Reston Citizens Association
Reston 2020 Committee
The Reston “Town Center Office Building” Re-Development Proposal
For the Fairfax County Planning Commission Hearing
March 27, 2012
The “Town Center Office Building” re-development proposal violates many of the “Planning Principles” adopted by the Reston Master Planning Task Force on 15 March 2011 and is inconsistent with the County’s Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) policy. 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 the tallest in Town Center, containing over 1,500 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.
Moreover, the re-development proposal contravenes the County’s own Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) policy which calls for more intense development within a half-mile of Metrorail stations—not beyond. Indeed, it does not meet the County’s core definition of transit-oriented development: “. . . compact, pedestrian- and biking-friendly, mixed-use development containing medium to high density residential, office and retail uses within walking distance of certain rail transit stations identified in the Area Plans.” This proposal is more consistent with a 20th century high-density, single-purpose, auto-centric office park than with 21st century transit-oriented development.
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 Commission be guided by the new Reston Planning Principles- that the Reston Master Plan Task Force approved last year—as well as the County’s TOD policy. It should also remain consistent with the hard work it put in improving the Spectrum proposal. We recommend that the Commission 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.