Autumn Evening at Washington Plaza, Lake Anne,

Autumn Evening at Washington Plaza, Lake Anne,
Photo by Rodney Solano, Reston, hat tip Reston Patch

Monday, August 30, 2010

Dulles Corridor office building owners struggle with high vacany rates, Jonathan O'Connell, Washington Post, August 30, 2010

. . . Dulles Corridor vacancies are one of the factors keeping vacancy rates in the region up. By the midway point of 2010, the Washington office market had a vacancy rate of 12.8 percent, fourth lowest in the nation but up from the year before, according to Delta Associates, a research firm. Comparatively, vacancy rates in Reston and Herndon ranged between 15 and 18 percent in the second quarter. . . .


For the rest of this article, click here.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Notes from RTF Herndon-Monroe Commitee Meeting, August 16, 2010, John Lovaas

Having just finished collaborating in an analysis of the preliminary Town Center report on the Reston Parkway/Town Center station area, the voyage to the tiny outskirts of town Herndon-Monroe station area planning meeting seemed interplanetary. We have to remind ourselves that, for the most part, this station on our western frontier is just a thin stretch of land between the toll road and the Sunrise Valley Drive to the south. On its eastern half are 10 office/industrial buildings, the Sunrise Valley Wetlands Park and one large parking garage next to the station location. North of the station, across the great gorge, is the TOWN of Herndon with no facilities existing or planned in support of the coming rail station. South of Sunrise Valley Drive is the Polo Fields residential development which effectively has staked a claim to established residential neighborhood not to be messed with for new development.

Given this smaller playing field, the H-M Committee has begun work on a 3-page draft “Overview of Draft Herndon-Monroe Station Recommendations”. This draft was the subject of the Aug. 16 meeting and can be viewed here.

Much of the discussion was about whether or not to add F.A.R. recommendations to the draft report. Greg, the developer co-chair argued against inclusion, that it would be better to let each project be judged on its merits with no upper limit, lots of flexibility. Gerry Volloy seemed to argue for inclusion in order to help judge if we are achieving “our objectives” such as maximizing ridership and profitability necessary to enable developers “to be in a position to satisfy all the county requirements.” In the end, I think the group agreed to suggest ranges of possible F.A.R.s for the various land bays.

Other points suggested for possible inclusion in the report:
• Arthur Hill saw a need to acknowledge that we are only the tail trying to wag the dog—Herndon, which is doing nothing and is not engaged with the Fairfax County to discuss what might be done on its 100+ acres. They have to be recognized and brought in somehow.
• John Carter offered a substantive changes: 1- include reference to needed another access point into the station area along edge of 267 from Monroe Street west of the station; 2- add a couple of alternatives on parking, a) no new parking development at the site, or, b) tear down parking garage and move it to the west, allowing mixed use development in its place at the station. Interestingly, there was sort of a quiet acceptance, little discussion of this bold suggestion. No apparent decision?

Fred Costello asked why not say something about taking measures to REDUCE TRAFFIC on Sunrise Valley Drive. One developer asked—would you want to do that even if were creating lots of new jobs here? Wouldn’t that be an OK tradeoff for a bit more traffic? Co-Chair Nick Bauer moved to resolve this question by noting, “Golly, should we really do anything that prescriptive (reducing traffic?)? The matter was dropped. Notetaker’s note: Another thing to be determined by the market?

One developer appealed to the group “not to kill the goose that laid the golden egg”…at Herndon-Monroe area [apparently referring to the commercial development now dominating the site] by stressing residential development so much for the future. The language in the draft report he found objectionable is: “Given the well-established…commercial and office development, the majority of ‘additive’ floor area should be in the form of residential and retail/amenity options.”

It was agreed that the co-chairs would need some time to fix up the (3 page) draft. Next meeting was set for SEPT. 13 at 8 AM, place to be determined.

Notes on the Town Center Committee Meeting, August 17, 2010, Dick Rogers

The 17 August meeting of the Town Center (TC) Committee was mostly devoted to citizen comments. All committee members were present except Peter Otteni, co-chair.

Process: Robert said the TC sub com will meet next Tuesday to discuss open space and other issues and on August 31st to finalize draft.

He did comment that further analysis of county guidelines on urban parks suggest that 30 acres of park will be needed in the four TC sub-areas. (Comment: This will be a major challenge for the TC group to meet.)

John Lovaas and Dick Rogers presented a brief summary of the 12-page Reston 2020 Committee comments that John, Tammi Petrine, and others worked so hard on. Marion Stillson made some excellent succinct points in support.

Richard Stillson talked about the need for focus on implementation issues. There was some discussion about how far the Vision committee will go on this issue and Robert Goudie (co-chair) raised the utility of an implementation committee, which he said he had raised earlier but was ignored. Mark Looney voiced his strong support for using the existing Small Tax District #5 in this context.

Loren Bruce raised the RA-RTCA governance issue (Lovaas and Rogers had called for a fairer discussion of this issue earlier). Loren also urged the committee to take more urgent action on the suburban police station issue but got nowhere.

Katherine Driscoll McKee spoke to say that insinuations that RA was attempting a "land grab" for properties now covered by the RTCA was untrue. RA was interested only in new residences. This led to a brisk exchange with Goudie defending the committee's endorsement of RTCA membership for North Town Center.

Joe Leighton urged getting the perspective of Arlington on bus issues since they have a system that works. He also urged ball fields as part of urban parks.

Mary Ellen Craig from Paramount condos again voiced support for more parks and less density around her. She cautioned about shelters for homeless, etc, saying the impact on neighborhoods needs to be kept in mind.

The owner of the "Windward" property spoke about the utility of looser standards on residential density to encourage residential construction. This led to a general discussion of the PRC and current restrictions. There was strong sentiment for exempting the TC from the PRC and possibly Reston as a whole. Committee members thought the PRC restrictions would forestall the type of approach to 1:1 residential-commercial balance they are calling for.

RCA Resolution for the Desirability of a Broad Base, Independent Planning and Zoning Committee for Greater Resolution, August 23, 2010

Reston Citizens Association (RCA)
Resolution for the Desirability of a Broad Based, Independent
Planning and Zoning Committee
For Greater Reston

1. Whereas the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee (PandZ) has been a vital part of this community since its creation by Reston citizens in 1968; and

2. Whereas the PandZ was organized as part of this Reston Citizens Association, which is the only community organization representing all residents and businesses in Reston; and

3. Whereas the RCA was founded by citizens to protect our planned community’s founding principles; and

4. Whereas the PandZ was instituted to be the voice of the community in reviewing all new development proposals in order to assure their consistency with the founding principles before they went to Fairfax County for final decisions; and

5. Whereas, in 2004, the PandZ chose to become independent and now is a self-appointed group seeking to continue the tradition without attachment to an organization genuinely representing the community as a whole; and

6. Whereas, with the coming of Metrorail to Reston with significant new development to follow, the work of PandZ will once again become especially critical in shaping Reston’s future look; and

7. Whereas the RCA has observed with regret that many in the Reston community view PandZ as having lost its institutional legitimacy as the community’s voice;

Be It Resolved:

1. That RCA believes that the current arrangement of self-selection of committee members by PandZ is not satisfactory because it lacks broad community legitimacy; and

2. That PandZ should be directly sponsored by broadly representative community organizations that would ensure continuing and unbiased service to the community by assuring that PandZ is not placed in a position where it could be subjected to political pressure or by conflicting institutional objectives; and

3. That the PandZ should be sponsored by organizations that represent all residents & businesses within greater Reston who should be served by the PandZ; and

4. That the Reston Citizens Association is prepared to collaborate with the PandZ and other elements in the community to explore alternatives so that PandZ can function effectively in an institutional framework representative of all Reston residents and continue to be an independent voice for them in future development.

Family-size apartments in urban areas could help smart-growth communities, Washington Post, August 28, 2010

By Roger K. Lewis
Saturday, August 28, 2010; E03


If you are a middle-class family with school-age children interested in urban rather than suburban living, and if you prefer an apartment rather than a house, then your chances of finding a dwelling that meets your needs are practically zero.

Whether located in a city or suburb, few apartments built today are sufficiently commodious for traditional families. Even if big enough, apartments in desirable locations typically are unaffordable. Moreover, concern about the quality of public education -- and the cost of private schools -- further deters young families from considering urban-style living.

Does this mean that cities and city-like environments are destined to be largely child-free? Architects know how to design apartment environments suitable for families with children, but rarely are they asked to undertake such designs.

Housing demand and the products offered by builders continue to be determined by socioeconomic and geographic pressures, not by design aspirations. Real-world behavior and reliable statistics confirm that middle-class families with kids want single-family homes in suburbs and exurbs with presumably better public schools and with more house and land for the money. Unsubsidized apartments built today are almost exclusively designed for and marketed to people without school-age children.


For the rest of this article, click here.

Great--and important--article!

Friday, August 27, 2010

RTF Wiehle Station Committee Meeting Notes, August 25, 2010, John Lovaas

Both Co-Chairs present—Bill Penniman and Andy Van Horn, JBG

The meeting opened with active public comment—DRogers, JStowers, JLovaas, AStrange, MMatthews.

Rogers noted strong presence of commercial developers in Town Center and Wiehle meetings leading groups to more commercial vs residential development proposals, high densities. Direction profit not community need driven. He also noted proposal to exempt residential development from workforce housing requirement contrary to the emphasis on commercial development creating demand for workers.

Lovaas pointed out that the public policy tool box contained various incentives for residential development, exempting workforce housing was least desirable in this case not only because of the need but also because this is Reston and housing for all income groups is a key principle here. Strange added that increased affordable housing is also a county priority. (Mark Looney inquired if that meant “more than the 12%”!? She said not necessarily.

Committee member Judy Pew added that she hoped indeed there would be provision for assuring housing for new entrants to workforce.

Paul Thomas suggested that getting residential going with largely commercial types involved promised to be difficult, would require creativity.

Another JBG Presentation – Next Van Horn introduced fellow JBG rep who made another marketing-type presentation, called “Making a Place”--about 20 minutes. Lots of lovely colored drawings and paintings of tree-lined urban sidewalks, sidewalk café scenes, bike lanes, public art and lots of benches filled with happy people. Turned out all the lovely pictures were taken off the net to show us how good urban life could be—no JBG or other actual known projects. Comments—would be better to see one of your concept drawings and then a photo of how it actually looks on the ground.

Rob Whitfield noted that not all of Reston is, nor hopefully will be, urban.

Closest to the Wiehle Station maybe.

Heidi Merkel asked, “is the dog and pony show over” so I can start? Heidi apparently came to get continuous Wiehle F.A.R. and developer incentives discussions back on what she regarded as a more productive track. She said the Committee would be most useful to the Task Force and her staff if their report dealt more with form than just densities. What kinds of development in which locations, maybe noting areas for greatest density and areas for lesser.

As a framework for discussion, she provided a handout map of the Wiehle area which showed a blue circle (1/4 mile) immediately around the Metro station—labelled Transit Station (Office) Mixed Use; the next area in rust color going out to half a mile marked Residential Mixed Use; and a yellow strip along the north side of Sunrise Valley Drive extending out to either edge of the rust ½ mile boundary, labeled Residential Transition. East of the circles the rest of the Wiehle Avenure Station area is lavender, meaning Office. [Am attempting to attach Heidi’s map for greater clarity!]

She noted community concerns about dense development creeping outside ½ TOD limits and stressed the need as John Carter has said, to focus on getting development closest to the station going in the early years. Van Horn said he didn’t see big deal if other projects out further preceded those closest in. Paul Thomas was skeptical but allowed that an exceptional project wanted by the community, and with great connectivity to the station area could be OK.

Heidi noted that GMU 20-year projections for non-residential development are less than is already permissible under the existing comprehensive plan [making doubtful all the developers’ pressure for leaps in F.A.R.s to double, triple, etc allowable commercial development). Mark Looney all but leaped out of his chair, wanting to know if Heidi was suggesting that Fairfax County would “artificially repress opportunities here so that they can go instead to places like Oxon Hill in Prince George’s County?!”

Paul Thomas saw need to especially encourage residential early on. Heidi said one way to get movement would be through cooperation among developers. No surge of interest on this suggestion.

Vornado rep thought Heidi had it all backwards—“how can you know what to build until you know how much you can build?” Need F.A.R.s first.

Paul Thomas argued that F.A.R. discussion should come later, as Heidi seemed to be suggesting, after we have a handle on infrastructure—especially transportation, civic and community goods needed so that we understand what is doable.

Mark Looney was back with the refrain, “Let’s not let constraints be the driver, not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Moving to end the meeting, Bill Penniman said he and Andy would be talking to structure for the next meeting an accelerated discussion going by land bays to determine a standard set of expectations, special things wanted and how to incentivize.

Earlier, Andy offered to provide overlays for Heidi’s map to include building heights, “intensities”, and landbays to facilitate discussion. Next meeting same time, same place (RA).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fairfax Coalition for Smarter Growth letter to Hunters Mill Planning Commission Member Frank De La Fe regarding Fairways, August 24, 2010

Dear Mr. De La Fe,

On behalf of the Fairfax Coalition for Smarter Growth, I would like to express our strong opposition to any JBG proposal for redevelopment of the Fairways Apartments in Reston that disrupts the surrounding existing neighborhoods, adds traffic congestion to North Shore Drive, is not true “transit oriented development”, and results in loss of affordable housing in the community of Reston. I understand there have been modifications to the original JBG proposal which was harshly criticized by County staff, Reston Association and the Reston Citizens Association. Absent a radical change to the JBG proposal that fully addresses all our concerns outlined in a July 23, 2010 letter to Supervisor Hudgins (see below), we urge and expect the Planning Commission to reject JBG’s proposal.

The concerns we voiced to Supervisor Hudgins in July were the following:

1. Loss of affordable housing. Even if JBG provides 12% affordable housing units in the new development, this will amount to a net loss of approximately 230 affordable housing units.

2. Increased traffic on North Shore Drive and Temporary Road. The JBG proposal would almost triple the amount of parking spaces at Fairways (520 to 1500). One can extrapolate, therefore, an attendant rush hour increase in traffic in the area which, as you are aware, includes an elementary school, numerous medium density clusters, churches and even a small County office presence.

3. Disruption of stable neighborhoods. One of the key County objectives in redevelopment of portions of the County is the protection of stable neighborhoods. Superimposing a high density development in the midst of medium density neighborhoods far from retail and transit runs counter to this objective. This proposed development is much more suited for a high density area around one of the future metro stations.

4. Absence of rail transit and support retail infrastructure. The proposed development will be over a mile from the future metro station at Reston Parkway. It is approximately ½ mile to the nearest retail establishments; this will not be a walkable community. Bus headways along North Shore Drive range from 30 to 60 minutes depending on the time of day. This low level of transit service virtually guarantees people will use personal vehicles to run errands, travel to the Town Center or go to other appointments. The additional traffic will result in traffic jams and an increase in air pollution in the area.

Thank you for your attention to this issue which is of great importance to Reston and its citizens.


Sincerely,
Diane Blust
President, Fairfax Coalition for Smarter Growth
12132 Quorn Lane, Reston 20191



Attachment: Full copy of July 23, 2010 letter to Supervisor Hudgins

Notes on RTF Reston Town Center Committee Meeting, August 24, 2010, Dick Rogers

A three hour meeting! Robert Goudie says he is determined to review a revised draft at a "final" meeting next week.

I endorsed Joe Stower's minority dissent on residential-commercial balance. Robert rejected any idea of change saying at 1 to 1 the draft envisions 15,000 new residential units. Enough! Joe Stowers thought some of the original TC pioneers like Jim Cleveland should have been brought in earlier to give some perspective on the original TC vision, which he thinks supports his position.

Joe also noted that the Montgomery planning staff had some excellent ideas on transportation analysis and were behind a 4 to 1 ratio to get people out of cars.

Rob Whitfield lamented the absence of a clear transportation plan from the county and Joe Leighton stressed the need for finding a way to finance improvements.

Balance issues: The committee continued on its way to disregard retail and hotel in any balance calculations (Comment: What this essentially means is more office in relation to residential). Committee members argued that retail is off peak and outside conventioneers stay put. There was discussion of the types of retail sought and of designating some streets as retail. Some thought this a good idea, others said let the market determine where retail goes.

(Comment: Two of the committee members noted that there would be a "test" of this balance impact when the county comes forth with its transportation analysis this fall, suggesting at least some view all this as tentative.)

Incentives: A property owner present had raised the issues of incentives to encourage residential development (less parking, tax incentives etc). This led to an extensive discussion of the issue with various views pro and con coming forth. One suggestion was to have incentives on the top to encourage more residential than the 1-1 formula. Others wanted incentives on the bottom to get residential started. The upshot was a decision to have Mark Looney draft language on this issue for consideration next week. (Mark is a big proponent of lowering the barriers for initial entry into residential construction.)

Open Space: Began with an interesting but out of place discussion by RA officer Patricia Greenberg on eliminating exotic and no-native invasive species !

One issue was the FCPA "requirement" for urban open space. This apparently would amount to 30 acres under proposed density in the entire TC area. Larry Butler, director of RA parks, did not openly endorse the FCPA position, but said that open space should be publicly accessible (a problem with rooftop parks) and that bigger parcels were better--more flexibility and a needed site for community events. The committee, with support from one of the major property owners, strongly rejected the FCPA urban standard as requiring too much park land.

The second issue was discussion of a 4-6 acre central park in the south station area. Various issues raised about where it would go, who would develop and control it(RA? FCPA? the developers?), and what it would be for. Brookfield Rep raised many objections (Why should we bear this burden? Would not basketball courts make noise and drive away residents?, etc). The committee eventually agreed to support a "large park" in the area whose location would be generally designated. Developers would apparently be given some flexibility on how to bring this about.

At the close Terri Phillips raised the issue of TC resident's negative reaction to the idea of no police station. She said the committee should make clearer that it favored a strong police presence (an urban sub-station?)not the detached, suburban style station being proposed.

Overall Comment: As usual, it seemed the TC area is being designed to suit the interests of the existing property owners rather than starting out from a more detached view of community interests.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Major disconnect on future density numbers in Reston, Rob Whitfield, Fairfax Times, August 11, 2010

The Fairfax County Times article last week on the forecast of "exponential growth" in Reston omits reference to what Reston residents and businesses regard as acceptable goals and development densities for our community ("Exponential growth expected for Reston in next 40 years," (Aug.4). . . .


There is much more in this article. Click here to read it all.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fairfax County Park Authority embracing urban expansion, Washington Post, August 19, 2010

With the planned urbanization of Reston, the proposed changes in Fairfax County's park policies--particularly its policy on the the amount of parkland per person--are of immediate concern. Here is the WaPo's--and Fairfax County Times'--take on the proposed policy change....

By Kali Schumitz
Fairfax County Times
Thursday, August 19, 2010


Fairfax County needs to add more sports fields, indoor gyms and skate parks over the next decade to serve its population, according to a county Park Authority report.

The county also has more golf courses and equestrian facilities than it needs, according to the assessment, which compared the number of existing facilities with standards set in 2004 for how many facilities were needed relative to population.

Park Authority officials are nearing the end of a planning process that will help guide park development for the next 10 years. The draft report, "Great Parks, Great Communities," is open for public comment until the fall.


Click here for the rest of this article.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Notes on RTF Town Center Committee Meeting, July 27, 2010, John Lovaas

This morning's RTC meeting in the comfy confines of the Clubhouse showed how far along this group is and it showed the developer community interest interest in the process. Present this morning were: Subcommittee members-7, 5 developer community and 2 civilians by my count; Chair PNicoson and HMerkle from DPZ; and 18 observers--13 developers/landowners and 5 civilians. This is typical of last several meeting, in fact.

Chairman Goudie opened by announcing that agenda today was discussion of latest draft committee report, prepared by RGoudie and POtteni (BP). DRAFT would be presented to TF plenary tonight. Next Subcommittee meeting will be August 17 and will be devoted to public comment. Hope to wrap up work at August 24 meeting, but August 31 meeting possibility kept open. PNicoson said Subcommittees now had until September to finish.

Today's topics:

-brief public comment round: Concern expressed re: proposal in draft to change 1:1 Residential to Commercial to drop all retail and hotel from commercial side and leave them as a separate category. Result would be reduced residential units, below straight 1:1 levels which was already a compromise!
Concerns over connectivity among the 4 "republics" in RTC; excessive development and missed civic opportunities in north Town Center.
Dave Edwards not happy with report dismissing air rights, asked if Doug Carter could speak to this question....

Air Rights

Doug Carter eloquently made case for keeping Air Rights option open, leading with the reminder that land values of course were an issue with platforms and all, but MWAA owned (lease from Feds until 2067, actually) the land upon which air rights would be built and pylon base could come from airport trust fund (airline fee funded). He also pointed out the signature landmark and north-south connection advantages. Only MLooney sounded cautionary note, but Patty Nicoson and several others spoke up in favor of changing report language from simple dismissal of concept to expressing favorable view of MWAA going ahead with pylons to preserve important possible future development option. Goudie agreed. No big developer objection now--and no cost to them.

Residential to Commercial balance

Most of the rest of the meeting devoted to this. Lots of discussion of how proposed 1 sq. ft : 1 sq. ft (residential to commercial space) applies. My understanding is that if a developer wants new development on his (interestingly, all but one of the scores of developers and lawyers, etc I've seen in 3 months were men!) land, the 1:1 ratio does not apply to his by-right developement, i.e., within his existing approved zoning F.A.R. Should he want additional F.A.R., he is subject to the 1:1 requirement for everything. But, he can make deals to trade for residential credit, e.g., if another parcel owner has excess residential above the 1;1. I think!
While the 1:1 had been arrived at as a compromise between the lower residential standard developers sought and the higher residential (up to 4:1) passionately pushed by Joe Stowers to improve the overall Town Center ratio which now stands somewhere between 8 and 16 to 1 (commercial to residential, but no one agrees on an exact number!). Joe argued forcefully that higher residential would yield higher worker component, reduce peak traffic and make for more vibrancy than with continued high commercial tilt.

Now, developers sought to reduce the 1:1 compromise (which RGoudie said repeatedly "over time will bend the curve of the high ratio of Comm to Res ) by exempting certain categories from inclusion in commercial calculation.
While Robert argued back and forth for a while, he gradually backpedalled on all counts.

First, it was agreed that hotels would be exempt (except for major conference areas which operated like offices in terms of contributing to traffic peaks)--then he seem to back away from that, too. Then, retail was discussed, and again RGoudie initially fiercely argued it be treated in commercial part of ratio, then backpedalled and agreed to exempt retail as well.

As the subject seemed to be hitting exhaustion, the developers wondered if all civic facilities, amenities--schools, theatres, etc shouldn't be explicitly exempted as well.

The smoke cleared with one of Rae Noritake's wonderful self-adjusting visuals, a multi-colored table which showed the number of residential units falling from over 11,000 at 3.5 F.A.R. when calculated at a straight 1:1 ratio down to about 8,000 after hotels and retail were exempted. We did not get to further calculations as other categories were mentioned.

I think at the end, 1:1 was declared to be the target ratio for Residential to OFFICE (far narrower category than commercial).

Civic Uses, schools, ballfields, open space

Terri Phillips gamely tried to get things like schools, ballfields, services, other public amenities, civic uses discussed as being as important as retail, for example. She seemed to want wording included calling for inclusion of provision for such other uses and recommendations for using large amount of county land to contribute to such uses. She did not get far. In fact, Robert responded by claiming that they had already made lots of provision for open space. The discussion cut off and went on to...

Big Green Space on strawman map in middle of South Metro

One very PO'd developer objected to RGoudies "placeholder" big (+/- 6 acres) green space in the middle of TC Metro South. Robert was using the green shaded area to call attention to Park Authority suggestion that large multi-use green spaces centrally located are very popular, provide substantial relief to intense, especially among large commercial structures. Problem was the offending green was set so it took a big chunk off this one owner's land and he claimed (rightly I think) it was not equitable. It was pointed out it was a strawman and NOT an agreed map. No matter, said the owner, if it goes on big screen before the public, it becomes real and can never be changed--way overstated , but made his point.
Big green area was quietly erased, replaced by little dots of green sprinkled around south side after this morning's meeting.
Task Force saw revised map tonight.

On that note meeting ended.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Notes on RTF Wiehle Avenue Committee Meeting, August 18, 2010, John Lovaas

Meeting chaired by JBG’s Andy Van Horn. Co-Chair Bill Penniman absent.

Opening citizen comments offered by:
Doug Pew-Noted need for medical facilities in Reston area, suggested Wiehle might be a place to local medical professional, lab facilities;
Noted Committee’s (actually all three station committees’) failure to include recommendations for anything but condominiums for future residential, and what is desperately needed for new entrants into economy and many regular wage earners are apartments not more condos.

Rest of the meeting consisted of two presentations, followed by back and forth between developer-dominated committee and citizen audience.

1- A “massing model” put together by JBG and another developer showed massing of large buildings projected onto the 7 Wiehle area land bays. (See presentation below.) First slide showed existing buildings and subsequent slides added buildings as proposed in presentations to the Committee by various developers and landowners. It seemed all land bays were filled chock-a-block with large rectangular buildings and one triangular one, leaving very little space in between. Buildings varied in heights from 4-5 stories up to 3 or 4 times those heights. To me it looked foreboding, perhaps because of the aerial views and fact that buildings were all dark brown. Dense would not be an adequate description—intense would be more accurate. When we asked what F.A.R.s we were looking at, we were told not the “aspirational FARs” JBG rep suggested in prior meeting, but more mid-range, 2.0 -2.5 range, “baseline F.A.R.s without all the pluses the developers would provide for higher F.A.R.s.” NO parking structures were included graphics, just a massing to give us an idea.
It left some with a sense of dread. The volume was oppressive, without the numerous parking garages that would be necessary for the possibly 40 or 50 large buildings shown.

Draft Wiehle Landbays and Incentives Structure 08-18 (Reston)

2- Van Horn then introduced a JBG presentation showing conceptual views and some actual photos of new developments around rail stations in Montgomery County. Some views of a block or two of nice looking, 5-story brick buildings along narrow, tree-lined roads with retail on the ground, condos and screened parking above were attractive, looking a bit more suburban, with more intense, high-rise building barely visible in the background. It was a marketing presentation more than anything.

3- Committee member Judy Pew raised question about all the large FARs being talked about and their appropriateness for the already stressed infrastructure at Wiehle Ave. Van Horn and other developers characterized this as “downtown”, “urban core” not suburbia! One audience response to this was, “No, that’s what Town Center area is supposed to be”. Several developers repeated what has become mantra response for poo-poohing all concerns about infrastructure like already failing intersections at Wiehle: “Don’t let constraints drive the vision; let the vision resolve the constraints.”

There is a huge divide on vision for Wiehle Avenue that emerged clearly in this meeting: Is Wiehle a maximum density city center OR is it a less intense residential and mixed-use, urban neighborhood or center around a rail station? The Committee has done the Task Force a service by formulating the issue, but it should now be resolved by the community, NOT profit-oriented developers.

The Committee members present discussed the merits of not talking in terms of F.A.R.s at all, but rather in terms of objectives and types of development in which areas and that kind of thing. This case for not specifying F.A.R.s again came from the development community.

A troubling moment occurred when a resident remarked politely that this area should be more residential and support mixed use than high density commercial. A committee member I believe is an architect shouted back at him—“that is YOUR view! You should make clear that you speak only for yourself! Others, including myself, certainly do not agree with you!” An undercurrent bubbling to the surface perhaps--residents, remember your places!?

The Committee will meet next Wednesday, 7:30 AM at new RA offices. Group will return to discussion of incentives structure for developers, the draft paper handed out on August 11.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Paper: Impact of One-to-One Commercial-Residential Town Center Plan, Fred Costello, RTF Member, August 11, 2010

Impact of One-To-One Reston Town Center Plan_FCostello

Supervisor Hudgins' Response to RCA Letter on Trans-Toll Road Connectivity, August 12, 2010

August 12, 2010

Dear Ms. Stillson:

Thank you for your letter regarding your offer to form or participate in a group that could promote an additional crossing of the Toll Road as well as your efforts to inquire about possible federal funding.

Our office has been in touch with Rep. Jim Moran's office regarding additional federal funding for this alignment and a copy of your letter has been forwarded to his staff. While you may not be aware, Rep. Moran has been instrumental in obtaining much of the $3.1 million needed for a pedestrian crossing at Trap Road that has been considered a priority for safety and to connect with other non-motorized facilities. There is a feeling that this project needs to be completed before additional federal funding can be requested.

The Wiehle Avenue Station Access Management Plan (RMAG) study (chapters 2 and 4) addresses a Toll Road crossing at Soapstone Drive to include a dedicated bus lane. RMAG recommendations have become county transportation priorities and staff is currently seeking all possible funding sources. The RMAG recommendations note the importance of this connection in reducing congestion and providing necessary access to the station. While an RMAG status report is a regular part of the quarterly HMD TAC meetings, we will be asking for a separate report on the Soapstone Drive Connector for the November meeting to address you rinterest in the issue. Of course the HMD TAC meetings are open to the public and you are encouraged to attend or send an RCA representative.

Copies of your letter have been forwarded to appropriate county staff and to Rep. Moran's office. Should you need additional information, please let us know.


Sincerely,

Catherine M. Hudgins


CMH/mlp

Friday, August 13, 2010

Notes on Wiehle Station Committee Meeting, August 11, 2010, John Lovaas

Members attending: Bill Penniman and Andy Van Horn, Co-Chairs; DGill, DKennedy, AMurphy, JPew, Paul Thomas

About 20 observers—4 from host RA, the rest split developers and residents.

Briefing on terms—By Right and Zoning, Faheem Darab of DPZ.

Faheem clarified meaning of “by-right” zoning, which in the case of Wiehle (and RCIG?) meant the maximum F.A.R., building heights and open space that land owner is entitled without having to go through rezoning or any public hearings if new development proposal is within those limits. At Wiehle, there is also provision for higher F.A. R.s and building heights when rail comes.

This led to lively discussion of the obvious need to rezone what is basically all currently industrial at Wiehle. Committee, showing signs of exhaustion, wondered if this isn’t for the full TF or some other body—not them to address? Faheem suggested that it would help the county and the process if they made recommendations. What then should be the designation, one of the planned P zoning categories—PDH, PDC, PRM, or what most of Reston was created to be, PRC (Planned Residential Community). Back and forth, but weight in discussion tilted toward PRC, but it was left for future discussion and no conclusions were reached.

Discussion: Form and mix of development in Wiehle TOD

The co-chairs distributed respective handouts for discussion. Bill Penniman handed out a piece titled “Overview of DRAFT Wiehle Station Recommendations, consisting of a summary of “Principal Themes and Objectives” which includes some fuzzy guidance using terms like “in general”, “generally” and “reasonable” where definition will vary by user.

It then goes into suggested mixes and non-numerical F.A.R.s ranging from greatest density (F.A.R. A) to reduced density, level E. Bill also handed out 3 maps—one overlaid with a possible (strawman?) street grid which sent Heidi into a mini-panic—“OK for folks in this room, but probably not a good idea on the street” (the unworthy ones!), where it will no doubt be assumed to be the final and thus misused. How about labeling it strawman, I asked. Most seemed to think the map indeed was useful whether or not it went into final Comprehensive Plan. There was a parks overlay suggesting lots of small, middle size parks and two large athletic fields, and a third showing proposed higher density delineated areas at different radiuses from the station.

Co-chair Van Horn handed out his latest version of “Incentive Structures” by land bay, ordered from By-Right column to TOD Baseline FAR to Above Baseline FAR, the latter two listing what he thought were appropriate incentives at each level. Several folks objected to his inclusion of screened Structured parking as an Above Baseline Incentive for greater FAR. You have to see it to understand it, so I hope it is attached.

The discussion had barely begun on these documents when time ran out. They will be the subjects of next week’s meeting which should be a substantive and important one.


Notetaker: John Lovaas 8/11

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Notes on RTF Wiehle Committee Meeting, August 4, 2010, John Lovaas and Kathy Kaplan

Agenda:

--Presentation by Peter Lawrence Group, owners of Isaac Newton Square

--And discussion of Co-chair Andy Van Horn (JBG) “Aspirational Densities” introduced last week plus Co-Chair Bill Penniman Comments on JBG Proposal

Attending: Subcommittee members: Bill Penniman, Andy Van Horn, Art Murphy, Paul Thomas, Judy Pew, David Gill.

Speaking for Peter Lawrence was Mike Saale. He said PL was a family Corp. at Wiehle for the long haul. No specific plans yet, but interest is primarily commercial-office, less interested in residential.

-Art Murphy mentioned that PL had done a master plan for Isaac Newton area over 10 years ago and he’d like to see it.

-Joe Stowers said he’s written dissent on RTC subcommittee draft report re: residential – commercial balance. He believes Isaac Newton Sq. is prime for residential rather than office. He recommends 2:1 (residential to commercial or office) to achieve needed balance to reduce peak traffic trips.

Penniman presented his comments on JBG’s proposal of July 29. He noted that Wiehle now zoned 0.35 to 0.5 FAR. JBG proposal would allow By Right up to 1.0 to 2.5. The Task Force should not change by right FARs even if the comp plan recommends higher FARs. See JBG's and Bill Penniman's presentation here.

-Penniman offered presentation “Comments of JBG’s July 30 (last Wiehle Subcom meeting) “Wiehle Character Overview”. Copy of excellent presentation is attached. Some highlights:

-JBG Proposal would raise F.A.R.s 2 to 10 times current levels, up to 5.0 for several land units Recently approved Comstock project only 2.5; TC urban core is 2.0

-JBG would increase densities up to 1.5 miles from the station (way beyond TOD)

and shift focus to Wiehle Ave away from transit station.

-Current Comp Plan according to DPZ, would allow building to for an estimated

60,171 employees and residents (7.2 jobs to residents!) and 40,200 parking spaces.

-high JBG density option would yield total of 205,562 employees & residents and estimated 142,400 parking spaces. Some shocked looks among non-developers.

Penniman also different concept of what developers would be REQUIRED to do to achieve CP basic density in TOD environment—including high quality architecture, workforce housing, basic infrastructure improvements, mixed used development, etc (see attached presentation). He pointed out this is consistent with current FC Comp Plan requirements, unlike suggestions by JBG that many basic parts of any project would earn EXTRA density. Under Penniman formulation, Extra Density Incentives reserved for Special contributions, e.g.,--First movers in station area development, educational and cultural facilities; unique infrastructure such as toll road/rail crossings, indoor rec center); high-quality joint development with contributions.

Committee members Thomas and even JBG’s Andy Van Horn expressed support for Penniman concepts vice JBG proposal. Apparently Penniman changed the frame for coming discussions.

Note Takers: KKaplan/JLovaas

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Exponential growth expected for Reston in next 40 years, Fairfax Times, August 4, 2010

Some question estimates for population increase so far into future

by Holly Hobbs | Staff Writer



During the next 50 years, a monsoon of growth is expected to hit the Reston-Dulles corridor, brought on, in part, by Metrorail expansion in western Fairfax County.

Reston is predicted to triple in residential size by 2050, while employment is expected to almost double, according to a growth forecast created by George Mason University's Center for Regional Analysis. . . .


For the rest of the article, click here.

Boston Properties to Build Apartments in Town Center, CityBizList.com

. . . On July 1, 2010, the company (Boston Properties) acquired the mortgage loan collateralized by a land parcel located in Reston, VA for approximately $20.3 million. . . . The 2.5 acre site, directly adjacent to the REIT's new developments in Reston Town Center, is zoned for 360 apartments. Linde said they may in fact develop additional apartments on this parcel in the very near future. . . .


For the rest of this article on recent Boston Properties actions, click here.

Monday, August 2, 2010

RTF Reston Town Center Committee Draft Report to Task Force, July 27, 2010

This post includes:
a. The written draft report submitted to the Reston Task Force
b. The presentation the committee made to the Task Force
c. A strawman graphic of the Reston Parkway Station area and North Town Center.


Reston TC Metro Draft Committee Report--072710

Draft Reston TC Committee Presentation 7-27-10

Reston TC Metro and TCN Straw Man--072710