Fairfax County Plan for Reston: Less Office Space, More Residential Buildings

Development plans around new Metro station.

Plans call for increase in development.
Plans call for increase in development.

From Fairfax County government. What do you think of this plan? 

Like Tysons in the future, Reston may become more urban, walkable and bike friendly development in the areas closest to the Silver Line Metro stations.

Fairfax County is proposing transit-oriented development for the areas within a half mile from the three stations, although nowhere near at the same scale as Tysons. The plan calls for 14.02 million more square feet in total development—a modest 25 percent increase over currently planned levels.

However, it dramatically increases future residential development while reducing non-residential building compared to what’s planned today. Commercial and retail space is decreased by 12 percent while residential development jumps from 14.1 to almost 33.5 million square feet—a 131 percent increase.

Over the next 40 years, this new development would be centered around the Wiehle-Reston East, Reston Town Center and Herndon stations.

Significantly, the proposal calls for a shift from suburban office parks to mixed used development, and it envisions more new housing. If approved, the three station areas could be home to a total of 30 million square feet in offices and 28,000 housing units, counting existing and approved development.

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. The proposal allows for up to 27,900 new units compared to 14,695 units under the current 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 proposal, this ratio would be 4.3 jobs to 1 household compared to 8.8 to 1 under today’s plan for the area. Urban planners say that 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: The plans aims to make this station area an education-focused neighborhood with housing that is well-connected to transit by new walkable streets. It could 4 million square feet of office and 3,400 housing units, counting existing, approved and new development. North of the toll road, the area will be anchored by a new “main street,” Reston Station Boulevard. Northern Virginia and 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 is planned for 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 proposed for festival, community gathering spots, and recreation. This new area will complement the existing development in 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 and 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 proposed updates to the Reston land use plan were drafted to capitalize on Metro’s Silver Line. It was created by a 40-plus member community task force that met for the past three years. The Fairfax County Planning Commission will consider the update on Nov. 12. It’s then expected that Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will take up the land use changes in December.

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.

The Fairfax County 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 next 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 www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/reston.

Todd Richissin November 13, 2013 at 08:35 AM
Thanks, Kate. I just wanted to pass this along -- again -- as Fairfax County released it for review. And thanks, Connie. We'll keep an eye on the meeting. And, finally, thanks, Kevin. Will fix the link.
Connie Hartke November 13, 2013 at 08:37 AM
This is it folks. Last chance to speak up. Here’s the call to action: http://restoncitizensassociation.blogspot.com/2013/11/planning-commission-hearing-on-comp.html
stephen fehr November 13, 2013 at 09:16 AM
Kate, the Patch gains followers all the time who may not have read about the plan. Todd, we can never get enough information about the plan. Keep it up,
Bob Bruhns November 13, 2013 at 10:09 AM
The pattern west of Tysons Corner, is to forget about office space and sell the more quickly profitable residential space. And at the Vienna station, the grandiose new business center plan was reduced to something more like a strip mall. Nobody seems to want to build much commercial space at the rail stations. Yet some are clamoring to get control of the 'air' space above the stations (probably at great cost), and build tricky expensive structures on stilts there. Our leaders are suddenly thinking of these things NOW? Where was the planning, during all of those years we heard about a few years ago, when there was great impatience to proceed with the rail project? "Oh, there has been 40 years of planning! Build it now!," we heard. Yes, excellent planning, that. The Big Bucks that were were promised from this rail deal - Billions per year at first, and then tens of Billions per year, supposedly - would have to come from BUSINESS, not residential. But the rail deal is done, so now the promises are being erased. Aren't they.
Catherine November 13, 2013 at 01:20 PM
There's no need to build expensive air space properties. There are plenty of low-rise buildings along Sunrise Valley that could ve torn down and rebuilt into taller strucrures. Some of these buildings are within walking distance of the Silver Line Sunrise Valley entrance. There are also many low-rise buildings along Sunset Hills.


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