Comstock Partners, the Reston-based developer behind the vision, is just now beginning to market to prospective office users and hotel operators to fill up the 60,000 s.f. of retail, 650,000 s.f. of office space, and 220-key hotel that have been planned 3/4 of a mile east of Reston town center. Comstock has just begun design process for the 500,000 s.f. of residential space with the search for an architect, but already plan pair of residential buildings, 205 and 140 feet high, with a total 370 units, 19.5% of it designated for workforce housing.
Turning what looks, at least aerially (mislabeled picture above courtesy of MWAA), like a land of parking lots dotted occasionally by office buildings, into a community that is "edgy, contemporary, with easy living and walking to the Metro" as Comstock's Maggie Parker puts it, will require a bold metamorphosis. Anchored by the indispensable Metro station, various groups are working to design a more urban Reston. Reston 2020, a committee of the Reston Citizen's Association, which represents residents of Reston in the Reston Master Plan Review process, has outlined its own optics for the area, A Strawman Proposal for The Wiehle Area Metro Station, that envisions a thriving mixed-use, beyond 9-5, transit-oriented community. The group calls for increased residential uses, pedestrian and bike interconnectivity along the Silver Line corridor, embracing the urban center paradigm and integration of growth along the corridor. According to Penniman, Strawman Proposal author and board member of the Reston Community Center,
"Reston is a wonderful, planned community of urban and village centers, but running in the middle of it is the toll road, which has historically been lined with office buildings. With the arrival of the Metro and three stations running through Reston, there is an opportunity to add some urban flavor that would allow more people to live, work, walk and play...If we can create more pedestrian connections and manage traffic, that should do a lot to energize the corridor and would fit in well with the image of Reston as a community of open spaces and quality architecture."LEED-ND (LEED for Neighborhood Development) certification, a relatively new category in the LEED rating system, which the US Green Building Council, the Congress for New Urbanism and the Natural Resources Defense Council developed collaboratively to certify neighborhoods that are planned according to smart growth principles with attention to urban planning and environmental design characteristics at the community scale.
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority began increasing tolls on the Dulles Toll Road last January by 33% to help finance the Silver Line, with further toll increases expected in 2012. With increasing gas prices and suffocating traffic, the commute along the toll road has become less sustainable.
Comstock's Parker says the developer has focused on traffic management from the start, making the most of the pedestrian bridge that will link its project to the Metro station. Planners have designed Reston Station Blvd. as a new cross street, "an east-west spine road parallel to both Sunset Hills Road and the Dulles Toll Road provides a key cornerstone to the ultimate goal of a well-planned grid of streets." "We have proffered to significant traffic modifications to accommodate the suggested increase in traffic with the arrival of Metro. We are also committed to conducting other traffic studies as the development progresses through an aggressive Transportation Demand Management plan designed to reduce automobile trips generated by the office and residential uses" explained Parker.
Ultimately, construction timelines will be determined by economic realities, with even citizens groups acknowledging that "development will not proceed as fast as might have been thought a couple of years ago." With three years to go until the Metro station opens, time will tell what awaits sojourners venturing out to the end of the new metro line.
Reston, Virginia, real estate development news