News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, November 23, 2020

Reston’s 420’ Tower Is Apparently Good For A Different Kind of High

We recently noted that Reston’s tallest building, going up near the future Reston Town Center Metro station, topped out at 420 (heh) feet. Man, we haven’t laughed that hard since someone lent us a Cheech and Chong cassette back in middle school!

But it turns out there’s a different kind of high that the building may be offering. On Saturday night, a Confidential Restonian Operative driving on the Dulles Toll Road witnessed someone BASE jumping off the top of the under-construction building, parachuting to a (hopefully) safe landing somewhere near where Targetville once stood.

It’s happened round these here parts before, when one of the tallest buildings in the Emerald City Paris Tysons Corner was under construction, and there’s video to prove it. We’ve been scouring the YouTubes and the TikToks and all the other social medias the kids love so much to see if someone’s posted similar grainy GoPro videos of the Reston jump, but so far, nothing. Someone hit up your friendly neighborhood “web logger,” as the kids haven’t said in quite some time, the end.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Reston Flashback: Russet Brown Bob Ross

Set the controls of the Earth-Toned Wayback Machine to sometime in the 1970s, where we arrive at the pre-strip mall Hunters Woods Village Center to witness this moment frozen in amber, courtesy of a photo presumably taken by a 1970s-era smartphone (a camera, without the "phone" or "smart" parts).

Yes, kids, this is what passed for a "selfie" during that era, with soothing earth-toned pastels substituting for those, whazzitcalled, filters that give you dog ears or whatever. There's a lot going on here, between the not-so-happy model, Russet Brown Bob Ross working away, and the thoughtful observer, contemplating the choice of perspective and the artist's finger smudge technique, reminiscent of the chiaroscuro employed by the great masters, if the great masters were doing portraits in a shopping center for $20 a pop. All's we know is that this is the most drama we've seen at Hunters Woods since this literal piece of drama, the end.

Shout out to Reston, Remember When's awesome Instagram page.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Reston Town Center Clamps Two Major Tenants As Mauvescraper Tops Out at 420 (Heh) Feet

Cancel the quarterly shipment of weighted blankets for the elite crisis management team at Reston Town Center, because after a continuing spot of not-so-great news, our favorite plastic fantastic fake downtown is BACK, BABY!

In the last few weeks, RTC owner Boston Properties has announced two major bits of tenant news. First, Volkswagen announced it is moving its U.S. headquarters from Herndon to the fancy new high rises that are extending RTC's footprint south to the Toll Road and soon(ish)-to-open Metro station. And Microsoft is planning to add to its previously announced 400,000 square foot expansion with another 45,000 square feet at its existing space at Two Discovery Square, that building across the footbridge from the rest of RTC.

It's all good news for RTC and its massive, 1.1 million square foot expansion, which was once called Reston Gateway and whose largest 420-foot (heh) mauvescraper topped out last week. Skyscraper nerds will likely dispute this, but that makes it the second tallest structure in the region, after the Washington Monument and the Capital One Tower in Tysons. Pre-leasing for the new phase of RTC, anchored by Fannie Mae, is now at 85 percent, according to the Washington Business Journal.

These big lease announcements are definitely going against the grain of the pandemic and predictions that office space needs could be permanently altered going forward. Boston Properties itself estimates that its census is still "well under 15 percent" in Northern Virginia, even after more stringent restrictions were lifted earlier in the year. And, of course, retail activity hasn't exactly been on fire at RTC of late.

But Volkswagen? A big f-in deal, as the man who may or may not be our future president, depending on what you hear on Twitter, once said. And there's absolutely no truth to the rumor that this is Boston Properties' top-secret new business model for RTC:

1. Sign lease with VW, which makes cars
2. People buy cars
3. People drive cars to Reston Town Center and pay to park
4. PROFIT!!!!!

Monday, November 2, 2020

Day of the Dead: Chainpocalypse Now As Best Buy Closes

Confidential Restonian Operative "Quinn" sends along this cellular telephone photo of signage being removed from the Reston Best Buy at the Graveyard of Macaroni Grills and Bookstores Spectrum Center. 

Pour one out, as the kids haven't said for at least a decade, for yet another midscale chain store closing. The purveyor of $39 DVD players and, wedunno, smart dishwashers and superfluous service agreements? -- closed Oct. 31 after opting not to renew its lease

Given the ongoing decline of big box stores and the fact that the entire sprawly Spectrum complex (save for the part with Harris Teeter at the other end) has been approved for redevelopment, who knows what -- if anything -- will take its place. Maybe the neighboring Container Store can expand into the now-vacant space and become Containers, Bed, Bath, Books, Pets, Coffee, Lumber, Banking, and Beyond, the end.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Caddyshackpocalypse Later: Wheelock Snub Shows Why a County Board Seat Might Actually Be Worth $255 Per Vote

As if we needed any more reminders that elections have consequences, Hunter Mill Supervisor Walter Alcorn's decision to exclude Hidden Creek Golf Course from the upcoming study of the county comprehensive plan sounds like a pretty definitive "no" to efforts to redevelop one of Reston's two golf courses -- at least for now. Give us some caddy-friendly blockquote, BFFs at the Washington Business Journal:

“Based on a review this week of all direct communications with my office via emails, phone calls and letters, there is not support from surrounding communities for changing the comprehensive plan,” Alcorn wrote. “In fact it is not even close — there are more than five residents against for every supporter of possibly changing the plan. Therefore, I do not support changing the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan’s current designation of this property as a golf course and consider the matter closed.”
The decision, which follows months of attempts by developer Wheelock Communities to drum up support for the project, brings new clarity to the shocking $420,000 raised by Hunter Mill candidates in last year's board elections, which works out to $25 per vote cast -- and a whopping $255 per vote cast for the developer-backed candidate who lost to Alcorn.

Considering that the return on redeveloping Reston's other golf course, which sold for $23.75 million to a couple of decidedly non-golf-centric developers in 2019, was estimated at $200 million, all of a sudden a tenfold return on investment doesn't look like such a bad gamble for a little political "free speech" on the part of developers.

For its part, Wheelock has said it plans to continue efforts to persuade Reston residents:

Wheelock Principal Dan Green said in a statement he was "extremely disappointed" in Alcorn's decision, and disputed the supervisor's characterization of the local reaction to the company's development pitch.

"From our community engagement, we had already received support from some adjacent clusters as well as many of club’s neighbors and others throughout the Reston community," Green wrote. "This is an unprecedented show of support when an application has not yet even been filed. We are encouraged by this show of support and will continue to engage the community about the future of Hidden Creek and what it can mean to Reston."

We wonder if that engagement will continue to borrow from yet another corporate-friendly tool often used in elections -- questionable "push polling" tactics, as repeatedly alleged by Rescue Reston in recent months.

To be fair, Rescue Reston engaged in a letter-writing campaign of its own. Next steps for Wheelock, which has given up on a similar golf course effort in Florida, remain unclear.

In an interview, Alcorn said "it is a free country and people can campaign as much as they like," but he is not interested in additional conversations about development at the property. Alcorn said he has heard Wheelock's arguments that the club may struggle as interest in golf wanes nationwide, but he is not overly concerned about the prospect of the course gathering dust these days. He also would not speculate on the idea, raised in some corners, that the county could look to buy the site someday.
However, it's also important to remember that this decision is temporary, and a new board member could completely reverse it. In fact, so could the current one:
While Alcorn could always change his mind, such a definitive statement is a severe blow to the redevelopment effort. Because the club is categorized in the county’s Comprehensive Plan as a golf course, supervisors would need to change that designation before rezoning the property to allow housing. As the Reston area’s representative on the Board of Supervisors, it would likely be up to Alcorn to steer that process.

Alcorn had pledged before winning office last year that he would not support any development at Hidden Creek or the nearby Reston National Golf Course, the site of past community skirmishes, unless the community signaled its support. And he noted in his statement that Wheelock has spent the last few years holding meetings to try and generate the community’s backing, which has “given them the time and opportunity to make their pitch” to neighbors.

Elections matter. The folks with the money get this. Hopefully the rest of us will, too.

So vote early and often, folks, and as an extra enticement let's take a fleeting look at some vaporware "Grand Park" drawings, the end:

Friday, October 2, 2020

We're #15! Reston Again Is EXACTLY ONE BETTER Than Ashburn (Except in the Money Categories)

ZOMG, dust off the cassettes of Kasey Kasem's American Top 40, because history -- or at least "history" as it is determined by cynical magazine listicles -- repeats itself again. In Washington Business Journal's list of the HOTTEST neighborhoods for home sales in the region, Reston came in HOT, at #15, with a BULLET.

Normally, we'd bristle that something called "Lake Ridge" in a place called "Woodbridge" in PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY ranked next highest at #14, and probably make a joke about how everything there rhymes with "fridge." Also, Brambleton ranked #12, suggesting a strong bias towards X-rated parks. But, as was the case a few years back, we get to enjoy a little schadenfruede instead. You see, our plastic fantastic planned community was #15. Guess what was #16? That's right -- Loserville, U.S.A. Ashburn! Suck it, Wegmans-lovers!

Once again, we have proof that the Reston way of life is SCIENTIFICALLY ONE BETTER! And the median value of our aging housing stock is appreciating 2.1 PERCENT FASTER than its off-gassing particleboard stock!

But before we let this get to our heads, we must report some sad news. Listicle generator Money magazine ranked Ashburn #11 on its annual Best Places to Live list. Only one other Virginia locality -- Richmond's exurban forest city Midlothian -- made the list this year.

If it's any consolation, this is the image used to "celebrate" Ashburn's ascendance to such lofty exurban heights:

Also, Money may have ranked Ashburn #11, but another organization ranked it #10 -- tenth nationwide in rude drivers. Give us some validating blockquote, BFFs at Patch:

Ashburn ranked 10th for having an estimated share of 45.7 drivers out of 1,000 cited for rude driving behaviors. By comparison, the national average was 23.1 out of 1,000 drivers cited for one or more infractions categorized as rude.
You'd expect us to make a joke about Wegman's parking lots, but for once, we're sympathetic to our friends to our west: If we lived somewhere that looked like the photo above, we'd have road rage 24/7 too, the end.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Restonians' Inhumanity to Restonians: A Children's Gallery of Internet Civility, ca. Late 2020

As global pandemics that unravel the social and economic fabrics of our society go, this has been a long one. We're all a little stressed! Fortunately, those of us who Live, Work, Play and Get Involved (tm) in Reston can draw from our plastic fantastic planned community's longstanding good vibes of neighborhoodiness and--wait, what's this?

Note that we, as Respectable Web Loggers On Your Side, blurred the faces; neither the original mask-shaming poster nor the High Sheriffs at Reston Patch Dot Com saw any reason to do so. Which likely led to this cheerful follow-up to the (now-deleted) post:

But mask-shaming works both ways! Here's another comment found on the spot where we (frankly) expected to see the first one, Next Door Neighbor Dot Com:

Meanwhile, when a more serious issue raised its ugly head -- the murder of a woman who was shot and killed near Colts Neck Road and Glade Drive on Sept. 17 (and who has still not been identified more than a week later) -- it was an opportunity for a little casual racism:

And more of the usual North/South Reston comparisons:

We're not sure about that. "Great" Falls has more than its share of hardened criminals and welfare recipients, at least of the charging-the-gubmint-$700-for-a-toilet-seat variety.

And finally, a post on Next Door Neighborhood Dot Com that made us a little bit sad.

If you see someone wandering around Lake Anne who doesn't have cooties, maybe just say hello?