Reston Spring

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Op-Ed: Summing Up RA’s Tetra Deal, RestonNow, May 4, 2015

The following are extracts from the subject op-ed.
This is an op-ed by Reston resident Terry Maynard. It does not represent the opinion of Reston Now.
As the end of the Tetra referendum period approaches, I thought it useful to summarize the key reasons why RA members should not pay $2.65 million to buy this property. I hope it encourages you who have not yet voted to decide to dig around in your old RA mail (digital or postal) and submit your ballot with a “NO” vote.
1. No further development of the property will be permitted. The alleged compelling reason for buying Tetra is to prevent development there. The fact is that almost every square foot of the Tetra property is protected from further development by multiple layers of legal, regulatory, and plan restrictions. . .
2. The sales price and related RA financial assumptions are outrageous. The RA Board’s sales contract with Tetra calls for it to pay $2.65 million (Article 2, p. 2) for a property that RA’s appraiser says is worth $1.3 million as built, assuming it’s in good condition (p. 22). The County puts the fair market value of the property at $1.2 million in its latest real estate tax assessment. The additional $1.3-$1.5 million in the appraisal comes from assuming additional offices are there — that cannot be built!
Both the RA appraisal and the County assessment assume the property is in good condition. It is not. . .
Fixing all this will cost more than the $275,000 Tetra has limited itself to repair by last week’s sales contract amendment, an RA Board concession that leaves RA members to pick up the difference.
On the revenue side of the ledger, the RA Board Fact Sheet (p. 6) points to an $82,000-plus yearly net operating income the property will allegedly generate after the Tetra lease expires. In contrast, the appraisal suggests the Tetra building as an occupied office space would generate a net operating income of less than $62,000/year. (See p. 21.) What justifies RA’s higher income forecast?
The key to answering that question lies in RA’s $122,000 annual “potential” net revenue forecast (RA Fact Sheet, p. 4) that drives up its net income projection. Yet RA has provided no details on its revenue assumptions regarding capacity usage rates, comparable rents, the operating cost elements, or usage restrictions due to its location in a residential area. Questions regarding this supposed revenue stream have been numerous, diverse, and all remain unanswered by RA. . . .
 3. There is no compelling need to buy the property. The key RA driver for the purchase is the irrational, Board-driven fear that a new building will be built there. I, and others, have shown the extreme improbability if not impossibility of that happening. . .
A second RA argument is preserving the continuity with RA green space east and west of the Tetra property. RA owns the easement on virtually every foot of the Tetra property connecting its Brown’s Chapel and Lake Newport tennis courts properties. . .
The final argument is that RA can use the Tetra building for meetings and programs for demand that is otherwise not met. A look at RA’s facility scheduling calendar shows its spaces are little used. . . 
All in all, despite RA fear mongering, there is little justification for buying the Tetra property, much less at two and one-half times its fair market value as built. A purchase could make sense at about a $1 million price point — its fair market value –but RA members were not given that referendum option.
In these circumstances, I strongly urge you to VOTE “NO” if you haven’t done so already.
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