News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

All Bets Are Off: Farfetched Reston Casino Proposal Rears Its Ugly Head Once More, With Rumors Of Well-Heeled Support (Updated)

We're getting deja vu from another trivial land use case involving Reston, some supposedly underutilized property ripe for redevelopment, and throwing money into a pile and setting it on fire: When the idea of building a fun 97-story floating casino in our plastic fantastic planned community was first floated late in the General Assembly session earlier this year only to be unceremoniously killed, we rolled our eyes, hit "post," and went back to not "web logging" for, you know, six months or so. But, like that other bad idea that simply will not die, the casino is back, baby!

Ante up with some sweeet blockquote, BFFs at Patch:

Comstock Companies wants to build a casino at or near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, several local officials told Patch.

The possibility of a casino being built along Metro's Silver Line in Fairfax County first came to light during the final days before the end of the first half of the 2023 Virginia General Assembly session, when similar bills were introduced by Sen. David Marsden (D-Burke) and Del. Wren Williams (R-Stuart). 

Although Marsden and Williams' bills were both withdrawn, they did not disappear. Marsden told Patch on Thursday that he would likely reintroduce the bill if he's re-elected to the Virginia Senate in November.

What's changed? Apparently, the fact that no one wants to go to work strapping bombs to dolphins for federal contractors in soulless office buildings where people microwave leftover fish in the breakroom and Ted from accounting drops by your cubicle uninvited to ask you if you saw "the big game" while you're desperately trying to finish the TPS report so you can finally leave the office before 8pm for the first time this week hybrid work appears here to stay means that Comstock and others have a reason to explore alternate uses for all those wacky parallelograms they've been building that might otherwise sit vacant. Here's Marsden's nice-office-park-you-have-it-would-be-a-shame-if-a-pandemic-makes-it-marginally-less-valuable pitch to county officials:

"We've started down the road of a severe downturn in the commercial real estate business. People who needed 50,000 square feet of office space now need 5. It's going to devalue the market and there's going to be less taxes because there'll be a lot more in the way of vacancies."

Hey, even Restonian World Headquarters has more than 5 square feet of office space! But we digress. Any proposal would have to go to a referendum, and our local county supervisor, Hunter Mill Supervisor Walter Alcorn, remains opposed to the whole idea, saying:

"They have not talked with me about it. I oppose putting a casino on the Silver Line and Comstock should be aware of my position on that, it has not changed since I first became aware of casino interest in the Dulles corridor late last year. The land around these stations is already valuable for so many other socially beneficial uses, and plopping a casino into these emerging transit oriented development communities during their formative years is a bad idea.”  

Of course, he'll soon be running for re-election, and given that Comstock was willing to ante up (get it?) $255 per vote in a failed attempt to buy the board seat during the last election, Alcorn may wind up with a horse's head in his bed, electorally speaking. And now, the company is holding a fundraiser for out-of-area state lawmakers at Reston Station, for what we're sure are coincidental reasons:

Perhaps to bolster its efforts to build a casino at or near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, Comstock scheduled fundraisers for two Democratic Party candidates who may be leading the Virginia General Assembly during the 2024 Session.

On Sept 19, Dwight Schar, a former owner of the Washington Commanders and founder of NVR, Inc., and his son-in-law Chris Clemente, who happens to be the CEO of Comstock, hosted a fundraiser for Virginia House Minority Leader Don Scott (D-Portsmouth). If the Democrats regain control of the House of Delegates in November, Scott would likely become the speaker of the house.

Schar and Clemente are also planning to host fundraiser on Oct. 16 for state Sen. Dave Marsden (D-Burke) and Virginia Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Alexandria) at 1901 Reston Metro Plaza, which is also at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.

Your friendly neighborhood "web logger" reminds you that local elections matter, and they matter a lot to companies with stakes.

But again, we digress. Even with the highly specific language in the proposed legislation that would authorize a casino in basically only Reston and a handful of other spots in Fairfax County, there is a Silver Lin(ing)! You see, the county's so-called "Emerald City" already has a vacant hotel in the recently departed Tysons Sheraton, which is conveniently surrounded by a Wal-Mart and a (shrinking) sea of car dealership parking lots. Considering that Virginia's existing casinos are in Bristol, Portsmouth, and Danville, that location seems... let's just say a lot more familiar for casino patrons. Also, for those of us who were raised on bad 80s television, that means we could call our neighbor to the east Ty$ons, the end.

Update: There's now a petition opposing the casino, complete with rad stock imagery:


  1. Sign the petition to oppose a casino in Reston:

  2. Sign the petition to oppose a casino in Reston:

  3. How do you NOT sign your wack petition, bring on the Casino, and a theme park


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