News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, March 22, 2010

Flashback Monday: 'Reston' and 'Bloomingdales': Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together


This charming, cartoon-like map isn't of some fancy "transit-oriented development" slated to crop up along the Toll Road, but our own beloved earth-toned community back in 1982, when it was part of a model home blitz sponsored in part by Bloomingdales, that department store your grandmother might have liked, except that the unmentionables got "too racy" at times.

Let's go back to the era of A Flock of Seagulls and E.T., when some marketing genius at Bloomies apparently bolted up in bed in the middle of the night shouting, "Pastels and earth tones! Together! We'll make millions!" Then, after he was sedated and institutionalized, they decided to do it anyway.

Here's how it was described at the time in a "news-letter," which were kind of like the "web logs" of the time, minus the hypercaffienated commenters.
Bloomingdale's Opens Six New Locations In Reston

All the excitement, color and innovation discovered in a Bloomingdale store can now be found at six model home locations in Reston.

Harnessing the success of Blooniingdale's current Americana theme, and the excitement of their "Spring In Living Color" campaign, participating Reston builders are combining their design and construction savvy with Bloomingdale's interior design skills.

Special events, designer workshops, fashion shows, cooking demonstrations, and state-of-the-art design seminars produced by Bloomingdale's resource experts are part of the colorful Reston pageant.
The model homes involved, if you can squint really hard and read the numbers on the map were: 1) Bennington Square, 2) Collaborative Phase One, 3) Waterford Square, 4) Koury/Tipton, 5) Deck House and 6) Audobon Terrace. The "news-letter" called one house "posh living for those on a tighter budget." And what did these spectacular model homes look like? Glad you asked:

Screen shot 2010-03-22 at 8.28.02 AM.jpg
Rattan sofas and glass furniture -- the two great tastes that taste great together! Not coincidentally, we think we now know where all the invasive bamboo in Reston came from. Trying to maneuver those chairs under the table must have been an entertaining project for a dinner party of four, and the fun must have only continued when the primitive halogen lamp in the background suddenly burst into flames.

But wait! There's more!

Screen shot 2010-03-22 at 8.28.58 AM.jpg

This was a fancy "art deco" bathroom in Waterford Square, which fulfilled the signature 1980s fantasy of taking a bath in a forest... a shiny metallic forest.

If Hugh Hefner and Ansel Adams had a love child, this would have been its bathroom.


  1. I remember the Deck House, it was gorgeous at the time.

  2. And now? it's a dipalidated dump with covenants violations galore.

  3. Leave it to the RA to squander millions on project that no one wants and lets the housing stock and common elements to fester and decay.

    I had reason to be in Columbia, MD this weekend and I was stunned at how much more attractive the town is, how much better maintained everything is, the flowers everywhere and well maintained roads without sawed-off trees, gouged up turf and potholes the size of craters everywhere.

    What a difference and what a slum Reston looks like compared to Columbia.

  4. 12:58,

    I found an editorial on from 2007 ( It's an editorial and probably a little biased. But, it does have the following:

    "That tax is $0.68 per $100 of assessed value on half of the property or about $1,579 on a home valued at $464,294, the average selling price of a home in Howard County in July. If you want more than CA’s basic services you pay more."

    Everyone in Reston, 5-bedroom homes to 1bedroom condos, pays $515 this year.

    "...five of the seven top officers at the homeowner’s association earned more than $100,000 in fiscal 2007; President Maggie Brown earned $207,973 with her bonus."

    The RA Board are volunteer. Milton costs $225K. Columbia's BOD costs almost a $1M.

    I'm sure that extra $1000/year/house (on average) buys a lot of flowers, especially with full-time, paid Directors with nothing better to do than ensure Columbia is nice so they can keep their nice salaries.

    Look below the surface.

  5. Isn't it now called the Dreck House?

  6. RA had a prime opportunity to move to an ad valorem assessments - just like Columbia has. But, as usual, the arrogant RA board and paid "CEO" ignored the residents and did what it wanted to do an left this abomination in place.

    Neither RA nor Columbia taxes -- they assess, and those assessments are not tax deductible to resident owners -- depsite the fact that the current RA board wants to play in the very congested and over-staffed government sandbox arena rather than in the one its own instruments direct in which it must play. Under the current board regime, the RA has far exceeded any authority it may have been delegated by it's recently restated instruments.

    Columbia's staff, not its volunteer board, are paid --- just like they are in Reston. We assume the salaries are comparable, but higher, apparently, in Reston than they are in Columbia a much larger community. It's hard to tell as the RA salaries are apparently not published.

    Getting back to ad valorem fees, all of Reston's million-dollar plus North Point (and elsewhere) houses would be paying similar assessments as are paid in Columbia, but the $75k condos would be paying far less.

    RA fees are regressive and unfair to those who can least afford to pay them (and let's not forget that Fairfax County owns many of the low-end condos and apartments in Reston and pays (we think) the same $515 that the millionaires in North point do. In other words, those of us who work for a living, pay the county's RA assessments as well, so it's much higher than $515 considering that fact.

    Were those who are most able to afford it pay their assessments, we, too could have flowers, signs that are maintained in even fair condition, and year-round facilities that are inviting rather than mosquito-breeding (cess)pools open for just a few weeks a year.

    For an example: has anyone at the RA, paid or volunteer, taken a look at the sign near the Sunrise Valley Nature Preserve? It's mauve all right, but certainly not in a DRB-approved weathered look.

    And what about that RA-owned trailer park near the YMCA? Very attractive and becoming at a major entrance point to Reston. Nothing like that exists anywhere near Columbia.

    It's too bad that the RA blew it during it's bylaw restatement and allowed this shameful fee burden to remain.

    So your math is all wrong (product of the substandard Fairfax County School system perhaps>) as the average assessment would not be anywhere near $1000 it it would be any higher at all.

    PS -- don't forget the STD5/RCC fee(which is an ad valorem, but not tax deductible, tax) -- and be sure to add that to your $515 -- I am sure you, too, will be bracing to know where your RA and STD5 fees are going and why Reston looks to shoddy and unappealing.

  7. Part of the reason could be that RA has less than half the amount of employees doing inspections as CA does.

  8. The following are the salaries for 2008:

    Milton Mathews CEO $172,182
    David Hopkins CFO 135,894
    Larry Butler ,Dir Parks and Recreation 102,506

    The salaries for the above are posted on our web site

  9. Oh, this is 3:18 again. To clarify, for 2,000 homes in RA you have one person doing inspections/covenants and in CA they have at least two people doing the same number of homes. I know CA is a lot bigger than RA so didn't mean to cause any confusion.

  10. Yo 2:12 - If you don't like Reston, RA and FCPS so much, move out! Most people who move here know what they're getting into in terms of assessments and the school system. Maybe you just chose wrong. While many of us do want to make sure RA is a well-run organization and may wish for some organizational changes, we want that because we love Reston. Even as filthy of a place as you seem to think it is. If you're too good for Reston, go have fun in Columbia. Also, RA's salaries and budget are made available on the web site if you look for it.

  11. Does any know if Reston can grow any bigger? or its boundaries are set?

  12. The reason that Reston will not grow bigger is that new developers do not want to join. Town Center developers had the option and chose not to join. Town Center is all condos and apartments and they typically provide their own amenities. I talked to a resident at Spectrum and they said for $200 month condo fee they got a pool, weight room, community rooms, etc. Most of the residents don't have young children. They don't need the RA pools and camps, and the occasional resident who wants the pools can pay the RA pool fee and belong. Why would the developers want to join Reston?

    The developers also do not want to deal with the DRB and the county doesn't want to burden developers with covenants and hoa fees. RCIG will also be condos so they won't join Reston.

    The only way Reston will get bigger is if existing RA clusters are redeveloped to higher density. Then I think the developers don't have the option to not join.

  13. Strangely, the carpet in my current apt looks the EXACT same as in the photo. And forget about maneuvering the chairs, what must be really entertaining for a party of four would be trying to talk around that monstrosity of a flower arrangement. Nothing says success and class like roses surrounded by....dead clumps of goldenrod?

  14. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonMarch 22, 2010 at 7:50 PM

    Gotta agree with Le Pigeon that it's comical. What's even more comical is that at the end of that decade I was living in government-furnished quarters that really did have a glass dining room table and rattan chairs.

    And by the way, Hugh Heffner and Ansel Adams actually did have a love child. Its name is Earl the Squirrel.

  15. Too funny!

    Well such furnishings have long been put out on the curb to be hauled away by one our four (is it now six?)different trash services long before freecycle was even a concept.

  16. Where they are safely entombed in Mount Trashmore to be dug up thousands of years from now by archaeologists who will no doubt come up with some interesting theories about life in Fairfax County during those times.

  17. Indubitably. Sharpening those humor skeelz.

  18. Is the area north of the Reston Zoo part of Reston?

  19. I have 2 candidates to be added to the Zoo. Unfortunately one is leaving town. :)


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