News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

McTacoHut Remains Just 'Taco,' At Least For Now

Confidential Restonian Operative "Erin" sent in this stealthy cellular telephone imagery of Reston's beloved carbohydrates complex, wherein the "Mc" portion of McTacoHut has been undergoing a butterfly-like transformation from its 1970s beige and brown chrysalis into a sleek, transit-oriented-ready factory of fast eats and clean architectural cladding, complete with very non-Reston, non-McTacoHut, light-up signage up on that turret-like thingy at the left, from which besieged staff presumably can pour boiling (vegetable) oil on angry mobs.

But, given the departure of the McTacoHut's Hut and the continued closure of the Mc, McTacoHut remains "Taco" for now. CRO "Erin" writes, "no less than a week and a half ago we were told to come on in, but in 6 days, for the Grand Re-opening. Fast forward 10 days later and it's only 5 days away!"

That's a lot of math for us filthy English major "web loggers" to process, but we think that means Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme are what's for dinner for the 47th consecutive night at Restonian World Headquarters, the end.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

BREAKING: Woonerf Unceremoniously Yanked From Reston Promenade Development, Shattering Our Schoolgirl Dreams of Dodging Traffic on Sidewalks

Talk about "burying the lead," as people in the news business haven't said in years because of whazzitcalled, the death of print journalism or whatever: It looks like our dreams of a mixed-use nirvana where pedestrians and cars live together in harmony, laughing/beeping as they stroll/drive down the road, high-end ice cream/wiper fluid in hand/wiper reservoir, are dead, like so many glossy magazines and fried dough dispensaries.

In a fancy "press release" about county-approved changes to plans for Comstock's awesome Reston Promenade hotel/retail/office/residential complex just north of the current maze of parallelograms known as Reston Station, Fairfax County saved the bad news for the sixth paragraph: Woonerf is going to stay below sea level in the Netherlands, where it apparently belongs. Give us the bad news, county press release:

Removing the woonerf — a Dutch-style “living street” without sidewalks and curbs that pedestrians, bicyclists and cars share — to improve the experience for pedestrians by discouraging car traffic.
There are other significant changes, including turning the planned hotel 90 degrees (like Tetris, Comstock's parallelograms apparently are rotatable) to improve visibility and "bring more daylight into the Promenade," not that any cars will be able to take advantage of the sunshine.

Comstock also must have run out of consonants, as a planned residential building is now going to be an office building, reducing the number of residential units from 590 to 340. No word on whether the new office building will be called "FFC" to keep up with BLVD, its vowel-free residential neighbor across the street.

The decrease in housing brings the overall project more in line with the county’s land use recommendations. The Promenade will be divided almost evenly between residential and commercial development, as called for by the Comprehensive Plan. Before, it was 70% residential and 30% non-residential.
And while the number of residential units is down, Comstock is allocating the same 16.5 percent of them for affordable housing, more than the county-required minimum -- so good on them.

The Tetris move with the hotel building also puts the pocket park on the corner of the property, where it will (imaginatively) be called "Corner Park." Give us some good blockquote, press release:

Previously planned as a primarily hardscaped, urban plaza, this 16,200-square-foot park will feature an open lawn, outdoor seating, tables and chairs and bicycle racks. In total, the Promenade offers 1.2 acres of park space. Comstock also will contribute more than $2.3 million to the county for athletic field construction, plus $646,000 for on-site recreational facilities.

There's more, including the fact that the county is selling a piece of land within the parcel to Comstock for $3 million, which will allow the company to "shift density" and generate "an estimated $8.6 million per year in rental revenue for the county." But mostly we're just sad about the lack of woonerf. But even so, there is a bright side -- open spaces where cars are not allowed to be can only mean one thing!

Screen shot 2010 05 11 at 10 06 29 AM

Hope springs eternal, the end.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Reston: The Sofa Uncannily Like Reston: The Planned Community

Someone on the Facebook machine shared this cellular telephone photo of the most exciting innovation in sectional sleeper sofas since, wedunno, they added a cupholder to the Barcalounger?

As befits an innovative sofa with "a trundle mattress disguised as the sofa's front rail," the fine folks at Crate & Barrel named it after our equally innovative plastic fantastic planned community. We couldn't possibly be prouder of our eponymous piece of furniture. Let's take a closer look at why:

But where Reston: The Sofa really earns its imprimatur is when they tempt you with the color wheel:

Except that's not what you get, silly rabbits!

"Curious, Mink" sounds like the name of a 1960s softcore romance novel, but otherwise this palette is pretty much what DRB members see when they close their eyes at night, so in conclusion we highly recommend each Restonian buy four of five of these babies and stack them in their front yards, the end.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

R.I.P.: Reston: The Magazine

Pour one out, as the kids reliably haven't said in at least a decade, for everyone's favorite glossy magazine covering our plastic fantastic planned community: Reston: The Magazine is no more.

People complained about Reston: The Magazine constantly, arguing that a, whazzitcalled, homeowners association shouldn't be publishing a fancypants magazine like it was Conde Nast (or, in the RA's case, Conde Nasty Color Palettes). The magazine was supposedly self-sustaining because of that sweet sweet advertising cash, but judging by the dramatic decline in our own ad revenues for the WHOS YOUR BABY'S DADDY banner ads on this filthy "web log" that prompted us to cancel our planned trophy office building lease, we should have guessed that advertising alone would no longer carry the freight.

Now uniformed federal agents will instead be delivering an "RA Activities Guide" to our homes four times a year. That was the excuse for having a magazine in the first place, but let's look back and see how Reston: The Magazine was So. Much. More.

Launched at the beginning of what was then a shiny new decade, Reston: The Magazine covered a lot of ground. They told us to pan for gold in the creek out back! They announced the biggest news since Bob Simon pulled out a map of Fairfax County! There was the time it profiled a mauvescraper that Reston officially opposed! It went the prog rock route with its photos (a move we applaud). And it offered this priceless, stock photo-festooned listicle of What To Do When Your Neighbor Paints The Party Wall Purple:

And, as we all have had to in recent years, Reston: The Magazine got with the program. But above all, we'll miss the part of Reston: The Magazine that truly got what it was like to live in a planned suburban community in an era of aggressive late-stage capitalism: the word finds.

Farewell, Reston: The Magazine. We can only hope that this other new publication, available just a bit further down the Toll road, has room for word finds among its centerfolds profiles of "the Burn's" X-rated parks and whatnot, the end.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Unintentional Metaphor, Part the Infinity: Golf Courses as Artifacts

Our BFFs at the Reston Museum posted this somewhat on-the-nose "artifact of the month" to the Instagram, that crazy social network the kids today are all using to send "snaps," or whatever, of themselves with dog ears to each other.

"Visit the museum to see this wonderful picture of Golf Course Island being developed," the caption says, or maybe visit Golf Course Island itself sometime soon to see its namesake being redeveloped into a "grand park" or something with "lower public benefit," speaking of being on-the-nose, the end.

Monday, December 30, 2019

End of an Earth-Toned Decade: What's Changed, What Remains the Same in Reston

The end of the decade is a time for introspection, for looking at the years that have rolled by like so many fanciful concrete bollards and making wistful yet trenchant observations about the passage of time and the commonality of the human--er, Restonian--experience.

Haha, no, it's actually time for lazy "web loggers" to stretch themselves by pulling together not just the usual year-end list of what's in and what's out, but a decade-long list. Excelsior!

Actually, it turns out that 2009 was a pretty big year for our plastic fantastic planned community. The Metro Silver Line was finally approved, though our property values haven't exactly had the decade that bitcoin did. (There's always Phase 2! And HQ 0.5!) The nautical crime of the century occurred! There hadn't been any 500-year floods, but we'd catch up pretty quickly over the decade to come! And we got a shockingly prescient sneak peek of what politics in the ought-teens would wind up looking like!

But long paragraphs of words are, you know, boring. Bring on the Listicle!

Metro Silver Line Phase 1 finally approved, though construction delays would postpone our first ride for another half-decade.Silver Line Phase 2 faces construction delays, but at least there's a bathroom while we wait
Scolding articles in the media about Restonians' irrational fear of development and being "rich"Um, same?
Oddly angular art proposed for the Metro stationMore oddly angular buildings proposed around the Metro station
Sketchy politicking in local electionsSpending $25 per voter to win a seat on the county board
Trees cut down for stream restorationTrees cut down for sport development
Proposed high-rise meets community opposition, ultimately prompting compromise reducing heightSame, but this time mockingly described as a "geriatric day-glow rave."
Reston Association considers large indoor rec center, complete with juiceryReston Association considers large indoor water park, status of juice purveyors not included in costly member survey
Bob Simon attends meetings about Reston master planBob Simon used as justification for short-sighted proposed revisions to master plan which were ultimately tabled
Tall Oaks anchor store sits empty while waiting for third grocery store to openUm... what Tall Oaks?
Reston Town Center rebranding effort includes fun-filled contestReston Town Center crisis management plan includes fun-filled contest with doctored results
The Apple store grand opening draws massive crowds to RTCPaid parking draws a massive lawsuit and, um, a nail salon? to RTC
T&A and foul language were apparently rampantBiophilia, ewwwww
Star Wars was a big draw for residential real estateCaddyshack was a big draw for residential real estate
Childish "web log" jokes about RA violating child labor lawsRA actually caught violating child labor laws
Bob Simon launches what the RA erroneously calls a "blob". Reston: The Magazine announced, with page after page of badmiton class schedules delighting tens of residentsRestonian: The Blob publishes several posts, delighting tens of residents

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Reston's Uncivil War, or Something, Magazinesplained In 3,600 Excruciating Words, Not One of Which Was 'Bollards'

Have you felt a little bit... unsettled this holiday season? Maybe it's not those extra cookies or all that eggnog you had at the holiday party the other night, but rather that you're "locked in a battle for your soul. And golf."

Fancypants Washingtonian magazine, fresh off its culinary review of Reston's finest, and now forever changed, dining locale, returned to our plastic fantastic planned community with a lengthy feature, which consolidated the complexities of the past five years of Metro-fueled development into... um, bright yellow T-shirts and subtle racism?

Give us some good scene-setting blockquote, BFFs at Washingtonian:

Looking back on it, the night 900 people marched into South Lakes High School was probably the moment when things got out of hand in Reston. There was the preposterous number, for one. And how most of them came dressed for combat in bright-yellow T-shirts. Nine hundred fired-up citizens descending on a municipal meeting, demanding to take back their town, fighting for all that was good and righteous. And also, ostensibly, golf.
Imagine thinking that people being vocal about the future of their community is "preposterous." But apparently it was also "portentous." By all means, magazinesplain what that means to us simple flatlanders:
The forces blowing through the room—class, generational politics, race—were no less portentous.
Funny, we thought it was about rubber-stamping development without any supporting infrastructure, and in particular the idea of increasing density far away from the Metro stations we're condescendingly told is where development should be. Maybe we need a civics lesson:
But this was not quite a civics lesson. It was closer to a blitz. Within four minutes of questions and answers, the crowd began booing the Fairfax County officials pitching the plan. There was a frenzy of accusations, recriminations, even an allegation of bribery. The county was going to ruin Reston! As the Yellow Shirts shook a sea of multicolored placards, the room convulsed like a geriatric day-glow rave.
Never mind the fact that the proposal that so preposterously and portentously brought out nearly 1,000 supposed geriatric racists was ultimately tabled after the county first tried to developmentsplain that "we can't stop development waiting for roads to be built" and then shamefully attempted to shut down public input completely. But okay, NIMBYs and racism, sure.

We'll spare you the Wikipedia-fueled summary of Reston's glorious past (which somehow still managed to skip the good stuff) and the quotes from various people on Both Sides of the Battle For Reston's Soul, and just skip to the end, since that's where journalists, like filthy "web loggers," tell you what they personally believe by picking who gets the last word:

In the absence of consensus, each new development is becoming a symbolic, piecemeal battle about Reston’s identity—all over again. And the Yellow Shirts, if they didn’t exactly welcome this new phase, seem ready. At our last meeting, Hays, the former ambassador, flipped his phone over the table and showed me the website for Rescue Sunrise Valley. It’s a new citizens’ group, opposing a proposed development—not along a golf course but near the Metro. “They’ve got a website, flyers, bulletins, information sheets,” Hays noted proudly. They were meeting Saturday. Did I want to go?
Had the reporter actually gone to that meeting, he would have learned that this "symbolic piecemeal battle," in fact, resulted in some significant concessions and improvements in the way the mauvescrapers were massed in the Campus Commons proposal, along with fixes to help traffic flows, and, most importantly of all, a pledge to put some money into getting the more than 1,000 people who will live and work there across six lanes of Wiehle Avenue to the nearby Metro Station with something slightly safer than a crosswalk and crossed fingers.

Shockingly, there was no "geriatric day-glow rave" or cries to "keep the poors out" or whatever -- just reasonably voiced concerns about legitimate issues which were, for once, at least acknowledged by the developer (no thanks to the county, BTW).

We don't question our former County Supervisor or others for their sincerity about keeping Reston open and inclusive -- and if people in Reston didn't want that, more of them would move to Loudoun County, where you apparently can successfully oppose the redevelopment of a golf course without being accused of being a geriatric yellowshirt, or whatever. But it's too easy to paint all opposition to growth with a single brush, and as others have pointed out, there are powerful forces that benefit from doing so -- and are putting lots of money into trying. Too bad the reporter missed that part of the story.

To be fair, it's not just Washingtonian. Another filthy "web log," Greater Greater Washington, has written similar sneering pieces equating any opposition to development to NIMBYism, at first lumping together the legitimate concerns raised about Campus Commons and "Manhattanization scare tactics" and asking "if we can’t build there, where can we?"

We'll say again we'd rather live somewhere that's growing, not stagnant. At the same time, we shouldn't fault people for resisting unchecked development, a county government that has historically overrided calls for the additional affordable housing that these writers accuse Restonians of not wanting, or the wanton destruction of open space that -- if we are to cite Bob Simon and his vision for Reston as the Gospel against which the yellowshirters have sinned -- can (and should) co-exist with dense, well-thought out development.

The reality is that each new development will have to be a "piecemeal battle" for the "soul of Reston," or whatever, which is as it should be. Something tells us that the "Great" Falls and Northwest Washington residents who are our supposed betters make up the bulk of Washingtonian's affluent subscriber base would likely agree if someone decided to pop a 14-story mauvescraper that might be home to Those People next door, the end.