Spectrum Might Not Take Shape For Many Years

Lerner says it has no immediate plans to begin redevelopment of large parcel near Reston Town Center.

While plans for a massive redevelopment at Reston Spectrum were approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors earlier this month, it could take years - even decades - before the Spectrum morphs into the mixed-use development that planners envision.

Lerner Enterprises, the owner of the shopping center that runs from New Dominion to Baron Cameron along Reston Parkway, is offering no timetable for redevelopment. The company says it is excited about the future, but has no immediate plans to begin building.

“Lerner is pleased that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recently approved the redevelopment plans for The Spectrum at Reston Town Center," the statement reads. "The longterm vision is to redevelop the current shopping center into a vibrant mixed-use. transit-oriented town center."

"While we are excited about the future, we have no immediate plans to begin and invite the community to continue to enjoy our great mix retailers and restaurants available at The Spectrum.” 

A commerical real estate source with ties to Reston development says longterm leases of the current Spectrum tenants will have to run their course before any real changes will occur.

The source, who asked his name not be used because he is not authorized to speak for Lerner, said most stores are somewhere in a 10-year lease.

likely signed a 10-year lease. The source says even that lease will have to expire before that portion of the Spectrum is redeveloped.

"Then new plans call for 12 to 15 buildings," he said. "I think you will see things go up piece-by-piece if the vacancies line up. You might see that [beginning] within about five years."

The free-standing buildings such as The Macaroni Grill or On The Border might be the first areas to be redeveloped because they are single tenants, he said.

The future plan for the Spectrum includes 774,879 square feet of non-residential use; 1,422 multifamily residential units (with 12 percent set aside for affordable housing) in seven new residential buildings; 38 percent open space; underground and structure parking; LEED certifications; two new east-west streets and expanded bike trails and pedestrian access.

The development will be divided this way:

Land Bay A (where Best Buy and the soon-to-be closed Barnes & Noble are located) is planned for 546 dwelling units, 255 hotel rooms, 172,000 square feet of office, and 62,500 square feet of retail uses.

Land Bay B (where PetSmart and On the Border are located) is planned for 643 dwelling units, 270 hotel rooms, and 48,650 square feet of retail uses.

Land Bay C (where Harris Teeter is located) is planned for 237 residential units and 134,896 square feet of retail and bank uses. Only Harris Teeter will remain - and expand into the current Office Depot space - in the redevelopment.

Additionally, Land Bay B will wrap around the planned 23-story office tower at Bowman Towne Drive and Reston Parkway. That building, which will contain retail and 18 stories of offices, was approved by the supervisors in September.

The Spectrum is located just over a half-mile from the planned Reston Parkway Silver Line Metrorail Station, making it a proper place for transit-oriented development, said Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins. That station won't be built for at least five more years, though.

The application was reactivated last year, and was recommended for approval by the county planning commission in November.

Eventually, the look of the shopping center will change dramatically from a strip-mall center to a grand plaza. Buildings will be oriented away from Reston Parkway and New Dominion Drive and instead toward a widened Fountain Drive, giving the area a Reston Town Center-like feel for several more blocks outside of today's Town Center boundaries.

To see the entire Fairfax County Planning staff report on the Spectrum, click here.


More on the Spectrum:

Supervisors Apprive Spectrum Redevelopment



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james gilley February 01, 2013 at 02:53 PM
No doubt it will a decade or two before we seen and development and who can blame Lerner for going ahead and getting approval before any new Reston plans are approved. It will not be soon for Reston Heights has a lot of land (Reston International) much closer to the TC Metro stop and that will be developed first. And think about it we now have more than 6 million sf of vacant commerical space along the toll road west from Hunter Mill. So as much as I hate to see BN go it is a sign of the times and they were not bumped out by Lerner.
DGeorge February 01, 2013 at 03:39 PM
Am I missing something? It was my understanding that Borders lease was not renewed even though Borders wanted to renew. It was felt that the container store was a stopgap until the construction could begin. What happened? Why did we lose Borders if construction may be decades away?
james gilley February 01, 2013 at 06:19 PM
Barnes and Noble said they wanted to renew and Lerner said they offered to renew it but they could not agree. Maybe Lerner wanted more rent money or maybe BN would not sigh up for 10 years. B&N announced recently they will be closing some 100 stores in the near future. So are stuck with a container store...I have never ever been one of those. What do they do?
Karen Goff February 01, 2013 at 06:55 PM
Barnes & Noble, not Borders. B& N and Lerner could not agree on lease terms and price.It really doens't have anything to do with the redevelopment.
DGeorge February 01, 2013 at 07:07 PM
Yes B&N not Borders. Senior moment I'm afraid. I've never been to a container store either. I guess they sell boxes..
Karen Goff February 01, 2013 at 07:20 PM
Boxes and all kinds of containers. Kitchen storage, office storage, luggage type stuff.
The Analyst February 01, 2013 at 07:59 PM
This stunt could be one of two things: 1. An attempt to "shut up" opponents with what's essentially a deliberate mis-statement. 2. A realization that the "development fest" is over. Both are highly likely. Developers, as well as their allies on the BOS have used this sort of thing to get people to stop paying attention to what they're doing - especially if it's something people don't like or oppose, then they work under the radar, hand in hand, in this case with Hudgins and then blind side you with it. The other is that they've realized that the "development fest" is over. There are far too many empty or marginally filled buildings in both Fairfax and Loudoun (Loudoun looks worse to me). Anyone with sense would know better than to go "full steam ahead." Which do I think it is? I think it's the first. Most developers get paid by investors. The investors lose the money, not them. The losses then trickle down to the rest of us. An investment company needs to layoff people, maintenance staff needs reduction or termination, some losses get passed on to the taxpayer - bankruptcy court and filings aren't free. A lot of developers will simply take their money and say "tough cookies, buyer beware." They won't put this off. This is a stunt they're using, probably under Hudgins guidance to get the residents to "shut up." A population that doesn't know what's going on can't complain about it.
james gilley February 01, 2013 at 08:18 PM
No they are trying to get the max zoning approved before any new master plan or rules go into effect. Like at 1760 Reston Parkway..the 23 story the bos approved, there is little demand right now as there is about 6 million sf of vacant commerical space in the Dulles corridor from Hunter Mill to the airport. It is just rational for Lerner to try to get the max zoning up front so if there is a boom down the road they will be able to build as much as they can sell or rent. Makes business sense but the chances of any of this happening over the next decade is very, very remote. The growth military-industrial complex is coming to a halt for the Chinese do not have the money to loan us anymore. Like Rome when caesar crossed the Rubicon the end is in sight.
Karen Goff February 01, 2013 at 09:46 PM
What James is saying is correct. Many times the zoning and approvals are in place. Will the plans ever happen? Maybe. In fact, that is a good project story for me - checking to see historically what has been approved and whether it ever came to be.
Stella McEnearny February 01, 2013 at 11:27 PM
Thank the deities and dieties and braise the Lard! This is, as Martha Stewart might term it, "a good thing." Whew!
JAK February 02, 2013 at 12:29 AM
"Affordable housing" = more ghetto subsidized apartments. We already have more than anywhere else in FFX. Co, enough is enough. Also, why does Harris Teeter need twice as much space? That is ludicrous.
The Analyst February 02, 2013 at 11:19 AM
I don't buy it. Why the "announcement?" Is the purpose of the announcement to relay the actual business plans of a company, or is it an attempt to essentially tell the residents "None of the over-development you find so offensive will occur here for decades...go back to sleep...there's nothing happening here." I think that if you delve into the practices of developers you will find a pattern. I think if you delve into the patterns of the Democratic party in Va., you will find that it's saturated with developer (aka special interest) influence. Virginia is probably the very first state in the union where both parties are dedicated to the principal of "By the special interests, and for the special interests at the expense of the residents." Cathy Hudgins has openly insulted residents that don't cave in to the county's love with developers. The net result of failed developments, like the so-called "Shrine to Over-development" at the corner of the toll road and Hunter Mill gets paid for by all of us ... not the developers. Taxes and costs for failed projects, whether it be lay offs for support staffs, investors going bankrupts, or the costs for unneeded infrastructure improvements "trickles down." This is the real trickle down economics. Meanwhile, our governor seems to think that Va. is now a major oil producer to such an extent that he's actually taxing people for owning energy efficient vehicles, thus encouraging people to not buy energy efficient cars.
Karen Goff February 02, 2013 at 12:44 PM
Analyst - It wasn't exactly an announcement. It was an answer to my question "Do you have a timetable?"
Terry Maynard February 02, 2013 at 03:17 PM
Given the high vacancy rate in Reston office space and the still slow improvement in the residential market, I expect Lerner to take their time to redevelop the Spectrum area. Indeed, the office and residential markets will be hit again with sequestration for however long it's in place. The bad news is that the Spectrum effort and the 23-story Whelan building are beyond the 1/2-mile limit associated with transit-oriented development (TOD) limits. The implication is that, when fully developed, the two will add about 1,400 residences and 1.2 million square feet of non-residential uses. That will mean about 2,800 new residents, three-quarters of them workers, and about 3,700 new jobs. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these new workers and new jobs will be going to or coming to work via their personal vehicle. A few may live near where they work and walk or bike, fewer than one-fifth are likely to use transit if history is any indicator, and the rest will be on the road--Reston Parkway, Town Center Drive, Baron Cameron, etc. That will come to about 5,000 new vehicle trips per workday as a result of a Spectrum and Whelan build out. We can hope that developers within the TOD area will move first and within in reason (market conditions permitting) and that the new residents and workers there are attracted to Metrorail for their commute.
novaguy1968 February 02, 2013 at 10:15 PM
Literally, they sell containers (and related products). There is one on R7 in Tysons Corner.
Tee Powell February 03, 2013 at 02:27 AM
Good I hope it takes decades. I will be out of this area by then.
Phil Lilienthal February 03, 2013 at 07:04 AM
Is there a limit on how long a developer can wait before starting on an approved development plan?
John Farrell February 03, 2013 at 11:49 AM
Terry Maynard February 03, 2013 at 02:50 PM
John's two-letter response is correct: In this "Dillon Rule" state--a rule that puts property rights above just about all others (after all, this is Virginia where property is everything, community is nothing)--once a development right has been conferred through a re-zoning, there is virtually nothing anyone can do to take it or even parts of it away. The Whelan re-development project (Town Center Office Building) is an excellent example of a grossly over-authorized re-zoning (both in density and limited mix of uses) granted decades ago that is totally inconsistent with the ongoing planning for Reston Town Center as a transit-oriented development (TOD) area.
Jim Hubbard February 03, 2013 at 09:37 PM
What if we gave a party and no one came? Fairfax County's political leadership is counting on new construction along the Silver Line and Route 28 to expand the tax base and allow continuation of low taxes. This has been the County's goal for at least the past ten years. A recent discussion of the County budget included the comment that financial pressures would be less in 2016/17 when new revenues started to flow from the Silver Line-based development. But what if little or no development takes place? Vacancy rates in commercial space are high now. It's not clear how much demand exists for condos. The Federal government and defense contractors seem to be facing reduced spending. What if more landowners/builders follow the Lerners' example?
Michael February 04, 2013 at 02:25 AM
There's a ton of "affordable housing" in Falls Church, Annandale, and Mt. Vernon corridor areas of the county... any actual facts/numbers to back up your assertion that we have more than anywhere else?


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