News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Parkpoclalypse Now: New RTC Development Would Encroach on Existing Park Space

Hey, remember that time that Boston Properties bought the last surface parking lot at Reston Town Center with plans to build more mixed-used development on the space? Yeah, that was awesome. Well, our BFFs at Reston 2020 are now telling us that as part of their development plans, Boston is planning on building into the adjoining park that serves as a buffer between RTC and Reston Parkway, and they are Not Amused. Give us some good blockquote, BFFs from Reston 2020:

As part of that development, BP wants to take 60' linear feet--one-third--of the adjoining President's Park, land it had previously committed to sustaining as park space. And, oh yes, why not add 1,000 parking spaces in this so-called transit-oriented development.

BP is making a fool of County decision makers who say they want transit-oriented development (TOD), but are unwilling to limit parking growth or ensure adequate park or other open space, and the community in which it operates by acting as if it answers to no one but its shareholders.
They also included this helpful map:

Annotated proposed BP RTC Development

First off, kudos for including the Macaroni Grill on the map. Makes it more real to us.

According to minutes from a Reston Planning & Zoning Committee meeting, Boston plans to build a 17-story office building where the low-rise Ruby Tuesday FedEx now stands, and then a 549-unit apartment/condo with 25,000 square feet of ground-floor retail atop the existing parking lot... and part of the park.

Boston's representative pointed out that the amount of parkland to be used is "significantly less than is permitted by current Fairfax County Planning Office approvals." They've also pledged to "ensure maximum tree-save potential," but there was a moment of unintentional comedy when someone pointed out that the renderings that Boston showed at the P&Z meeting included more trees than are currently there, and who knows, maybe little happy cartoon birds chirping and whatnot, and their representative had to admit the additional trees in the drawing were "in error." Awkward!

The problem is that as the landowners, Boston is apparently well within its rights to do this. If true, that's the fault of county planners. But it doesn't exactly make Boston look like it cares a whole lot about walking the walk on creating a livable mixed-use, high-density community, aside from paying some poor graphic designer to add more trees to their renderings.

Our BFFs at Reston 2020:
The whole BP presentation and responses points out unequivocally that BP cares nothing about the community its properties are in; only about the profits those properties might make. Moreover, it can not be trusted to keep its word about a matter as straightforward as setting aside land for parks in urbanizing areas.

More generally, BP's actions raises a legitimate question about whether the County can trust developers to honor their commitments in proffers to preserve park land for public use. From BP's example, it appears that we can not. Moreover, it points strongly to the need of the County to use more stringent measures to acquire public ownership of needed park land, including the use of eminent domain, rather than trusting development companies to meet public needs.

While no RP&Z recommendation has yet been made on this project, the Reston community must step up and express its concern, if not outrage, as this proposal. The next opportunity to do so will be at next Monday's RP&Z meeting, 7:30PM, Monday, May 19, 2014, at the North County Government Center Community Room.
What they said.


  1. Kudos for resisting the urge to quote Big Yellow Taxi.

  2. Big Yellow Taxi ReduxMay 14, 2014 at 9:06 PM

    You mean that the small strip of land was--is--actually counted as a park space? How come I seldom see anyone doing park-type things there? BP obviously thinks of it as just tree-lined frontage for the buildings--a decorative flourish that will serve as an amenity for their wonderful new building.

  3. BWAHAHAHA. And to all of those fools that spent so much time working on the Master Plan, did you really think that the BoS or the Developers were actually going to let your efforts get in the way of making a buck? Suckers!

    I am so outta' here. Good luck, though, with the Mahattanization of Reston.

    The only Smart Growth is No Growth.

  4. Reston 2020 has updated its post on this topic to note that the next opportunity for public input on this park taking will be the Planning Commission hearing on June 11.


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