Town Center’s Future
Developer presents near future and plans for Reston Town Center.
By Mirza Kurspahic
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Reston Town Center is undergoing a transformation as Phase II of the urban core, from Library Street to Explorer Street, nears completion of the developer’s vision for the property. With the South of Market development finished and beginning of construction of an office building on top of a new garage south of Discovery Drive, Boston Properties announced the tenants it has secured for the office space and ground floor retail space in the new buildings.
“We are pretty excited,” said Pete Otteni, vice president for development at Boston Properties. “I think we are going to raise the ante in terms of retail in Reston,” he said. Otteni added that in leasing its space, Boston Properties sought to create a “consistent retail space experience” in the South of Market project.
One of the food establishments ready to break into the Reston Town Center market is the Counter, a table service burger place that lets customers build their own burgers from the ingredients listed on a clipboard they are given as they enter the restaurant. “We are bringing a burger to Reston Town Center,” said Otteni. Next to the Counter will be Pitango Gelato, an ice cream place as the name suggests.
Other restaurants coming on line will include a seafood restaurant that will overlook the Reston Town Square park and a French bistro named Mon Ami Gabi, a creation of Lettuce Entertain You, which is responsible for bringing Big Bowl to Reston Town Center and Maggiano’s to Tysons Corner. Great American Restaurants, owners of the Coastal Flats and Sweetwater brands, will open a new concept for the company across the street from Big Bowl, a 300-seat venue named Jackson’s Mighty Fine Food & Lucky Lounge. Otteni said he hopes the Counter, Pitango Gelato and Mon Ami Gabi would have outdoor seating space, helping create a consistent retail experience throughout the development.
The retail stores that have signed leases in the new development could excite Reston Town Center’s fashionistas. J. Crew is undergoing construction of its 6,500 square foot space and Anthropologie will occupy a 9,000 square foot space. The National Jean Company has also signed with Boston Properties and a lease is under negotiation with Bebe. “All of the stores, obviously, want to open before the Christmas shopping season,” said Otteni. Other stores that have signed a lease or are in final stages of negotiation include a high-end furniture store; the Bike Lane, a bicycle store, and the Paper Source, a specialty store. Chevy Chase Bank and Fidelity Investments are also on board.
“IT IS SUCH wonderful signage for Reston to have Rolls Royce” on top of one of the three office buildings that comprise South of Market development, said Penny Pompei, president and CEO of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce. She said in her conversations with the Rolls Royce management she discovered that it was Reston Town Center’s environment that forced the company’s national headquarters move from Chantilly back to Reston. “They are coming back because their employees are so unhappy out there,” said Pompei of the Chantilly location. She said a major cause of dissatisfaction was that they had to drive if they wanted to go to lunch.
Other office tenants in the South of Market development include the world headquarters of NII Holdings — a telecommunication company that serves Latin America and was the winner of the 2007 Best of Reston award — and International Launch Services, which is relocating from Tysons Corner. Internet traffic tracker comScore will join Google’s marketing arm and Serco, a United Kingdom-based Information Technology service provider that is relocating from Merrifield in the development as well.
In addition to the South of Market development, a nine-story office building will sit on top of the garage that was just built south of Discovery Drive. The College Board is a likely tenant in that building, which, because of its visibility from the Dulles Toll Road, will have accented architectural features, said Otteni at his Thursday, May 29, presentation at the Reston Chamber. While Otteni presented in detail what Boston Properties’ vision for its Town Center urban core parcels was, he also touched upon possibilities in other areas of Reston Town Center. For example, he said that Boston Properties tried to negotiate a lease with the Apple store, but it is rumored that Beacon, which leases properties in Phase I of the urban core, between the Hyatt and Library Street, has negotiated a deal with Apple to open a store.
Otteni identified four major areas of Reston Town Center that are yet to be developed or redeveloped. One of the areas is the Reston Spectrum, in the ownership of Lerner Enterprises, and subject of a recent county’s Planning Commission conceptual plan approval for 10 buildings between New Dominion Parkway and Baron Cameron Avenue. Block 16 of the Reston Town Center’s urban core, a fenced in area located next to the Reston Town Square park, owned by Kettler is planned for a residential building of 350 residential units. Otteni said he had heard that construction on the project could start as early as the end of the year, but that he would be surprised if that was the case.
ANOTHER AREA that is planned for development is the surface parking lot across from what used to be the Ruby Tuesday restaurant. Otteni said a 250,000-square-foot office building with retail is in planning stages for that area. Boston Properties is the owner of the last identified area, off of Sunset Hills Road and across from the planned Reston Parkway metro station. The offices are leased to the federal government until 2014, but Otteni said the area is a subject of conversation for the company. “It is a subject of some significant planning on our part,” he said. The area as it is currently zoned would allow development of one million square feet of office space and another million square feet of residential space. “A chance exists to upzone that,” said Otteni, speaking of the property’s proximity to the metro station. “We want to make this feel like an extension of Reston Town Center,” he said.
Reston founder Bob Simon brought up another area that could see major redevelopment, across Fountain Drive from the Reston Spectrum. He said he had heard everything, but the hospital, on that parcel of Reston Town Center may be torn down. “I don’t know much about that,” said Otteni. “It seems to make sense,” he said, adding that he did not know if plans for that area are subject of conversations between owners, which include Fairfax County.
Donald Shandler, the assistant vice president for Graduate and Adult Education at Marymount University, asked Simon why Reston Town Center enjoys the success it does. “Location is a part of it,” said Simon, citing the proximity to other major employment centers and the airport. Also, being a New Yorker and a traveler, Simon said his vision for Reston included creation of plazas rather than strip malls as focal points of the community. “It’s a mystery to me why the U.S. seems to have so few plazas,” said Simon.