News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Mauvescraperpocalypse Now: What's 10 Million Square Feet When You Get a Wegman's and Maybe a Bike Lane or Two?

In one fell swoop, earlier this week the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved three massive projects that together will bring nearly 10 million square feet of new development and more than 3,700 residential units to Reston in the coming year, including at least one 420-foot (blaze it) mauvescraper that could be 35 (or more) stories tall. If built, that would dwarf the long-approved, not-yet-built One Reston Town Center project on Reston Parkway that at one time held the mantle of the tallest planned building in Reston.

You can't tell your exciting mixed-use development projects without a scorecard, so here's the rundown:

Reston Gateway, the Boston Properties-developed project that essentially connects our fake downtown vibrant urban core to the Reston Town Center Metro station, includes 2.2 million square feet of office space (including Fannie Mae's future headquarters), 93,000 square feet of retail, a hotel, and more than 2,000 residential units, along with the (blaze it) 420-foot mauvescraper and its neighboring 380-foot buddy. No truth to the rumor the second building will be called "Lil' Shorty," but here's hoping!

Reston Crescent is on the other side of the Toll Road from Reston Gateway and will ultimately have 4.1 million square feet of mixed-use space, including its own hotel, more than 1,700 residential units, and a dog park, but who cares, because Wegmans.

• Finally, Core Site will build two massive data centers on its property across from USGS on Sunrise Valley Drive. We do appreciate that the project was described by county officials as a "high-end" data center, not one of those tacky low-class data centers you see out in Ashburn and whatnot. Only the finest spam e-mails and streaming teevee series will be allowed to sully our earth-toned community's fiber optics! And there's even more good news, according to our elected county representatives:

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said the data center would also significantly reduce trip generation. “In some sense, that’s a good news piece,” she said.
Yep. Just like millennials and mixed-use development residents, binge-watched Netflix episodes don't drive cars.

To be fair, all three proposals are among the "danger zones" of approved developments within walking distance to Metro. It's hard to argue against concentrating new development there, and we still think it's better to live in a place that's growing than one that's stagnant. Plus, Wegmans!

What's bad, of course, is that there's still no actual funding allocated for virtually any of the many infrastructure improvements needed to accommodate all this awesome new development. And while each project requires the developer to put up some money for infrastructure, we're not talking about bridge-building money, and we're not exactly confident the county is willing to hold developers' feet to the fire.

Consider this statement about the Reston Gateway project, which our BFFs at Reston Now, in what might have been a Freudian slip, called a "mixed-up" project:

Part of the deal includes the conveyance of a 60,000-square-foot performing arts center planned in phase two of the development. The building would be conveyed to the county’s board or another entity. If the plan fails, Boston Properties will provide required contributions for an athletic field, according to Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner John Carter.
Hmm. So a company which doesn't exactly have the best track record of supporting the community has gotten the green light to opt out of building a (presumably expensive) performing arts center by throwing (presumably far less) money at relining a soccer field or two? We're no planning officials, but this strikes us as.... pretty weak sauce, as the kids might have said at one point.

Never fear, as the county has, as they say in the movies, a plan:

Hudgins also noted that the arrival of the Silver Line over the next two years would reduce the number of drivers on the road.

“This is a large transition as we see it,” she said.

Um, it's already here? Also, if this is such great news for Reston, why was the news of the approval of the projects listed below such vital pieces of community news as a volunteer fire commission award, a stream restoration project, and proposed ordinances governing fleet vehicles in Hudgins' latest email to constituents? (To be fair, they were listed above the 4-H Fair and Carnival, so there's that.)

Exactly one (1) person spoke about the proposals during the public hearing earlier this week, Reston resident Rob Whitfield. "It was abundantly clear that the Board does not give a flying fig about the adverse consequences of their action," Whitfield said in an email. "I suggested to the Board that "Reston is being treated like a bastard stepchild" and that the disparity between transportation project funding between the southern half of Fairfax County and the northern half is vast."

Looks like we can look forward to more out-of-the-box proposals like this going forward. And Wegmans, the end.


  1. A "mixed-up" project


  2. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonAugust 2, 2018 at 5:33 PM

    With all this massive over-development, just goes to show there is no silver lining to the Silver Line.

    Although if Wegman's is going to be located a mere stone's throw from Sunrise Valley, does this mean I'll have to change my screen name to The Peasant From More Sought After South Reston?


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