News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Why Is The RA Considering Buying Its Old Visitors Center? Location, Location, Location

Visitors center
The Reston Association is looking to reclaim its former visitors center, announcing last week that it intends to go through a referendum process this spring to purchase the 2.5-acre property adjoining Lake Newport.

There are a few minor issues, including the fact that the RA doesn't know the current value of the property or what they'd use it for. But it's got a sweeeet parking lot and is currently zoned for a "convenience store," so maybe we could see a convenient "grossery" for folks living on the fancypants north side of Baron Cameron, assuming that North Restoners ever slum it by purchasing Slurpies or similar non farm-to-table fare. Maybe free-range jerky?

But we digress. Give us some good blockquote, BFFs at Reston Now:

The RA Board on Thursday unanimously passed a motion to authorize a referendum on the purchase this spring.

Members would vote on whether RA should purchase the building, which is set on 2 1/2 acres off of Baron Cameron Avenue.

The building was constructed in 1982, and for nearly two decades served as a visitors center to familiarize people with Reston, particularly the North Point area as it was constructed.

The 3,200-square-foot building is currently the headquarters of Tetra Partners, a commercial real estate firm. Tetra approached RA about purchasing the property about a year ago, said RA president Ken Knueven.

The property would be a natural fit for RA as it abuts several other RA properties. Among them: Browns Chapel Park, Lake Newport Dam and Lake Newport Tennis. The building also has a 50-foot extension into Lake Newport.
Kind of like a game of Monopoly, only we're assuming that they won't be putting houses or hotels on it.
“This seems like a wonderful opportunity to get control of a piece of property that could, over time, be subjected to a lot of pressure as surrounding areas develop,” Lake Anne/Tall Oaks Director Eve Thompson said at Thursday’s board meeting. “It would be better to have that in our control and have the land used in a manner appropriate to its setting.”
It may actually be a smart move: The current owners approached the RA to see if they'd be interested in buying the property, presumably thinking the RA would be a better neighbor than a random developer. If the RA doesn't buy the land, the land will likely be designated for office or community space in the ongoing master plan revisions, meaning something bigger and blockier could ultimately mar Lake Newport. On the other hand, if the property can be used as community space, it could become yet another proposed location for the never-quite-extinguished dreams for a new rec center.

Also, it's definitely a lot smaller -- and presumably cheaper -- than buying Reston National Golf Course, which is an idea that's been floated by the RA should the current zoning unpleasantness there not go the community's way. Would buying one preclude the RA from buying the other?

More questions than answers at this point. The RA Board would formally decide to go forward with the referendum process early next month, followed by public hearings. Referendum ballots would go out in April and be due in early May.

Who knows? Maybe it could become a visitor's center yet again. God knows we certainly have enough new residential properties coming on line to need one.

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