News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, February 24, 2011

So Much for the Big Dig: Air Rights Over Toll Road Deemed Impractical Now, Too Expensive Later

more air rights.jpg
The idea of building fun floating buildings over the Toll Road appears to have hit a bit of a snag. An analysis of air rights development near the Reston Parkway metro station came up with a bit of a conundrum: Current market conditions don't favor building foundations for a deck now, but doing it later once Metro construction is complete will be a lot more expensive.
An analysis of the development potential for air rights over the toll road, completed last week, determined that the commercial real estate market isn't presently strong enough to warrant the millions of dollars of extra investment the idea would require. The analysis concluded that the strategy ought to be shelved "until the regional economic market and business conditions are more favorable."

The study was commissioned by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority after multiple developers -- before the recession began -- inquired about building a deck over the toll road to accommodate new development adjacent to the planned Reston Parkway Metro Station, near the intersection of the toll road and Reston Parkway. The findings were reported to the authority's board of directors last week and the board is expected to act on them this spring.
air rights fun.jpgOur BFFs at Reston 2020 have links to the actual study if you're morbidly curious, but the bottom line is that building the foundation now would cost $34 million, but waiting until later will nearly double the cost to $60 million. But no worries, because the current political climate will ensure that free funding for all sorts of valuable projects will be readily available after the government debt crisis devalues the dollar to somewhere south of the 1980s-era Lira and we have to carry wheelbarrows of the stuff to purchase even one Slim Jim in the future!
Phil Sunderland, vice president and general counsel for the airports authority, said it was encouraging to know that the deck didn't need to be built right now in order for air rights to be an option in the future.

"If we do not do something today, it does not mean that we are dead in the water 20 years from today," he said.

Sunderland compared building a deck speculatively to the authority buying $34 million worth of land, which might qualify as a good investment in some stages in the real estate market, but not at this point. "The conclusion was that the market is probably not going to be there," Sunderland said.
Oh, well. We were tots excited about dining at a Cheesecake Factory overlooking snarled traffic on the Toll Road, but we'll settle for one overlooking snarled traffic on Sunset Hills instead.

Speaking of which, thinking about the space over the Toll Road is a good time to remember we're going to need some more fancy bridges to keep our North Point-to-Hunters Woods runs at Mach 2 above 3 miles per hour, the end.


  1. It's just too bad that they aren't going to build the deck. They could turn the flat deck into a skate board park until they're ready to go higher. They could use it as overflow parking for the LoCo's who will soon be flocking to the new Metro, especially once gas hits $5/gal.

    If things continue to go as they have been in the Middle East, I think it's very likely that we'll see $4/gal gas by the beginning of summer and might even see $5/gal by the end of summer. Anybody want to start a pool?

  2. To get a sense of what a deck might look like, take 66 into DC. Arlington built a deck over the highway, which is basically used for county parking. No floating wedding cake type building or Cheesecake Factory on top of it, though.

  3. To not build the deck now is truly wasteful. They will have to do it eventually, if for no other reason than as Convict suggests: parking.

    They could make it a paid parking lot to offset the price.

    Especially if they want to build structures on it later, why not do the deck now?

    $30 mil now or $60 mil later?

    Do it while you have the chance....

  4. There's a part of 95 in NYC that goes under a high-rise apartment complex. It's a little weird if you ask me, but if it will bring North and South Reston together, I"m all for it.

  5. We can always build the deck later. Price isn't an obstacle. You simply double the toll road charges.
    a) Those with smart tags (or whatever they are call it) won't even notice the increase.
    b) people will pay the charges. They have few alternatives. 7 or 66? *snort* *snort*

  6. Darn. Those Thai Lettuce Wrap appetizers from the Cheesecake Factory would be so much tastier from call-ahead window side seating, looking down from a deck, at the commemorative WVA Dale Earnhardt plates streaming West during the supper hours.

  7. Since when did "we can't afford it" stop the developers in this area from building anything? They can just get the Hunter Mill District Supervisor to roll over on it, and it's a done deal. Constituents? Well, if she doesn't tell them, it didn't happen, right? And even if they find out, she can deny or refuse to respond. And we PAY her for this...p.s. I didn't vote for her. Ever.

  8. Seems very shortsighted to me - realestate near a highway and a Metro stop is very valuable. And better to have it done than to wait, when complications may come up.

  9. Damnation, Comrades! I stopped by the Excon on Sunrise Valley Dr. They wanted $3.44/gal for 87 octane. That's friggin' up $0.25/gal from this weekend. We're well on our way to $4/gal by Memorial Day.

  10. Well Convict, you only really have one person to blame for that:


  11. This disease is spreading. The Exxon on Baron Cameron is also charging $3.44/g for 87 octane. The Targetville Sunoco, typically the most expensive gas in the Herndon/Reston area is now charging $3.39/g, up from $3.29/g from yesterday morning.

    I can hardly wait for the weather to improve so that I can go back to walking/running/biking comfortably.

  12. Attention Restonian fans:

    The Peasant just gassed up his oxmobile Saturday morning for $3.31 a gallon at the Exxon on Sunrise Vally Drive just east of Reston Parkway. Seems to be the cheapest gas around (I noticed that it was $3.39 at the gas station near Target, and Mrs. Peasant saw it yesterday at $3.49 at the gas station in Hunters Woods). Get you gas now before upheavals in the Kingdom of Qaddafi Duck send prices even higher.

  13. If that's the case regarding the Exxon on SRV, then they DROPPED their prices from Friday morning.

    Let's hope that the teeming throngs of targets called Libyans hurry up and do an Il Duce to Qdaffy soon, especially before he makes good on his threats to torch the Libyan oil fields.

    And here I thought the DRB was dysfunctional.

  14. Well, Convict, you'll be interested to know that the price of gas at the Sunrise Valley Exxon has already changed. I had to drive by it again this afternoon at 5:00, and it's now $3.35 a gallon.

    And say what you want about Qadaffi Duck, but everything in his kingdom is earth-toned hues of tan and beige.

  15. And his kingdom also has wall-to-wall escarpment.

    I drove past the Exxon on SRV. The price is $3.36/gal. That was the going price in the middle of Herndon yesterday as well. I think that they must have realized that they over-shot on the price mark up, got concerned that people like me were pulling up to the pump, not pumping anything and then driving away.

    Or maybe they read this filthy web log and realized that they were getting dissed for having the highest prices in the market -- even higher the Targetville Sunoco, which is usually the highest price in the Herndon-Reston area.

  16. County Supervisor Hudgins had better get ahold of this gas situation!

  17. Let's see, if Metro (once it gets here) will be a $10 daily round trip (conservative, I know) to work, and one works about 20 days per month, that's $200. If I fill up my hybrid and drive, at worst I'm breaking even, and I might even be ahead, because although there's wear and tear on my vehicle, I get to control when I go, and where I drive, and who I have to put up with in the car. I'm wondering exactly what the price-break will be to get people out of their cars.

    And let's not forget, that as fuel prices go up, they affect Metro too, so $10 per day is WAY LOW because as their costs go up, they'll hand it to us.

    By the way, does anyone ever SEE Cathy Hudgins on the Metro?

  18. She's too busy manipulating gas prices! Huuuuuuudgiiiiiiins!!!!!

  19. Gas is now $3.50/gal for 87 octane at the Targetville Sunoco. How high can we go?

  20. Ask Woodpile; he's an agent of Hudgins'. Perhaps he is busily working on a steam driven automobile powered by all the free wood that he hopes to get from yet another Hudgins boondoggle when they cut down some tree somewhere for some reason that can only be to advance their section 8 takeover of democracy.

    *sips some tea*



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