News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Reston Association Headquarters: Bob Simon Singlehandedly to Find Place for All Those Filing Cabinets

328743_51921255.jpg.jpegWouldn't this lovely parking lot be a lot more fun if it was a building where you'd go to pick up your pool passes or challenge the lien slapped on your house for using white decorative stone in the front yard? Probably not, but we've got to hand it to Bob Simon. While all the drama over a shiny new RA headquarters building was coming to a head, he kept pointing out that the association would best serve itself and the community by helping jump-start the much-needed revitalization of Lake Anne by moving its offices there. And now that all the attention's shifted to another little-discussed building project, Simon's still out there, advocating for a common-sense approach:

Since before a referendum that sought money to buy a new Reston Association headquarters failed in late April, Reston founder Bob Simon has been looking for ways to bring the association to the Lake Anne Village Center.

"It would get RA where it belongs, in the heart of Reston," Simon said at a meeting of the Reston Community Reinvestment Corporation (RCRC) last Thursday, where he sought an endorsement of his latest plan. Moving the association to the historic development would begin the long-discussed process of revitalizing the lakeside community, he said.

SIMON’S STRATEGY to make this happen would involve the RA swapping the land it owns at Lake Anne — about three noncontiguous, wooded acres — for a piece of property that would likely be smaller, on which to build a multi-story building. This would eliminate land costs. Simon suggested swapping with a landowner like Millennium Bank, which owns a large piece of the parking lot at the village center.

Simon said consultants working on the county-owned Crescent Apartments property across North Shore Drive appeared to want to integrate the parcel with the rest of the Lake Anne redevelopment area, "so the parking problem, which is paramount, can be alleviated on those 16 acres." He said he hoped most of the parking would be underground and primarily on the Crescent property.

Asked if he thought putting the parking across the street would be feasible, Simon said, "It works all over the world. Walking 100 yards? Yes."
Makes sense--except maybe for the parking question. Most people won't walk 100 feet from their cars, and that's to obtain 72-ounce fountain drinks from convenience stores. Other than that, though, the idea's been enthusiastically received. Right?
Ultimately, the reinvestment corporation, which had already formally stated its support for the idea of putting the association’s next headquarters at Lake Anne, passed another, more generic resolution than Simon’s plan, urging the Reston Association, the county and Lake Anne landowners to cooperate swiftly to develop a home there for the association.
Okay. But how about the RA? Surely they'd tolerate another few years in their current building for the long-term benefit of the community. Right?
RA President Robin Smyers said renegotiating the lease would only be viable if it were a stopgap measure with a permanent solution being readied.

Simon offered to renegotiate the lease himself but did not receive a definitive response.

SMYERS said a committee had just been appointed to examine all options for the next headquarters, and it had been tasked with considering Lake Anne among those. "We would look at any and all options," she said, adding that she personally would like to see the headquarters moved to Lake Anne.

Smyers said she was fairly certain that swapping RA land would require a vote on a referendum, and Kurt Pronske wondered if that would prove politically feasible.

"Whatever we’re doing here is politically unfeasible," Simon said. "We know that. Whatever’s good is bad."
Wow. "Whatever's good is bad." That's almost as good a slogan as "A Built-Out Community Called Reston."


  1. My Guess is they will soon propose to move into the old community center when this new mega rec center / park slayer is built.

  2. The 3 non-contiguous wooded acres Bob Simon wants to trade for Milennium Bank's part of the parking lot (those on the east side of the parking lot and along Chimney House Road) are part of RA common lands. That's why they need a referendum. In spite of Robin Smyer's efforts to find a way around our governing documents, our common lands cannot be transferred without a 2/3 vote of a quorum of 30% of the homeowners.

    Just say no, Restonians, or we'll lose all our woods and open space to redevelopment.

  3. Do you see the pattern here, first its use RA parkland at Browns Chapel to build an indoor rec center, then its swap RA green space to build a new headquarters building. President Robin Smyers clearly believes in developing RA common land.

    If we agree to either of these projects - what's next. It seems all RA common land, open green space and parkland is up for grabs so they'll be coming to your neighborhood soon.

    Robin is clearly catering to developers in an attempt to gain deep pockets to support her next political bid. The rumor is that she is eyeing Cathy Hudgins seat when she retires.

  4. Well, if she's going to replace Hudgins, she has already mastered the 'pursue your own agenda' aspect of the job.

  5. Given that Robin Smyers and Cathy Hudgins seem to be working in tandem to turn Reston into Manhattan South, for brevity's sake can we just refer to the two of them collectively as "Smudgins"? Has a nice ring to it!

  6. Smudgins...I like it. You can even make it a verb -- as in "they Smudginsed us into new expensive buildings"...

  7. Hehehe. Park slayer. Funny. Smudgins. Hilarious. Sounds like the name of a Hogwarts professor. Sorry I'm a Harry Potter nerd.

  8. Redevelop Lake Anne with the rec center and the RA! We need one building. Put the RA on the first floor. Free weights and treadmills on the second floor. People! Herndon has nicer facilities than us! Browns chapel survives. We have a reason to go to Lake Anne. The sun shines on Reston once again.

  9. New Reston blog:

    Not to suggest for one moment that we don't enjoy the humor and wordcraft of

  10. We actually are fans of this idea -- instead of buying (or now leasing) a generic office building, the RA could actually be a part of the solution at Lake Anne, occupying space in a mixed-use building that has retail on the ground floor and offices and/or residential space above. That's the kind of development we should be encouraging for that area, and the RA (with all its filing cabinets and whatnot) is a big enough tenant to make it actually happen.

    Of course, we have an ulterior motive: We want enough foot traffic on the Plaza to have the mediocre microwaved tapas joint open back up.

  11. Great project but bad location. The greens should not be affected by this project. Find other location!


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