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The arts center could be located on Block J in Reston Town Center (via Fairfax County)

(Updated at 6:55 p.m.) Concerns of about the financing and feasibility of a proposed 60,000-square-foot performing arts center in Reston dominated a town hall last night (Tuesday).

Boston Properties has proffered to provide a site for the arts center on Block J of the next phase of its Reston Town Center development.

A feasibility report by the architectural firm Grimm + Parker estimated the cost would be roughly $58 million in current dollars and $81 million, accounting for inflation, through 2030.

“We’re talking about a pretty significant project from at least a capital cost standpoint,” said Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn.

Fairfax County has to choose between two options for the site, as pitched by Boston Properties: an arts center or an athletic field.

The athletic field would include one or more full-size fields built by Boston Properties on top of a parking garage on the property off Sunset Hills Road. If that doesn’t work out, the developer would provide roughly $6.5 to $7 million for park facilities in the Reston area.

For the arts center option, Boston Properties would provide property to the county on Block J and drop the athletic and park improvements described above.

A Fairfax County Board of Supervisors decision on the feasibility of the project is anticipated by the end of January. The deadline was pushed back by several months to allow more time for public input and engagement.

Financing remains an issue, some residents noted at the town hall, which is the second on the proposal this year.

Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner John Carter said that although the estimated costs are “daunting,” he expects overall costs to go down as the scope of the project narrows.

“This is a great location right next to Metro,” Carter said. “We certainly would like to hold onto that, I would think.”

The financial cost of the project will not fall on residents who live in Special Tax District #5 — a possibility that was floated in earlier months. The county will likely seek general obligation bonds for the project, a method typically used to fund libraries, schools and other public projects, but no related bond referendum is currently under consideration for voters.

Reston Community Center Executive Director Leila Gordon pledged that residents in the tax district would not see increased taxes as a result of this project. A potential operator for the arts center hasn’t been identified yet, but its board of governors has committed to keeping the tax rate flat.

(Correction: This article previously said that RCC won’t operate the arts center, but the community center clarified that no decisions about the operator have been made yet.)

“We need similar space to accommodate existing demand and will be seeking solutions to that problem using our available resources in one way or another,” Gordon told FFXnow. “So while we don’t know who might operate this venue, the idea of RCC doing so is not out of the question.”

Other options for an arts center could include a venue on county-owned land west of the Herndon Metro station or similar property in Reston Town Center North, according to the county.

Tammi Petrine, a Reston resident and community advocate on the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee, noted that residents of the tax district already pay a “huge tax” that can be “way too much of a burden” for residents.

While much of the discussion was dominated by funding options and overall cost, ArtsFairfax board chair Scott Cryer encouraged residents to step back and examine the overall economic and cultural benefit of the project.

“There’s a real positive economic impact that will be provided by a facility like this,” Cryer said.

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The arts center could be located on Block J in Reston Town Center (via Fairfax County)

A proposal for a new arts center in Reston will be the topic of discussion at a town hall tomorrow evening (Tuesday).

Developer Boston Properties plans to work with the county to provide a space for the performing arts center on Sunset Hills Road as parts of Reston Town Center’s next phase of development.

So far, draft proffers by the developer contemplate a performing arts facility of up to 60,000 square feet in Block J of the development. Block J is located next to Sunset Hills Road in the southwestern corner of the proposed development site. 

The discussion comes after Reston Community Center worked with a research team at the University of Virginia to gather input about the project.

A feasibility study conducted by the county found that the center could cost up to $81 million, accounting for inflation.

Alcorn requested a six-month extension to make a decision about the proffer. A July 31 deadline was first planned by the Board of Supervisors this year.

The meeting, slated to begin at 7 p.m., will take place online. Participants can also call 571-429-5982 and use conference ID 982 587 410.

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The first major renovations to Reston Town Center’s in 30 years are well underway, with the pavilion set to reopen later this year.

A spokesperson for Boston Properties says the opening of the pavilion is anticipated “sometime in November with the return the ice rink for the winter season.”

“The Fountain Plaza and Pavilion rehabilitation and renovation work at Reston Town Center has made significant progress since commencing in March 2022,” Sapna Yathiraj, Boston Properties’ marketing director, wrote in a statement to FFXnow.

The Fountain Plaza is also slated to open later this year, although an exact timeline was not immediately available.

The upgrades are led by Alan Ward, a principal at Sasaki Associates. As previously reported the enhancements include:

The Pavilion

Two fire pits in front of the Pavilion adjacent to Market Street will add to the holiday and cooler months’ experience

Large fans will help cool the space during warmer months for both formal and informal gatherings

An expansion through the service street adjacent to the Hyatt will create more flexibility and space for programming, events, and daily activations
A wooden deck that will serve as a seating area and a stage for smaller events and performances

Additional seating areas in the artificial turf area during warm months

Other

The fountain: Renovation of the lower base area, with new tiling, expanded seating, and tiered landscaping, and replacement of the entire outdated mechanical system. The original design of the upper base and Mercury statue will remain unchanged.

New trees and plantings to replace aged greenery and damaged root systems

Expansion of outdoor seating, including stadium-style structures and traditional tables and chairs

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Morning Notes

A “LOVE” sign at the Workhouse Arts Center, former site of the Lorton Prison (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Suspect in Annandale Burglaries Arrested — Fairfax County police have arrested and charged a 19-year-old man from Annandale in connection to nine commercial burglaries reported between May 26 and June 14. The suspect broke the front glass doors of each of the businesses, took cash and left on a bicycle, police say. [FCPD]

Covid Quarantine Guidelines Amended — The Virginia Department of Health no longer recommends quarantining for people exposed to COVID-19 who are up to date on their vaccinations or have recovered the disease in the last six months — double what the CDC advises. The state instead suggests isolating only if symptoms appear. [WTOP]

Roaming Rooster Opens in Chantilly — The Nashville-style hot chicken joint will open at 11 a.m. today (Friday) at 14394 Chantilly Crossing Lane, offering a free sandwich to the first 50 customers. Roaming Rooster also has locations in Tysons and Burke. [Roaming Rooster/Twitter]

Proposal Allowing More Housing Near Dulles Airport Advances — “The Fairfax County Planning Commission on June 8 backed a proposed comprehensive-plan amendment to allow residential uses in noisier areas near Washington Dulles International Airport, sending the measure to the Board of Supervisors.” [Sun Gazette]

Meeting Set on Blake Lane Safety — After a car crash killed two Oakton High School students last week, Fairfax County elected officials and transportation, police, and school leaders will hold a virtual meeting next Thursday (June 23) to discuss possible safety improvements. The meeting will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. on Zoom and be live-streamed on Facebook. [Supervisor Dalia Palchik/Twitter]

McLean Residents Criticize Maryland’s Role in 495 NEXT — “Maryland’s plans to undertake major construction work along the Capital Beltway in Fairfax County aren’t sitting well with some Northern Virginia residents and elected leaders, who are questioning why another state is involved in transportation projects outside its borders.” [Maryland Matters]

Boston Properties Sells Springfield Buildings — A Boston Properties affiliate has sold a cluster of 11 office and industrial properties in the Virginia 95 Business Park to the Bethesda-based firm Finmarc Management Inc., which closed the $127.5 million deal on Wednesday (June 15). Finmarc says it plans to lease the buildings, whose current tenants include the State Department and SAIC, but is also open to “longer-term possibilities.” [Washington Business Journal]

State Lawmakers Reconvene to Talk Budget Amendments — The Virginia General Assembly returns to the Capitol today (Friday) to take up 38 amendments proposed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, facing a June 30 deadline to finalize a two-year spending plan. Items on the table include a three-month gas tax suspension and an elimination of state funding for abortions in rare cases where the fetus has “incapacitating” physical or mental issues. [The Washington Post]

Town of Vienna Collects Used Batteries — “Vienna is now collecting single-use & rechargeable lithium-ion batteries (11 lbs. or less; not damaged, bulging, or leaking) at the Vienna Community Center or Town Hall. Stop by during regular business hours and look for the recycling box.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

It’s Friday — Humid throughout the day. High of 85 and low of 74. Sunrise at 5:44 am and sunset at 8:38 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A new arts center is proposed in Reston Town Center (via Fairfax County Government)

A nearly 60,000-square-foot proposed arts center in the heart of Reston Town Center could cost up to $81 million.

The proposed center comes out of a proffer from Boston Properties’ next phase of development at Reston Town Center. It would be located next to Sunset Hills Road in the southeastern corner of the proposed development site.

Architectural firm Grimm + Parker presented findings from a feasibility study on the project to the Reston Community Center’s Board of Governors on Monday (June 13). The meeting was part of the center’s annual public hearing for programs and budget.

Accounting for inflation, escalation, and an increase in construction costs, the project carries a cost estimate of $81 million if the center is built in 2030. In current dollars, it could cost around $58 million.

The cost estimate includes both hard costs, like construction, and soft costs, like furniture and other design elements.

Grimm + Parker launched a series of community meetings between February and April to court public feedback on the project. The firm then evaluated community needs and requirements for programming, conceptual design and an overall estimate of the project.

The center would accommodate roughly 500 seats, including 372 seats on the orchestra level and 165 on the first balcony, according to Sue Haines, a partner with the firm. Parking would also be shared with neighboring parcels.

The center would also have an open studio for arts, gallery with flexible display options, utility spaces, a catering kitchen, offices, storage, and a digital media studio.

“Life’s been tricky lately, building buildings,” Haines said.

She said that attempts to increase the size of the house — which was flagged as a concern in previous community meetings — are not feasible because of the site design.

Amy Upton, the firm’s director of environmental design, said it was important not to “duplicate facilities that are already around,” noting that other arts-related venues and activities are available in and near Reston.

“Obviously, when that gets designed, all that could get changed,” Haines said.

The Town of Herndon is also expected to welcome a new black box theatre as part of its delayed downtown redevelopment.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn and county staff will negotiate details of the proffer going forward to determine if and how the project will proceed. Funding is anticipated from a variety of sources, some of which has not yet been identified. Proffer-related deadlines are anticipated this summer.

It is unclear when design and construction could begin.

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Some events held in the Reston Town Center pavilion will be relocated (courtesy Boston Properties)

A popular outdoor entertainment series has been cancelled for the summer as some of Reston Town Center’s public spaces get a facelift.

Reston Concerts on the Town has been cancelled because RTC’s pavilion will not be available for events due to ongoing renovations.

“While this is disappointing, there’s a silver lining,” event organizers wrote in a statement. “The pavilion is going to be transformed into a more event-friendly space. It will be newly paved, with cool amphitheater-style seating by the fountain and other upgrades.”

Organizers say they attempted to locate an alternate site in the vicinity but were unable to find one that met the amenities and resources required for the concerts, which typically happen on Saturday nights.

“We look forward to bringing the Saturday night concerts back in 2023 in this refreshed space,” organizers said.

A spokesperson for Boston Properties said the upgrades are not expected to affect other events.

“We have been able to accommodate most of our events, with the exception of the Reston Concerts on the Town series,” wrote Sapna Yathiraj, Boston Properties’ marketing director, in a statement.

The work on the pavilion began at the end of March and is expected to wrap up in the early fall. The ice rink will continue to operate from November through March.

Upgrades will include the installation of two fire pits in front of the pavilion, which will be expanded through the service street next to the Hyatt. A wooden deck will be added to serve as a seating area, along with a stage for small events and more seating areas in the artificial-turf area.

The Fountain Plaza will also get stadium-style structures and tables and chairs, a renovation of the fountain’s lower base, and new landscaping. Work on the fountain area is scheduled to begin this month and wrap up later in the fall.

The renovations are one of the first major updates to the common areas, which were first built in the early 1990s. The design team for the project is led by Alan Ward, principal of Sasaki Associates.

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Chico’s in Reston Town Center has closed (staff photo by Fatimah Waseem)

Chico’s, a women’s clothing store, has officially shuttered its doors at Reston Town Center.

The business, which was located at 11910 Market Street, closed up shop last month.

It started off in 1983 as a small gallery and has since expanded across the country. There are several local locations, including McLean, Fairfax, and Leesburg.

There is no word yet on what will replace the store. The company did not return multiple requests for comment on why the store closed and when the last day of business was.

The closure comes amidst a flurry of recent changes in the town center, including the departure of Bow Ties Cinema and the addition of a new athletic facility from The St. James.

The center’s public spaces are slated for a facelift starting this spring, and tenants like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Fogo de Chao — among others — are slated to open up their doors this year.

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Bow Tie Cinemas appears to be closed at Reston Town Center (staff photo by Fatimah Waseem)

Just like that, Bow Tie Cinemas has left Reston Town Center, leaving Reston Association’s longest running program in limbo.

Reston Town Center owner Boston Properties confirmed last month that the movie theater chain hadn’t renewed its lease, but no firm closure date was given, beyond that it would be sometime in May.

The closure now appears to be official. No show times are listed on its website or the box office marquee, and the doors were locked today (Wednesday).

The company did not return multiple requests for comment on the last day of business. Boston Properties also did not respond to multiple requests for comment on when the company’s lease expired.

RA’s Senior Movie Day, which brings more than 100,000 patrons over the years, will be on pause, as the cinema changes theater companies.

The program begin in 1994 and is expected to resume later this year or in early 2023. RA says that roughly 315 people aged 55 and above attended the shows and enjoyed other Reston Town Center amenities after watching the movies.

Bow Tie Cinemas, which took over the theater in April 2011, will be replaced by LOOK Dine-in Cinemas, which plans to open its first location in Virginia in the last quarter of the year. The business declined to provide additional details about the theater beyond what was reported last month.

LOOK also declined to comment on whether or not it plans to continue the senior movie day tradition once the new theater opens.

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(Updated at 9:15 a.m. to replace references to Reston Next with Reston Town Center expansion)

A rotating car station is a key element of Boston Properties’ massive Reston Town Center development.

Anchored by Fannie Mae and also home to Volkswagen Group of America, the $715 million expansion of Reston Town Center will include a jewel box — a 1,500-square-foot box that will let the vehicle manufacturer display vehicles on platforms attached to the eighth story of a planned parking garage.

Mark Looney, Boston Properties’ legal representative, said the jewel box is a “marketing tool” for Volkswagen. RTC Next is a planned four-million-square-foot extension of RTC. Volkswagen signed a lease at the development in 2020.

“The jewel box is a pretty significant element of Volkswagen’s willingness to come to this location and to come to this project,” Looney told the Fairfax County Planning Commission at a meeting on April 20.

While Volkswagen does not plan to sell cars directly from its Reston offices, the company hopes to use the jewel box to display cars on a rotating basis. A 225-square-foot digital display is also part of the design.

The Virginia Department of Transportation approved the design of the jewel box, including the level of lighting proposed.

Development conditions also restrict flashing light and video streaming from the digital display. Only static images are permitted — specifically one per day — and no sound is allowed, according to Mary Ann Tsai of the county’s Zoning Evaluation Division.

“The jewel box functions a sign itself,” Tsai noted.

Looney said the developer also plans to reduce the visibility of the sign at night, noting that the height of the jewel box targets Metro-goers directly.

The commission voted unanimously to approved the overall sign and way-finding plan for RTC expansion at the meeting.

The internal planning name of the project is Reston Next, but the project is formally characterized as Reston Town Center’s expansion, a company representative clarified.

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A number of public spaces in Reston Town Center will get a facelift.

As reported last month, work on Fountain Plaza and the pavilion will begin this spring. Now, Boston Properties is offering a first look at the planned upgrades.

The renovations will be the first major updates to the town center’s public spaces in roughly 30 years.

Alan Ward, a principle at Sasaki Associates, is leading the design team of the project. He deferred comment to Boston Properties on the overall project, but said in a statement that the spaces will meet the needs “of today and into future.”

“I am thrilled to work on these updates, which respect the spirit and vision of the original designs while enhancing access, activating the spaces, and providing years of enjoyment and to come.” Ward said.

Per Boston Properties, the enhancements will include:

The Pavilion

  • Two fire pits in front of the Pavilion adjacent to Market Street will add to the holiday and cooler months’ experience
  • Large fans will help cool the space during warmer months for both formal and informal gatherings
  • An expansion through the service street adjacent to the Hyatt will create more flexibility and space for programming, events, and daily activations
  • A wooden deck that will serve as a seating area and a stage for smaller events and performances
  • Additional seating areas in the artificial turf area during warm months

Other

  • The fountain: Renovation of the lower base area, with new tiling, expanded seating, and tiered landscaping, and replacement of the entire outdated mechanical system. The original design of the upper base and Mercury statue will remain unchanged.
  • New trees and plantings to replace aged greenery and damaged root systems
  • Expansion of outdoor seating, including stadium-style structures and traditional tables and chairs

The town center’s ice rink will operate from November through March, but some events will be relocated or rescheduled during construction. Some areas might be temporarily unavailable, according to Boston Properties spokesperson Sapna Yathiraj.

“We are working with our event partners to providing alternate locations in 22 for our annual events, which will provide the dynamic, community focused atmphosphere RTC is known for even while some areas are temporarily unavailable.” Yathiraj wrote in a statement.

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