News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

As the Potential Silver Line Phase 2 Funding Meltdown Continues in Slow Motion, Don't Worry, Keep Clapping

PH2007101501531.jpgGood morning! Does anyone have an extra $300 million lying around they could kick in the can for the folks building the Silver Line?

Actually, not to worry. Virginia lawmakers' decision not to pony up the extra $300 million for Metro doesn't mean that Phase 2 of the Silver Line won't be built. It means that Phase 2 of the Silver Line will be built, and the difference will be made up by even higher tolls on the Toll Road. It's a win-win, at least if you don't have a car or hate quarters.

Now Loudoun County is a different story. Loudoun supervisors' dithering about funding their share of the Silver Line has already delayed preliminary bids for the project, and they could derail it altogether. This isn't exactly confidence inspiring:

“Everything is so iffy,” said Patrick A. Nowakowski, executive director of the Dulles rail project at MWAA. “If Loudoun pulls out, we’re back to the drawing board. The funding agreement falls apart.”
We're guessing that brilliant last-minute suggestions like this one won't help break this logjam.

There's been a lot of gnashing and wailing of teeth about the much-touted economic benefits of Metro, especially given the economy and trends in office development. However, a "virtual rail-ty tour" (get it?) sponsored by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce suggests that even given the sluggish economy, developers are starting to make real moves towards growth around both the planned and the potential Reston stations:
Several commercial real estate and development firms gave an overview Tuesday of projects planned in conjunction with the debut of Silver Line Phase 1—which will run from Tysons Corner to Reston's Wiehle Avenue beginning late 2013. They said there will likely be a development boom in residential, rather than office space.

• JBG office buildings Summit I and II (288,000 square feet of office space) at Sunrise Valley Drive and Edmund Halley Drive, will undergo a $15 million renovation.

• An application to develop a parcel adjacent to Reston Station (where the Reston Mini Storage is now located) is currently under review, said Mark Looney, land use attorney with Cooley.

The proposed mixed-use development near the Wiehle Station (and the planned 1.5 million-square-foot, mixed-use development at Reston Station) will have 175,000 square feet of office space, as well as retail and residential.

• Reston Station will soon break ground on its luxury rental residences, to be called The BLVD.

• Boston Properties is at work on Block 16 (also called "The Avant at Reston Town Center"), a 15-story, 359-unit residential building (with 27,000 square feet of retail) at Reston Town Center (across the park from Vapianos). The project is expected to be completed next year and will feature a rooftop pool and dog area.

Boston Properties also has plans for Reston Gateway, a 22-acre site between the Reston Town Center and the Reston Parkway (Phase 2) Metro station.

"We anticipate a very vibrant, mixed-use development," said Pete Otteni, Boston Properties' vice president of development, "We are not necessarily recreating the Town Center, but connecting Reston Town Center to the Metro."
So the first parallelograms to rise along the Toll Road will be residential, which has got to please the folks who have argued that a larger mix of residential properties among the new development will help with traffic issues. And of course, there's the whole thing about what happens to traffic in Reston if the Silver Line ends at Wiehle Avenue, which, as we've said before, would bring traffic to an utter standstill as Loudoun cut-through commuters vie Mad Max-style for the last spot in the Reston Station parking garage not be good. So we have a vested reason for hoping that the folks in Loudoun see reason. Keep clapping, kids!

But not to worry, because pro-rail folks in Loudoun made this fancy faux-viral YouTubes video, thereby all but ensuring swift and speedy approval of any and all money needed for the project. It's interesting, but maybe not for the reasons its makers intended.

Note that every scene is shot in some hellish mega strip-mall that makes Reston Spectrum look quaint and homey by comparison -- including one particularly horrific shot of a parking lot that appears to be the size of a modest inland sea. This particleboard nirvana is what Loudoun is so worried about preserving?

(Counterpoint: Wegmans!)

Update: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is now taking the involved parties to the woodshed, which actually sort of worked the last time thing things were looking a bit iffy for the project. Also, it turns out that Phase 1 of the Silver Line will come in $150 million over budget -- or 600,000,000 quarters short, in the parlance of Toll Road fees. But hey, who's counting?


  1. Commuter With No Voice In The MatterApril 24, 2012 at 10:24 PM

    If Northern VA truly wants Metro to Dulles Airport, then let them actually PAY FOR IT!
    There will be fewer deep operating subsidies in the future, the Obama plan for rail notwithstanding (wishful thinking). These heavy rail systems are expensive to build, operate and maintain. Why did NOVA roll over and play dead just so the airport folks and the biz sector could have some bling? The taxpayers have been poorly served by all connected with promoting this WHITE ELEPHANT.

  2. Anyone hear that Whole Foods may be coming to the Reston Town Center on block 16 on the street level of the new Avant apartment bldg?


(If you don't see comments for some reason, click here).