Autumn on Lake Audobon

Autumn on Lake Audobon
Autumn on Lake Audubon, Photo by Alison Kamat

Friday, October 24, 2014

We wonder if Boston Properties ever thought about this for Reston Town Center?

At the last meeting of the Reston Master Plan Phase 1 Task Force, Boston Properties' representative on the task force, Peter Otteni offered an amendment to the draft plan changing the parks language for the transit station areas from requiring twenty percent open space to establishing twenty percent open space as a goal.  In human-speak, a County planning "goal" means, "yeah, yeah, whatever"--that is, nothing.  The developer and developer attorney dominated task force approved the the amendment; RCA voted against it.

Now we learn this:
Open spaces in urban areas not only improve communities but can add billions of dollars to adjacent commercial real estate properties, agreed panelists at the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) Fall Meeting, being held this week at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. . .
According to the Trust for Public Land’s annual survey of 100 U.S. parks, Harnik noted, cities are being “brought back from the brink,” in some cases, or pushing forward economically due to parks development, including Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle and Denver.  . .
(Peter) Harnik (Director of the Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence) cited six benefits for property owners derived from investing in parks development:
  1. Reduction in air pollution, water pollution and flooding
  2. Direct use by local residents, who are able to participate in no-cost or low-cost in activities
  3. Improved health for the local populace
  4. Increased tourism (for instance, Central Park’s exhibit of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s The Gates  drew 2.8 million people during February 2005)
  5. Increased property values, in turn bringing higher property taxes
  6. Elevated office rents in adjacent properties. . . .
While Reston Town Center has so far been relatively resilient in the face of the office market recession in Fairfax County, Reston's other station areas continue to suffer.

Maybe it's time to re-think the language in the Reston Master Plan for its station areas.  Everyone--developers, tenants, residents, the County, shoppers, and more--would benefit from being assured that at least one-fifth of the available space in these areas would be open space.   Moreover, it would significantly reduce the huge deficit currently planned in parks and athletic facilities in Reston's transit station areas.   

2 comments:

  1. One-fifth is WAY more land than Peter is talking about in places that "invested in parks development."

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    Replies
    1. The most densely populated piece of land in the country--Manhattan--is 18.28% parkland or 1.7 acres of parks per 1,000 people, according to the Trust for Public Land (2013). At 108 people per acre now, it is more than 3 times as dense as the Reston station areas are planned to be. Yet, total park acreage (including committed private land owned by BP) planned for Reston Town Center is 34 (of which BP just received County approval to develop several acres as part of a residential high-rise) or 1.4% of land area and 0.69 acres per 1,000 people. That's pathetic--and WAY less than the 20 percent goal.

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