-square-foot business club, two meeting rooms and 364 co-working desks at the spot by the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station, according to its website.
Memberships start at $99 per month, and office space starts at $799 per month. “Dedicated desks” with locker storage start at $450 per month. Members and non-members can also book the meeting rooms for events.
Spaces at Reston also offers virtual offices, which include mail handling services and telephone answering for businesses that want a physical address sans office space.
Spaces’ co-working areas span the world, including more than 48 spots around the U.S. Nearby locations are in Arlington and D.C.
Google’s Reston employees will have quite the view once they move into their new office space next to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station.
The tech giant will have the top four floors of the 16-story, Helmut Jahn-designed building at 1900 Reston Metro Plaza, Maggie Parker, a spokeswoman for Comstock Companies, told Reston Now.
Reston Now took a tour of the top floor for a look at Google’s future workspace.
On a clear day, Google employees will have views of Tysons to the east and Dulles International Airport to the west, Parker said. Looking south, they’ll be able to see the Fairfax County Government Center. The building offers a glimpse of Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland.
The area around the building is also set for some changes in the future. Plans for a hotel, two residential buildings and an office building will give a new look to the land between Reston Station Blvd and Sunset Hills Road, Parker said.
While Google hasn’t officially announced its new Reston residence (the secret is out, thanks to permits), the company previously said it will significantly expand its operations in Northern Virginia as part of a $13 billion round of investment in new offices and data centers across the U.S.
“With new office and data center development, our workforce in Virginia will double,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a blog post on Feb. 13.
Parker said she does not know how many workers from nearby offices (there’s one in Reston Town Center) or new jobs will fill the Google space.
Google won’t be moving into an empty building — a workspace called Spaces currently occupies the fourth and fifth floors.
Hotel coming to Reston Station — “Comstock Holdings Cos. Inc. has closed a franchise agreement with Marriott International Inc. to bring a Renaissance hotel to Reston Station… The hotel building, to be topped by 80 luxury condominium units, is expected to deliver in 2022 on a site bounded by Reston Station Boulevard, Wiehle Avenue and Sunset Hills Road. It is being designed by Nunzio Marc DeSantis Architects.” [Washington Business Journal]
Crash caused lane closures — Commuters heading on Fairfax County Parkway by West Ox Road last night around 6 p.m. may have noticed a multi-car crash that closed two southbound lanes on the parkway for about half of an hour. All of the lanes opened up shortly before 7 p.m. [Fairfax County]
Reston makes “hottest up-and-coming” list — Reston was included in the Northern Virginia Magazine’s annual roundup of neighborhoods to keep an eye on in Northern Virginia. [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Make dip dye scarves — Tonight from 7-9 p.m. at ArtSpace Herndon, you can learn how to make dye scarves and some basic Shibori style folding and binding methods. [ArtSpace Herndon]