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County board allows fewer parking spots at Reston Town Center expansion

The Reston Town Center expansion seen from the Dulles Access Road (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fewer parking spaces will be required in the expansion of Reston Town Center than previously anticipated.

During its May 7 meeting, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors agreed to vacate the parking reduction that it granted developer Boston Properties (BXP) when the project known as RTC Next was originally approved in 2018.

At that time, BXP intended to provide a total of 7,834 parking spaces for the 4.8 million square feet of mixed-use development planned in the northeast quadrant of the Town Center Parkway and Sunset Hills Road intersection. That would’ve been up to 660 fewer parking spaces than what the county’s zoning ordinance required — a 7.8% reduction.

But after the county’s sweeping update of its parking regulations last fall, the proposed number of spaces is now higher than the minimum requirements, prompting a transportation consultant hired by BXP to ask that the 2018 reduction be dropped.

Under the new parking rules, the developer needs to provide only 0.4 spaces per bedroom for multi-family residential buildings, rather than the previously approved rate of 1.1 to 1.6 spaces per unit, depending on the number of bedrooms, according to a staff summary. The rates for hotel and retail development are also lower.

Allowing RTC Next to follow the updated regulations would be “a component of an effort to reduce auto travel and enhance environmental benefits by de-emphasizing ample, free parking,” county staff wrote.

Staff noted that the 33-acre development site is adjacent to the Reston Town Center Metro station, where community members have access to trains, local bus services and bicycle facilities, including a Capital Bikeshare station.

However, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, who represents Reston, says there are still gaps in the area’s transportation network, particularly for short trips within Reston.

“It’s important to plan for more localized transportation options to help residents and workers get around and across Reston’s transit station areas,” Alcorn said in a statement to FFXnow. “Metrorail cannot meet all these shorter-hop needs. The county’s recently updated parking requirements assume use of other ways to get around, such as by local transit, bike or foot so we need to plan for that when developers make their proposals.”

At the May 7 board meeting, Alcorn said his office is looking into potential transportation upgrades for the Reston Town Center area, including “longer-term improvements to transit.”

While he didn’t specify any proposals that are under consideration, he praised Boston Properties for providing free shuttle service from the Metro station to sites in the town center without being asked or required by the county. The LinkRTC shuttle operates Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

BXP is also building a pedestrian bridge over the Washington and Old Dominion Trail that’s expected to finish construction later this year.

“This does take a step towards bringing the parking requirements for this particular project in line with the updated ordinance that we adopted fairly recently,” Alcorn said of the parking reduction vacation. “…But this is really part of a larger discussion that we’re having about long-term needs of getting people around in that part of Reston. So, just so everyone understands, this is sort of the beginning of that part of the discussion.”

When fully built out, the Reston Town Center expansion will boast 2.2 million square feet of offices, 93,000 square feet of retail, 2,010 residential units, and a 570-room hotel. Two office buildings have been completed, and the hotel — a dual-branded Marriott AC and Residence Inn — is expected to finish this year. A 40-story residential tower called Skymark is on track to be delivered in 2025.