News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Yet Another Reston Think Piece: The Post Weighs In On Our Midrise Future

Fifth Earth Toned Element.jpegWhile it couldn't possibly compete with the thinkiest think piece ever thunk about our favorite earth-toned community, local news-paper The Washington Post remembered again that it's Reston's 50th anniversary and wrote a long article. Peppered throughout are subtle hints about what future development here will look like, if by "hints" you mean "explicit statements from the developers who will build most of this bollardy midrise goodness."

Give us some good blockquote, BFFs at the Post:

The original plan for Reston was for 22,000 units that would house 80,000 to 85,000 people, says Chuck Veatch, [president of the Charles A. Veatch Co., a commercial real estate company]. But while there are 22,000 units, the population remains at 60,000.

“Family demographics and home preferences have changed since the 1960s,” says Veatch. “We thought there would be six people in each single-family home and four in each townhouse, but now families are smaller and yet still want more space.”
Yeah, but most of those space-craving folk will "graduate" to Loudoun County, where the quarter sixteenth-acre plots are plentiful and the particleboard is flowing. What we got going for us is density, baby!
“Twenty years ago, density was a dirty word, but now people understand that if you want open space you get it by creating density in other places,” says Simon. “Over the next 25 to 50 years I would love to see the village centers and shopping plazas redesigned with high-rise buildings. I’m very impressed with the development around the Silver Line Metro station and think Reston could use more of that.”
You might think this is all about the downwardly mobile, Ford Focus-driving young adults who eschew apartments with vowels in their names and can't get jobs and are saddled with college debt who are postponing major life decisions like getting married and having children because they can't get jobs and are saddled with college debt of demographic shifts. And you'd be right! But it also fits in with downwardly mobile older Restonians who have somehow managed to get their own aforementioned twenty- and thirty-somethings out of their wood-paneled basements and their Ford Foci out of the carports. Consider:
Haukness says the upscale rental apartment on view in the Avant represents one of the main elements of Simon’s plan for Reston story.

“The apartment is rented by a couple who owned a larger home in Reston and have now downsized and retired and want to live where they can walk to all the amenities of Reston Town Center,” says Haukness. “His idea was that people could live here at different stages of their lives and at different income levels."

Until recently, Veatch says that residential development in Reston and elsewhere in the area was focused on the idea that people want to buy the biggest house they could afford. He says the housing crisis and recession changed that dynamic and that more empty nesters are opting to move into mid-rise and high-rise developments.

Reston’s planned single-family homes have now been completely built, says Veatch, and all new developments at the moment are rental apartments that appeal to young residents and to empty nesters.
Yep. Sounds about right.

And that may not be a bad thing. Simon is right -- "density" is no longer a dirty word. Part of why Reston has so much open space as it is goes back to the 1960s decision to build townhouses and garden apartments in what was then the middle of nowhere. But density without the needed amenities and protection for existing neighborhoods kinda sorta is a dirty word. All the more reason to keep our eyes open as we enjoy the awesome midscale retail that said density has already afforded us, the end.


  1. If you think Rentalness is a good thing, I suggest that you take a walk through the public spaces surrounding Shadowood.

    No Growth is Smart Growth.

    1. Hey, Shadowood is actually a condo complex. If it was a rental unit, I guess it would be called SHADWD these days.

  2. You've got to be pretty "dense" if you want to live piled up with other people,especially if you're trying to raise kids. All you have to do is pay a visit to a real city and stay there for a month, the novelty wears off rather precipitously.

  3. Suburban and Loving ItOctober 8, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    Density is for all those fabulous young single people who don't mind splitting the rent 2, 3 or even 4 ways to an apartment. I'll keep my single family house, with a private rear deck and yard, thank you, no matter how heretical that sounds to all the trendy urban planner-types out there (and their friendly high-rise builders as well). You guys will make no more money off of me. The prices being asked for most of new local high and mid-rise developments are ridiculous. Find another pigeon.

  4. Let's all hope they don't start building so-called "apodments" here! That's an invasive building species currently infesting cities out west. Eight or so "sleeping rooms" share a common kitchen. Goodbye to personal privacy and self-determination!

  5. Soviet-era apartments in Russia shared a common kitchen. Made it so much easier for the KGB to keep an eye on what people were up to.


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