Green space in Halley Rise (Rendering via Halley Rise website)

The developer behind Halley Rise, the mixed-use project currently under construction, is now offering more details about amenities: a dog park and an outdoor fitness park.

The parks will be open to the public during daylight hours, and the dog park will have separate sections for small and large dogs, developer Brookfield Properties tells Reston Now.

The combined 4,500-square-foot dog area, just under the size of a basketball court, will also have wooden bridges and other elements for canines, benches for people and water fountains for dogs and their owners.

Meanwhile, the 8,000-square-foot Apex Fitness Park will include Trekfit outdoor equipment such as a cargo net as well as push-up, pull-up and parallel bars.

The over $1 billion complex began construction in October 2019 along Sunrise Valley Drive and Reston Park, which will place it next to the forthcoming Reston Town Center Metro station.

The parks are expected to open this fall, the developer says.

Other amenities for the complex include a Wegmans and over four football fields’ worth of retail space.

Parts of the project are slated to open this year and next, including move-ins for The Edmund, a luxury apartment building there, starting in the next few weeks, spokesperson Laura Montross says.

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Paul Olsen opened a second location of Weird Brothers Coffee at Worldgate Metro Plaza in October 2019.

The shopping center on Worldgate Drive was specifically marketed and named in anticipation of the Herndon Metro Station opening less than a quarter of a mile away as part of the Silver Line’s second phase.

Two years later, the Herndon station and the other Silver Line Phase II stops still won’t be operational for at least another eight months.

“At the time, we weren’t even considering expansion,” Olsen tells Reston Now. “We saw the Metro and…figured this is a great situation. But, then, obviously things changed. COVID hit a few months later. Then, we saw more Metro line delays.”

Weird Brothers Coffee on Worldgate Boulevard in Herndon (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Olsen’s situation isn’t unique. Many businesses specifically set up shop near a future Silver Line Phase II Metro station thinking it would provide a boost, only for Metro’s opening to be continuously delayed.

“We initially thought that the Metro would open, at the latest, early 2020,” said Don Lee, co-owner of Alo Vietnam Restaurant in Herndon.

The restaurant is about a five-minute walk from the not-yet-opened Innovation Center Metro station. Alo Vietnam is also expected to start a location in Reston at Faraday Park.

“We did invest in 2019…thinking that we will carry the load the first year until the Metro opens,” Lee said. “Then, we will have a good location with a lot of foot traffic with tourists and from all the businesses around.”

Seven years ago this July, the most expensive transportation project in the D.C. region’s history began operations. The opening of the Silver Line and its five new stops brought Metro into Tysons and up to the Wiehle-Reston East station.

However, the intention was always to extend the transit system further into D.C.’s growing Northern Virginia suburbs. Construction on five additional stations, including one at Reston Town Center and two in Herndon, began even before Phase I opened and originally had a completion date of 2018.

However, issues proliferated, from design changes and defective panels to flawed rail ties and bad concrete. Soon, the opening got pushed to early 2020, but the problems kept coming and coming. Read More

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CACI International, one of the country’s largest government defense, intelligence, and cyber security contractors, cut the ribbon on its new Reston headquarters last week.

The corporate headquarters of the nearly $6 billion company is now located in a newly renovated 135,000-square-foot, six-story building at 12021 Sunset Hills Road across the street from the impending Reston Town Center Metro station.

“We’re very excited about our updated modern facilities and confident that this new building will be key to continuing this vital work for our customers’ important national security missions and groundbreaking technology,” CACI President and CEO John Mengucci said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The building will house approximately 450 employees as well as a Center for Research, Application, Development, Learning and Engagement (CRADLE). The workshop will allow employees and clients to interactively work together on concept design and prototypes.

CACI headquarters was located in Ballston for nearly fifty years, but the company signed a lease with Boston Properties, which owns nearby Reston Town Center, late last year to move into two-decade-old building.

Bearing the slogan “Ever Vigilant,” CACI has become one of the nation’s leading defense contractors since its founding in 1962. In fact, President Joe Biden’s recent nominee for the assistant secretary of defense for readiness job is a former employee.

In attendance at the ribbon-cutting were a number of local officials, including Rep. Gerry Connolly, who represents Virginia’s 11th Congressional district which includes large swaths of Reston and Herndon.

Connolly complimented the company’s foresight and spoke about the region’s continued growth.

“[CACI has] chosen a location that is only going to grow in economic investment and technological importance in the coming years: the Dulles corridor,” he said. “This is maybe one of the most dynamic economic corridors in the United States. It is certainly going to eclipse even downtown Washington as the single most important investment and economic corridor in the capital region.”

He also noted that the building’s proximity to a soon-to-be-opened Metro station showcases why extending the Silver Line was critical to economic growth in Reston and Herndon, a sentiment echoed by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn.

“It’s an affirmation that the long-term development strategy of transit-oriented development makes sense,” Alcorn told Reston Now. “It’s important to have employers like CACI in Reston, where there are multiple transportation options available to workers, visitors, and others using the facilities.”

Building around public transportation, Alcorn notes, allows more people to benefit from economic and development activity.

Del. Ken Plum, who represents Virginia’s 36th House District, says that, as Reston and Fairfax County grow as a economic and technology center of the region, there needs to be efforts to service a diverse workforce.

“We also need to recognize the service workers and others that support [this headquarters],” Plum said to Reston Now. “We’ve also got to accommodate them with appropriate housing and transportation alternatives. It’s all good to cut a ribbon, but we have to recognize the bigger picture…and provide the support structure necessary.”

Even as some workers return to offices with vaccine rates rising, there may be a permanent shift toward more teleworking as opposed to employees coming into an office every day, a possibility anticipated by the renovations and more open work spaces in CACI’s new headquarters, Mengucci said.

Both Alcorn and Plum say a more flexible approach to work spaces could have positive ramifications on everything from public transportation to child care.

“The new normal is recognizing working at home doesn’t reduce productivity,” Plum said. “I think we are seeing an increasing emphasis on that as an option.”

However, bringing more companies like CACI to Reston remains a priority for tax revenue reasons as well as continuing to grow Fairfax County’s economy.

“They’re still very much a role for office space in centralized commercial locations,” Alcorn said. “But people will have more options now, not only about where they live, but also how often they come into work.”

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Getting to and from Metro stations can be a harrowing experience for pedestrians and cyclists, and the Fairfax County Planning Commission and others want something to be done about it.

The planning commissioners have called on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to require Metro, the state and county transportation departments, and more to “work immediately” to make safety and accessibility improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists to transit stations.

“This is a call for action by the public to improve pedestrian/bicycle access to metro stations as envisioned in the comprehensive plan,” Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner John Carter said when introducing a motion during the commission’s meeting on May 19.

The measure calls for numerous changes, such as:

  • Providing wide sidewalks at intersections within walking distance of transit stations,
  • Making turns on roads tighter at intersections to slow traffic down,
  • Providing a “double ramp” for people with disabilities instead of single ramp that’s currently in use directing pedestrians to the middle of intersections,
  • Avoiding extra turning lanes at intersections with high volumes of pedestrians
  • Providing closely spaced street trees between curb and sidewalk areas to protect pedestrians.

The motion passed, with 10 members voting for it and at-large member Timothy Sargeant, abstaining. Sargeant did not respond to a message seeking comment on why he voted that way.

“Failure to act will cause pedestrian access to continue to be ‘significantly challenged’ and ridership on the metro station to be reduced,” Carter said.

He introduced the motion during the commission’s discussion on whether to approve changes to the office-residential complex Reston Gateway being constructed, but he noted that the issues seen at Reston’s Metro stations could apply to other locations as well.

Supervisor Walter Alcorn, whose Hunter Mill District includes the Reston Gateway project, agrees that the main crosswalk serving the upcoming Silver Line station at Reston Town Center is not pedestrian-friendly.

“The rail project used cookie-cutter designs,” he said, adding that a walkway over the road has been proposed but could be years away from coming to fruition.

When touring the area a couple weeks ago, Alcorn asked the Fairfax County Department of Transportation to identify short-term improvements to occur before the station opens, which isn’t expected to happen until early 2022.

“I want to make sure riders can readily get to the stations on day one and every day thereafter,” he said.

Pedestrian and bicyclist advocacy groups expressed support for the commission’s call for change. Read More

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The Fairfax County Planning Commission gave its support this week to the Reston Gateway developer’s plans to swap retail space for offices.

Boston Properties, the developer behind the multi-phase development being constructed next to the forthcoming Reston Town Center Metro station, wants to switch its designs for a structure previously slated for retail, restaurant, and residential use by scaling back retail space and bringing offices there.

The planning commission voted on Wednesday (May 19) to recommend the changes that will go before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on June 22.

The overall development calls for office space for Fannie Mae as well as Volkswagen of America in Blocks A and B, but Boston Properties wants to transfer office space approved there to Block D, legal representative Mark Looney said at the meeting.

“That was planned to be a residential building from the beginning,” Looney said of Block D, a site located along Town Center Parkway that potentially could have two residential towers of up to 36 and 12 stories.

The proposal calls for up to 78,000 square feet of transferred office space in Block D. According to a county document, the square footage of development in Block D would be reduced from 731,000 to 650,832 with the changes, which would eliminate restaurant space and reduce retail space by 63%.

Phase I of the project, which consists of Blocks A through D, permits up to 2.23 million square feet of development.

Looney, an attorney with Cooley helping to represent the project, told Reston Now that the parking garage reconfiguration would mean more parking spaces for Block D are underground than above ground. The parking garage will still have at least four levels above ground, he said in an email.

County staff also have worked with the developer regarding the aesthetic of the building, given the proposed adjustment.

With the parking garage on the ground level, design improvements such as artwork are envisioned to facilitate pedestrian use.

“We will work with Public Art Reston on the extent of the public art, we will show it to the zoning administrator for their input and then ultimately, the Reston Town Center [Association]…Design Review Board has final say over what’s to be installed,” Looney said. “But we hope that that collaborative process will result in a better building and a better design for all concerned.”

Images via Fairfax County

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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

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Fairfax County is seeking public input on proposed Fairfax Connector changes that could dramatically alter bus service in the area as part of the county’s ten-year Transit Strategic Plan.

The proposed changes would impact a number of Herndon-Reston routes and create new ones, including Sterling-Herndon and Reston Town Center Metro station (when it finally opens) to Herndon High School.

The goal of the changes is to provide better access to destinations, improve travel times, increase schedule reliability and frequency, and increase overall services, according to the county’s press release.

The county is also looking to provide more access to schools, hospitals, and transit centers, decrease average travel times on popular routes, and to improve efficiency by cutting duplicating connections. Changes would be “initially developed as budget neutral,” according to the county.

There will be three virtual community input meetings next week (Jan. 12, 13, and 14) and public comments will be accepted until Feb. 21.

To increase participation, Fairfax County Department of Transportation is mailing out a brochure to every county resident this month that will direct people to the online survey. The brochure is also translated into nine different languages. The public has already had some chance to comment on a number of the subareas, including the Herndon-Reston routes, according to Robin Geiger, a spokeswoman for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

Due to this, these particular route updates can go to the Board of Supervisors and will be implemented prior to the entire transit strategic plan. These route changes and updates are expected to be approved and ready to go for when phase two of the Silver Line, Geiger tells Reston Now, since it incorporates two Metro stations into the routes.

Silver Line Phase 2 is currently scheduled to open in the fall, at the earliest.

However, if residents would like to comment on the Herndon-Reston routes and how they will be incorporated into the county’s overall transportation plan, Geiger says they are welcome to do so.

“We want to hear from everyone,” she says.

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(Updated to include new information about a dog park, green space, and a clarification about the starting prices).

Construction on a new set of townhomes in Reston is slated to begin in the coming weeks.

Union Towns near Reston Station will consist of 26 new units, according to the developer’s website, adding that prices start in $800,000s.

Lauren DeSomma, the vice president of marketing for Knutson, said that she expects hard-hat tours of the property to be available to interested buyers as early as the end of June.

Knutson received building permits just last week according to DeSomma, who added that the company is in the process of setting up a sales trailer as well.

“In the community there will be a dog park and green space for homeowners to enjoy,” DeSomma said. The community is only a five-minute walk from the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, which features shopping, dining, salons, specialty fitness and more.  

Once moved in, people will have access to amenities like public art, green spaces, a nearby pool and a dog park, according to DeSomma.

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More delays are expected before the 11-mile extension of the Silver Line, which includes stations in Reston Town Center, Herndon, and Innovation Center.

According to a report by NBC 4, officials say its possible trails will not be rolling until 2021.

Service was expected to begin over the summer, but due to delays with electronic testing and deficiencies in concrete panels and other structural components, opening day was pushed to December 2020.

Metro has not yet indicated when it plans to accept the project from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Wednesday Morning Notes

‘Overlooked’ Exhibit Ends This Week — “Join Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE) this Thursday to hear Jean Badalamenti respond to the current exhibition Overlooked (closing August 31). DC-based Jean Badalamenti is a licensed social worker with more than 25 years of experience and DC Public Library’s first health and human services coordinator. She received a master’s degree in social work from Howard University and has spent her career advocating for people without homes or jobs, as well as those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.[Greater Reston Arts Center]

A ‘Jade’ Way of Looking at Your Neighborhood — “Explore your neighborhood in great detail w/ our new mapping application called Jade. It features 170+ layers to view, combine and analyze. It also includes, for the first time, current and historical aerial imagery.” [Fairfax County Government]

Assault Reported Near Florida Avenue — Kawser Ibrahim, 28, of Herndon was arrested for malicious wounding and assault on August 22. Police believe Ibrahim assaulted a man, who was taken to a local hospital for treatment. [Herndon Police Department]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Tishman Speyer’s plan to redevelop two office buildings — Reston Crossing I and II — into a major mixed-use project with up to 2 million square feet of development got a green light from the Fairfax County Planning Commission last night (Wednesday).

A vote by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is set for June 8.

The project, Reston Crossing, is located at the Dulles Toll Road and Reston Parkway near the future Reston Town Center Metro Station.  It is neighbored by the Reston Crescent, an approved mixed-use development that is the future home of Wegmans.

The New York-based developer plans to build seven high-rise buildings that are up to 20 stories tall around open space on the 14-acre site. The plan also includes up to 1,003 residential units.

Most of the parking on the site will be underground. Open light wells called “oculi” will allow pedestrians in the parks to look down onto the parking level.

An office building that is between 10 to 16 stories in height would be the first to be constructed if the project is approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. The first phase of construction will also include a crossing plaza, a retail plaza and a retail gallery.

Patches of open space totaling 7.4 acres are sprinkled throughout the site. For example, Halley’s Steps is a pocket park designed to transition to Edmund Halley Drive, which runs parallel to the property. A 1-acre “ribbon garden” is also planned, providing a connection from Reston Parkway to the Metro Station.

The two office buildings on the site — Reston Crossing I and II — and surface parking will remain untouched until the second phase of development. The office campus was built in 1998 and is largely undeveloped thus far.

Details of Reston Crossing are below:

  • Building 1: Up to 390,000 square feet of office and up to 15,000 square feet of retail
  • Building 2: Up to 130,000 square feet with between 89 or 144 residential units
  • Building 3: Up to 290,000 square feet in a residential-only building with between 144 to 322 units
  • Building 4: Up to 510,000 square feet with office and retail use. The building could have up to 22 stories — the tallest of all the buildings
  • Building 5: Up to 245,000 square feet with up to 261 residential units and some retail
  • Building 6: Up to 230,000 square feet with up to 244 residential units and some retail
  • Building 7: Up to 205,000 square feet with up to 222 units and 5,000 square feet of retail

Tishman Speyer also plans to work with the owners of Reston Crescent to construct a road used by both sites. A third southbound land along Reston Parkway will be added before the first residential building permit for the second building is issued.

The company also plans to dedicate a right-of-way to the county on Edmund Halley Drive and install a traffic signal offsite between roads A and C, which are depicted in renderings above.

The Planning Commission also approved tweaks to Brookfield Properties’ Reston Crescent project next door to Reston Crossing last night.

John Carter, the Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner, said the changes were not substantial and did not change the density of the project.

Photos via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Construction crews are busy working on a new townhome community that will turn part of Sunrise Valley Drive into a bustling residential area.

Work started on the project in 2017 when trucks tore down a six-story office building that was on the site at 11720 Sunrise Valley Drive. Now, 54 open-concept townhomes are on the way in Toll Brothers’ Valley and Park development.

The square footage varies for the four different townhome plans, but they all feature three bedrooms, two full bathrooms and three half bathrooms. They are priced in the mid-$800,000s, according to Toll Brothers.

The site is about a 5-minute drive away from both the Wiehle-Reston East and the future Reston Town Center Metro stations. A sign says that the development is “opening early 2019.”

The residential project was added to the Reston Association around this time last year, which means that the owners will have to pay annual assessments.

The site neighbors the new Sekas Homes development that includes 34 townhouses and 10 condos. Up the road, VY at Reston Heights opened its 385-apartments community early last year and includes space for a handful of retailers, which have not opened yet.

Last seven images via Toll Brothers 

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At Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ request, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors agreed yesterday (March 5) to speed up the review process for proposed changes to the development bringing Reston its first Wegmans.

The proposed plans would adjust the grid of streets and accelerate construction of the streets to coincide with the opening of the grocer in June 2020, Hudgins said.

The applicant is not proposing any significant changes, Hudgins said, adding that expedited processing of the zoning applications and the road site plans concurrently will help construction start.

Known as Halley Rise, the nearly 4 million-square-foot mixed-use development will be adjacent to the Reston Town Center Metro Station, occupying the northwest corner of the intersection of Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive.

The county staff will now expedite scheduling the public hearings on the zoning applications.

The board also approved directing the Land Development Services to accept and review site plans to speed up the application prior to the board taking them up.

Rendering via Halley Rise website

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You have probably heard the news by now: Reston is getting its first Wegmans.

The 80,000-square-foot Wegmans will be a part of Brookfield Properties’ $1.4 billion development by the Silver Line’s planned Reston Town Center Metro station.

The nearly 4 million-square-foot mixed-use development dubbed Halley Rise, formerly known as Reston Crescent, will be located on the northwest corner of the intersection of Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive.

The project includes new housing, offices and public green space.

The developers are now eyeing neighbors for Wegmans in the 250,000 square feet of planned retail space, which could support between 20 to 30 tenants. A bowling alley concept, movie theater, fitness center and restaurants are all under consideration, the Washington Business Journal reported.

The Wegmans could open as soon as 2022, which is when the first phase of the project is slated to be done. The second phase is aiming for completion in 2026.

With the new development beginning construction in 2019, let us know your thoughts about Halley Rise and the new grocery option.

Photos via Halley Rise and Fairfax County and handout via Brookfield Properties

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If there’s an area that represents the opposite of the sleepy, village-style Lake Anne, it’s the Reston Town Center. Like we did with Lake Anne, Reston Now has used the Fairfax County’s Historic Imagery Viewer to put together aerial views of Reston Town Center as it has developed over the years.

Like much of Reston, aerial photography of the site up to 1960 shows open forest or farmland. However, while the rest of Reston started being developed and growing throughout the 1960s, the Reston Town Center would remain forest until the Mobil Land Development group began construction in 1988.

Photography from 1990 shows the very beginnings of the town center — a handful of central buildings at the main square surrounded mostly by parking lots to the west.

Throughout the 1990s, more buildings are constructed at the northern end of the site, but it isn’t until around 2002 that the Town Center fully expands to the Fairfax County Parkway in the west and the Dulles Access Road in the south.

A big park of this expansion is the creation of the West Market neighborhood at the western edge of the development. In 1993 the open pavilion, currently an ice-skating rink, was built and in 2000 the 18-story One Freedom Square and 16-story Two Freedom Square west of the main plaza were constructed.

From 2002 to 2017, most of the new development is filling out the spaces between the larger developments. Throughout the 2000s a parking garage and additional office and high-rise residential buildings were also constructed.

Much of the newer development is concentrated at the southern part of the Town Center along Sunset Hill Road, near where the Reston Town Center Metro station is scheduled to open in 2020.

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