News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, October 31, 2014

At Lake Anne, A Symbolically Appropriate Halloween

Confidential Restonian Operative "Rangwe of Wiehle" sent us these sad and SPOOOOKY photos of the former Lake Anne Pharmacy. Read on, if you dare!

The pharmacy has only been closed for a little more than a month, but apparently it's already filled with cobwebs and bats! Oh, wait -- it's Halloween, you say? That makes sense.

Scary Lake Anne
No telling if the undead creature desperately trying to scratch its way out of the pharmacy is the listing agent. However, if you're looking for an eerily deserted scare this All Hallows Eve, we'd suggest you set your sights elsewhere. Try wandering around the Tall Oaks Stucco Wasteland Village Center at the witching hour. Legend has it you can hear the eerie whisper of the ghost of "Susie de los Santos," luring unsuspecting travelers with empty promises of sexist bread, the end.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Comrade, Can You Spare $8? Modest RA Assessment Hike May Spell Beginning of Creeping Socialism, Or Not

NewsweekcoverSo here's some good news: For just a few quarters more than a one-way ticket down the Toll Road to sample the wonders of Tysons, we can all afford to stay in our beloved earth-toned Nirvana for another year. Give us some good blockquote, BFFs at Reston Now:

Reston Association documents show the Board of Directors has proposed a 2015 assessment of $642, which is just 1.3 percent more than the 2014 amount of $634.

Thorough planning helped the RA keep the assessment cost down this year, the group said in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon.

“The budget process last year incorporated cost-saving measures as well as accounting for the additional units to be added to the RA membership early next year,” the statement said. “In addition, RA staff has been steadily increasing the amount of non-assessment revenue, including merchandise sales and facility rentals.”
Sounds great, right? But there is, as they say in the movies, a wrinkle. Our BFFs at Reston 2020 point out that the RA is considering changing the flat assessment rate to one that's tied to the value of each member's home, like common socialists most places levy property taxes. Apparently all the fervor around wealth redistribution and the 1 percent has finally reached our nirvana, where until now groovy lakefront homes rubbed shoulders with grotty condos. But no more! Well, maybe:
We know that most of you don't read RA News, RA's weekly e-mail newsletter. Indeed, even though we receive it, we rarely look beyond the headlines. And it took an alert Reston reader to bring to our attention this one-liner under the topic "Sustainability and Community Viability" on p.4 of the CEO's report in this week's newsletter identified as an RA Board goal :

"--Examine the Association’s flat rate assessment structure with an eye toward moving to one based on property values."
We don't know anymore than that, and it is likely the RA Board doesn't know much more than that. Moreover, we haven't assessed the implications of such a move on our own, so we don't have a perspective on the topic at this time. In general, of course, those Restonians with higher-valued properties--largely single-family homes--would pay higher annual dues than those with lower-valued homes. Moreover, we have no idea how this would affect rental properties, including affordable housing units in the community.

But you need to know and understand what your RA Board is considering.
This may wind up being another tempest in a teapot ginned up by consultants, much like the RA's recent ponderings about creating hand-picked slates of board members and whatnot, but who knows? Good on Reston 2020 for, you know, paying attention and stuff.

In the meantime, we want to make sure we're on the right side of things when the revolution comes variable assessments are phased in:
Reston 1 percenterReston 99 percenter
Lakefront houseLake in sunken basement
BMWFord Focus
Premium parking at Wiehle Metro   Premium Chicken Sandwich @ McTacoHut
Town Center CondoApartment without vowels
Bocce aficionadosDog park users

No truth to the rumor that this is the draft chart for deciding who pays what in our glorious socialist future, the end.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Watergate 2014: How Did Water from Reston Lakes Wind Up in Nashville? An EXCLUSIVE Restonian Investigation

GaylordThis photo isn't some futuristic vision of the Lake Anne Village Center, ca. 2414, but rather the present-day Gaylord Opryland convention center in Nashville. Nice, right? It ought to be -- it turns out its owners borrowed some of Reston's precious fluids to create their Venice of the south. Our favorite correspondent, The Peasant From Less Sought After South Reston, has the details:

On a recent swing through Dixie as far south as Tennessee and Mississippi, the Peasant and his better half stumbled upon incontrovertible evidence proving forever Reston's contribution to Western civilization. While in Nashville, source of some of the greatest country western lyrics ever written, such as this ditty perfect for a hapless DRB petitioner -- "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy" -- the Peasant stopped at the Gaylord Opryland. A combination hotel, convention center, and current home of the Grand Ole Opry, this sprawling complex under glass-roofed atria even features an indoor waterway coursing through lush vegetation.

Examining a series of bronze plaques by this Grand Canal of the South, the Peasant was so stunned by something he observed as to nearly stagger backwards into his grits. When this section of Opryland opened in July 1996, two-ounce containers of H2O from 1,700 different bodies of water were ceremoniously blended together and then poured into the waterway. Blinking back tears of joy and disbelief, the Peasant observed that joining the contents of such aquatic luminaries as the Mediterranean, the River Jordan, the Rio Grande, and the Mississippi were the precious bodily fluids of...Lake Thoreau and Lake Newport. Ol' Virginny was also represented by, among others, a certain "Lake Accofink" as well.
We are relieved to know that Reston offered up its best and brightest 'aqua pura' before those waters were sullied forever by dead doggies capsizing overboard during Viking funerals, criminal masterminds dumping high-class hooch out of their getaway canoes, and stand-up paddle boarders probably doing #1 when they thought nobody was looking. Be proud, Reston, be proud!
You may wonder why Lake Anne wasn't included. We're guessing it's because the water raiders came during the dry season, when the golf course and the jet-age air conditioning system were making that noise a toddler makes when they get to the bottom of their sippy cups. As for why Lake Audobon was overlooked? Two words: hellscape mutants, the end.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

We're #10, Again! Yet Another List Places Reston Among Fastest-Growing Cities in Virginia

UrlLook out Merrifield, Kingstown, Waynesboro, Short Pump, and Marumsco (wherever that is) -- Reston is on the move! In yet another one of the listicles that are akin to catnip for "web loggers," some website ranked Reston as the tenth-fastest-growing city in Virginia. Despite all its awesome, Tysons only ranked 15th. Excelsior!

Nerdwallet's "City on the Rise" rankings were based on population growth, employment growth, and income growth. According to the website, Reston's "Census Designated Place" -- since we all know that Reston is most certainly Not a City -- working-age population increased 7.6 percent between 2010 and 2012, while employment growth rose a modest 0.8 percent. But all that strapping bombs to dolphins sweeeeeeeet contracting work from Uncle Sugar paid off, as median incomes in Reston grew 8.7 percent to $78,642 -- the equivalent of clicking the "who's your baby's daddy" ad on the top of this "web log" approximately 4.7 billion times.

Between this heady news and our recent ascension to near the very top of the best places for rich singles, no wonder Jackson's is one of the top grossing restaurants in the country. Add a couple of bocce courts and a Cheesecake Factory, and we'll be golden!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Flashback Monday: A Model Movie House, Showcasing Less Than Model Behavior

Movie theater model
We've written before about the multitude of cinema options available to the earliest Restonians, thanks to the Reston International Center multiplex showing such hit movies as "1" and "2" (presumably the sequel to "1".) The building is now a Chili's, but we can look back at the day when it wasn't even a two-screen movie theater, but a balsawood model painted white to reflect all that would be pure and stucco-y and surrounded by oddly proportioned trees in the future Reston.

But let's look closer at one of the Potemkin posters. What kinds of movies did Reston's planners expect to pack in the crowds?

Movie Closeup
OOOH LA LA. One of those "new wave" French movies, no doubt. That two-piece would have been tres scandaleuse in the mid-1960s, especially in the conservative Virginia countryside. Good thing the folks over in Herndon didn't catch wind of this, else'n there might have been a good ole' fashioned barn moviehouse burning!

Which such a salacious display of the human form all part of the Reston plan, no wonder the model felt compelled to add a flasher to the scale model. Why leave all the fun to places like Times Square, after all?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Reston Master Plan: Redeveloped Village Centers With Central Plazas, More Density

As Phase II of the Reston Master Plan continues to wend its way through multiple tracked-version changes in Microsoft Word the public hearing process, county officials are holding the second of its community meetings on Saturday. The draft, or "strawman," as the kids development wonks like to say, language that would guide redevelopment of the existing village centers is here. While county planners are careful to say they're focused primarily on the shopping centers and not existing neighborhoods, they did add this weasel wording codicil:

From time to time, circumstances may arise that merit consideration of the redevelopment of an existing apartment community. Under such circumstances, the Board of Supervisors may consider proposals to amend the Comprehensive Plan and/or past zoning actions in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan to allow for the redevelopment of an apartment community if the criteria specified above are met and the additional criteria below are met.
We're already starting to see what this might look like.

The strawman text attempts to connect the vision for future development with the original plans for the village centers:
The village centers were conceived of as the places that would draw people together, with a public plaza for gatherings of all types, formal and informal, as well as a grocery store, churches or other community uses, restaurants and local services (e.g. dry cleaners, day care providers, etc.). Lake Anne and Hunters Woods Village Centers developed according to this model. However, over time retail trends changed and later village centers were designed in a more typical suburban fashion, with an emphasis on retail uses and restaurants, without community uses and the stores surrounding a large surface parking lot. This form reduced the ability of the later village centers to function as the community gathering places they were intended to be. In the future, the village centers should be encouraged to transform to include a central gathering space, preferably a plaza, a horizontal mix of uses, anchored by civic uses and ground floor retail, and some traditional main street elements such as wide sidewalks and shade trees.
These central places, the draft says, should be "neighborhood-scale gathering places," not like the Town Center or the "civic plaza" at the Wiehle Avenue Metro Station. In other words, don't expect to see a giant fountain topped with a statue of a Greek god in the middle of Tall Oaks' crumbling parking lot.

But the parking lots themselves should change as well, county officials say.
Use the parking area, either surface parking lots or parking structures, as a multi-use space for public events, recreation, and gathering through the inclusion of green roofs, temporary, creative paving materials, pavement markings and access control strategies.
"Access control strategies?" Hopefully they don't mean this:

Warning Tire Damage Occurs Sign K 8290
Other recommendations include "access and visibility from the roadway to the central space or commercial core" cough cough Tall Oaks and including "commercial, civic uses, and a variety of residential uses (single family attached and multifamily at medium to high densities)." Which, of course, is all part of the plan. But never fear, as developers will be encouraged to "utilize shifts in scale and massing to transition from existing uses to new higher density and intensity uses" and "create opportunities through the spatial arrangement of uses for users to interact and linger between the different uses." We can't wait for random people to "linger" in the spatial arrangement between our carport and our front door, particularly late at night.

There's other stuff about transportation and whatnot, but we know how well that's worked out so far.

Actually, the broad strokes of this make sense -- at this point, we wish the owners of Tall Oaks would just get on with developing something in the place of the increasingly empty stucco wasteland. But, as we like to say, the devil is in the details, or lack thereof, and we won't know those until specific proposals start wending their way through the pipeline.

The meeting will be at 8:45am at South Lakes High School.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Forget Paris Again: Tysons Now A Combination of Venice, Central Park, and St. Louis

Now that Tysons has been transformed overnight from a car-clogged hellscape combining the worst of the suburban and urban experience into an exemplar of future cities, only with better retail, it's time to reset our expectations for "Fairfax County's Downtown."

In a simpler, less aware time, planners were quick to compare Tysons with Paris and the Emerald City -- with straight faces, even.

But now that we've seen the wonders of Tysons from a cracked lot of asphalt and the elevated vantage point of the Silver Line, we know that these ideas were wrong -- all wrong. Let the person fawning articles describe as the architect of the 'New Tysons' explain to us how it's all kinds of awesome places, rolled into one fantastic amalgamation of ugly office buildings and chain retail 21st century city!

Caplin describes the Tysons of tomorrow with a romantic fervor. In his telling, the new plaza being built near Tysons Corner Station is the Piazza San Marco. The slope he’s pegged for winter sledding will rival Pilgrim Hill in Central Park. The gigantic trestles shouldering the Metro, if decorated, might become as iconic as St. Louis’s Gateway Arch. One member of the partnership recently gave Caplin a painting of what Tysons could someday look like: an elevated train glides away from an imposing crowd of skyscrapers, above an insignificant trickle of cars. “It shows the density and the vitality,” Caplin said. “That’s what it’s going to be. It’s not Manhattan, but it’s going to be a big deal.”
We all know that Tysons isn't going to be Manhattan. That distinction is reserved for us.