News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Are You Urban Chic, An Enterprising Professional, Or Top Tier? Depends On Where In Reston You Live

Reston prides itself on its diversity, but in the cold world of marketing analytics, we all fall into one of five demographic segments. YOU HAVE BEEN ASSIMILATED. But are you urban chic? An enterprising professional? Top tier? Depends on what Zip code you call home and what market segment your psychometrics have bound you to, inexorably, with no choice of appeal or mobility. Unless, you know, you move to another Zip code, like maybe in "Great" Falls or something.

"Enterprising Professionals" can be found in all of Reston's Zip codes, and they represent the largest segments of both "the 20190" and "the 20191," as the kids probably never said, not even once, in jest. Trying to find yourself? HERE'S WHO YOU ARE:

Screen Shot 2014 11 19 at 7 13 01 PM
MAJOR ERROR. Obviously they meant the Macaroni Grill instead of the Cheesecake Factory. As for gambling, we do that every time we pass the paint section at Home Depot and start looking wistfully at the fuchsia tones. Also, does "web logging" count as a STEM occupation?

Also, apparently all the Olds Golden Years types live in 20190, presumably in houses along Lake Anne that used to have those bead curtains in the place of actual working doors.

Screen Shot 2014 11 19 at 7 18 58 PM
20190 is also, annoyingly, home to a third group called "Laptops and Lattes," but we're pretty sure they all live within a two-block radius of the Starbucks in Reston Town Center:

Screen Shot 2014 11 19 at 7 22 01 PM

But let's say you live in 20194, aka North Reston, where the sky is bluer, the streets are wider, the people are happier, etc. etc. Then chances are you are Urban Chic:

Screen Shot 2014 11 19 at 7 24 19 PM
That "sophisticated lifestyle" obviously doesn't involve mingling at the dog park.

But North and South Reston are also home to the 1 percent Top Tier, presumably in the McMansions that surround Reston proper. What are they like?

Screen Shot 2014 11 19 at 7 29 43 PM
Wow, they're just like us. We love opera too!

Herndon's not all that different -- except that its second-largest group is "Savvy Suburbanites," which says that "late-model SUVs, station wagons, and minivans may be in our driveways." Could be worse -- they could have to rock the Ford Foci, like the rest of us, the end.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Caddyshackpocalypse Again: Reston National Golf Course Rezoning May Be Back From The Dead (Updated)

Oh nos
Our BFFs at Reston Now bring us the least welcome news in recent memory:

The quest to rezone and possibly redevelop Reston National Golf Course may be taking shape again.

The attorney representing RN Golf Management, which owns the public golf course, has asked the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals to put the issue back on a meeting agenda as soon as possible.
The company had put earlier plans to appeal the golf course zoning on hold back in July 2013, but, as we pointed out at the time, lots of other projects that were "postponed indefinitely" in county parlance wound up being built anyway.

The zoning appeal is basically a way to see if the land, which is currently zoned and designated in the original Reston Master Plan as open space, could be used for residential development. The property owner, a subsidiary of giant Northwestern Mutual Insurance, made it clear from the get-go that this isn't an academic question.

The proposal has a wide range of opponents, including county planning staff and elected officials, the Reston Association, the Sierra Club and the grassroots group Rescue Reston, which greeted this unwelcome news with an announcement titled "The Beast Returns."

Rescue Reston anticipates the zoning appeal will be heard by the county Board of Zoning Appeals sometime in January or February. They write:
This is an interesting time for the owners of RN, which includes the majority owner Northwestern Mutual, to again take up this battle. Reston is in the midst of Phase II of its Master Plan revision, and though it is only a guideline, text has been specifically added regarding the two golf courses that are an integral part of Reston:

“The Reston National (Tax Maps 17-4((11) 4A, 26-2 ((2)) 8, 26-2 ((5)) 4) and Hidden Creek Country Club (Tax Maps 17-2 ((24)) 1 and 17-4 ((10)) 2) golf courses are planned for private recreation use, more specifically to remain as golf courses.” (page 48 of working plan draft text dated September 5, 2014)
Are they trying to ram this through before this second phase of the Master Plan is formally approved? Nah, that would be cynical, and not befitting the high standards and ethics of an.... insurance company. Right?

In any event, this is apparently what's been happening sub rosa while we've all been busy putting stickers on flip charts, the end.

Update: The Reston Association issues its own statement, repeating its opposition to redevelopment, arguing that the current golfing uses are profitable, and saying it is even willing to buy the golf course property itself. Not bad for just an extra eight bucks a year, right?

Update to the Update: BZA hearing is scheduled for Jan. 21. Meanwhile, the Reston Citizens Association reiterates that the golf course must remain open space, and Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins issues a statement saying she supports the position of county zoning officials that the course is open space.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Reston Master Plan and Tall Oaks: Stick With a Winner, Win With a Sticker

Good jobSo much for fancy degrees in Urban Planning or Strategic Bollard Alignment or whatever. During last weekend's open house on the village center-focused phase of the Reston Master Plan, any common slob with a sticker could share their hopes and dreams for Reston's future -- or at least a couple of the more tired, worn out bits of it.

As our BFFs at Reston 2020 point out, the meeting primarily discussed Baron Cameron retail and Tall Oaks Village Center. Confidential Restonian Operative "Joel" shared some photos of all the hawtt sticker-on-flipchart action, as more than 70 people affixed stickers in a rainbow of DRB-affronting colors to a series of charts. Although we're not sure what's going on with this one about Baron Cameron retail -- is that a line of people waiting for Home Depot to open the day before a snowstorm?

Baron Cameron
Attendees were asked to "think out of the box" about the Tall Oaks Stucco Wasteland Shopping Center, which seems appropriate given the alarming number of vacant boxes within its off-white masonry.

Out of the box
Earlier, the RA had provided written comments to county planners saying, in not so many words, that it might not be a bad thing to blow it up, replace it with a smaller "convenience center" (think the Soapstone retail complex nestled in the woods) and more housing, particularly senior housing.

Our BFFs at Reston 2020 detailed a few of the "out of the box" suggestions thrown out during Saturday's meeting, including a cooking school, a shared commercial kitchen, a pop-up food truck day, and independent restaurants (which are pretty much the only thing left standing in Tall Oaks these days). But when it came to breaking out the stickers, people got a lot more predictable:

Sigh. Apparently, folks simply can't let go of the memories of "Susie de los Santos", even though our BFFs at Reston Now recently concisely described the odds of a Wegman's setting up shop at Tall Oaks (Cliff's notes: never.)

Who knows though? Maybe a convenience store would work in a newly reconfigured Tall Oaks Smaller Stucco Wasteland. Perhaps one of those 7-11s -- those things can stay in business anywhere! Oh, wait -- maybe not. Perhaps a Burger King, then -- they're pretty much recession-proof, right? Or a Curves?

We think we're going to need a bigger set of stickers, the end.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Flashback Monday: Flowers For Restonians

Lake Anne storefront
Our fondness for stylized architectural renderings and the Potemkin people drawn in for verisimilitude is well-documented, but this rendering of what one of the storefronts at Lake Anne Plaza might have looked like may be among the earliest glimpses of an idealized Reston that didn't quite come to fruition.

We like how this mockup flower store, creatively named "Flowers," has a sort of stained-glass-and-tile fern bar feel that would have stood out like a sore thumb among the Plaza's brutalist architecture. And there's no way the DRB would have permitted that gaudy light show (we envision a Vegas-like series of chasing lights to draw in would-be flower aficionados). It is nice to see, though, that the designers had envisioned the kitsch on the wall that would be used to such great effect by the pharmacy, even if it wound up raising the ire of fancypants scholars, the end.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Reston: Leafy Planned Community Or Skinner Box For Our Collective Fears?

Reston's a nice place, right? Leafy. Earth-toned. Often quiet. Perhaps quiet enough to embed our society's collective nightmares, a la Inception? Probably not, but there's been plenty for us worriers to worry about of late.

This YouTube person posted a video of a simulation/videogame of what might happen if our very own strain of Ebola that wreaked havoc on a bunch of monkeys and created a primo vacancy for a (human) daycare center began to spread. It isn't... good.

Then there's this, found by a Confidential Restonian Operative right in nearby Herndon. "They're getting closer!" he said, perhaps a little too nervously.

Isis logo
Of course, it's just an innocent hookah bar whose name has fallen under some unfortunate branding associations of late. They're not alone. But still, it's not like people in Ashburn wake up wondering if a strain of a killer disease will be named after them -- except maybe for affluenza, the end.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Forget Paris II: Why Reston, Not Tysons, Could Be the Electric Boogaloo of the 21st Century

We've had lots of fun talking about all the creative branding efforts to transform "Fairfax County's downtown" from a gridlocked collection of ugly office towers and car dealerships into Paris a 21st century city.

Turns out, though, that's not exactly what's happening, at least if you look at where companies are actually setting up shop in a commercial real estate market that could charitably be described as "soft":

Reston is dominating the Northern Virginia office market, with companies sometimes willing to pay 30 percent or more in rent to be in Reston Town Center instead of other neighborhoods, according to research from the real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield.

But vacancy in Northern Virginia and the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor in particular have risen dramatically recently. Meanwhile, the vacancy rate in Reston has plunged downward in the last few years as companies scramble into available space... Some of the newer offices in Tysons are shaping up as strong competitors to buildings in Reston, particularly those that can offer closer access to the Silver Line than Reston Town Center will be able to. But the plan for Tysons is four years old. The plan for Reston is 50 years old. That’s a 46-year head start.
IN YOUR FACE, TYSONS! It's almost as though people prefer the human-scaled, walkable environment of our ersatz downtown to Crystal Koons, Wal-Mart and endless traffic, even if there is a parking lot painted green to lure in the food trucks and whatnot.

Even stories focusing on future growth in Tysons amid a generally bleak office market in Northern Virginia acknowledge this inconvenient truth:
Reston Town Center — where a fifth new metro station opened — is the county’s second largest business center. It has 19.8 million square feet of office space, just behind Tysons, which has 26.3 million square feet. Reston’s vacancy rate is 1 percent, says Hardy. In Tysons at mid-year the rate was nearly 17 percent.
A 1 percent vacancy rate is pretty much unheard of. Who knows, maybe they counted the rats.

But there is, as they say in the movies, a snag. Our BFFs at Reston 2020 point out that this advantage may be short-lived if Reston's infrastructure doesn't keep up with the increased bollardy densities that have already been approved for future development:
That Reston plan was updated last year with much greater commercial and residential density as part of the Reston Master Plan process. Indeed, the planned infrastructure to support Reston Town Center's development would choke trying to support the kind of development planned at Tysons. In fact, we believe its transportation, education, and parks & recreation planning for Reston Town Center is terribly inadequate even for the densities now planned there and well below existing County planning standards and guidelines. As a result, the Town Center area will be less able to handle traffic and meet the recreational needs of its residents, workers, and visitors than Tysons if they both develop as their new plans propose.

Maybe long term Tysons will turn out to be the better, more walkable, more accessible, more attractive mixed-use urban area than Reston's Town Center. We certainly hope not, but that is what the two plans currently offer!
SICK BURN. It's yet another reminder of the need to hold our elected county officials accountable for all the shiny new things that were promised along with the Metro and added development it brings. Failing that, we could always try painting a few parking lots green -- that is, if there are any left, the end.

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.