News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, January 2, 2023

In Reston, What's Old is New Again in 2023

Everything old is new again, even in a plastic fantastic jet age planned community like Reston! We've been blogging about Reston for so long that we remember the last time that print newspapers were a thing, and here we are, holding this one in our slightly more wrinkled hands. So what will be new for Reston in 2023? A lot of the same—only with better prepared food options. Let's get right to it:

A Dream Realized

Restonians have been lobbying for Wegmans to come to whatever vacant space was currently available for years, and thankfully the grocer found a more suitable location than a storefront at Lake Anne without hot water. Scheduled to open on Feb. 1, the new Wegmans location will keep us from having to head to Loudoun County for sushi and spanakopita (or as they call it in Ashburn, "those fancy spinach and cheese triangles we serve on Bunco nights.") Also, Barnes & Noble is returning after a decade-long absence. We've had a great used bookstore and a great independent one all along, but now might be a good time to relearn how to read.

Metro Fun

We're so old we remember when Loudoun County's board of supervisors narrowly approved the Silver Line extension into its vast particleboard-dotted interior by exactly one vote, but now if you want to ride the train to Ashburn or Innovation Station (whatever THAT is), you can! Jetsetters may also want to consider taking the Silver Line to its new station vaguely near Dulles, where the moving sidewalks on a convenient underground walkway to the terminal will serve as a slightly less irritating ride than the airport’s People Movers. It's been a tough road to get here, what with rusty tracks, defective cement, recalled train cars, the mass shift to remote and hybrid work, and (insert one of the dozens of shocking news stories about Metro Phase 2 construction here). Let's hope Metro can get its collective act together and remain a (mostly) functioning transit system. Reston's got a lot riding on it, even if it's just to avoid paying $11+ to take the Toll Road to the mall in Tysons.

No More Mr. Nice Guys

For the past several years, the developers who bought both of Reston's golf courses out of what must have been a sheer love of the game have been Deeply Concerned about Robert E. Simon's vision, as expressed by their extensive studies of the dangers of invasive plants, low "walkability scores," and the dearth of nearby amenities like, wedunno, axe-throwing distilleries where you can get an artisanal shave between swings. They've promised Grand Parks and Conservancies and Linear Parks, all out of the goodness of their hearts, in return for which they just asked for just a soupcon of development in just a teensy corner of what was once green, English-ivy infested open space. They wanted to be "good neighbors," to correct the longstanding North-South Reston divide, and to support the original "Reston vision," inasmuch as the original Reston vision involved building a boatload of townhouses on empty land. Heck, one even offered an open bar at its “community input” meetings!

Well, since virtually no one bought into these respective visions, expect some less neighborly language in the year to come. Instead of "invasive ivy" and "access to amenities," we'll hear words like "by-right development" and lots of ginned-up conversations on social media about NIMBYs, as if there have been loud protests against all the other high rises and office space that have gone up right along the Toll Road, which is where development should be happening, not in what little open space remains in the entire region.

Soviet Style Elections— and some big money ones. With five open spots on the RA Board of Directors, it's looking once again like we'll have a Soviet-style ballot in which many races will have exactly one candidate. That's a shame, because while serving on the RA Board is only slightly less thankless than having to deal with Gladys' purple door if you’re on the local cluster board, it's an important job, especially now. On the other end of the spectrum, the terms of the current Fairfax County Board of Supervisors expire on Dec. 31, 2023, meaning all of those seats will be up for grabs in November. Most, including our own representative on the board, Walter Alcorn, say they're planning on running for re-election. Remember that last time around, a non-golf-curious property owner recognized that a development-friendly Hunter Mill supervisor was worth $255 a vote, and it’s starting to look like the stakes for this election will be even higher. 

What else? You know, the usual—wondering what midscale chain emporiums will be arriving. Watching new buildings go up and wondering if any of their corners will meet at a 90-degree angle. Grousing about pools, pickleball, and paint schemes. And blogs. No wait, those were never in style, the end.

This post was originally published in the Reston Letter.

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