23-Story Tower Plan Before BOS on Tuesday
Planned 23-story building on Reston Parkway has been deemed too large and too far from Metro by some.
Update, 6:30 p.m. - The Board of Supervisors postponed the public hearing on the 23-story tower until Sept. 11 at 3:30 p.m. If you want to get on the schedule to speak then, click here.
The controversial 23-story mixed-use tower complex on Reston Parkway is slated to go before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
The 418,000-square-foot building, which will replace the five-story "Reston Times" building at 1760 Reston Pkwy., was recommended for approval by the county planning commission in June, despite three planning commission members voting "no" and two abstaining.
It is now up to the Board of Supervisors to decide whether the RTC Partnership can go ahead with the plan, despite a March staff report that found many faults with the project and recommended that the commission deny it. Among the faults: size that is incompatible with nearby buildings and high density that will be more than one-quarter mile from the planned Reston Parkway Metro station.
The project has already been approved in concept by Reston Association's Design Review Board and the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee. Reston Association's Board of Directors, however, said in April it agrees with the staff report. The planning commission held a public hearing on the project in March.
At the June Planning Commission meeting, Hunter Mill representative Frank de le Fe made a case for the new tower fitting in with a new Reston. The nearby Spectrum center is also slated for redevelopment, which means there will be greater density all along Reston Parkway.
"After its usual thorough analysis, staff found that the application was in compliance with the PRC Ordinance requirements with one exception – height and intensity of the proposed structure was found to be incompatible with the planned and existing developments in the vicinity of the site," said de le Fe.
"The existing developments of the immediate vicinity of the site are indeed low-rise developments. The planned redevelopment of the surrounding property known as Spectrum will have significantly taller buildings, but – unlike the application site – are limited in height and intensity by proffers."
The highest density development ideally should be within one-quarter mile of a Metro station, planners have said. But de le Fe said that because the Town Center's urban core is flat, the walk won't be so bad.
"The subject site is approximately 0.8 miles from the planned Reston Center Metro Station," said de le Fe. "It should be pointed out that the most intense developments in the urban core of Reston Town Center are outside the quarter-mile distance. In fact, some fall outside half-mile radius. The intensity of these developments are similar to what is proposed by the applicant. ... I believe that given the topography, fairly flat, and walking through the urban core of Reston Town Center would make access a positive overall experience."
Planning Commission member James Hart (at-large) was one of the commissioners voting against the building in June. He said at that time there are "countywide implications" to approving the development.
"I think we want buildings like this in the right location," he said. "If we approve buildings this large, this far away from the station, it’s going to be very difficult to deny the same sort of application for similarly situated properties at 0.8 or even closer to the station. That has implications for the amount of development that we’ve contemplated. I think, particularly in Tysons Corner, there are many locations where if we’re beyond the quarter-mile – if the economic justification is a rationale for going bigger and taller, we’re going to have problems with that."
Advocacy groups Reston2020 and ARCH recommend that the proposal be amended to be in keeping with Reston's planning principles.
However, Richard Wealen, managing partner of RTC Partnership, said in February the features of the tower — a contemporary design by Reston's Polleo Group — will make it a desirable location, despite nearby office vacancy rates.
Plans for the building include five floors of retail and parking and 18 stories of offices above that.
There are plans for an outdoor 38,000-square-foot terrace and green roof on the sixth floor. Developers hope to also build outdoor seating from a restaurant on that floor.