News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Signs of the Season, Pt. 1

2015 11 21 14 35 16

Nothing quite like a brisk walk on a clear November morning to clear the senses and prepare for the holiday season to come. Wait, what's this?


Ah, the perfect topic for Thanksgiving dinner with the extended family. Thanks, random Reston vandal!

Though if you're truly worried about maintaining your purity of essence, we'd be more leery of that churned up, freshly dredged Lake Anne water, stone cold circulatin' through your AC (or "AC"), the end.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Guess We'll Have to Relearn How to Read: Reston Gets Bookstore Again (Updated)

BookstoreFor the first time since midscale bookstore chain Barnes & Noble was replaced by midscale plastic byproduct chain the Container Store, Reston once again has a seller of (new) books. Scrawl Books opened its doors today in one of the Pop-Up Tarts stores that have sprouted at Reston Station. Fire up your iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Android, or whatever, kids, to learn more from its website:

Scrawl Books offers a thoughtful and relevant selection of new books for children, teens and adults in a welcoming space where people can browse, gather, and explore new ideas. We support local literacy efforts and freedom of speech, and strive to reflect and contribute to the diversity of Reston and Herndon and the surrounding area. Owner Rachel Wood is a librarian and Reston resident with more than 20 years experience connecting books with people.
The website says the bookstore is currently seeking a larger location, which makes sense, given that a smaller location would be one of the bike lockers downstairs in the garage.

A "Petite Grand Opening" is scheduled for this Saturday. We're seriously thrilled to see an independent store replace a long-gone chain option. We can only hope that soon, someone will offer an artisanal carb-n-cheese take on the long-lamented Macaroni Grill, the end.

Update: More on additional pop-up stores, from our BFFs at Reston Now.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Pop-Ups, Chili's Down: A Children's Treasury of Reston Construction

Reston Hieghts Construction

Confidential Restonian Operative "Kim" sends us this photo of construction beginning on the next phase of Reston Heights from the lofty vantage point of the soon-to-be-rebranded Reston International Center. So long vacant retail and massive two-screen multiplex turned midscale chain dining spot, we hardly knew you!

Then, across town the Toll Road, not far from where the mutant pig/bear clones roam, we have this:

Pop Up Retail

Yep, this is the humble structure that will house the new hipster-friendly "pop-up retail" adjacent to the Metro station. But what will it sell?

Pop Tart

You've got to admit the resemblance is uncanny.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Bikeshare: Where the Bikes Aren't

Bikeshare map

With Reston now slated to get its bikeshare stations by late 2016 or early 2017, we've gotten our first glimpse at what is likely to transform our midrise suburban community into something like Sweden, only with more midscale chain dining options that don't offer lutefisk. V. v. exciting! (The bikes. Not the lutefisk.)

But we digress. Right now, it looks like the loaner bikes will only ply their way between Reston's gritty urban core and the Metro station. It's not too much of a leap to imagine that during peak times cyclists will be able to get between those two points faster than in a car, even with a pitstop for some felt swatches and potpourri at Michaels (bikeshare station #2).

Of course, there's a teensy five-lane problem with this plan, and its name is Sunset Hills. People will need to bike it, or at least cross it to get to the W&OD trail. But maybe that won't be so bad. Just check out this photo:

Screen Shot 2015 11 17 at 10 37 24 AM  2

Which, judging by the position of the sun, was taken very very early in the morning. On a Sunday. On a leap year. Actual road conditions may vary.

But county officials have, as they say in the movies, A Plan. Give us some sweeeet blockquote, BFFs at Reston Now:

Fairfax County plans additional bike improvements (lanes, signage) countywide, as well as an awareness and safety campaign prior to the system opening.
We're still waiting on a W&OD bridge over Wiehle Avenue, but a few helpful signs will be good too!

And, of course, there's the question of why there are no bikeshare stations planned for Less Sought After South Reston. (There also aren't any in the works for fancypants North Reston, but that's because you're required to be riding this bike -- or better -- if you venture north of Baron Cameron.) Here's the official explanation for snubbing South Reston, courtesy of Reston Now:

The county looked into stations at various office buildings in south Reston, but decided the locations would throw off the balance of bikes throughout the day.

“People would ride to work on the south side and there would not be any constant flow,” he said. “Bikes would just sit by the workplaces all day.”

But from the same article, we also have this:
The design will not have to go through Reston Association’s Design Review Board as no stations are on RA land.

Still, this is all very exciting. Our only request is they consider opening a bikeshare station at the Tall Oaks Stucco Wasteland Village Center while there's still time (and space) to do this:

Friday, November 13, 2015

Reston Station Going to the Dogs, or Pigs, or Something (Updated)


Confidential Restonian Operative "South Lakes Survivor" sent us this nightmare fuel Twitter photo of the latest piece of whimsical art to grace our favorite Metro station and source of artisanal bacon products, Reston Station. Apparently giant towers of surplus utility conduit flapping in the breeze was too challenging a public art statement for the commuter crowd, so the powers that be opted for something a bit more... mainstream, assuming you call a weirdly anthropomorphic and sexualized yet ambiguous barnyard animal "mainstream."

But what is it? At first, we were going with "bear," but after closer examination, we're thinking "pig," maybe? Is it an unintentional metaphor for the intentional growth all around it? Is it queuing up early to be the first to enjoy some sweeeeeet trackside midscale chain dining? Only the artist knows for sure.

True story: As week or so back, we were returning to Reston on the last train of the evening after attending one of the many invitation-only black-tie soirees we get invited to, and we stumbled upon this as we were heading bleary-eyed to the elevator to retrieve our car on level G41 of the garage, but didn't quite process it. Good to know it wasn't a figment of our fevered imagination.


Update: Apparently it's a repurposed panda bear from downtown, but Floyd never did a song about any of the ursine members of the chordata phylum, so our headline stands, the end.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

So Long, Surface Parking: RTC Construction Begins Monday

RTC building

Several years in the planning, this tall glass of water mixed cladding materials will soon be gracing the last surface parking lot at Reston's gritty urban core. The parking lot closes on Monday, ending our endless hours of circling in hopes of finding a spot without fighting the Sleestaks venturing into one of the (still free, at least for now) garages.

Boston Properties' "Signature Site," as we were unaware this was called until now, includes two residential high-rises and an office/retail building ranging between 17 and 21 stories tall. Here's a site plan, which we found under a banner that reads "World-Class":

Site plan

R-3 (which is what we hope they continue to market the building as, continuing the trend of swanky vowel-free apartment living) encroaches on the existing park space in RTC's northeast corner, but we knew that. Initial occupancy of the 540 residential units is scheduled for 2017.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Caddyshackpocalypse Later: Court Ruling Redirects, Not Blocks, Future Golf Course Development (Updated)

Celebratory Tap Friday's court ruling on the future of the Reston National Golf Course, the latest skirmish in what has become a multiyear battle to determine whether the nearly 200-acre course can be converted into a variety of awesome midrise housing developments, is a victory for backers of open space in Reston. But it's not time to crack open the beer tap in the golf bag champagne just yet.

Our BFFs at Reston Now have a good explanation of the legal issues at play. Especially gratifying is that the Scooby Doo plot point questioning the validity of old planning documents that drove much of the debate in the last utterly confusing round of hearings has finally been cleared up:

The loophole that the original RN Golf land use attorney thought he had found when the investor-owners undertook this battle in 2012 has been closed: Fairfax County has certified all documents.
The upshot is that RNGC owners Northwestern Mutual and RN Golf will now have to go through the normal process for any proposed development, instead of questioning the authenticity of Reston's master plan and claiming the golf course was never designated as open space so, hey, bring on the 99-story "by right" condos and above-ground parking lots. Give us some good explanatory blockquote, BFFs at Reston Now:
John McBride, RA’s land counsel, said the ruling is significant because any redevelopment of the course must now be preceded by the filing of specific plans with the county, which will then be compared with the “Development Plans” approved in 1971. The 1971 plans were the main focus of the five-hour BZA hearing in January.

“These plans are in the county zoning files and clearly limit use of the land to a golf course, open space and driving range,” RA says. “Any change to these approved plans will require amendment approval by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.”

And even if RNGC's well-heeled owners don't appeal Friday's ruling, conceivably all the way to the Virginia Supreme Court, that's still a big worry. In recent years, both the Board of Supervisors and its planning commission have shown they are willing, at times, to disregard the concerns of the Reston Association, other citizen groups and its own planning staff in approving development in Reston. While Reston groups have managed at times to win important concessions on some proposals that have kept such abominations as the "Texas donut" (not as tasty as it sounds) out of Reston, there hasn't been an example of a proposal being stopped completely when it goes through the "standard process."

Of course, there's a difference between approving dense development in areas where dense development makes sense and approving it on a golf course intended to be open space. We'd hope that our elected supervisors and planning commissioners will continue to get that in the years to come. But we need to pay attention, and to vote accordingly.

Give us some good prepared statement, BFFs at Rescue Reston:

"While we have won this round, the fight is not over and RN Golf still has other options available to it including appealing today’s ruling or attempting to amend the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan. We must remain prepared to continue the fight so long as RN Golf remains committed to its attempts to destroy our community’s valuable open space.”

Update: Along with appealing Friday's ruling or filing a formal development application, Rescue Reston offers RGNC a third option:

Accept that No means No. Northwestern Mutual inquired and was told about the land use of permanent open space BEFORE they invested in the golf course in 2005. They’ve been told the same at least 3 times since then. No (residential development) means no.
Rescue Reston isn't holding its breath, though:
RN Golf’s attorney made it known very shortly into this long hearing that they intend to challenge any ruling not made in their favor. This means an appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court, and we will know in just a bit over 30 days from now if they will take this action.
Judging by RR's account of the golf course's attorneys' arguments made Friday, we're guessing the answer to that question will be yes:
Over the 3 years of this battle I have heard some folks worry about the property rights of the landowner of the golf course. They do indeed have property rights, the same as all of us, and their attempts to sidestep our County process have cost us all a lot of money, time and angst. I can tell you that Judge Devine did not react favorably when the attorney for RN Golf suggested that Fairfax County Zoning staff and our Board of Supervisors do not know what they are doing.

RN Golf’s attorney also did not seem to win any favors when he complained to the judge about the costs to file development plans that could then be properly evaluated and ruled on.