On Tuesday, September 11, 2012, the Board of Supervisors, The approval came after earlier support from the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee (P&Z), the Reston Association Design Review Board (DRB) and the Planning Commission. There was testimony in opposition from the Reston Citizens Association, Reston Association and Reston Town Center; while vocal support by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and Reston founder, Bob Simon. There was near unanimous view that the proposed RTC building was a welcome architectural marvel. The issues that divided the discussion were whether the location is the right place and is density and height appropriate for the building.
The Board of Supervisors approved PRC 77-C-076 for high density and no height restrictions. The location is and has always been known as part of the Town Center area. With the approval of the RTC Partnership application, Reston will have a 23 story mix use building, with a striking and unique design that embodies one of the stated Reston Association Essential Reston Principles (July 13, 2010) – “goal of excellence and innovation in all things – from architecture to pathway maintenance to aquatic facilities.” Just as the Sheraton Hotel defines the International Center Plaza and the Heron House residential building announces entrance to Lake Anne Village Center, so too will the RTC building accent Reston’s emerging downtown.
This “Class A” signature building, approximately 413,700 square feet of office space, 5, 200 square feet of retail, with a floor area ration of 4.08, advances an elegant architectural statement, creates jobs, contributes to economic vitality of Reston, and ensures future property values.
Questions were raised regarding height and density, appropriateness of location, absence of residential components and compliance with the Reston Master Plan proposed language. Reston has a long tradition of community involvement in land use decisions, as exemplified by the P&Z – formerly a committee of the Reston Citizen’s Association and subsequently a committee of the Reston Association, and the DRB. Such citizen input contributes to improving the final application for consideration.
With regard to height and density, the site was approved in 1978 for commercial and office uses with a Development Plan with unlimited density or height restrictions. The history of the property indicates the location as a ‘gateway’ to Reston Town Center. On the matter of including residential development on the site, the balance of housing and jobs is enhanced with planned Spectrum development of 1400 units, as well as the 360 units under construction at Parc Reston, across from the site. The absence of residential on the 2.36 acres site is more than balanced with over 1400 units planned at the Spectrum site, 360 new units at Park Reston and numerous other current housing that surrounds the area within half to one mile. The site has over 40% open space.
While it would be great if the planning process could hold all development in place until the Reston Master Plan Task Force recommendations are approved, that just is not possible. However, the Master Plan will serve the community well into the future and the Task Force is doing very valuable work.
The Reston Planned Residential Community (PRC) District zoning has been marked with flexibility, allowing ways to develop what is needed, when it is needed and where it is needed. It has yielded amazing success in our community; preserving open space and connecting people, while remaining well known for producing great design and economic success. The RTC Building will be an excellent example of following such zoning principles.
Finally, let us not forget the commitment of public art, anticipated LEED Silver Certification, a roof-top terrace park and Transportation Demand Management (TDM) to reduce vehicle traffic and increase pedestrian access with bike racks, bus shelters and other transit support. It may indeed set a standard for design as the adjacent properties in Town Center are developed.
Catherine M. Hudgins
Hunter Mill Supervisor