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Sunrise at Reston National Golf Course (photo by Terry Baranski)

Developers are seeking permission to redevelop Reston’s two golf courses through a process where Fairfax County considers land use changes to its comprehensive plan.

The county is currently considering dozens of nominations throughout the county for the Site-Specific Plan Amendment process, including the redevelopment of Reston National Golf Course and Hidden Creek Country Club.

Currently, the county’s comprehensive plan states that both areas are planned for private recreation uses — more specifically as golf courses. For years, community organizations like Rescue Reston have vehemently opposed the redevelopment of both golf courses.

Reston National

Weller Development and War Horse Cities, the owners of Reston National, want to convert the “obsolescent golf course” into a 100-acre open space conservancy with an 8-acre linear park and a “mixed-use village.” The concept is not new and was initially floated several years ago.

The application says the development team could pursue a more intense development plan with more residential development, given its “substantial, longstanding zoning rights.”

“Repurposing the property to provide much needed community amenities, a range of housing and shopping opportunities, and permanent useable open space with covenants, so as to preserve that open space in perpetuity, better utilizes one of Reston’s premier assets,” the application says.

But the prospect has previously drawn backlash from community groups. Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn also publicly stated that he would not support redevelopment, unless there is existing community support.

The owners say the golf course is the “very definition of underutilization,” averaging 95 people per day on an annual basis across its 168 acres.

“To remain a dedicated ‘golf course’ is counter to the vision set out by Robert E. Simon in his founding principles, as his was a uniquely inclusionary vision,” the application argues. “Far worse, this serves to delay or potentially forfeit a timely opportunity to accomplish key goals set out by Fairfax County leadership.”

The application proposes converting the golf course into a “village” with new houses and retail and permanent open space dubbed the Conservancy, joined by a linear park that could have nurseries for native plants, vegetable gardens, and pollinators.

The Conservancy is described as a “generational opportunity” to create publicly accessible open space with restored meadows, a performance pavilion, other pavilions, seating areas, community gardens, a dog park, waterfront pier, and new trees.

“Reston National Golf Course has been the focus of intense debate within the community going back more than a decade,” Steve Siegel, a partner at Weller Development, wrote in the application. “While this Owner respects and understands the perspective of Reston National’s immediate neighbors, we contend that, as wonderful as the game of golf is for the few who actually play it, a private pay-to-play golf course is the wrong use for this site in 2022 and moving forward.”

Hidden Creek

Wheelock Communities, the owner of Hidden Creek Country Club, also contend that the golf course “no longer contributes appropriate to the live, work and play principles on which Reston was based,” adding that the country club has roughly 500 members.

The application notes that a significant number of the club’s membership lives outside of Reston.

“The reality, therefore, is that the combination of weakening economics and competing country club and golf course options, together with ongoing and significant need for capital reinvestment not supported by current revenue, means the Country Club’s future in its current form is shaky, at best,” wrote Mark Cooley, a land use lawyer representing Wheelock.

Instead, the developer pitches turning roughly 100 acres of the property into recreational open space and adding residential units, which could include a range of housing types at several price points to address the “missing middle” of affordable housing.

In July, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors tweaked the SSPA process by allowing more frequent opportunities for nominations, new submission criteria with more information, and enhanced community engagement.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is expected to decide which nominations will move forward — and which ones will be killed — at a meeting on Dec. 6.

The first SSPA cycle kicked off in 2017 for the North County area followed by a second cycle in 2019 for the South County area.

In October, the county accepted nominations for all nine supervisor districts in the current SSPA cycle.

A complete list of other SSPA nominations for the Hunter Mill District is available online.

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Puttshack has signed a lease with Reston Station (via Puttshack)

A new kind of tech-inspired mini-golf experience is coming soon to Comstock’s Reston Station.

Puttshack, which describes itself as an upscale and tech-infused experience with global food and drink signed a lease at 1850 Reston Row Plaza. The 29,000-square-foot lease is part of phase two of Reston Station’s development.

“With Reston Station’s line-up of emerging and established tech companies on site, the transit-oriented neighborhood was an immediate draw for our tech-driven mini golf concept,” Puttshack President Dave Diamond wrote in a statement. “Puttshack will become a must-visit destination for a one-of-a-kind experience encompassing mini golf, exceptional dining, and lively entertainment.”

Here’s more from Comstock on the lease:

Puttshack Reston will be a major entertainment destination for D.C. metro area residents and visitors alike. The more than 29,000 square-foot space will feature four highly competitive, tech-driven nine-hole mini golf courses powered by the brand’s leading patented Trackaball™ technology, which elevates the game experience by keeping track of your score for you as you play. Additionally, a new game component currently in the final stages of development will be featured in the space.

The game play is matched by an innovative, globally inspired dining menu and signature hand-crafted cocktails, as well as world-class hospitality with a high-energy, upscale vibe. The new play-filled, immersive indoor space will feature multiple bars in addition to private event spaces for exclusive parties and business outings.

The company has two locations in the country. Additional locations in Boston and Miami are opening later this month. Sites in Dallas, Denver, Houston, Nashville, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Scottsdale, St. Louis, and a second location in Atlanta are all anticipated to open next year.

Puttshack will open at Reston Station in 2025.

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Sunrise at Reston National Golf Course (photo by Terry Baranski)

A study group financed by the owners of Reston National Golf Course — which has been the focus of a community quest to oppose redevelopment — is charting a new path forward for the golf course.

Weller Development Co. and War Horse Cities, the golf course’s owners, hired New City Enterprises to launch the study group more than a year ago in order to assess the current and future conditions of the golf course area.

The group’s work paints a stark picture of two Restons — North and South — the latter of which the group concludes strays from founder Bob Simon’s dreams for the planned community.

After meeting with residents and surveying available community resources, amenities and environmental conditions, the group concluded that the neighborhood surrounding the golf course and most of South Reston needs economic revitalization.

Greg Hamm, managing partner of New City Enterprises, headed the group, which included neighborhood participation and launched in May of last year.

“We kept in mind that Bob Simon was a developer, and the community came out of the idea that working together genuinely works best. So, we thought this small group, open air format offered the best way to create a comfortable environment, especially following the lockdowns,” Hamm wrote to FFXnow. “We engaged all the immediately adjacent neighbors, as well as the larger Reston community and had very good, civil discussions.”

The group identified a three-pronged approach for the future of the golf course and the area, calling for redevelopment of a portion of the golf course into a public open space for Reston.

The group describes the proposal as a “conservancy” that would be fully funded and governed locally. It also suggested new services, amenities, and housing near the existing infrastructure, along with vegetation, architecture, landscaping and views to create what could be called a “conservancy district.”

In a recent Patch opinion piece, Hamm described South Reston as an “amenity desert” compared to other areas in Reston, which are expanding and leaving legacy neighborhoods behind as phase two of the Silver Line aims to launch this year.

The group also said walkability in the area is below average, demanding the need for permanent and public open space.

With the work of the study group now complete, the next step is for the golf course’s owners to identify a plan going forward.

“With the completion of the Silver Line later this year, everyone should honestly gauge the costs of keeping ‘transit-oriented golf’ against its benefits, and then make the comparisons with the proposed alternatives,” Hamm said. “Then the ownership of Reston National, the county and community can begin the appropriate public process.”

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn has repeatedly stated that he would oppose redeveloping the golf course unless there was overwhelming support from the community.

Hamm says his group has worked with Alcorn’s office to share their findings along the way. That process comes as Alcorn’s workgroup completes its formal review of changes to Reston’s comprehensive plan, which currently states that Reston is a two-golf-course community.

Rescue Reston, a group formed in 2012 to protect Reston’s two golf courses and open spaces, has vehemently opposed any redevelopment of the golf course.

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A new kind of golfing experience is coming soon to Reston Town Center (via CitySwing)

CitySwing, a golf facility designed for people of all skill levels, plans to open at Reston Town Center in the first quarter of next year.

The facility at 11897 Market Street will be the company’s second, joining a site in D.C.

Founder Tari Cash tells FFXnow that the company is excited to bring its unique golfing experience to the town center.

“Expanding our audience beyond DC allows us to include the corporate workforce, retail shoppers, conference-goers, and the fantastic golf community in Northern VA,” Cash said. “Our location, which opens onto the Pavilion, will give us the opportunity to be in the center of the vibrant RTC community.”

Cash founded the business in 2018 in order to address the lack of inclusion in the golf industry.

Here’s more from Cash:

My vision quickly expanded to build a company that addressed the lack of inclusion in the golf industry, when I learned that 4 black women had the police called on them for “playing too slow.” The personal growth and professional opportunities attributed to playing golf makes it much bigger than “just a game or activity”. It can be a pathway forward to change the trajectory of someone’s future. My intention for CitySwing is to create a safe space for people from disparate backgrounds to find common ground, and right now I believe we need this more than ever.

Patrons can rent simulators, with 30 minutes costing $45 and one hour costing $80 on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. After 5 p.m. on weekdays and on the weekend, prices rise to $60 for a half hour and $110 for one hour. Each studio accommodates up to six people.

Photo via CitySwing

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