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Private Contractors Likely to Operate Silver Line’s Second Phase

Private contractors are likely to operate and maintain the six new stations that are part of the Silver Line extension project that runs from Wiehle-Reston East into Loudoun County

In an announcement on Tuesday, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said it has issued a request for proposals in order to seek private contractors who can operate and maintain the new stations, trains, and facilities.

WMATA said the move was necessary in order to control operating and maintenance costs, including future pension costs, which it says have “grown to unsustainable levels.”

“We are leaving no stone unturned as we look for opportunities to maintain transit service for the region and protect jobs, all while living within our means in light of what our funding jurisdictions can afford,” said Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Wiedefeld. 

Bids are due on Jan. 15 and a contract will be awarded in the spring.

Officials said the move will not result in job losses for Metro’s current workforce. They also noted that transit agencies in Hong Kong, London, Melbourne, and Beijing have had success in contracting some or all rail services through public-private partnerships, resulting in “improved on-time performance, reliability, operating efficiencies and cost savings.’

The Silver Line extension project is tentatively scheduled to open in 2020.

Photo by Fatimah Waseem

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Three Developers Plan ‘Midline’ Development Near Wiehle-Reston East

Three big-name developers are partnering to build the “Midline,” a mixed-use project with 1.8 million square feet of development near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.

If approved, the project by JBG, EYA and Chevy Chase Land Co. would bring 1.2 million square feet of residential development, a senior living center, 260,000 square feet of office and up to 250,000 square feet of retail to 17.5 acres east of Wiehle Avenue, south of Sunset Hills Road, and west of Michael Faraday Drive.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission will vote on the project on September 27. A vote by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is likely in October, but an official date has not been scheduled yet.

The plan requires redevelopment of four low-rise office buildings and surface parking. Northern Virginia Community College will relocate to 1821 Michael Faraday Drive, two blocks east of the development. Plans for the relocation of Marymount University are not known.

Four blocks with several buildings are proposed. Block A would include one building with 127 independent units and a 33-bed assisted living facility. The second building would include a 225-unit multi-family building and around 103,870 square feet of other uses. Block B would include a 225-unit multi-family building and around 260,000 square feet of office space. The 14-story office building is the tallest in the development. 

The plan for blocks C and D is more flexible, with a mix of multi-family units and townhouses proposed. Overall, the residential portion of the development would serve up to 1,500 residents.

The applicant is also seeking a 21 percent reduction in the number of required parking spaces. State law allows reductions if proposed development has high density and is nearby a current or planned Metrorail station.

In an Aug. 30 report, staff from the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning said the location of townhouses along Reston Station Boulevard is “a central site design concern.” Reston’s comprehensive plan envisions the street as a main street with ground floor retail. The report also notes that lawns for townhouse owners are so small they may be hard to maintain.

In addition to contributions to the county’s road fund, the applicant will provide $40,000 for four new traffic signal preemption devices near the development and around $1.5 million for the county’s school fund. Estimates indicate the development would generate between 123 and 148 new students.

The Midline project adds itself into a mix of approved and in-progress applications near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.

Photos via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Another New Mixed-Used Project Proposed Near Wiehle-Reston East

Foulger-Pratt, a Potomac-based developer, is seeking to build a 1.5 million-square-foot project on Reston Association Drive, joining a long list of developers honing in on land near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.

The project, one of several major mixed-used developments near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, will include up to 907 residential units, an assisted living facility, an office building and ground-level retail. The developer envisions contributing funds for the right-of-way road the Soapstone Drive overpass and construction of the southern portion of the new roadway.

The Washington Business Journal reported that the project is expected to cost $400 million. The existing office park, which contains seven office buildings built in the early 70s and 80s, will be transformed into a transit-oriented development with eight development blocks. The project is located on the north side of Sunrise Valley Drive, west of its intersection with Wiehle Avenue.

Plans for each development block are as follows:

  • Block 1: An assisted living facility on the southwestern corner of the site along Sunrise Valley Drive and the western side of the future Soapstone Drive overpass. The eight-floor building will include 210 units. A healing garden will be available for use by patients, visitors, and staff.
  • Blocks 2, 3 and 4: A combination of townhouses and two-over-two flats totaling roughly 138 units. A central green, gateway park, cycle park, and neighborhood park are also proposed.
  • Block 5: A residential condominium with 154 units with a “variety of price points to encourage first time home buyers,” according to the project’s statement of justification. The ground floor will contain 6,000 square feet of on-site retail. A five-story office is also pitched as an alternative to the residential building.
  • Block 6: A 14-story office building with 6,166 square feet of ground-level retail and five levels of parking. Outdoor plazas with seating and other amenities are also planned.
  • Block 7: A seven-story residential building with 360 units and a fenced dog park.
  • Block 8: Around 45 units, likely a combination of townhouses and two-over-two flats. A garden park is located in this block.

In documents submitted to the county, the developer indicated the project is intended to be a “community-focused site with an abundance of quality open spaces intended to invite and activate those living, working and visiting there.”

“By placing parks of a variety of scales throughout the site, all are invited to travel throughout the community exploring the different spaces. The entire site becomes the ‘backyard,’ a shared space meant for the community to gather, play and relax,” according to the development plan.

Photos via Handout/Fairfax County Government

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Development Plan Seeks to Build 2,100 Residential Units in Isaac Newtown Square

A redevelopment plan before the county could transform Isaac Newton Square, the aging office park at Sunset Hills Road and Wiehle Avenue, into a residential neighborhood with around 2,100 residential units.

Peter Lawrence Cos. and MRP Realty submitted plans in late August to redevelop two-thirds of the office park with 2.8 million feet of development, nearly 90 percent of which would be residential. The development would be spread across roughly 32 acres that Peter Lawrence Cos. controls.

“We spent a lot of time developing the project vision, and we’re proud of it,” said Andrew Painter, the development team’s legal representative. The plan is in line with the county’s comprehensive plan, which has long envisioned the office park’s future as entirely residential. The project is north of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.

Painter told Reston Now that the development team intentionally designed the project to serve as a transition between the higher density areas close to the Metro Station and established residential communities towards the north and east of the property. The site is bounded by Hidden Creek Country Club, a gas station and a fire station, which will be rebuilt.

Building heights will generally taper down as one moves from south to north, and our planned “Nature’s Edge” area rings the proposed neighborhood, which provides a landscaped buffer and path along our northern and western edges adjacent to Hidden Creek,” Painter said.

Residential units will be a mix of apartments, condominiums, flats and townhouses, which 14 percent of the total number of units being set aside as affordable units.

The proposed neighborhood will contain up to 10 development blocks with a mix of residential, retail and office uses. The heights of buildings and the intensity of the development will taper off near the existing woodlands near the southern edge of the property.

The developer plans to preserve the property’s row of mature Willow Oak trees, by creating a new “Willow Oak Park.” The 1.45-acre park will serve as the “heart of the neighborhood’s public realm,” according to the proposal.

A full-size athletic field open for active recreation activities will also be included in the plan. Roughly 25 parking spaces will be reserved for field visitors during designated times. A neighborhood green, just under half an acre, will sit next to the athletic field.

A 0.75-acre east-west pedestrian walkway, called the “community mews,” will serve as a mid-block crossing connecting Wiehle Avenue and parcels to the west. Unlike the athletic field and community green, this “mews” will be reserved for residents only. The plan also calls for “The Commons,” the neighborhood’s commercial center.

The developer will create a connection to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. Infrastructure on the property will also support cycling.

Although an overwhelming majority of the development is residential, 260,000 square feet of office uses will be present nearest to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station. Roughly 68,884 square feet of retail uses are also proposed.

The plan hasn’t been accepted for review by the county yet, according to Brian Worthy, a spokesperson for the county.

Photos via Google Maps and Andrew Painter

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Thursday Morning Notes

Foulger-Pratt plans new development — The Potomac-based developer has submitted plans for a 1.5 million-square-foot development near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station. Plans include up to 907 units, an assisted living facility and an office building with ground-level retail. [Washington Business Journal]

Outdoor movie postponed — Plaza America’s outdoor movie night has been postponed to Friday, September 14. The featured movie is Despicable Me 3 and the movie will begin at 8:45 p.m. at the SunTrust Bank. [Plaza America]

If you’d rather avoid DMV offices — A wireless office for the DMV will be on-site at Reston Town Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. Services offered include driver’s license and ID applications and renewals, driving records, vehicle titles, license plates, decals and more. [Reston Town Center]

Creative response tonight — Kimberly Battista leads this month’s creative response at the Greater Reston Arts Center. Creative responses allow a creative professional to respond to work on view in the gallery. [Greater Reston Arts Center]

Yoga workshop this evening — Local yoga and wellness coach Rupa Shah discusses the ins and outs of yoga at this free event at Reston Regional Library from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Attendees will also get to practice a few techniques. [Reston Regional Library]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Friday Morning Notes

Discovering hidden gems — There’s a lot to discover at Reston Association’s trails, each of which is color-coded. [Reston Association]

Oasis Island Sounds concert tonight — In this week’s “Summerbration” concert, enjoy Reggae on the open-air plaza atop Wiehle-Reston East Metro. Parking is free from 6:30-9:30 p.m. for these concerts. [Reston Community Center]

Parked — July is National Parks and Recreation month, but Restonians actually live in a park 12 months of the year. [The Connection]

Nearby: New fire chief — John Butler, former chief of the Department of Fire and Rescue Services in Howard County will take on his new role. he hopes to address complaints that management isn’t doing enough to address sexual harassment and discrimination in county firehouses. [WTOP]

Flickr pool photo via vantagehill

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Delays Expected at Entrance of Wiehle-Reston East Garage

Commuters using the Wiehle-Reston East garage should expect delays this week.

Construction equipment is being delivered to the site from today through Friday (June 22), causing delays of up to 10 minutes.

Delays are only expected to impact the entrance and exit of the Wiehle-Reston East Park & Ride garage.

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Track Work to Cause Delays on the Silver, Orange and Blue Lines This Weekend

Build some extra time into your plans if you’re planning to take the Orange, Silver or Blue line this weekend.

Trains on all three lines will travel 24 miles apart. Silver Line trains will run only between Wiehle-Reston East and Ballston, Blue Line trains will single track between Foggy Bottom and Arlington Cemetery and Orange line trains will single track between Foggy Bottom and Arlington Cemetery.

The service changes are necessary in order to allow crews to install cables and communications equipment on the Blue and Orange lines, according to the Washington Metropolitan Area Authority.

Customers should use Orange and Blue lines to complete their trip. At Ballston, customers should transfer between Silver and Orange line trains on the same platform.

Photo by Mike Heffner

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Dance Instruction Added to ‘Summerbration’ Concerts

The “Summerbration” concert series at Reston Station Plaza will feature a new addition on Friday summer nights.

Professional dance instructors will offer lessons during select concert performances hosted by Reston Station. Lessons vary from swing dancing to African dance.

Reston Community Center’s executive director Leila Gordon said the center is “thrilled” to add professionals to the lineup. She said Reston Station Plaza is “becoming a destination experience for people.”

Dance instruction begins with Friday’s King Teddy Concert.  Each concert runs from 7-9 p.m. and parking is free from 6:30-9:30 p.m. during the concerts.

The complete lineup, which includes dancers and instructors, is below:

June 15
King Teddy
Swing dancers – dancing and instruction

June 22
Cedar Creek
Country line dance instruction

June 29
Elikeh
African dancers – dancing and instruction

July 6
Four Star Combo
Sock hop dancers – dancing and instruction

July 27
Alfredo Mojica & Friends
Latin dancers – dancing and instruction

August 10
Scott Kurt & Memphis 59
Country dancers – dancing and instruction

August 24
The Swingin’ Swamis
Swing dancers – dancing and instruction

Photo via Reston Community Center

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Caps Fans Pack Trains at Wiehle-Reston East for Championship Parade

Five days after winning the Stanley Cup, the Washington Capitals and fans celebrated their first NHL championship win.

As tens of thousands lined up along the parade route, fans clad in red piled onto trains at Wiehle-Reston East. As of 9:30 a.m. today, the parking garage at Wiehle-Reston East was full and long lines caused delays to catch trains.

The Caps won the 2019 Stanley Cup championships after defeating Las Vegas Golden Knights four games to one last week.

A live stream and recap of the parade is available via The Washington Post.

Photo by 

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Fairfax County Seeks $132 Million for Soapstone Connector

Nearly $132 million is being sought to fund the Soapstone Connector, a long awaited, half-mile-long extension between Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Road.

The funding request for the $169.2 million project comes roughly five years after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a hybrid design for the project, which will provide an additional overpass over the Dulles Toll Road and ease traffic on south Reston roads.

Major development in the Wiehle-Reston East area, including Comstock’s Reston Station mixed use project, is expected to generate additional traffic on area roadways.

Local and state officials have long identified the need for the project, which aims to alleviate bottlenecks along Wiehle Avenue at Sunset Hills Road and Sunrise Valley Drive and improve connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists to the Wiehle-East Metrorail Station.

According to preliminary plans, the new road will include a three-lane cross section with one travel lane in each direction and a two-way, left-turn-only lane. Other features include five-foot wide bicycle lanes on each side, a five-foot wide sidewalk on the west side and a 10-foot wide path on the east side.

Construction is not anticipated until after 2023. Additional design, engineering and environmental work is expected to continue through 2022.  In 2014, the county’s board placed the project on its list of high priority projects for 2015 to 2020.

A funding gap of $25 million remains to complete the project. Requests to the Commonwealth Transportation Board have been made. Construction is expected to cost $45 million.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority will review the request, which is one of 60 candidate transportation projects in the area. NVATA is seeking public comment on the project on May 10 at 3040 Williams Drive, Suite 100 in Fairfax. Online comments can be submitted through Sunday, May 20.

File photo

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Aperture, the 421-unit Apartment Building Near Wiehle-Reston East, Officially Opens

Aperture, a five-story, 421-unit building on 11410 Reston Station Boulevard is now officially open. Local officials and professionals behind the project held an official grand opening earlier this month.

The project is the product of a joint partnership by Reston-based developer Chuck Veatch and Bozzuto Group.  It includes studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, as well three courtyards, outdoor cooking stations, a library, a gum and a lounge area.

Developers aimed to create an art-infused community that mixes city and suburban living in a lower-density setting.

Rents for a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment unit with 628 square feet start from $2,010. The rate for a two-bedroom apartment with 1,034 square feet starts from $2,475.

The building includes a Reston Wall, which offers a nod to Reston’s history and developers. Zachary Oxman’s steel sculpture, “Convergence” in the entrance.

Aperture is one of the first residential projects to open next to the new Metro Station.

Photos via Bozzuto Group and Marion Myers

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Some Metro Users Scramble for Parking Space at the Wiehle-Reston East Garage

Some Metro users say the Wiehle-Reston East garage is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate. Limited spaces are available during weekday morning hours as construction continues in the area.

Beginning at 9 a.m., few non-reserved parking spots are available in the 2,300-space garage, Metro users said. The garage (11389 Reston Station Boulevard) includes reserved spaces, which open up to the public at 10 a.m. if they are unused.

Garage users said some drivers park their cars in reserved spots not assigned to them due to the challenge of finding space. Jude J. said police often issue tickets to those individuals ten minutes before the parking space opens up to the public.

“You’re lucky if when you enter the ‘lot full’ light is on, otherwise you’re stuck in a dangerous situation with cars going every direction trying to find a spot,” said Jude. She has been commuting for past year and a half from Leesburg to Washington D.C..

County and transit officials pointed to several possible explanations for the scramble for space. County data indicate the average paid utilization rate in March was 88 percent. The rate for reserved parking is $65 a month and $4.95 on weekdays, except Thursday when the rate is $3.

Robin Geiger, head of communications for the Fairfax County Department of Communications said temporary construction in the garage may explain why spaces are limited. Construction is expected to end next month, Geiger said.

In response to space constraints, the county is promoting other alternatives like the Reston South Park and Ride, as well as Fairfax Connector Routes 553, 557, 559 or 585 to Wiehle.

Comstock, the developer behind Reston Station which sits above the garage, built the garage through a public-private partnership with Fairfax County. The county retains garage ownership while the Washington Metropolitan Area Authority operates the facility.

Maggie Parker, a spokesperson for Comstock, said space may also be limited due to “increased activity” with events like the cherry blossoms in the District. WMATA indicated they have seen an increase in parking demand as a result.

Signs in the garage are programmed to display “lot full” when 15 spaces or less are available.

Parker also said it is possible that people are not driving down far enough into the garage, especially three levels down in the ParkX parking area.

The situation has some hoping for other parking alternatives, especially as summer swings in and the recent opening of restaurants like Founding Farmers and Sweet Leaf attracts more customers.

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Fairfax County Board Approves Expanded Reston Station Project

Major redevelopment is underway as Comstock Partners continue to complete the massive Reston Station development on the northe side of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.

On Tuesday (April 11), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an expanded version of the project, which calls for a further 1.7 million square feet of development, including a mix of residential units, a hotel and office towers.

The project is part of a public-private partnership with the county, which owns seven acres of the roughly 12-acre development. Changes include the addition of 362,450 square feet of development for the buildings on the Reston Station Plaza, increases in the heights of building, and the addition of a hotel to respond to “industry feedback,” said Cooley LLP’s Mark Looney.

The Promenade, an extension of Reston Station, would redevelop a Bank of America, medical buildings and 30 office condominiums on the corner of Sunset Hills Road and Wiehle Avenue into high rise buildings with up to 540 units, a 14-story office and a 23-story, 280-room hotel with 80 private residences.

Under amended plans, the county’s 1.3-acre portion of the project, previously designated for Reston Station, will be included in The Promenade in order to better unify the block.

Around 17 percent of the units will be affordable at levels of affordability ranging from 70 to 100 percent of the area median income. Comstock also plans to provide $1.9 million to the county’s affordable housing trust fund.

Comstock’s plans also include a woonerf, a shared street system that is used by pedestrians, bicyclists and cars, but does not contain sidewalks, curbs and traffic lights.

The county’s land use plan for the area north of the station includes 2.4 million square feet of development and roughly 1,900 housing units.

“Lots of trees gave up their lives for this application,” said Sharon Bulova, chairwoman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Comstock plans to begin construction on its next office building at 1906 Reston Metro Plaza this spring. Plans for another 180,000-square-foot office are under county review.

Photos via Comstock

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Under SEC investigation — ComScore, a Reston-based audience company, issued new financial statements showing it overstated revenue by $127 million. [Washington Business Journal]

29 acres are up for grabs — Fannie Mae is expected to vacate three major buildings in the area as it moves to Reston Gateway in 2022. Who will fill the void? [Washington Business Journal]

If you’re heading out to Wiehle-Reston East parking garage — Parking may be limited at times as construction continues in the area. Commuters can park at Reston South Park & Ride for free. [Fairfax Connector]

Flickr pool photo via vantagehill

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