News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Reston on the Teevee: Relive Carefree, Slightly Less Airborne Pathogen-Free Summer of '89 in Feel-Good Movie of the Year

Three decades after a minor mishap in our plastic fantastic planned community put Reston on the infectious disease map -- literally -- we can all relive the carefree, go-lucky days of 1989 with a movie debuting on the National Geographic channel on Memorial Day.

The fancy trailer for The Hot Zone -- based on the Richard Preston book of the same name -- features more clips of hand-washing and zipped-up biohazard suits than exterior shots of whatever Hollywood thinks Issac Newton Square looks like, but this is the one shot that (we think) gets at the real-world fun of housing a facility full of infectious, dying crab-eating macaques next to a daycare center.

LOL, and be sure to grab the disinfectant spray popcorn before tuning this in on Monday! We're pretty sure the movie won't capture the drab banality of the actual building, which has since been torn down and replaced with yet another daycare center (no truth to the rumor that its mascot is the Fightin' Ebolas). The movie's star -- Ebola Reston, not Julianna Margulies -- has made a few cameo appearances in the years since, most recently in the Philippines. And for added fun that could only happen in the Year of Our Lord 2019, the comments on the YouTube page housing the movie trailer have devolved into a series of anti-vaxxer rants, the end.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Caddyshackpocalypse Now: Reston National Golf Course Sold by Would-Be Developer to Other Would-Be Developers, So Here We Go Again (Updated)

Over the weekend, word got out that Northwestern Mutual has sold an attractive parcel of by-right developable property Reston National Golf Course to two Baltimore developers, who said there's nothing to fear, the golfers are just gonna keep on golfin' (at least for now). Give us some good boilerplate blockquote, BFFs at the Washington Business Journal:

“Billy Casper Golf has been retained to continue managing the golf course with no set plans for the property beyond that at this time,” Marc Weller, founding partner of Weller Development, said in a statement. “Both Weller Development and War Horse are focused on building relationships and working with the communities we serve and we look forward to being part of the Reston community for years to come.”
Of course, "terms were not disclosed," which is key to understanding the developers' intentions. (Update: Sources told the Washington Business Journal on Monday that the sale price is $23.75 million). Remember that as it's tried to unload the property for years, Northwestern Mutual's selling agents have argued that the property, if developed, "could easily be worth more than $200 million" and priced it accordingly.

Rescue Reston cofounder John Pinkman said yesterday that "several golf centric corps wanted to buy the course at or close to selling price. NWM wouldn’t even talk to them. There is no chance that this housing developer has any intention on keeping the course." On social media, Rescue Reston said:

“You bought a golf course and you own a golf course. Period.”
But who knows? Maybe these two developers are really closet golf fans, and just wanted a quiet spot far from the bustle of Baltimore to squeeze in a quick round between deals. Let's check out their fancy "web pages" to see if they have photos of lovingly maintained green space and happy golfers and bunnies and whatnot. Here's what's on the front page of the peaceful-sounding "War Horse" website:

That's a weird-looking sand trap. Who knows, maybe the 18th hole is next to the rooftop swimming pool. And then there's the "human-centric" Weller Development homepage:

Human-centric ant farms, by the looks of it.

But let's look on the bright side. The courts and Fairfax County have both affirmed the idea that the property should remain open space, although all that really means is that the developers would have to go through the normal, often developer-friendly, rezoning process with the county. And since they're more local than a freaking insurance company, there's a good chance they'll propose something nicer than wall-to-wall condos... like say a "grand park". Yeah, that's the ticket!

All this makes the upcoming primary for Catherine Hudgins' soon-to-be-vacated seat on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors all the more important. The Reston Association, groups like Rescue Reston, and the county all did a good job facing down Northwestern Mutual and its seemingly infinite resources. Hopefully they'll be able to do so again.

Update: Rescue Reston's official statement.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Imitation Is The Sincerest Form Of Flattery: Reston's Canadian Doppelgänger Digs Hole, Awaits Skyrocketing Property Values

We've written before about our Canadian doppelgänger, the bustling, if sometimes waterlogged, village of Reston, Manitoba (we're informed that Manitoba is what our neighbors to the north call a "province," which is basically a state with fewer people and more moose).

But we digress. Longtime readers may remember that our neighbors to the north wanted to up the population somewhere beyond the 600 souls who now call Reston, MB, home (but presumably below the six-figure population coming our way), so they offered lots of desirable Reston property for $10 CDN (which translates to roughly $0.02 USD, plus a pocket square of flannel or a muskrat pellet).

We're not sure exactly how that turned out, but we noticed that Reston's town fathers are borrowing another page from our New Town development handbook. No, silly rabbits, they're not charging for parking downtown, they're actually digging a hole and putting water in it. On purpose! Check out the Twitters, as the kids probably never said:

Sweet! We love manmade lakes, and air, and fizzy bubbles. And since our own fancy fountain at Lake Anne is currently not working, maybe we should give these folks a call. But let's check out that lake:

Looks pretty nice right now, but we wonder what it might look like in the winter early September:

We're going to try and scrape $10 CDN together stat, the end.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

FalconGate 2019: RTC Thwarts Will of the People, Shackles Popular Vote Like So Many Parking Bumblebees (Updated)

Someone call the UN, Jimmy Carter and all the chad counters in Florida, as the wishes of Restonians have, once again, been crushed through BLATANT electoral fraud. Wake up, sheeple!

With 64 percent of the vote, the Reston Now Readers’ Choice Award for Falcon Names clearly goes to Free and Parking — the falcons’ new nicknames.
Yay! The people have spoken. The Restonian On Your Side Election Integrity Team had been carefully monitoring the results of the election in anticipation of shenanigans. But kudos to our BFFs at Reston Now for nibbling at the hand that feeds it sponsored content at least acknowledging the top vote-getter and memesplaining the significance. But wait, what's this?
But for the official name, upon further reflection, it was clear that the regal birds deserved a more befitting, less joke-y name.

So like Boaty McBoatface before it, “Free” and “Parking” will be how the birds are remembered by many, but the clear second place winner in the voting — “Robert” and “Anne,” a reference to Reston’s founder Bob Simon and Lake Anne — will become the falcons’ actual names.

As in other totalitarian regimes strip malls, dissent is allowed--up to a point. Then the bumblebee is clamped on, metaphorically speaking, and dissent is crushed like so many would-be photographers.

Needless to say, people are taking this well. "Boston Properties still doesn't get it," one commenter wrote. "I wish the best to Robert and Anne whose life expectancy surpasses that of most tenants at RTC."

Another quickly mocked up this T-shirt:

RTC's elite crisis managers probably anticipated they'd take this hit, but that people would forget in time and learn to stop worrying and love the birds. Funny, that's also what they thought a few years ago, back before all the empty storefronts and elite nail salons and the number of lawsuits filed by its own tenants equalling the population of its beloved, if now misnamed, falcons. And we can't wait for BPX's next elite stunt!

Update: Reston Now issues an official statement about the whole naming brouhaha, saying, among other things, that they made the call to not go with Free and Parking, that "no money or favors changed hands," and that there was some "disappointing" salty language in Facebook comments about the whole situation:

The fact that we now have Boston Properties upset at us, for including “Free” and “Parking” in the poll to begin with, and readers angry at us for not selecting those names as the official winner, is frustrating to say the least.

Friday, April 26, 2019

When You Gotta Go On The Metro, Think Reston

One of the less known facts about the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station, aside from its conspicuous lack of once-promised rad 80s art, is that it’s home to one of the few public restrooms in the entire Metro system. We'd expect nothing less, and we're sure that when the Reston Town Center station opens, the washrooms there will be staffed with tuxedo-wearing attendants in recognition of that part of town's elite status.

But we digress. We've had the occasion to use the Metro facilities every now and then, and we must say they're... surprisingly pleasant. On a scale of transit-related facilities ranging from 1 (Penn Station basement) to 10 (Emirates Sky Lounge), we’d put the Wiehle Metro station bathrooms somewhere in the high 7 to 8 range. Not bad!

They even have a confidence-inspiring "daily washroom checklist" taped on the wall, which is great... at least until you take a closer look.

Okay, so it's just April. Late April, actually. We Restonians are a thoughtful bunch, after all, so maybe we've been carefully metering out the squares in consideration of our fellow plastic fantastic planned community commuters.

Well, to be fair, Metro has had other issues that are probably top of mind. What's the worst that could happen?

Next time, we'll wait until we get home, kthx, the end.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Flashback: A Tale of Two Town Centers

Our favorite correspondent, the Peasant from Less Sought After South Reston, found a gem from the old-timey Washington Post back from ought-zero, when parents would still gather their children around the glow of incandescent lighting to read thrilling tales of far-away suburbs from the "news-paper."

By 2000, Reston had been around for parts of four decades, and our ersatz gritty urban core had been there for nearly a decade. But the article provides out-of-towners a crash course, informing us that “Reston was intended to be a suburban antidote… Goodbye suburban isolation and cookie-cutter housing.”

The article goes on to compare and contrast RTC with Reston's original town center, Lake Anne Plaza. Of the new hawtness, it says:

The center has been likened to a scaled-down version of Georgetown without the parking hassle (free parking is available at three parking lots and two garages. Locals are less happy about parking these days because of new construction projects, but the situation still beats wrangling with meters or paying to park in a garage.

The article also includes these groovy maps and a key showing what was available to intrepid turn-of-the-century consumers in both places in 2000 (click to enlarge). It's a nice walk down Late Stage Capitalism Memory Lane:

As the Peasant puts it:

This sniffle-inducing (or would that be snort-inducing?) trip down memory lane leads to a rousing Reston rendition of the song “Those Were The Days” as sung by Archie and Edith:

Boy the way parking was free
RTC was the place to be
No worries about a bumblebee
Those were the days

And you knew that in this place
No cost for a parking space
Mister we could use a man like Robert Simon again
Didn’t need no parking app
Nobody bothered with this crap
Gee our free parking was great
Those were the days

Friday, April 19, 2019

McTacoHutpocalypse Now: Another Cherished Reston Institution Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Pour one out, as the kids haven't said in years, for one of Reston's longstanding institutions, which, we learned this week, will soon be no more. You see, the "hut" of the fabled McTacoHut carbohydrate-industrial complex on Wiehle Avenue, is falling -- not to redevelopment, not to unbuilt roads we can't stop development waiting for, but to (shudder) changing gustatorial tastes.

Give us some McSad blockquote, BFFs at Reston Now:

Pupatella, an award-winning Neopolitan pizzeria, is coming to Reston in early 2020, according to a company news release.

The 2,700-square-foot restaurant will be located at 1821 Wiehle Avenue. It will also include a patio for outdoor dining.

Pupatella, which started as a food truck, does has Reston roots -- founding partner Michael Berger is from Reston.

But how far we've fallen to when the signless, DRB-mandated drab Pizza Hut was a retail powerhouse. Lest we forget how central McTacoHut has been to the Reston experience, note its prominent presence in the most significant cultural product to come from our plastic fantastic planned community (albeit in the "Taco" segment of McTacoHut). And when a snarky DC writer, baseball cap undoubtedly turned at a jaunty angle, was parachuted (or perhaps Ubered) into Reston to see what wonders lay amongst the undiscovered wilds at the end of the Silver Line, he found himself there.

We wish Pupatella well, but we haven't been this sad since another august Reston institution closed. It's yet another cultural landmark taken away too soon. And besides, McTacoPupa just doesn't have the same ring, the end.