News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Reston Hospital Expansion Approved; Comstock Wiehle Decision Deferred

Screen shot 2010-03-22 at 11.46.44 PM.jpgAccording to the Twitters, HCA has been given the green light by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to go ahead with its planned, Ashburn-spiting expansion of Reston Hospital Center. Um, yay?

Meanwhile, the Fairfax County Planning Commission has again postponed a decision on Comstock's awesome Grand Canyon of the East at the Wiehle Avenue Metro station, this time to April 22. In the meantime, you can read this exquisitely harsh letter to the editor criticizing the project, the end.


  1. If we're going to double the number or residents in Reston, that means that we're going to need double of all of these kinds of service. We're going to need more hospital beds (along with all of the support staff). We're going to need twice as many ambulances, fire trucks and police cars. (Hey, they can't use the Metro or the buses, now can they?) We're going to need twice as many grocery stores and drugstores, unless our existing grocery stores and drug stores are underutilized. (I doubt anyone who goes to the grocery store on a Saturday or Sunday would agree to that clause.) We're going to need twice as many classrooms (or at least a heck of a lot of trailers). Oh, yes, we're going to need at least twice as many recreational facilities as well. (Doh. I guess we threw out that baby with the bathwater.)

  2. Brooklyn Bridge SalesmanApril 14, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    Love the line in Guy Rando's letter "the plaza will be designed to grow mushrooms and rats. It will rival 18th century Parisian tenements in the inhuman conditions it will create."

    Sounds exactly like the kind of dream community Bico advocates, high density. And who neeeds more grocery stores with natural food right at your doorstep. Mushroom infused rat-atouille. Yum.

  3. Make the residences apartments so that the units are occupied by residents who value the convenience of being near the rail line, and build the residential buildings near the Plaza America center. That Whole Foods should have several Section 8 towers nearby to give it more flavor. Those with late-model caddies and mink coats would surely appreciate the valet service provided there

  4. School space won't need to be doubled because all the fancy studies indicate that 5000 new residences bring only an extra 100 students**.

    Yeah, right. Just like doubling the population won't lead to gridlock on the toll road and surrounding local streets.

    **Disclaimer: Those are made up numbers but along the lines of the extraordinary claims made by developers on a regular basis.

  5. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO): Soon-to-Be "Amongst the 'Hoods in Colvin Woods"April 15, 2010 at 7:16 AM

    A few items of note from the letter to the editor:

    1.) Why in God's name are there so many different entities providing their input into this? We have Fairfax County P&Z, Reston 2020, Citizens' Advisory Work Group #1, the Committee for Dulles, RA, RA Transportation Advisory Committee, DRB, (and I'm sure others not mentioned as well). With all of these little "fiefdoms" trying to proclaim THEY know what is "best" for the rest of us, I'm left here scratching my head wondering how ANY project will be approved through a consensus. Why not put every proposal that comes through the pike up as a ballot initiative for a special election restricted to Reston residents only? This way instead of Guy Rando, Kathy Kaplan, Cathy Hudgins, Robin Smyers, Elvis, etc. saying they speak for "all of Reston" with their own OPINIONS (many of which I disagree with on all fronts) this can be verified by a TRUE majority?

    2.) Once again, Ms. Kaplan and Mr. Rando, can we please stop spreading hysteria? I'm VERY uneasy about ANY proposal that would include "artificial lighting" in plazas to account for the blockage of natural light due to the inept orientation of buildings and concur it sounds bizarre, but was calling the proposal "inhuman", likening it to Medieval tenement slums, and saying it will be a haven for "mushrooms and rats" REALLY necessary to prove your points? We get it. You (and others on this blog) want Reston to remain suburban and prefer Ashburn over Arlington. No need to be so overly-dramatic (and this comes from a self-proclaimed occasional drama queen himself!)

    3.) I wholeheartedly AGREE with Ms. Kaplan and Mr. Rando to utilize air rights over the Dulles Toll Road to expand the parcel and to give it more "breathing room." Excellent idea.

    4.) I have mixed feelings about their proposed elevated walkway system. Minneapolis/St. Paul has a very extensive downtown network of enclosed skyways for pedestrians to shield them from the elements and to separate them from traffic, but I wonder if encouraging everyone to walk above-grade will hamper efforts to attract and retain street-level retail/dining options? I don't know personally how vibrant or lively Downtown Minneapolis is at street-level when the skyways are in heavy use so I could be mistaken on this, but it seems to be something that should be considered.

    5.) Having two different plazas at two different elevations sits well with me. No complaints.

  6. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO): Soon-to-Be "Amongst the 'Hoods in Colvin Woods"April 15, 2010 at 7:16 AM

    6.) Are architects REQUIRED to provide models, elevations, renderings, etc. to anyone and everyone who asks for them? I'm not trying to be snarky, but I was legitimately just curious here in general terms. I think it was a bit immature to single this one man out for ridicule by saying "we asked, and he has yet to deliver", more or less (not that anyone I know actually reads the Reston Connection anyways, but I digress).

    7.) Where did that 37.5% figure come from? Is that residential or commercial? I have mixed feelings on this. If having more commercial space will permit this project (and surrounding projects) to be more "self-contained" with their own grocery store, restaurants, shops, etc., then perhaps the fears of our current businesses becoming overcrowded can be mitigated. I know from personal experience that the Northpoint Giant, in the most sparsely-populated neighborhood in Reston, is already very busy whenever I'm there, so if one of these projects included a Wegman's, Bloom, (or whatever other grocery chain we don't yet have), then that's beneficial in my eyes.

    8.) I STRONGLY AGREE with Mr. Rando and Ms. Kaplan about holding off on approval until VDOT's recommendations are in. Doing otherwise seems grossly negligent.

    9.) I thought Reston Town Center was already the "armpit of Reston?" (Pats self on back!) ;-)

    10.) Unfortunately "world-class architecture" is HIGHLY subjective. I think you both referenced in the past you think the Prudential Tower in Boston is a great example of "world-class architecture." I'm inclined to disagree. I know many in Reston who think Washington Plaza at Lake Anne is "world-class", but for as much as I like Lake Anne I always thought the plaza was HIDEOUS. You're living in an area where people think vinyl and particle-board garbage in Loudoun County is "gorgeous." Be forewarned that we're ALL going to have divergent perspectives on what qualifies as "world-class architecture." In Reston nothing I can think of comes close. I'm trying to envision the community in my head right now, and unless I'm mistaken the only building in Reston Town Center I marginally like is the one that houses Accenture. Otherwise much of Reston isn't exactly noted for being a hotbed of brilliant architecture (ducks flying shoes!)

  7. BiCO,

    The reason that there are many groups reviewing the plan and putting in their input is because

    - there is no public input into what is built at this location,
    - no governing document to state what should be here, (which the Fairfax Planning Commission can follow),
    - no governing board with the authority to approve or disapprove of the design.

    Without these organizations, anything could be built. They are doing us all a service.

    This is public property owned by Fairfax County; therefore Fairfax County residents. We have the right to say what should be built here.

    I live within a mile of this trainwreck. Until I see a viable answer to the traffic, I don't want the development built. My children and I walk across Wiehle, it is the only way out of our neighborhood.

    Guy and Kathy are more middle ground than I, they want development built but want it worthy of our area and to set the standard for the rest of the Sunset Hills developments. They want something outstanding. Not one single organization that has reviewed has complimented the design.

    I commend both Guy and Kathy's work even though they pull out the dramatics (which may work or may backfire). Otherwise, along with others that are monitoring the community, many of us wouldn't even know what was being proposed.

    Comstock owes it to our community to post the full design online, which they haven't done- not even the basic drawings or even a mention of this project is on their website. They have done very little to show the public what they are proposing. It would be impossible to find any information except for the Reston 2020 group and the Restonian.

    All of the residents living at the station would have to get in their cars on a regular basis for any trip that isn't communting by rail. There are no facilities at this location. The nearest public park is more than a mile away. There is no place to enjoy a sunny day. They are cut off from the community.

    The residents will not be RA members, Reston will need to build more paths and provide additional services but these residents will not pay for them.

    Bico, you have some great opinions but I am very aware that you can move in and out of our community at your leisure while I own my home and therefore am a stakeholder in the future of Reston and plan to be here for many years to come.

    I welcome your ideas and commend your involvement but I expect that when you have lived here longer, perhaps even buying into Reston one day, you may find your viewpoints have changed.

  8. Can anyone say what happened at the meeting and their reason for posponing it another week? (a good thing)

  9. You won't need more streets because our TOD model says only 15% of the occupants will use a car on any given day.

  10. Why won't the residents be RA members? I don't know the ins and outs of RA yet.

  11. They Won't be RA members because they won't be required to, much like RTC. And again less revenue for Reston businesses from greater competition. The Comstock development will be "Cashing in" on the Reston "brand" without providing ANYTHING in return to the community.

    Fairfax CO. should just build the garage and not succumb to Comstock's shit plan. A free garage will not be free if the current Comstock design is going to be implemented as is.

    The plan needs serious revisions, and Comstock needs to be more receptive to the needs of the community.

    If they put in Apartments without a grocery store for the residents/commuters this would be an abortion of a plan.

    Anon 8:30, your analysis was spot on. BiCO, as usual you miss the point.


  12. The more I think about this whole thing, the more I think there should just be a garage here. Look, a Metro stations is going to bring a lot more people to Reston, and a lot more traffic to the roads. Do we really need to make the traffic 10 times worse by putting a ton of retail or residential stuff right next to the metro station? Sorry, but it seems like unless they add 4 more north-south roads over the toll road between Hunter Mill and Reston Parkway, plus a road and parking lot on the other side of the toll road right to the north of the station, it's going to make traffic around here unbearable.

    I certainly understand the desire (from the developer's side) to add lots of luxury residential towers, retail space, and a hotel, but for current Restonians, this doesn't actually add anything of value. The metro station will be a great addition to our community, allowing easier access into DC and Arlington, but I'm certainly never going to use a hotel here and there already is a large nice hotel right up Sunrise Valley from Wiehle, do we really need another one? Dense residential space is fine as long as it's done in a planned way, unfortunately it seems like the plan here is to get as big a profit for Comstock as possible rather than creating an environment that has a minimal effect on area traffic.

    Unfortunately I happen to live within a very short walk of this area, so whatever goes up there will have a direct bearing on our quality of life. If its going to take me just 10 minutes more to get anywhere, that's hours each week spent in the car that I could otherwise be enjoying with my family. Then again, maybe traffic will become so gridlocked that it will be just as fast to walk a few miles as to drive, and so will be a good motivator in that sense.

    In any case, given the recent backlash from lack of community feedback for development plans, I really think that Reston and Fairfax owe us much more in this respect. Holding planning sessions is one thing and while I'd love to go to these, it's not always feasible due to other obligations. I do wish there were some mechanism, as BiCO suggest, to receive opinions for a larger segment of the population that will be directly effected by these large, long-term decisions.

  13. For those of you who want the Fairfax Planning Commission to hear what you have to say . . . send them an email (I doubt that all of them read the Restonian and that some have spent less time on the proposal than some of you) . . .

    Reference: Comstock Wiehle Reston Station, RZ/FDP 2009-HM-019


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