CITIZENS ADVISORY WORK GROUP #1

Guy L. Rando Kathy Kaplan
Reston, Virginia
March 2, 2010 Reston Association Planning and Zoning Fairfax County Planning Commission Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Reston Association Board of Directors James Zook, Director, Department of Planning and Zoning Greetings, The following comments are in follow-up to the P&Z hearing for Comstock Wiehle development proposal Monday night, March 1, 2010. The entire meeting was focused on technical issues of the plan and nothing related to issues of quality of life which should be paramount to construction of a gateway into Reston. Since September 10, 2009, Comstock has refused to make any substantive changes to the station plan. Fewer buildings on the site would give more sunlight to the plaza. Using air rights over Wiehle would open up the area for recreation and open space. Fairfax County has encouraged the use of air rights in the comprehensive plan. The parking could be expanded over Wiehle and that expansion of air rights would produce a foundation for additional buildings, additional parking, and a pedestrian bridge. At the moment the only open space provided in the proposal is inadequate for the people who will live at Comstock Wiehle. Please see Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance, Section 20-300, for a definition of open space. Imagine four corners at that intersection, each one with a Comstock Hong Kong Wall West built at 2.5 FAR, each one with its plaza in deep shadow. Under the current comprehensive plan, each property owner is allowed to build at the same specifications as Comstock. It will be planning and urban design at its worst. Traffic in the area will come to a complete stop from gridlock. There is plenty of time to do a master plan 1/2 mile around the station area that includes all the sites. (Please see illustration on pages 3 and 4). Since the buildings will not be built for some time, we should have a commitment from Comstock for Gold LEED standard to prepare for the future when all buildings will be constructed as Gold LEED standard. The Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force is meeting right now. The above ground section of this proposal needs to be tabled until the task force decides on new building height limits for the RCIG that would allow a more reasonable placement of buildings on the site.

The only reason given by Comstock for not changing the configurations of buildings at the station is the cost of changing the footings in the parking garage. Fairfax County should add additional money to the transportation bond to allow for re-engineered footings. It would give more flexibility to the project. For instance, alternative footings could allow one 34-story building instead of two 17-story buildings, creating more open space, air and sunlight. In the modern era engineers can reconfigure engineering specifications for footings over the course of a weekend since they no longer use slide rules. We want the county to approve more funding for expanded footings if it will allow a healthier result for the people who will live, work and visit the Metro station at Wiehle. The county approved an additional amount of $20 million January 12, 2010. They can approve more. With regard to the comparison of the Comstock Wiehle station plaza to the plaza at Fountain Square, the overlay illustrations are disingenuous. The views presented do not characterize the overpowering effect of the tall buildings in the small restrictive space. Indeed, in the illustrations the tallest buildings are presented dissolving into clouds to obscure their size. There are no buildings along Market Street to simulate those at the Comstock Wiehle plaza. A more appropriate comparison would be with Lake Anne Plaza with two lanes of circulating traffic and 17 and 19-story buildings towering far above. Comstock has said it will try to attract world-class retail to the plaza, such as Gucci. This plaza will be so drab and unhealthy we doubt they could drag in a kiosk with WalMart costume jewelry to the site. Comstock should provide an example of a successful pedestrian plaza in deep shade that includes the presence of a world-class retailer such as Gucci. With regard to Terry Maynard’s suggestion that the drop off for residential, office, hotel and metro be moved below ground as in an upscale 1,000 room hotel in Atlanta, a wonderful underground entryway could provide an ever changing art gallery. To design an urban space as unhealthy as the one that Comstock proposes when they have a completely blank site to work with is immoral. Guy L. Rando Urban Designer and Landscape Architect 1512 Inlet Court Reston, VA 20190 (703) 437-3456 RandoForLakeAnne@aol.com Kathy Kaplan Poet and Naturalist 11223 Leatherwood Drive Reston, VA 20191 (703) 476-0516 kwkaplan@aol.com ADDENDUM TO 3/2/10 LETTER: 2

Alternate layout of Wiehle Station area showing the same level of density with more open space, more sunlight and more air. The high-rise building on the south side of the plaza has been replaced with a low-rise building allowing light into the plaza. Air rights are utilized over Wiehle Avenue and the station road to produce pedestrian connectivity from surrounding areas to the station area.

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Section layout showing potential for four corners at Wiehle Station with FAR of 2.5 permitted under the current comprehensive plan.

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