Jul 30, 2014

Will 'Real' Rail Stop in Loudoun?

Reston Chamber's "Virtual" Tour shows rail to Dulles, but the actual Silver Line is in danger of getting off track.

Will 'Real' Rail Stop in Loudoun? Will 'Real' Rail Stop in Loudoun?

Loudoun County Supervisors Chairman Scott York says he has spent "the better part of 20 years" on bringing rail to Dulles.

But with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell wavering on the commonwealth's contribution and the York says "we are down to the final minutes."

York was at Tuesday's Virtual Rail-ty Tour presented by the. The event, at the gave chamber members and other business leaders a look at how Metro's Silver Line will impact Dulles Corridor development.

And while the hosts conducted a "virtual tour" of the Silver Line from Tysons to Loudoun County, there is real fear that costs may doom Phase 2, which will run from Reston's Wiehle Avenue into Loudoun.

Loudoun Supervisors have until to July to decide whether they are going to continue to support the project. The board is slated to contribute $260 million. Fairfax County Supervisors reiterated their support last week.

Unlike Phase 1, the $5.6-billion Phase 2 has no federal money. Virginia has pledged $275 million. McDonnell (R) recently said Virginia would give another $150 million. He initially said he would offer another $300 million, but has wavered since realizing that other Virginia transportation projects may suffer.

"This is the great debate going on at the state level in the Commonwealth of Virginia," York said. "Quite frankly, I think the commonwealth should put $1 billion into this project."

Without additional money from Virginia, a large part of the cost may be borne by Dulles Toll Road users. 

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said yesterday that public-private partnerships—like the one at Reston's Wiehle Station, where Comstock and the county are teaming up to build a 2,300-space parking garage—are the key to getting the rail project completed.

"Rail is an economic asset to the region, the commonwealth, the corridor and the county," she said. "I believe the vision and commitment is still there, even if it is a struggle."

Gerald Gordon, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, said having rail service is essential to the growth and continued economic outlook of Western Fairfax County.

Tysons and Dulles/Reston/Herndon are in the top 20 in office space and ability to grow," he said. "Tech workers want to live where other young people live, but they want to work in Tysons and Reston. The ability to attract that work force is critical."

Gordon also said the fact Dulles International Airport and Washington, D.C., are not connected by rail service has been a challenge as Washington tries to compete as a "major league city."

"You need major league assets," he said. "You need to get rail to the airport and beyond."

Several commercial real estate and development firms gave an overview Tuesday of projects planned in conjunction with the debut of Silver Line Phase 1—which will run from Tysons Corner to Reston's Wiehle Avenue beginning late 2013. They said there will likely be a development boom in residential, rather than office space.

• JBG office buildings Summit I and II  (288,000 square feet of office space) at Sunrise Valley Drive and Edmund Halley Drive, will undergo a $15 million renovation.

• An application to develop a parcel adjacent to Reston Station (where the is now located) is currently under review, said Mark Looney, land use attorney with

The proposed mixed-use development near the Wiehle Station (and the planned 1.5 million-square-foot, mixed-use development at Reston Station) will have 175,000 square feet of office space, as well as retail and residential.

• Reston Station will soon break ground on its luxury rental residences, to be called The BLVD.  

• Boston Properties is at work on Block 16 (also called "The Avant at Reston Town Center"), a 15-story, 359-unit residential building (with 27,000 square feet of retail) at Reston Town Center (across the park from Vapianos). The project is expected to be completed next year and will feature a rooftop pool and dog area.

Boston Properties also has plans for Reston Gateway, a 22-acre site between the Reston Town Center and the Reston Parkway (Phase 2) Metro station.

"We anticipate a very vibrant, mixed-use development," said Pete Otteni, Boston Properties' vice president of development, "We are not necessarily recreating the Town Center, but connecting Reston Town Center to the Metro."

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