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Comstock’s plans for ‘Commerce Center’ near Wiehle-Reston East revealed

A new “Commerce Center” is taking shape at the door of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.

Comstock, the Reston-based developer behind the massive, mixed-use Reston Station, plans to bring 1.3 million square feet of new office space, up to 469 residential units, a hotel, 30,000 square feet of retail, and a 12,000-square-foot childcare center on nearly 16 acres of land south of the Dulles Toll Road, west of Wiehle Avenue and north of Sunrise Valley Drive.

At a Reston Planning & Zoning Committee meeting on Monday (May 16), members encouraged the company to engage significantly with the community on the massive project.

“We encouraged the applicant to meet with all nearby community associations and individual homeowners who are not part of an association,” committee chairman Rob Walker wrote in a statement to FFXnow. “It was recommended those community meetings should take the form of a more charette-type format centered around key issues the community believes are important.”

Comstock plans to demolish Commerce Center IV offices on the property, even though it is fully leased and generates “significant revenue.” In application materials submitted to the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee, Comstock said the demolition will “provide a critically needed opportunity to enhance pedestrian circulation and create a substantial urban park.”

Comstock conceded that the demolition of the office building is “quite a substantial commitment” but is necessary to create space for an underground parking garage and a public space with ground-floor retail.

A trio of office buildings would remain on the site, housing roughly 456,000 square feet of office space. Overall, the space is intended to transition the Metro station area from more high-intensity, mixed-use development to the existing offices that flank the station.

Two residential buildings are proposed on the southern portion of the property, alongside three new office buildings closest to the toll road.

Committee member Katie McClain inquired about the extent of community engagement, particularly courting feedback from area residents. She said it was important to get feedback on the 16-story hotel proposed across residential buildings.

Brian Winterhalter, an attorney with DLA Piper, said Comstock is in the preliminary stages of community engagement and expects to launch several community meetings next month.

“We’re reaching out to each of the associations,” Winterhalter said, addressing concerns about lack of input in the plans.

“You really have a monopoly on the Metro there, but really the entire community need to be able to use that,” Michelle Kimmel said, lamenting what she sees as a lack of pedestrian walkability in the area and the absence of a Kiss and Ride.

The project has one of the highest development densities in Reston with a floor area ratio of 3.2, slightly higher than what is recommended by the county’s comprehensive plan.

Winterhalter said Comstock is seeking bonus density through the mid-block road on the property, the demolition of Commerce Center III and dedication of 16% of the total residential units as workforce housing.

Other committee members encouraged Comstock to ensure that the development activates Wiehle Avenue as much as possible.

“The streetscape along Wiehle looks a little thin to me,” committee member Mike Jennings cautioned.

Comstock is expected to continue engaging with the committee throughout the zoning process. The county has not yet officially accepted the application for review.

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