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.
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.