News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wiehle Metro Development: Standing Room Only Crowd Listens to P&Z Consider ARBs, TIAs, and DRBs

Screen shot 2010-02-04 at 7.33.34 AM.jpgHere's "citizen journalism" or "web logging" or whatever at its finest. No sooner than we sent out our call for information about yesterday's Reston Planning & Zoning committee meeting about the awesome Wiehle Metro station development than did the eyewitness accounts start rolling in. And here's what we heard. It was standing room only! Bob Simon, among others, called for even taller buildings -- which actually makes sense, as when you follow current county rules, you get the mind-numbing fugly sprawl of Tysons Corner. Someone else proposed revitalizing the DRB's long-lost, malformed sibling -- the ARB! The beginnings of an urban grid beyond the existing site were suggested, and it sounds like Comstock is setting whatever midscale retail chains might call the development home up for limited traffic.

Comstock began the presentation with changes to its previous proposal:

They submitted a TIA (Traffic Impact Analysis) that apparently showed that in spite of the 5000+ parking spaces of the final proposal--2300 public parking for the Metro, and 3000 some odd for private parking for the office and residential buildings--the peak traffic load would be about 1300 cars (additional to the current traffic). To me that was implausible in the extreme. Even so, their TIA showed a "Level of Service" (LOS) grade of F. That's F for failing, and that is after their traffic mitigation, which is mostly additional turn lanes and timed traffic signals. He said that there would be traffic demand management goals of 20-25 percent reduction in peak hour trips and penalties if they didn't make the goals. He didn't say what measures would be taken other than assuming that with high density living and some pedestrian amenities people will use cars less. I think they probably assume they will pay the penalty and build it in to their costs.

He talked about the Plaza which he tried to convince the P and Z members was actually large--about the size of the Town Center plaza with the skating rink: 100 feet wide and about 300 feet long. Part of the Comstock plaza will be a road. He said that cars will be necessary on the plaza to attract top level shops and the hotel. He showed the traffic flow around the plaza and it is two way traffic making a zigzagging route along the length of the plaza. Also there will be parking along the roadway and a two taxi stand in front of the hotel. Picture the Town Center plaza with a two lane road going from the fountain, along the Clydes outside area, cutting across the skating rink and returning along the side of the Hyatt, with cars parked in the Clydes and Hyatt areas.
Sadly, it sounds like the idea of making the tall buildings in the proposal even taller to create more open space is a non-starter.
Screen shot 2010-02-04 at 7.30.12 AM.jpgThere were also several calls from the committee & the floor to increase allowable building height and reduce minimum parking requirements, all with a view to making the site more attractive with a larger plaza and more sunlight. Even Bob Simon encouraged building higher to reduce the footprint and increase sunlight and open space!

The key downer was the engineering observation that the piers for the parking garage are designed to carry the weight of the buildings as they are currently configured and increasing building heights would be problematic, if not impossible. One Comstock partner suggested they could switch to steel from concrete to build taller buildings, but that didn't seem to get much traction, I presume because of cost considerations.
Also, the positioning of retail struck some observers as odd:
One thing that I hadn't thought of from an architectural viewpoint until last night's discussion was that the retail in the Comstock block focuses inward, not toward the street. This contrasts strongly with the "success" principles of TOD development that call for retail to face the street, making an easily accessible and open retail environment.... In contrast, Comstock is proposing an insular, hard to see, much less access, retail environment. As one P&Z committee member put it, it could easily become as dead a plaza as the one on the west side of the Reston International building.
Some hints of future development also emerged during the meeting:
One new development--or at least new to me--was that Chuck Veatch is preparing proposals for the small site just west of the large Comstock block as well as his much larger block northwest of the core Comstock site, according to his attorney. The only feature of the proposal the attorney presented was that Veatch intends to extend the street on the west side of the Comstock block north to Wiehle--a beginning of the "grid of streets" in this area. He expects to have those proposals done by the end of this month and Art Hill suggested that the proposal come to the P&Z committee in May.
new wiehle.jpgAnd then there's that thing about the DRB-like ARB.
I think Art Hill's strategic recommendation to create a design review committee to look at the architecture of development in the RCIG--a la the now-defunct ARB--as an advisory group under the local supervisor may be the key long-term idea to come out of the meeting. I would note that he didn't suggest that the current DRB should take this on, but he didn't totally disabuse that notion either. He was looking for a supervisor-appointed group, I think.
According to one participant, parking seems to be the big bone of contention going forward:
There were lots of questions about the traffic and parking. It seemed to me that the DPZ and county transportation dept. doesn't think that was too important. Bob Simon chimed in and asked to request a study of Arlington traffic before and after metro--he guessed that there would be little difference in spite of the huge increase in population and density. I think that is probably right but only because Arlington did not supply parking. The county transportation guy said that he agreed and that parking was the biggest bone of contention between them and Comstock. But somehow, they are still allowing 5000+ parking spaces.
Probably the most encouraging thing to come out of this meeting was how well-attended it was. This project and JBG's Fairway redevelopment proposal are the two big harbingers for what development throughout the Silver Line corridor might look like, so it's important to keep tabs on it -- ARBs and P&Zs and DRBs and TIAs and all.

44 comments:

  1. The City of Pasadena already did a study of traffic in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. Their findings, minimal traffic increase.

    http://ww2.cityofpasadena.net/councilagendas/2007%20agendas/Feb_26_07/Appendix_A_Case%20Studies%2012-1-2006%20DRAFT.PDF

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  2. great update Restonian, and cub reporters...

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  3. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)March 2, 2010 at 4:33 PM

    If what Joshua Davis says is true, then why do most of you Baby Boomers here on the Restonian act so NIMBY towards transit-oriented developments?

    By concentrating more density adjacent to Metrorail stations you'll find the following benefits long-term to the region:

    1.) Living a walkable lifestyle will become more AFFORDABLE to the middle-class. Currently it's so expensive to live along the Orange Line in Arlington because there isn't enough housing to meet demand. Once there are numerous options such as the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor in the DC Metro area (including proposals for Reston, White Flint, Bethesda, etc.) prices overall will come down a tad to the point where more people can eschew their SUVs and cul-de-sacs in the exurbs/suburbs and move closer in.

    2.) More open space will be PRESERVED. Would you rather thousands of new residents huddled in large high-rises near train stations or spread out like butter in tract housing lining tree-less cul-de-sacs (i.e. Ashburn)? The problem I'm noticing with you people in Reston is that even though Reston was ALWAYS designed and intended to be a walkable, transit-oriented, and mixed-use environment you all have turned NIMBY and have adopted the Loudoun County mindset. Why? When did you all go so astray? You tell me if I don't like it move to Arlington. Actually, since my rent is now increasing to nearly $1,400/month for a crappy 1-BR apartment I just MIGHT move to Arlington where I could pay the same price to live in a dense environment with better mass transit, SIDEWALKS, things for TWENTY-SOMETHINGS, streetlights, nightlife, and proximity to the District. Nobody has yet proven to me why Reston > Arlington, and nobody ever will. If most childless professionals had to pick to pay $1,350/month for a 1-BR apartment in Reston or Arlington, why wouldn't they pick the latter? Seriously. Arlington is so sought-after for a REASON, folks, and Reston doesn't need to "fear" Ballston. Who would want to live in a digusting place like Ashburn, anyways, especially when gas prices spike again?

    3.) Better air quality. More people living near to convenienes and transit = less cars on the road = less exhaust to inhale on your daily jog.

    So am I to understand, then, that the typical Reston resident opposes making housing more affordable to the middle-class by increasing housing supply, opposes preserving open space in the region through condensing more people on less of a land footpring, and opposes improving our air quality by making it possible to take more cars off the roads? How selfish are all of you NIMBYs? I bet the same ones squawking about preserving the "nostalgia" or "culture" of Reston will be the same ones who won't say a peep as they quietly pocket the enormous windfall they'll reap if they decide to sell their homes once the train comes. Ask residents of North Arlington 1/4-mile to 1/2-mile away from the Orange Line if the train has been a boon or burden to their housing values since the 1990s.

    This country needs to STOP subsidizing sprawl!

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  4. Joshua (& all)--

    Your almost right. Traffic went up little (2%) while development went up considerably (17%).

    However--

    Traffic throughout the metro DC area didn't go up much very much over the same timeframe. I don't know if development grew similarly metro-wide, but it sure did here in the Dulles corridor in the same timeframe. So it may be that Arlington didn't do any better with all its considerable TOD efforts than the rest of us in the 'burbs. NTL, I commend Arlington for all their efforts to reduce traffic congestion.

    Arlington has an excellent presentation on its website & on the FC Reston planning website I'd recommend everyone read because it has significant implications for Reston--and they're telling the "good news." The traffic part begins about VG 48--it's a BIG file. Here's the FC URL:

    http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/projects/reston/arlingtonpresentation.pdf

    I appreciate Restonian's attention to the Comstock Wiehle issue and the "task force with the really long name". They will significantly affect our future and I encourage everyone to stay informed and, if time permits, become involved. One way to do so is to work with RCA's Reston 2020 Committee, which is now setting up working groups on transportation, environment, parks & recreation, and urban design & livability.

    For more info on everything relating to future Reston development, go to the committee's blog at: http://reston2020.blogspot.com

    Terry Maynard
    RCA Board
    Reston 2020 Committee

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  5. You know what Arlington has that Reston does not have? Roads. Travelling across from north to south Reston is like getting to Manhattan from New Jersey with only the tunnel and the bridge. Once Wiehle is blocked with station traffic, we will only have Reston Parkway to traverse from north to south and south to north.

    Arlington has a grid of steets. Look at the map, folks. We do not have a grid of streets and there won't be any money to pay for that grid of streets for many decades, unless the county decides to use the Small Tax District 5 to tax us for those roads. Can that be a plan in the works? Oh, yes, it has been suggested.

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  6. BiCO--

    If I can follow up on your comments:

    1. Affordability: EVERY civic group in Reston that I'm aware of, including RCA, RA, ARCH, & WATCH for starters, wants MORE affordable housing in the coming transit-oriented development (TOD). Virtually all are critical of the County's handling of this issue so far. Depending on who you talk to on which day, the goal most are shooting for its between 10-15%. We all want it.

    2. Open space: The ONLY "open space" in the Wiehle Comstock Metro station area is a roughly 100'x300' plaza in the midst of five large cube buildings. Moreover, most of that plaza is actually a drive-through for cars where pedestrians can play dodge'm if they chose (no curbs or street markings). And that's Comstock's comments at last night's P&Z meeting.

    More importantly, NONE, as in "0", of the nearly two dozen proposals for re-developing land along the Dulles corridor (roughly between Sunset Hills & Sunrise Valley Drive) set aside ANY (as in an explicit "0%" in the plan change proposals) for open space, recreation or parks, or public facilities. This could be disastrous for Restonians' quality of life unless we persuade the task force with the long name to make space for open space and similar amenities. One way would be (or maybe "would have been" given Restonian's article) to increase the heights of the buildings so they could have a smaller footprint, creating more open space, sunlight, etc.

    3. Better air quality: Well, not exactly. The addition of 50,000 people or more to Reston in the Dulles corridor and re-developed residential areas elsewhere over the next four decades is quite likely to REDUCE air quality here even under the most aggressive of traffic demand management regimes--fewer parking spots, more buses, better pedestrian & biking facilities, traffic calming measures, etc. NTL, the notion of greater population density here may be better in general than having those people have to drive dozens of miles to get here or drive to a transit terminus--the sprawl issue. Just don't think the air here will be better--unless we're all driving electric cars 40 years from now.

    The issues in more or less doubling Reston's population over four decades are very complex and not amenable to easy analysis, much less easy solutions. Many of us are trying through one channel or another to help make the best possible choices for Reston's future. We'd welcome your help in that process. Please feel free to contact me if you'd like to participate in RCA's efforts or contact Paul Thomas, RA Board, who is leading RA's efforts. There's always room for more volunteers!

    Terry Maynard
    RCA Board
    Reston 2020
    terrmayn@msn.com

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  7. When are people going to see our founder Bob Simon for what he really is -- just another developer with a vested interest in increasing density. He stands to make a good amount of money off the property he owns.

    Here are his own words from an interview in Reston Magazine:

    Mr Simon, Supervisor Hudgins appointed you to the Reston Special Master Plan Study Task Force. What are your goals as a member?

    My goals are to stress community by:

    Revitalizing Lake Anne Village Center and rebuilding North Point, Tall Oaks, Hunters Woods and Southlakes as village centers with central plazas bounded by DENSE RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS.

    Converting the property designated as Town Center, other than the Market Street environment, to HIGH DENSITY residential buildings to supplement community functions.

    Developing Reston Center for Industry and Growth as DENSE MIXED USE.

    Developing air rights over the Toll Road with HIGH DENSITY MIXED USE.

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  8. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonMarch 2, 2010 at 5:48 PM

    BiCO:

    PLEASE take up Terry Maynard's offer to join in the planning process -- I suspect you will find hands-on involvement more fulfilling than venting here.

    What's with the "you people in Reston" line? Last time I looked, Charter Oak was part of Reston. Resistance is futile, BiCO -- you have already been assimilated into our mauve-colored collective.

    And while I agree wholeheartedly with you that I'd like to see those beautiful, still-unspoiled parts of this region such as western Loudoun County saved and kept as open space, Fairfax has absolutely no say in what happens in Loudoun. Of late that county seems to alternate each election between a pro-development and a slow growth board of supervisors. Whatever we do in Reston is not going to affect what happens in Loudoun in terms of that county's growth.

    By the way, if you're planning on moving to Winchester next year, aren't you thereby also contributing to A) sprawl, B) more cars on the road, and C) more air pollution? Just asking. Nothing wrong with your choosing a lifestyle that you're happier with, but frankly, with all due respect, your comments here on Restonian often come across as wanting to overrule or denigrate the choices other people make about their lifestyle. Think about it.

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  9. Had it occurred to any of the high density folks out there that some of us don't want to live one on top of the other? That some of us might have moved out here to escape living shoulder-to-shoulder and mano-a-mano with the rest of humanity? That perhaps some of us like to see green grass when we open our front doors instead of an elevator lobby? That some of us like to get a fresh breeze running through the house, which is impossible to do when all of your windows are along one wall and the roads beneath those windows is choked with traffic? That some of us like standing on our decks without an attack of acrophobia? And that some of us don't really want all of the attendant crime, traffic, pollution, taxes, higher housing costs and crowding that come with high density development? But why should our opinions matter? It's not good for the developers, it's not good for the tax coffers and it doesn't create a life-style that appeals to twenty-somethings.

    I have lived in this area for all but my first four years. The Town of Herndon was not just an exurb back then; it was a still considered a farm town. Reston was still undeveloped at the time, although Lake Anne was on its way. Nothing was more beautiful than the drive from 606 to Route 7 along what is now Reston Parkway through North Reston. Then it was a little two lane road that cut through old growth Northern Virgina forest without a house in sight. Now that area is soulless suburb complete with its own strip mall. (Sorry, N. Restonians. At least it isn't the Gulag.) And you folks want to turn this whole area into another concrete, steel and glass city.

    So, call me a Luddite if you want, but all of this development is NOT a good thing. If you want to live in high-density environment, well, there are already plenty of those to the east. But ask yourself this, once you get tired of the bright lights and daily hangovers, once you get married and have kids, do you want to live in Anacostia or NW DC, or would you rather live in Reston as it's currently configured? And if you crave that after Reston and Tyson's has been redeveloped, you'll either have to move to Herndon or LoCo or beyond.

    And, BiCO, Reston is, IMHO, already walkable, bikeable, whatever. Sure, we could use some more sidewalks. And I can't say that I can get by entirely without my car. However, even if I lived in Arlington, Bethesda or DC, I would probably still need a car anyway. Here I can walk to the grocery store, shopping and restaurants; I can walk and bike to recreation facilities that, as paltry as they've become as Reston has added density, include wooded areas; I can take mass transit to work, just like you can. Except that, I don't see this alternative as too inconvenient. The only difference between your commute and mine is the amount of terrain covered.

    One last note on something you wrote, BiCO, pretty much says it all, "Nobody has yet proven to me why Reston > Arlington, and nobody ever will". The operative part being the "...nobody ever will". In short, your mind is made up and anybody who disagrees with you is just wrong or, as you so condescendingly put it, NIMBY.

    BTW, you folks in the North, once the developers get started along the Toll Road and Wiehle, how long do you think that you'll be able to fend off their and the thousands of new residents' lust for Brown's Chapel?

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  10. BICO,

    Why don't you quit complaning and move already. Why in the world would a 20 something live in Reston anyway, get going to DC. Have fun and quit spending so much time on the computer.
    High density is fine around the metro and the zoned areas, it is not okay to come into the "town villages" as some want.
    We like living in a neighborhood. Reston is not DC or Winchester it is a suburb.

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  11. "In contrast, Comstock is proposing an insular, hard to see, much less access, retail environment."

    Hey, that's worked so well for Lake Anne Plaza! Oh wait...

    "Affordability: EVERY civic group in Reston that I'm aware of, including RCA, RA, ARCH, & WATCH for starters, wants MORE affordable housing in the coming transit-oriented development (TOD)."

    This just goes to show that every civic group in Reston is composed of liberal fruitcakes who are INSANE. Hopefully their idiotic feelgood recommendations will be ignored.

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  12. Reston's street grid is severely limited by the two golf courses. They could use another road that connects North Shore Drive to Sunset Hills Rd so that local traffic doesn't have to compete with commuters on Wiehle.

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  13. Convict in the Gulag,
    I whole heartedly agree with you. I moved to Reston from Merrifield because I didn't want to live right on top of my neighbors anymore.
    I'm not opposed to high density. Bethesda with its increasing density seems like a great place; however, I want my neighborhood's low-density character to remain unchanged (much like the older neighborhoods near, but not within, Bethesda.

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  14. What's wrong with building high-density where the metro will be? This is currently not residential anyway, so noone's home neighborhood will be disturbed, at least in terms of eyesores or noise. Traffic does tend to spread out from any weak point, so that's definitely a valid concern. My other thought is that if they can have a valuable retail environment here (although currently it doesn't look promising), it will mean that fewer of us Gulagniks(?) will have reason to travel up north country as often.

    I have no problem with making the buildings taller to increase open space, but for peat sake don't just make those ugly cubes thinner! Can't we have some decent-looking architecture and not corporate slabs? The Comstock drawings look eerily reminscent of the Soviet block-housing I spent 4 months around in St. Petersburg years ago. If they could get some style in there, I'm sure people wouldn't object to something a little higher than they thought would possibly look acceptable!

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  15. I attended the meeting and it seemed to me that the dynamic of needing drive up to hotels which first class hotels would require would not be meet by the proposed plaza. It just would be too restrictive to automobiles not many of which would be able to enter and turn around. It dose seem like a narrow strip, loomed over as it will be by tall buildings. I left when they started about making the buildings even taller which somehow will allow more sunlight to get in.

    I hope the fastidious reader would mind if I mentioned a idea for the RCC? I know Lila Gordon dose read the blog. She had previously written me saying that she is allowing citizens to walk around at the center as a form of exercise. And she said she took it as a suggestion from me.

    How about now allowing people to do push ups? Push ups are a great form of exercise and would cost the center absolutely nothing? I'd started getting back to doing push ups before doing my laps and it makes you feel like you are doing something good and cost absolutely nothing.

    Maybe we could use the large bulletin board, currently used for the propaganda I mean history of the center to instead encourage push ups. Perhaps different categories for men and women. I heard on face book recently there is one young guy right here in Reston that has done a million push ups.

    but the main thing about doing push ups is whatever your physical condition if you do them regularly you'll get more fit.

    Don't be discouraged at first. The more push ups you do, the more you'll be able to do. Push Ups are infectious. I started doing them before doing laps and noticed the lifeguards started doing them in their off time.

    I'll never win any push up contest. My daughter a Southlake band member where they regularly do push ups can do more then me. The point is regularity!

    Well off to Curran Designer Fabrics where I sharpen the first Wednesday of the month. Then I have to decide whether to go to the ARCH candidate forum and maybe just sit in the back row and watch.

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  16. Rod, honestly sometimes when you go off on things like this that are so off-topic (push-ups??), I wonder if you are doing it tongue and cheek or are you completely serious. It certainly seems like a joke given that this discussion has nothing to do with exercise. Can you try to stay on topic, otherwise your tangents give the impression of someone who is not focused on the issue at hand, which is not a good impression for someone running for office!

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  17. Broke in Charter Oak, your comments are absolutely correct. The DC region is expected to add two million more residents by 2050 (http://www.mwcog.org/uploads/committee-documents/bl5aXFhf20091113144557.pdf). Unless we want continuous sprawl to West Virginia, more air pollution and emissions, and auto congestion that will cost the region billions of dollars annually in lost time and productivity, communities absolutely must support denser development in close proximity to our transit investments. Robert Cervero has written about how traffic forecasts are overestimated by nearly 50% for transit-oriented developments because these projections are based on modeling from the Institute of Transportation Engineers that uses traditional suburban land-use and commuting patterns (http://www.nctr.usf.edu/jpt/pdf/JPT11-3Cervero.pdf , pg 5). People who live within 1/4 to 1/2 mile of rail stations have fundamentally different commuting patterns, with much higher transit ridership and much lower car-ownership rates than the overall population (http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/tcrp/tcrp_rpt_128.pdf). Much of this lower car-ownership rates and vehicle trips is due to self-selection. People who are willing to pay significantly more for the convience of living near rail stations are more favorably disposed to using transit and less likely to own a car.

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  18. I don't know why density is such a bad word to many of you in Reston. Paris is a pretty dense city and I would think that many Reston residents find it aesthetically appealing and a city that many would like to visit. As with the Ballston-Rosslyn corridor, encouraging dense development in close proximity of the new metro stations will allow you to preserve single-family housing elsewhere. This has also been done in neighborhoods like Cleveland Park on Connecticut Avenue in DC, where you have moderately-dense development right on a major transportation corridor (such as you would next to the Toll Road), with some of the region's most desirable single-family homes located one to two blocks away. Concentrating new development next to our multi-billion transit investment will allow the DC region to preserve both housing options and open-space in our region— while reducing auto congestion and ensuring there will be high ridership on the Silver Line.

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  19. "I don't know why density is such a bad word to many of you in Reston. Paris is a pretty dense city and I would think that many Reston residents find it aesthetically appealing and a city that many would like to visit."

    Hah! That's the operative word, "visit!" Come on now, Reston is not Paris and most people didn't move hear to get an urban experience! I'm not saying I'm against density in some places, but don't use non-sequiters like this. There are plenty of densely populated places that are nice, but increasing density in Reston is not going to necessarily make it into another Paris! Even IF many of us wouldn't mind living there. Look, I grew up in NYC, 8 blocks from the Empire State Building. I don't mind density that much, but I'm not in the VA suburbs because that's what I seak. I'm here to get AWAY from it for the most part. Density is fine if it's confined to small sections of the community here and there, but I'd rather keep the 1/4 mile radius around my house relatively less dense than NYC!

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  20. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)March 3, 2010 at 12:50 PM

    Preserving existing neighborhoods in Reston is fine and dandy, but what reasons are there to oppose transit-oriented development adjacent to and above the toll road, where the Silver Line will be running, other than pure NIMBYism?

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  21. But it doesn't matter, DVD. Once we get 50K more people living in these towers, do you think they're going to remain confined to those areas? No. Do you think they will forego car ownership? Considering that the current plans are putting aside parking spots for residents, I would assume that some of these folks in not most intend to drive as well.

    And you know as well as I do that none of these towers are going to be sporting basic retail. Do you think any of them will have a reasonably priced grocery store? Or a place to get a cheap haircut? Will they have their own gas station? No, in order to get basic services, I imagine that most of these folks are going to wander out from their concrete and steel cages and into our communities.

    So just imagine what a trip to the local grocery store is going to be like. When you're standing in line, imagine that line being twice as long, because that's what we're talking about. We're effectively doubling the population of Reston. If you think the line is long now to get a table at the Macaroni Grill on a Friday night, wait until you have twice as many people vying for the same seat. If you're having a hard time finding a parking spot at the YMCA between the hours of 5 pm and 7 pm on weeknights, just imagine what it's going to be like with 50,000 more people all wanting to use the treadmills or to swim laps.

    Have you seen what traffic on Reston Ave is like on Saturday and Sunday? Now imagine all of those people in the towers doing their weekend errands and trying to avail themselves of the local recreational facilities and opportunities which, btw, won't be in their neighborhoods. Yep, the towers on the weekends will look like Mordor belching forth its Orc hordes and they'll mostly moving onto our already crowded roads.

    And on top of all of that, Fairfax County is scaling BACK it's bus service. So, unless you expect these new denizens to be unlike your typical Restonian and more prone to using their feet to get to Tall Oaks or HWSC, you're going to have more a lot more cars, which equates to more traffic and pollution.

    You know, the more I think about this, the less I like it.

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  22. I don't disagree with you Convict, I think there's a definite danger of super gridlock. Not sure what the solution is except to make sure that there's adequate retail/recreation for people to stay in the new high-density complexes and only venture out via mentro (or toll road) to other areas. Well, I suppose they're still going to go to other places in Reston, but that would have to be minimized and the only way is to offer a very good mix of retail options for them right there, and it doesn't look like that's happening. Yeah, you're talking about a major grocer at the least. I'm guessing that these places will have gyms in their buildings but if not that would be a big draw. A haircutting place? Really people don't get their hair cut weekly do they? But the things people do on a weekly or more frequent basis you want to provide right there.

    As far as the demographic, I'm not sure who they are looking to attract - maybe folks like BiCO but with a few more bucks? Or simply people who like more urban environs and are willing to pay. They might get a different range of people if they make these places green and promote it as a place where you don't actually NEED a care. That might be the best potential solution to the traffic issue. Maybe those who reside at the new place would be limited to one car per household and who knows maybe you could get discounts for having a hybrid/electric or just having no car at all?

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  23. BiCo, you sure love that word, NiMBY, don't you? Look, as many have pointed out, Reston already has traffic issues. The lack of north-south roads make any additional stressor magnified in its effect. Traffic is not something that is just contained in one spot. If you have a backup on Whiele, that will start effecting all adjascent roads. It's like an infection. When one road becomes very slow, people will naturally try to find alternate routes, and they will become heavier too. You may think you are immune up North, but Reston is one traffic entity, and putting a huge sync in the middle of it will not leave the rest of it unscathed. As I mentioned in my previous post, the only way around this is to do something fairly radical with both retail options as well as with incentives for residents to give up their cars...

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  24. Cleveland Park hasn't changed much since they built the Metro station there. There are two strip shopping centers and the properties are mostly detached single-family homes.

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  25. I think there'll be far less retail components in these development plans. The local business community will probably oppose them. Several village centers are failures. They see high-rise development along the Metro and elsewhere in Reston as an opportunity to bring in more customers.

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  26. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonMarch 3, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    Anon 1:45:

    Interestingly enough, if I recall correctly, some years back the residents of Cleveland Park vehemently (and successfully) opposed a plan to redevelop into higher density their three-block long, low-rise shopping strip that stretches along Connecticut Avenue from Macomb to Porter Street.

    NIMBYism in progressive Northwest DC? Who'd have thunk it?

    You're right that Cleveland Park hasn't changed much since Metro came there in 1982, but far and away the main reason why is that there simply was no vacant land on which to build anything.

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  27. Marion Stillson, President of Reston Citizens Association, who has been unable to post directly for technical reasons still unknown, has asked that I post this comment here for her:

    "As RCA President, I can say that one of RCA's goals in participating in the Task Force is to protect stable residential areas, as they were successfully protected in Arlington. This means that people who don't want an urban lifestyle can retain the suburban style they enjoy currently, no need to leave Reston. At the same time, new Reston residents who come to live in the Dulles corridor urban developments can enjoy more urban amenities. It isn't an 'either/or' proposition: done right, we get 'and/and'.

    Marion Stillson"

    Terry Maynard
    RCA Board
    Reston 2020 Committee

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  28. dvdmon-

    If you want to discourage auto use, there are several steps you can take. First, build new residential within walking distance (1/4 to 1/2 mile) of transit. Second, address parking. Create parking maximums with zoning, rather than minimums. The people on this blog should read Donald Shoup to find out how cheap parking leads to greater vehicle miles traveled, fuel consumption, and congestion: http://shoup.bol.ucla.edu/People,Parking,CitiesJUPD.pdf . A greater supply of parking raises housing costs and encourages driving by both separating potential destinations (discouraging walking/biking) and making parking cheap. If the cost of driving (which parking is a part of) is more expensive, more people will shift to other modes of transportation. Third, increased accessibility will help decrease driving. Including a mix of uses, with ground-floor retail, will enable people to walk to destinations to meet their daily shopping and recreational needs. If you have multiple destinations within walking distance, auto trips can be eliminated.

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  29. Regarding a study of Arlington pre/post Metro, check out this presentation:

    http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/CPHD/planning/powerpoint/rbpresentation/rbpresentation_060107.pdf

    *Nearly a 16% reduction in traffic in Clarendon between 1996 - 2006
    *7% reduction in the number of people who drive alone to/from work between 2000-2006 (this was before the increase in gas to $4 per gallon in 2008).
    *More than 3 times as many people in Arlington compared to FFX Co use transit to get to work and more than 5 times as many people walk to work in Arlington Co as FFX Co.
    *89% of county planned low residential, garden
    apartment/town home or retail

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  30. 1996 is not pre-Metro.

    I wonder if they count the traffic on I-66 and other interstates since they are always backed up during commutes and on Saturday nights.

    Employment in Arlington was almost unchanged during that time. That would account for the lack of growth in Arlington at the same time Eastern Loudoun County, Herndon/Reston, and Springfield areas were booming.

    http://www.arlingtonvirginiausa.com/statistics/_26.pdf

    When the 2nd phase completes, I expect much of the traffic that feeds into the Metro at Wiehle and RTC will distribute over the Herndon and Route 28 stations as well and alleviate some of the added traffic congestion.

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  31. "Yep, the towers on the weekends will look like Mordor belching forth its Orc hordes and they'll mostly moving onto our already crowded roads."

    For BiCO!

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  32. Reston is not a city like Arlington or DC. People who choose to live in Arlington usually do so in part because they work in either DC or Arlington (likely near metro stops). Most of the housing is higher density in a city-like environment. In Reston you are likely to have people whose offices are not within walking distance of Metro, whose homes are not within walking distance, etc. You're not going to walk to metro if you live in North Point or off Lawyers Road for example.

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  33. I moved from Old Town Alex where we had metro to Reston. The traffic in Old Town and all of Alex. for that matter is gridlock during rush hour. It used to take me 1 hour to drive from one side of town to the other at rush hour (about 10 blocks). I couldn't take metro because I worked in Fairfax. Don't make the mistake of assuming that metro will ease traffic.

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  34. As I reread the thread, one thing becomes painfully clear. There is already high-density development in the area. The very fact that people are moving out here in droves is that they want to escape high-density life. Putting more high density out here would have the net effect of driving many of us who are trying to escape this phenomena even farther out.

    It also begs the question. Why would anyone who craves high-density living move out here? Well, there's the BiCO solution: the existing high-density, culture-rich communities are too expensive. Well, when Reston takes on these trappings, don't you think that we'll become too expensive as well? But fleeing a high-cost of living is a legitimate excuse, except that Reston is one of the higher cost communities.

    No, I think that most people who would move out here really are coming for the much the same reason that I'm still here: because there open spaces, fresh air, community (even if I seem to live in Thug Central) and not a crush of people. There's easy access to points to the west to escape the blandness of life in the concrete and asphalt jungles to the east.

    Projections maybe for 2 million more people in the DC Metro area, but that doesn't mean that they all have to live in Reston. As far as I'm concerned, Zero Growth is Smart Growth.

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  35. Convict, I think some people come out here simply because the Dulles Toll Road is lined with tons of businesses that even in this down economy are offering jobs. These people aren't necessarily looking for suburban living, but they also don't want to commute a hour from wherever, and prices are still cheaper here than they are even in Vienna next door, let alone closer in to DC. This is why we moved here last year. We would have liked to stay in Vienna, but we would have had to pay considerably more (more than we could afford) to get anything close to what we were able to here.

    But your point is well taken. Most people who move out here aren't doing so to live an urban lifestyle, although I'm sure there are plenty (especially the 20-somethings) that prefer that type of environment and opt to live in the high-rises around RTC rather than much pricier Arlington, Alexandria, Bethesda, and DC (and save additional money on shorter commutes if they happen to work out here too).

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  36. I'm sure everyone has their reason for being here, but I don't think "an urban lifestyle" would be one of them.

    In my humble opinion, change and growth are inevitable, and often painful. Therefore, two things seem most important to me: One, change in smart and elegant ways, and two, find a way as individuals to adapt gracefully.

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  37. Does even taller buildings mean even more mall cops to patrol the place? Will the mall cops from RTC get first consideration when the Wiehle development opens up? Also, will there be turf wars between the teeny boppers with fake IDs hanging out in front of Pizzeria Uno's, and the teeny boppers with fake IDs hanging out in the Wiehle development? And what kinds of generic names will these bars have?

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  38. There is never going to be a hotel at the Wiehle Comstock site. The presenter alluded to that when they changed the designation of that building from hotel to residential or hotel. Then, he said, there is only a 7 year option requiring it to be a hotel and it's exempt if someone else builds one next door.

    We want light in the plaza - Down from the HOLY Sun. But we don't want light shining up from the parking lots after it leaves the light fixture - Down from Hell? Really, the best suggestion was planting on the sides of buildings.

    Let's also remember that Comstock said they don't foresee the sight being done for 20 years.

    Oh, and it's 5723 parking spaces for cars and 150 for bikes and bike lockers. (Well blow me down!) I think I'm going to look for a body shop in Reston to buy out. The design of the multiple garages (Multi-rage?) is going to create more fender benders than rush hour on ice. Did they use that <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNeWDw4XtiU>BMW Z4 with paint on the tires</a> to plan those routes?

    Count on the back up of rush hour traffic coming down Wiehle from the Great North to go well past North Shore instead of just to the bottom of the hill below it. Oh, and we've still got the rest of the ground around the metro to be built up by other developers. Sheer genius.

    Hoverpack technology, I'm telling you, the wave of the future for your commute from 'revitalized' (and grossly expanded) Lake Anne to the Metro.

    Hey RAC and Planning Committee, how about revealing your plans to get Restonians to the metro from their houses after Fairfax cuts off bus service in 2011. Here's an off the wall idea, put in our very own light rail in Reston's plan now so we don't need to worry about the great non-crossover the toll road.

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  39. "Why would anyone who craves high-density living move out here?"

    There are a lot of reasons why someone who favors new urbanist communities, with mixed-use zoning and higher densities near transit would move to a place like Bethesda or Reston, rather than living in a city. As noted by dvdmon, proximity to the high concentration of jobs is one reason. Another is to be close to Dulles airport. If you work as a consultant and have to travel several times per month, a condo right off the Silver Line, close to Dulles would be very attractive. Another reason is good schools. I would think there are some people who have school-age children but do not want to live on a McMansion on a 1/2 acre of property or do not want to live an auto-dependent lifestyle at the end of a cul-de-sac. Yet another reason why someone would choose to live here, is environmental responsibility. There are probably many people who like the amenities and quality of life of Reston who want to save $5K - $10K per year by using transit and do not want to contribute to sprawl.

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  40. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)March 4, 2010 at 8:31 AM

    As far as why I am here is concerned there are dual reasons. First, while I currently work in the Tysons Corner "neighborhood" (if you can call it that) of McLean, when I originally moved here I was working in Herndon. I was warned by everyone to try to live as close to work as possible because the traffic in Northern Virginia was so awful (and it is), so I thought Reston was the closest thing to "urban" and "cosmopolitan" as I could find with a relatively painless commute to Herndon. Unfortunately while the commute was short I was stupid to think "tall buildings = city", and when I was transferred weeks after moving here to work in Tysons Corner I found myself going to a bloated office park for work and coming home to a community with a strong identity crisis. This is why I've become so depressed. Now that my rent is rising to nearly $1,400/month for a 1-BR in Reston I just don't see what is keeping me here. I've found a 1-BR cottage in McLean for $1,200/month that I'm seriously considering renting that is near bus lines, not far from the West Falls Church Metro, and not far from my office while still offering some nearby conveniences and a smattering of vegetation. For fresh college graduates who work in one of the numerous employers in Herndon/Reston, where are we supposed to live that's "urban", has a reasonable commute, AND isn't cost-prohibitive? I'm one of many in my age group very unhappy living in Reston because it has attracted the employment concentration of a city while its residents are staunchly suburban. It's a terrible mix. What good is a good job if you hate where you live?

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  41. BiCO--Advertize for a roommate and go live in Arlington. Maybe two roommates so you'll have more money to spend going out to the nice little restaurants there. We are a little short on nice little reataurants here in Reston. And it is very unlikely anything but national chain restaurants will be able to afford rents in the new high-rises. Even with 50,000 extra people and 25 million sq ft of additional development Reston is not going to be turned into Arlington.

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  42. Anonymous 9:55am - why would only large chains be able to afford the rent? I think it's actually more likely that the public wouldn't trust a new place that doesn't have the backing and support of a national chain. It's the biggest issue I have with Reston aside from lack of lighting. I would much prefer a local owned set of shops. At least Jackson's is a local chain (I think Great American Res. are anyway.) Think about the nice baby shop that closed to make room for a freakin' Chipotle. Or the cigar shop whose owner I can't stand. At least they are trying to or tried to maintain local businesses. If we support local business, they have a much better shot at making a run at it.

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  43. Living within the sacred .5 mile radius of the proposed Wiehle station, I just want to know...are all these tower dwellers going to show up at MY pool????? I mean, lines at Safeway are one thing, but battling for prime spots on a sunny day is already like a water buffalo migration on the Savannah, never mind throwing another herd of antelope in.... put some pools on those roofs!

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  44. 'Think about the nice baby shop that closed to make room for a freakin' Chipotle. Or the cigar shop whose owner I can't stand. If we support local business, they have a much better shot at making a run at it.'

    So basically you are encouraging the masses to have more sex and (obviously) smoke a stogie afterward.... ;-)

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