Fairfax County Approves Transit-Oriented Development for Reston

The plan was created based on recommendations by a 40-plus member task force of Reston residents, developers, and civic association representatives.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on a 6-2 vote approved a new land use plan for Reston that calls for transit-oriented development. Patch file photo
At its meeting Tuesday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on a 6-2 vote approved a new land use plan for Reston that calls for transit-oriented development. Patch file photo

At its meeting Tuesday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on a 6-2 vote approved a new land use plan for Reston that calls for transit-oriented development in the areas within a half mile from new nearby Silver Line metro stations. The plan was created based on recommendations by a 40-plus member task force of Reston residents, developers, and civic association representatives.

Springfield Supervisor Pat Herrity and Sully Supervisor Michael Frey voted against the plan.

Over the next 40 years, new development will be centered on the Wiehle-Reston East, Reston Town Center and Herndon rail stations. In the future, the three station areas could become home to a total of 30 million square feet in offices and 28,000 housing units, counting existing, approved and new development.

The plan calls for a shift from suburban office parks to mixed-used development, and it envisions more new housing. Residential development can grow from 14.1 to almost 33.5 million square feet.

Offices will be concentrated within a quarter mile from the three Metro stations. This makes them an easy three to six minute walk from the stops. The plan aims for equal amounts of office and residential uses within this quarter mile radius. Housing is planned to make up 75 percent of the development between a quarter and half mile from each rail stop.

Because the three station areas combined already make up the second-largest office market in the county, the plan emphasizes residential development. It allows for up to 27,900 new units compared to 14,695 units under the previous plan. Housing is critical for successful transit-oriented development. It helps to reduce traffic, and it leads to more active, vibrant neighborhoods, day and night.

This increase in housing cuts the imbalance in the jobs-to-housing ratio in half. Under the plan, this ratio would be 4.3 jobs to 1 household compared to 8.8 to 1 today. Urban planners say that the ideal target for TOD areas is 3 to 6 jobs per household.

The three station areas are envisioned to have distinct characters, as well as the neighborhoods surrounding these TOD districts:

  • Wiehle-Reston East: The plan aims to make this station area an education-focused neighborhood with housing that is well-connected to transit by new walkable streets. It’s planned for up to 4 million square feet of office and 3,400 housing units, counting existing, approved or new development. North of the Dulles Toll Road, the area will be anchored by a new “main street,” Reston Station Boulevard. Northern Virginia Community College and Marymount University currently have campuses in the area.
  • Reston Town Center: The area will become Reston’s “downtown” Metro stop, offering lots of shopping and housing. It could be home to 5.5 million square feet in office development and 5,600 housing units in total, counting existing, approved or new development. Urban plazas and a larger park are planned for festivals, community gathering spots and recreation. This new area will complement the existing development in the Reston Town Center urban core.
  • Herndon: The vision for this station area is a moderate-intensity, urban, mixed use neighborhood that includes offices, residential, hotels and retail. This area will have the lowest amount of office development—2.1 million square feet, including existing, approved or new projects. The area can include up to 2,000 residential units. Because Sunrise Valley Wetlands Nature Park abuts this station area, the plan also includes trails and walkways to link this existing park to new, semi-urban parks.

These updates to the Reston land-use plan were developed to capitalize on Metro’s Silver Line. Since the early '90s, the county’s land use plan called for mixed-use development in Reston, anticipating the future rail line. However, Fairfax decided to relook at the area when the Silver Line became a reality.

To move the new plan forward, county staff will be refining Reston-specific urban design guidelines, creating a funding plan for transportation improvements, and analyzing the enhanced street network described in the document.

The Board of Supervisors authorized the planning study for Reston in 2009. The study focused specifically on the three areas surrounding the Silver Line stations.

Starting this spring, the county will begin a new study looking at areas beyond these stations, including the Village Center, convenience centers and commercial areas north of Baron Cameron adjacent to Reston Town Center. The study will also revise Reston’s land use plan and residential categories to better reflect existing development and align development processes with the existing Countywide Guidelines for Neighborhood Redevelopment.

For more information, visit the Reston Master Plan Web pages.

Private Person February 12, 2014 at 12:53 PM
We can't wait to see the traffic choke Reston to death. All those bikers and hikers and walkers are going to run one another over in their mad dashes to get to the metro stations. And the toll-road patrons surely should revolt since she's robbing them (truest example of highway robbery, ever, isn't it?)
Jody Douglas February 13, 2014 at 03:32 PM
Since we moved here, I've heard at least twice before that "Reston is completely 'built out' now". Each time, another huge round of construction is announced, with its attendant traffic tie-ups. I live in South Reston, and even now have to plan any trips to the other side of the Dulles for outside the 7 to 10 AM time-frame. With this plan, any trip across the Dulles will be untenable. Unfortunately, my health plan is located there!
Boris Barrios February 13, 2014 at 07:56 PM
High density does not equal ugly concrete jungle! This is GOOD News. In order to have livable, pedestrian-bike friendly, mixed use places we need transit oriented development like this. We need more places were one can live, work and play in the same neighborhood....more suburbia only leads to isolation and more congestion on the main roads.
John Nunyobiz February 19, 2014 at 08:36 AM
@Boris - So Tyson's and Roslyn are what you consider as places that are livable, pedestrian-bike friendly, mixed use places where one can live, work and play in the same neighborhood? Hardly. More like concrete jungles with minimum green space and skyscrapers that block out the sun. That my friend is where Reston is headed.
TGG March 08, 2014 at 02:39 PM
Reston was and is a big rip off and a scam. We ought to be taking the developers and their paid off politicians to court for fraudulent misrepresentation. When I first moved here developers had set up booths telling people they could "escape" from all of the out-of-control development they saw in places closer to DC because Reston was a "planned" community and it would only grow so far. Well, apparently what they didn't bother telling us was that the "plan" was for them to make a lot of money doing whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, with no regard to residents. My advice to anyone planning on moving to Reston of for that matter Fairfax County can be summed up with one word: DON'T. And then of course there are out "humanitarian" Democratic party leaders like Hudgins and Connolly that FIGHT for the right for developers to sieze your home via eminent domain so they can optimize their profits......."humanitarian" My A**


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