News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, February 17, 2017

On the YouTubes: Fancy Moving Pictures Of RA Board Candidates

Since we last wrote about the (for once) v. v. exciting Reston Association Board of Directors election, which featured contested races for all four open seats on the board, three candidates -- Don Wright, Hank Schonzeit and Kevin Witt -- have withdrawn. That means the apartment owners seat on the board is now uncontested, with David Bobzien the remaining candidate assured to receive an appropriately Soviet 99.9 percent of the vote. But the remaining three seats up for grabs still have multiple candidates. Not bad!

Suffice it to say, there's been more than a soupcon of dissatisfaction with the current board due in large part of our leaky new Lake House, which has culminated in online grumbling about a recall and, more recently, a formal conflict of interest complaint against one board member. We still think this is a thankless job, one for which we should be thankful there are (in most cases) multiple candidates gluttons for punishment willing to volunteer. But instead of tweeting Sad! or writing unflattering comments on Internet message boards and filthy "web logs," you could conceivably plan on voting for some of the remaining candidates so they can get a mandate of more than 20 percent of eligible households. Thanks to the magic of the Internets, you can see "moving pictures" of the remaining candidates below:

Six candidates are still on the slate for the one at-large seat all Restonians will might, if they get around to finding the ballot, vote for:

Two candidates are running for the Hunters Woods/Dogwood seat:

Another two are running for the North Point seat, or "the 20194," as the kids don't call it:

And below is David Bobzien, the now-unopposed candidate for the Glorious Supreme Soviet apartment owners seat:

Several candidate forums also have been announced. So you've been warned: if the next RA Board decides to buy the pulverized concrete rubble of the API headquarters building to build a boccedrome surrounded by acres of paid parking requiring a confusing smartphone app and an association-issued photo ID and you didn't vote, you have no one to blame but.. well, the RA probably. But yourself as well, the end.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Mauvescraper Mania: New Brutalist High-Rise Planned While Others Remain Unfilled

Fifth Earth Toned Element.jpeg

Reston's hellish, high-rise festooned future has had a mixed go of things in recent weeks.

First, Reston narrowly missed out on Virginia's economic development win of the year, when Nestle opted to move its U.S. headquarters from California to Rosslyn, not the Helmut Jahn-designed parallelogram rising atop the Wiehle-Reston Metro station (which was another one of the finalists). Guess those Swiss folks are partial to orderly right angles. Or maybe they couldn't find a way to stick a tiny fork and toothpick into the HVAC enclosure on the roof.

Meanwhile, there's still no flagship tenant for One Reston Town Center, the dealmaking mauvescraper on Reston Parkway that will (someday) become Reston's tallest building. All that STONE COLD DEALMAKING will remain a CGI dream for now.

So the overall commercial real estate market might be a little flat, despite Reston's growth. But have no fear, because the future of Reston is.... high-rise condos. Give us some good blockquote, BFFs at Washington Business Journal:

Developer Renaissance Centro is seeking to replace an office building it owns at 1801 Old Reston Ave. with Reston’s first new condos in more than a decade.

The property currently houses a three-story, 29,200-square-foot office building constructed in 1988. Bethesda-based Renaissance Centro wants to build in its place a 20-story, 150-unit condo building at Old Reston Avenue, Temporary Road and Reston Parkway, across from Reston Town Center and about a half mile from the future Metro stop.

The project would be the first for-sale units in or near the Reston Town Center since Midtown was completed in 2007. There has been a building boom associated with the Silver Line since then, but all of those new buildings — including Comstock’s BLVD at Reston Station, Boston Properties’ The Signature (under construction at town center) and Renaissance Centro’s The Harrison on Reston Parkway — have been rentals.

Other than imperiling more awesome 80s architecture, what could possibly go wrong?

So many high-rises, so little in the way of tenants. But maybe not! We know schools are one option. Also, Volkswagen has announced that the $2 billion electric vehicle subsidiary it is creating as part of a settlement for selling diesel vehicles whose emission system consisted of a can of Febreeze and a Komnami-style cheat code will be headquartered in Reston, so both of our awesome commercial highrises could be possibilities for that, though we have no super secret insider knowledge of what might happen there.

But what we do know about the newly proposed residential mauvescraper, which would rise across Reston Parkway from Reston Town Center, is v. v. exciting! Hit us up with some more awesome blockquote:

It also will “evoke connections to some of Reston’s earliest architecturally significant structures,” such as the Heron House tower at Lake Anne Plaza and the Marcel Breuer-designed American Press Institute headquarters, which was recently razed to make way for townhouses.

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Speaks for itself.

Been there, done that.

Appropriately enough for Reston, this building leans nicely to the left.

Of course, this last one is totally ridiculous. We'd never allow that garish red and blue near the bottom of this otherwise perfect structure.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Paidparkingpocalypse Soon, Or Maybe Never: Why A Protest March Could Hit a Roadblock at RTC


As Reston Town Center merchants continue to consider legal options to address the excessively convenient and inexpensive paid parking now in place in Reston's gritty urban core, they're getting a lot of attention. Watch some Action McNews teevee coverage, which includes this statement from the crisis managers:

BP statement


Now a Facebook group called Park Free RTC is planning a protest march on March 4, which apparently involves 1) Vapiano's, that noted symbol of the Resistance, and 2) wrist bands.

It sounds nice, but here's the problem: RTC is private property, and as such, the same property rights that allow them to chase away photographers (and the homeless) mean they really have no obligation to allow anyone to protest anything. It's all a bit muddled, but while we may think of it as our fake downtown, Fountain Square is no more a public place than the coin-encrusted fountains in the middle of what the old-timers used to call "shopping malls." You're more than welcome to spend money there, but don't think about raising a ruckus.

As more and more of what we think of as public space has been privatized -- in Reston and elsewhere -- this has become a real problem, and all the woonerf in the world won't fix it.

But on the other hand, it allows us to make fun of urbanphobic Ashburn residents like this:

Stressful RTC

Come to think of it, "stressful city-like shopping center" isn't a bad description of RTC at all, the end.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

LOL, Uh We Mean BREAKING: RTC Merchants Considering Suing Over Paid Parking (Updated)


Dozens of merchants at Reston Town Center are organizing a revolt against the new paid parking system that has been in place for a month, and they are meeting on Monday to discuss suing RTC manager Boston Properties, one tenant tells Patch.

Bunny Polmer -- a spokeswoman for Aaron Mervis, who runs Wildfire Restaurant in McLean and Big Bowl at RTC -- said that in just a month since ParkRTC went live on Jan. 3, two retailers have closed and all stores have reported sales down 10 to 50 percent compared to last year.

"There is less foot traffic and would-be customers are taking their business to other shopping destinations," she said.

She claimed that more than 60 merchants are considering a lawsuit. Mervis told Patch that every single merchant at RTC except the Hyatt was on board to put pressure on Boston Properties.

You can read the fancy letter Polmer wrote detailing merchants' complaints about the paid parking. Precisely none of them will surprise anyone who's attempted to park at RTC since Jan. 3.

No word yet on how RTC's elite crisis management team will respond, but if this social media post is any indication, it just might involve funnel cakes:

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Better put on a fresh pot of coffee, crisis managers. It's going to be a long couple of days.

Update: Boston Properties responded to our BFFs at Reston Now. Enjoy some sweeeeet blockquote-nested-within-blockquote action:

Rob Weinhold, spokesperson for Boston Properties, said it would be “inappropriate” for the real estate trust to speculate on or respond to the merchants’ legal threats. However, when contacted by Reston Now, he did wish to clear up “misinformation” about parking validation “that requires immediate clarification:”
“Each retailer and restaurateur, at their sole discretion, decide[s] which garages they choose to validate. As previously communicated, each retailer and restaurateur makes their own business decision about (1) participating in the validation program and (2) what validation terms they choose to incorporate within their unique business model, to include validating for all or select garages.”
Mervis said his restaurant is trying to do the right thing for customers by validating parking, but the end result is hurting their bottom line.

“We’re paying the same price as the guest pays,” he said. “We spent $1,600 in January to validate parking, and at our price point, that has drastic effects for us.”

Indecision 2017: RA Board Elections All Contested, For A Change

So what does it take to get Restonians involved, beyond installing an arbitrary and cumbersome parking system at their favorite amalgamation of midscale chain dining and retail? Well, for starters, maybe the inevitable budget overruns from the purchase of the Lake Leak House, the refusal to let a group review the process -- for free! -- and the recriminations from said events spilling over into current deliberations and basically bringing action to a halt, even as much more important issues with far greater longer-term implications are looming, maybe?

But we digress. For the first time in recent memory, all four seats up for election this spring on the Reston Association Board of Directors are contested, and no incumbents are seeking reelection. We've had to dispose of our usual Soviet art depicting these elections and go with something a bit more reflective of representative democracy these days:

Reston hat

Give us some good election blockquote, BFFs at Reston Now:

Up for vote for three-year terms are an at-large seat currently held by Jeff Thomas; the Hunters Woods/Dogwood District seat, currently held by Lucinda Shannon; and the apartment owners’ seat, currently held by board president Ellen Graves.

Graves has reached her two-term limit. Neither Thomas nor Shannon, who are each coming to the end of their first term, applied for re-election.

The North Point District seat currently held by Danielle LaRosa will also be up for vote. LaRosa was elected in 2016 but will resign at the end of her first year. The person elected to fill the seat will serve the remaining two years on the existing term.

Candidates for the seats on the nine-person board are as follows:

At-Large Director (3-year term)
Roberto Anguizola
Eric Carr
Mike Collins
Charles Dorfeuille
Ven Iyer
HeidiAnne Werner

Hunters Woods/Dogwood District Director (3-year term)
Syazana Durrani
Victoria White

North Point District Director (2-year term)
Arlene Krieger
John Mooney
Don Wright

Apartment Owners’ Representative (3-year term)
David Bobzien
Hank Schonzeit
Kevin Witt

Being on the RA Board is (seriously) a thankless job, so we're (seriously) happy to see so many people willing to serve. You can read detailed statements from each candidate on the RA website. Voting begins on March 6, and who knows? Maybe all the recent angst will lead to a voting turnout greater than the usual low two digits, the end.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Flashback Monday: On Thin Ice

Reston in snow rulebreakers

In the wake of this morning's near-apocalyptic storm, let's set the controls of the Earth-Toned Wayback Machine to a slightly more snowy day on Lake Anne, where a well-organized militia of youth are using push brooms to clear off a perfectly square portion of Lake Anne in anticipation of... what exactly? An impromptu bocce court in the only place it's allowed? A designated smoking area more than 50 feet from an RA facility? Speaking of which, was this activity condoned? Let's take a closer look:


Hey, nice sign! No truth to the rumor that these rulebreaking lads would later be named Most Likely To Have Their Cars Clamped By Some Futuristic Device In A Fake Downtown Parking Garage That Doesn't Exist Yet in a South Lakes High School yearbook sometime in the eighties, the end.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Brutalism is Back, Baby, Only Not in Reston

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Too bad that our bona fide Marcel Breuer masterpiece was consigned to the wrecking ball last fall, because Brutalism is back, baby, and other places are cashing in on hipster love for all that sweeeeeeeeeeeeet concrete and them harsh right angles. Give us some architecturally woke blockquote, fancy New York Times "news paper" article:

Love for Brutalism has often led to gentrification.
Not here!
Many social housing projects, such as Erno Goldfinger’s Trellick Tower in London, have become much sought-after private housing.
Not here!

Back in Reston's heyday, Brutalism was seen as the ideal embodiment of places to live, work, play, and get involved gas. Our wondrous concrete statuary and playground equipment drew as much scholarly analysis as cracked skulls. So how did it come to this?

Brutalism went out of favor by the mid-’70s. Films such as “A Clockwork Orange” turned Brutalist masterpieces into symbols of future dystopia. Planning budgets were slashed, and the Brutalists lost their backers. Over the last three decades, the style’s many scattered examples have suffered from age and neglect, their walls crumbling and leaking, threatened everywhere with demolition.
But now? If you've been waiting for an explanation that effortlessly incorporates the word "febrile," today's your day:
But now, like the chevron mustache, Brutalism is undergoing something of a revival. Despite two generations of abuse (and perhaps a little because of it), an enthusiasm for Brutalist buildings beyond the febrile, narrow precincts of architecture criticism has begun to take hold. Preservationists clamor for their survival, historians laud their ethical origins and an independent public has found beauty in their rawness. For an aesthetic once praised for its “ruthless logic” and “bloody-mindedness” — in the much-quoted phrasing of critic Reyner Banham — it is a surprising turn of events.
We quote Reyner Banham constantly.
Architectural fashions go in and out of style with disorienting alacrity. What is one era’s style is the next era’s eyesore, and in the midst of a demolition binge, a new generation learns to appreciate, often too late, what is disappearing. In that sense, the Brutalist revival is welcome. But there is a distinct possibility that, in the process of reconsideration, the Brutalism we retain will have lost much of what made it strange and appealing to begin with.
Not here. We've got plenty of vestigial weirdness left over from the "good" old days to last us a good long while.

But who knows? Maybe this Brutalist revival is a real thing. Maybe all the exciting development currently in the works will drop the Woonerf and dubious architectural adornments and get with the hero Brutalism.

In fact, maybe Reston Town Center, stung by the resistance to its totally justified and helpful app-enabled parking regimen, is being urged by its crisis management team to "change the conversation," as expensive crisis managers say, probably, and seize the momentum of this trend by revamping the entire fake downtown in the image of its original plans:

We'd pay two bucks an hour to park there, the end.