Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Thursday, February 23, 2012

RCA Reston 2020 Comment on Town Center Office Building Proposal for Reston P&Z Committee, February 23, 2012


     The “Town Center Office Building” proposal violates many of the “Planning Principles” adopted by the Reston Master Planning Task Force on 15 March 2011.  It is the wrong building in the wrong place.

     The Planning Principles call for the Town Center area to be a “livable, urban space” with mixed use residential, office and retail components.  However, this proposal places a 23 story office building in the midst of the proposed Lerner Spectrum development.  The Spectrum plan, which calls for a mixed use community, embodies many of the Task Force’s principles.

     The proposed building would be one of the highest in  Town Center, containing over 1500 office workers in a 4.05 FAR development.  Yet it is over one-half mile from the future Town Center station.  The Planning Principles say that the “highest densities will be within approximately one-quarter mile” from the future stations. The principles also indicate development will be stepped down from the immediate station area.  Those principles are incorporated in the Task Force Town Center sub-committee’s report, which envisions North Town Center as a transitional mixed use community with a strong residential component distinct from Town Center itself.

     A theme in the Planning Principles is compatibility of uses with neighbors.  Although the Spectrum proposal calls for mixed office, retail and residential community with appropriate urban open spaces, this proposal is for an office building with a minor retail element.  It is out of scale with Spectrum, which it would dominate, and out of character for the planned Reston Town Center.

     The Planning Principles emphasize “connectivity and mobility” via diverse transportation media including Metro and urban bikeways and pathways. But this proposal calls for over 1600 parking spaces. Its distance from Metro means few would walk the over half-mile to it. This is an automobile-centric proposal.
     The fact that this will be one of the few Town Center area buildings built on top of 6 levels of above ground parking underscores this point. The parking garage will be a particular eyesore.

     Some argue that this site was originally envisioned as a “gateway” to Town Center.  With the advent of Metro, which will be at the center of the new Town Center, this is an antiquated concept.  We recommend that the Planning and Zoning Committee remain consistent with the new Reston Planning Principles- that the Reston Master Plan Task Force approved last year.  It should also remain consistent with the hard work it put in improving the Spectrum proposal.  We recommend that the Committee request the developer to work with Lerner to design a project compatible with the Spectrum proposal as well as the broader Reston Task Force Planning Principles.


     The site in question is located on the Southeast Corner of the large block bounded by Bowman Towne Drive and Reston Parkway (a principle business in this large block is Harris Teeter).  The site is currently occupied by a small 5 story office building, sometimes called by old timers the “Reston Times” building. This building has about 200 parking spaces—the proposal calls for an eight fold increase.

     The Spectrum proposal, approved by several entities including the RPZ Committee, calls for re-development of this area and the “Best Buy” complex to the South with a mixed use development including offices, retail, hotel and a significant residential component.  It would have its tallest building along Dominion Parkway and scale down as it moves north to Baron Cameron.

     The Whelan property lot is separately owned from Lerner-Spectrum.  Curiously, it is not in the Town Center District but is in the broader Reston PRC area.

1 comment:

  1. I see nothing wrong with the high rise office proposal. To hold the Lerner development scheme up as somehow sacrosanct is wrong-headed. This hi-rise would just be one of several properties developed in that general area, the fact that it is taller is largely irrelevant in so-called "smart growth" terms. The builder is under no obligation to conform this project with the "descending scale" of the surrounding Lerner project, the precise physical configuration of which will be determined largely by market forces over time, the prior approval of the Spectrum concept by the RPZ Committee notwithsanding. Density, including hi-rise density, is an inescapable fact of life in the smart growth era, remember that "smart growth" lends itself to several meanings, just pick one!


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