News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, September 4, 2020

Wagyupocalypse Now: Despite Efforts to Attract Elite Retailers, Balducci’s Couldn't Make RTC Work

The whole, you know, global-pandemic-leading-to-massive-layoffs-and-maybe-another-great-depression thing has made harping about paid parking at Reston's plastic fantastic playground for the elite a bit boring and petty. But the news this week that Balducci’s Food Lover Market, the only grocery store that makes Whole Foods look like a purveyor of surplus government cheese cost-wise, is leaving Reston Town Center after being sued for (allegedly) not paying rent since December still evokes a bit of plaguenfreude.

We mean, the whole premise of RTC's strategy, such as it is, has been to position our Fake Downtown as an elite destination -- and attract more upscale midscale chain retail. But if a place selling $250/lb kobe steak and $40 bottles of olive oil can't make it there, can it make it anywhere? (The answer is yes—demonstrably more elite Bethesda and McLean, where Balducci's will still maintain stores and the Reston employees will be transferred).

To be fair to our Fake Downtown overlords, there is the whole plague thing going on. And Balducci’s had tried to make a go of Reston before -- in the demonstrably less elite spot where Petsmart now stands. And our betters can still drive in from "Great" Falls to get their kobe steak fix from Morton's, we guess. But it's going to be hard to find yet another nail salon to fill yet another roughly 20,000 square feet of vacant space.

In conclusion, pour one out for Balducci’s, and by "one" we mean a $140 bottle of Veuve Clicquot. And us non-elite folk can take some comfort from this: RTC's lawsuit said it was keeping Balducci's security deposit, just like the crisis-management-team-free landlords we've all had to deal with in our own lives always tried to do. $189,244.33 would pay for a lot of nail holes in the walls, the end.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Flashback Monday: Potemkin Postcards for Planned Community Particleboard Projects

Set the controls of the Earth-Toned Wayback Machine to sometime in the 1970s, when homebuilder Ryland Homes produced this lovely postcard of Ryland homes in Reston, Virginia, which they imaginatively titled "Ryland homes in Reston, Virginia." OR ARE THEY?

We love us some vintage postcards, but something's awry here. The excellent Facebook group "Reston, Remember When" tried to figure out exactly where these homes were located, with some early guesses including Stratton Woods, Polo Village, and Reston-adjacent Fox Mill Estates. But the generic housing stock aside, there are some suspiciously non-Restony things about the photos, like the lovely fenced-in front yard (very verboten in the communal Reston of yesteryear), the curbs (not very South Reston), the lighting and signage, and the (shudder) third-world nightmare of the one-car garage, which rules out much of Fox Mill.

We did learn the the homes had very non-Reston names, a homebuilder tradition that continues to this day. From left to right, your would-be 70s homebuyer could choose between the Portsmouth, the Raleigh, and for the guy who got an especially good bonus check from his strapping-bombs-to-dolphins government contractor, the HAMILTON SIGNATURE (which appears to have a few extra windows snapped into the vinyl siding; accompanying vinyl snap-in mullions were likely an extra feature).

Consensus seems to be that the homebuilder simply decided to recycle the photos from one of its other developments in the region, as the models were likely the same or at least highly similar. Maybe they didn't want to be associated with some of Reston's architectural excesses as the nation lurched out of the mod 1960s, so instead of suggesting the presence of nearby earth tones and actually architecturally interesting structures they just picked the most generic landscape imaginable -- a Potemkin particleboard village -- and hope people didn't take the scenic route through Reston on the way to the models.

It's not the first time there's been weirdness with Reston postcards. But. There's one horrifying theory. Ryland was also one of the early builders in Reston's satanic doppelgänger, Columbia, Maryland. Could this be the ultimate Potemkin Plastic Fantastic Planned Project Switcheroo? We may never know, but try saying that three times fast, the end.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Earth-Toned Shot... And Chaser

Hey, this sounds like a fun way to pass our socially distanced time!


Too bad there's already a winner:


In a completely unrelated development, Confidential Restonian Operative "Joel" shared this exciting photo of what appears to be photos from the Mars Rover with some houses photoshopped in the background move-in day for the first residents of what he calls the Tall Oaks Convenience Center. Welcome to Reston! Good luck, and watch that bumpy ride into Tyvektown the new neighborhood!



Friday, July 3, 2020

Straight Outta Tysons? They See Me Rollin' (In Snarled Traffic), They Hatin'

We could point out that Reston did it first (and has the video to prove it), but to be fair, having this displayed on what presumably is a clothing rack with a prominent price tag in a shopping mall is very On Brand for America's Next Great City Emerald City Paris Tysons, the end.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Reston's Plague Year: Week # Somewhere Between Phase 2 (Not Enough Masks) And Phase 3 (Won't Be Enough Masks)

A legitimate surprise: the Silver Line is now reopening ahead of schedule -- August 16 instead of after Labor Day. No word on whether this campaign from our doppelgänger in Scotland played any role in the fast-track schedule (click to enlarge):

In the meantime, we wouldn't worry about long lines for the replacement bus service:

Predictably, there's been backlash to the peaceful Black Lives Matter protests in Reston a few weeks back. From Lake Newport, a retort scrawled on a piece of art:

And the Reston Unitarian Universalist Church on Wiehle Avenue had its own Black Lives Matter banner stolen over the weekend. (Fun fact for the old-timers: When they first started putting up rainbow pride banners more than a decade ago, someone tried to set them on fire. More than once, too.)

Meanwhile, antifa supersoldiers Reston Strong have found a monument to topple -- the Confederate monument at the old Fairfax Courthouse:

Never forget that Reston's only historical statue of note once found itself vandalized and thrown in the lake.

And then there's the final word:

We're all in.

This drone shot of an empty (and for once, "contamination" free) Water Mine at Lake Fairfax, posted first to Nextdoor, is wild:

The Reston Community Center is reopening in limited fashion early next month, including its indoor pools. And four of Reston's pools will open next week, albeit for lap swimming/water walking only, with reservations required and no one under 8 allowed. And because We Can't Have Nice Things, stand-up paddleboarding is canceled for 2020:

No helicopter, but this week's police news is tragic and (as of now) unexplained.

Roer's Zoofari (formerly the Reston Zoo) has reopened as a self-serve driving/walking tour. Smart way to adapt to a potentially business-destroying threat. And emerging from the pandemic, Kalypso's Sports Tavern is preparing to celebrate 10 years of business -- practically an Ice Age as far as Lake Anne businesses go.

Finally, we'll leave you with An Art, a hidden surprise found in the woods of Reston:

Friday, June 19, 2020

Reston Underpass Art Among World's Top 100, And The Hits Don't Stop 'Til We Get To The Top

During these challenging times, it's important to celebrate what little good news comes our way. That's why it's time to visit Casey Kasem's unmarked grave in Norway and light an earth-toned candle, because Reston is BACK IN THE TOP 100 BABY!

One of the very exciting An Arts scattered around Reston, "Thoreau's Ensemble," was selected by the 2020 CODAawards jury as one of the top 100 finalists in the world for demonstrating "the most successful integration of commissioned art into an interior, architectural, or public space." Alrighty then!

But the hits don't stop 'til we get to the top, which is why Reston needs our help. There can only be one An Art to rule them all, and CODAawards is opening the Top 100 to public voting. Of course, we'd encourage you to vote early and often, but because Restonian Is On Your Side (tm), we'll go one step further and point out some other worthy An Arts from around the world recognized in the Top 100:

Okay, Seattle, but we did the glowy bois on ugly infrastructure thing before it was cool.

Canada trying to cash in, artistically speaking, on Jon and Yoko's famous bed-in for peace. Inspiring, but would be even more so with a view of odd parallelograms out that hotel window.

Sorry, Scottsdale, but even Tysons has used the Fake Bird motif.

The inevitable round of budget cuts means we'll probably get something like this An Art from Shenzhen as our long-awaited pedestrian bridge over Wiehle.

If our ceaseless lobbying had worked, we could have had something even radder than this at our own Metro station. But our loss is exurban Colorado's gain.

Voting continues through the end of August; as of this writing, Thoreau's Ensemble is one of only a handful of An Arts with more than 140 votes. You know what to do, the end.

Monday, June 8, 2020

A Weekend of Peaceful Protest in Reston

It was quite a weekend.

The biggest surprise of all? Reston Town Center allowed protesters to peacefully march through their private property, perhaps in response to some bad PR.

In response, we'll spare everyone the joke that this was the biggest crowd in RTC since the introduction of the iPhone 4.

The Reston zeitgeist, in one photo:

A peaceful, multiracial crowd... and kitties.

More photos here.

Elsewhere in Reston...

And our favorite paramilitary organization was back at it again: