News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, January 12, 2018

Reston Real Estate: Despite the Silver Line, Property Values Flatline

It seems like only yesterday that we were breathlessly awaiting the arrival of the Silver Line as our E-ticket ride to riches. All's we'd have to do is watch our property values sextuple and ward off the shadowy developer types with their Snidely Whiplash mustaches knocking on our doors with wheelbarrows full of cash to entice us to turn our aging 1970s neighborhoods into hip, vowel-free mauvescrapers!

Well, that didn't exactly happen. And a fresh set of median property values over the past 15 years shows that, on average, we're roughly where we were a decade ago. Check out our mad Excel skillz this chart below:

A few things stand out: First, we've divided up this graph to show B.S. (Before the Silver Line) and A.S. (after it). It looks like after a slight uptick following the Silver Line opening back in ought-fourteen, property values have stubbornly failed to skyrocket. Is it because of the glut of new high-rise housing coming online? Is it because people inexplicably prefer the newer, particleboardier housing stock (and NSFW amenities) in Loudoun and are willing to put up with a longer commute to get it? Are people realizing that the region's strapping-bomb-to-dolphin days of wine and (appropriately colored) roses may be numbered? All's we know is that we should have invested in Bitcoin instead of Mauvecoin.

You could argue that that big rebound in prices following the Silver Line's approval in 2009 reflected the giddy, childlike enthusiasm for a mass transit system that had yet to devolve into a dysfunctional, smoke-filled hellride that might take you downtown or just drop you in Ballston to rub shoulders with the (shudder) Orange Line hoi polloi following a garbled announcement over the loudspeakers. It's very likely those price increases were baked in well before the first Silver Line train left the station; just think back to all the real estate listings ("ONLY 45 MINUTE WALK TO FUTURE METRO STATION/SHAG CARPETING IN CONVERSATION PIT CONVEYS")

But the upshot is unless you bought in 2002, like Old Economy Steve, you haven't gotten those big ole' gainz, Metro or no.

And that big crash in median property values in 2007? Some may point to that year's global financial crisis and the havoc it wreaked across every sector, but something else happened that year. A certain filthy "web log" was launched, bringing to the world the real truth about our plastic fantastic planned community, its homicidal nudist forefathers, and, above all, our love of arbitrary DRB regulations.

Our bad.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Yet Another Elite Year Gone By: Our Annual Look at What's Hot and What's Not for 2018

You know, this photo is a half-decade old, but it still seems to capture the perpetual, um, zeitgeist that was living in our plastic fantastic planned community in 2017. So once again, we're offering our annual, totally original What's Hot/What's Not list for 2018. Brace yourself for paid parking jokes and the inevitable sense of giant mauvescrapers crowding us in, yet take consolation in an arbitrary numerical ranking that places us incrementally higher than the particleboard hellscape just to our west. Happy New Year!

Sweet 80s landmarksWegmans, maybe, eventually
Our Russian overlordsOur zoning overlords
Hating on 'Hate' signsCivil discourse
DevelopmentsplainingEerie empty mauvescrapers
Being 1 better than AshburnX-rated parks
Il Fornaio at RTC
Bebe at RTC
Ann Taylor at RTC
Appalachian Spring at RTC
Teavana at RTC
M&S Grill at RTC
The other M&S at RTC
Neyla at RTC
Um, er, an elite selfie experience?
Exciting viral videosSponsored content (at v. v. reasonable rates!)
Worrying about seemingly inevitable redevelopment of Reston National Golf CourseWorrying about seemingly inevitable redevelopment of Hidden Creek Golf Course
"We can't stop development waiting for roads to be built."Waiting in endless traffic for roads to be built
Overcrowding public hearings ironicallyOrganized opposition to arbitrary proposals, maybe
Elite butterfliesCommonplace immobilizers


Monday, December 18, 2017

At RTC, A Very Special Christmas Present For Its Most Elite Visitors (Updated)

It's beginning to look at lot like Christmas at our favorite "stressful, city-like shopping center," what with the festive decorations and signs and whatnot.

Nice! Let's venture into Santa's workshop one of the aforementioned garages and see what presents the BPX elves have left for all the good little boys and girls elite midscale chain retail consumers.


Nothing speaks to the elite spirit of the holidays quite like a festively colored immobilizer, the end.

Update: Another one bites the (v. v. elite) dust.

And another.

And yet another to ring in the new year! And the hits keep coming!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Radio Mauve Moscow: The SHOCKING Russia Connection That Goes All The Way To South Reston

Longtime readers of this "web log" know that Reston played a pivotal role in winning the Cold War. As rhetoric about our former Soviet rival starts heating up again, our favorite correspondent, The Peasant From Less Sought After South Reston, has unearthed a shocking Reston connection, one that goes from the heart of Moscow straight to Glade Drive. Wait, what?

A Russia-funded radio station broadcasting blocks from the White House found a second home on the dial in Washington after its partner, a Virginia-based radio company, registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent.

Sputnik, a project of the Russian government, began broadcasting around the clock from a K Street office in June on 105.5 FM, and hasn’t stopped. However, that frequency is merely a “translator” — a station that rebroadcasts another station’s programming.

That radio station is registered to a company called Reston Translator, whose address of record is, in fact, in South Reston. Reston Translator actually had to register as a foreign agent because of Sputnik's Russian connections; the company's owner insists that the arrangement is merely a business agreement and argues that the government's efforts to place the "foreign agent" label on it will have a chilling effect on free speech, according to the Washington Post "news paper."

The Peasant did a little digging and found the agreement between the two companies (conveniently written in English and Russian). He points out that:

The Ruskie contact, the "Foreign Principal", is the ominously named the Federal State Unitary Enterprise Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency. Maybe this Agency would also like to branch out into publishing glossy quarterly magazines for, say, a certain homeowners association?
Only if they can translate those killer word finds out of the Cyrillic alphabet, the end.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

BREAKING: Reston Becoming More Elite By The Nanosecond, And Maybe We Should Say Something About That

RTC Leet

Let's set the earth-toned wayback machine to ought-sixteen, when we were all shocked -- shocked! -- that our favorite "stressful, city-like shopping center" decided to charge for parking, calling itself too elite for poors without smartphones or those unwilling to shell out cash for an authentic faux-urban midscale dining experience.

But now, the riffraff have calmed down we've been told that things have "settled down," and we've learned to stop worrying and embrace the kind of elite status that allows a shopping center to charge, at least sometimes, for the privilege of breathing its rarified, Sephora-scented air. Make no mistake, Reston is "l33t," as the kids might have said on their Snapchat texting machines a few years back, and it's getting more elite by the minute!

Just consider the awesome brutalist condo mauvescraper thingy proposed to be built across the street from Reston Town Center (which is currently building elite housing of its own). The 20-story mauvescraper proposal was denied last week by the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee, but is being considered by the countywide planning commission tomorrow. Both Reston's P&Z and the county's staff, which also recommended the proposal be denied, singled out issues with how developers wanted to deal with workforce housing. Mainly, they'd rather not cut into the whole elite vibe too much! Give us some not-so-elite blockquote, BFFs at Reston Now:

In a Nov. 22 staff report, the department raised concerns that workforce housing does not appear to be “a vital element” of the proposed development, which will include up to 150 units and 294 parking spaces on 1.5-acres of land currently zoned for office uses.

Renaissance Centro, the developer, is seeking one market-rate unit for each workforce dwelling unit — an incentive allowed by the county to encourage inclusive, affordable housing — while also creating a condition would allow the developer to convert unsold workforce housing to market rate units under certain conditions. Plans include 24 workforce dwelling units, allowing 24 market rate units in bonus density.

The developer also opted out of a proffer that requires bonus market rate units to remain similar in size to workforce housing, possibly allowing the developer to sell significantly larger market rate units while only building small efficiency units for workforce housing.

“The county would only receive a monetary contribution at a loss of affordable housing provided onsite. The monetary contribution is not likely to be sufficient to purchase comparable affordable units,” according to the report.

It's not the first Reston developer with issues with the county's affordable housing requirements -- and to be fair, at least Renaissance Centro didn't try to simply ignore them completely, like the developers of another massive proposal that shall go unnamed but not unlinked. Of course, the county doesn't exactly have the greatest track record when it comes to listening to local objections -- or its own staff recommendations -- when sweeeeeeeet sweeeeet development revenue is on the line, and a sampling of comments on the aforementioned Reston Now article doesn't exactly show... a great deal of concern about affordable housing. And in its flyer urging Restonians to oppose the proposal, our BFFs at the Reston Citizens Association don't mention the workforce housing issue at all, focusing instead on the (very real) density issues with the proposal.

Still, though, we ignore Reston's workforce housing needs -- and the fact that it was part of the founding principles of our earth-toned community -- at our own peril. The less those of us with (very legitimate!) concerns about the county's eagerness to developmentsplain its way into changing Reston's zoning while supposedly being powerless to build roads in an expeditious manner talk about holding developers accountable for affordable housing, the more ammunition we give pro-development forces who claim that resistance to development is all about NIMBYism, and keeping new people out (looking at you, Supt. Hudgins). Besides, if we're not quite elite enough to accept having to pay for parking at our favorite emporium of midscale chain dining, we're probably not elite enough to not want at least some semblance of workforce and affordable housing in our plastic fantastic future of mauvescrapers and woonerf.

It's tough being so elite. If all the awesome gets to be too much, we could all just head out of town. Let's just jump on 66 and see what happens, right?

Oh, wait.

Update: Planning commission decision on the proposal deferred until January.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

NSFL: Turns Out Brambleton Has *One* Amenity Reston Doesn't

Earlier this fall, we all thrilled to the v. v. exciting news that scientifically proved that Reston is exactly one better than our particleboard, Metro-curious neighbor to the west, better known as Ashburn. But it turns out that Brambleton, the extra-Ashburny planned subdivision where we've done field research in the past, now has one amenity that Reston... doesn't.

We're not radiologists, but we might get that pond area checked out at some point.

Shout out to the filthy Loudoun "web log" smutpeddlers "The Burn" for being brave enough to share the truth with the broader world. Sometimes a map is just a map, as famous cartographer Sigmund Freud once said, but we always suspected there was something weird going on back behind all those Wegmans and one-sided brick facades. Who knows, maybe behind closed doors, consenting adult Brambletonians dress up in their finest business attire and play-act granting each other excessive numbers of building permits for bland, cookie-cutter housing.

Don't believe us? See for yourself, you pervs. Sadly, Google Street View doesn't let you go into the actual "park" itself, but this is one of the closest views we could find:

Wow, that is obscene, the end.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

At RTC, Paid Parking Takes a Holiday, Sort Of (Updated)

As we head towards the holidays, how are things going at our favorite ersatz downtown "stressful, city-like shopping center"? Well, there's probably no connection between this:

All garage parking will be free in Reston Town Center from Saturday through [Dec.] 26 due to the holiday season... Parking activation is not required.
And this:
Boston Properties expects 200,000 square feet of space to be vacated at Reston Town Center in 2018, a company official said during the BXP quarterly earnings call on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Baghdad Beige RTC spokespeople felt compelled to tell our BFFs at Reston Patch that everything there is going super, thanks for asking:
A top executive at BXP told Patch in a recent interview that having 200,000 square feet of space vacated is quite typical, and demand is actually strong at RTC.

"It's actually quite typical," said Peter Johnston, Boston Properties executive vice president for the Washington, D.C. region, in an interview with Patch. "The prior three years, the rollover in RTC was 201,000 square feet, 188,000 square feet, and 236,000 square feet. While those numbers seem large, they only represent between 5 and 6 percent in square footage we own and manage."

So maybe the move to app-free, cost-free parking is just a bit of holiday goodwill from the big-hearted folks at BXP. But what happens come January, when retail sales drop and paid parking returns? They won't have a blizzard from the previous year to fudge their own traffic numbers, but we're sure they'll be "great," to quote another awesome real estate developer.

In the meantime, always remember and never forget: street parking is still being enforced, except on Sundays. So be careful, lest you get a brightly colored Bumblebee from our BXP buddies for the holidays, the end.

Update: Don't hold your breath for a Christmas miracle:

Peter Johnston -- Boston Properties' executive vice president for the Washington D.C. region -- told Patch that things have "settled down," and that he thinks the response to the decision to roll back paid parking hours has been "exceedingly positive."

"I would say there's not going to be changes in the near-term," he said. "My guess is we'll evaluate as we get closer to the arrival of the Metro. Once they begin charging and the service is up and running, as we get closer to that, we might reevaluate what hours to charge for. I don't see anything happening before then."