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Future of Higher Density

Officials describe future plans for Reston's commercial and residential life.

The next decade in Reston will be marked by higher density commercial and residential real estate development, along with a slew of major redevelopment projects throughout town, a top Reston commercial real estate executive said last week in a presentation to local business leaders.

With the projects underway or being planned now, nearly four million additional square feet of office will be built in Reston, as will at least six new high-end, high-rise condominium buildings, said Joe Ritchey, founder of the commercial real estate firm Prospective Inc.

And by 2015, he said, Reston will be home to more than 19 million square feet of office space and a population that will probably exceed 65,000, an increase of 4,000 residents. Today, Reston has a total of 14.9 million square feet of commercial office space.

"Reston is truly going nowhere but up from where it is today," he said, speaking at a Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday.

Reston developer Jim Cleveland also spoke at the luncheon, saying Reston is poised to grow to unimaginable heights.

"It's a pretty exciting time in Reston right now," he said.

MUCH OF THE NEW development and redevelopment will be centered along the Dulles Toll Road and around the planned Wiehle Avenue Metro stop, slated to open in Reston by 2009.

Among the highlights of Reston projects planned for the next few years are:

* The redevelopment of Isaac Newton Square, Reston's first business park. The two northern buildings would be torn down and replaced with two new office buildings, totaling 260,000 square feet. The center building, currently home to Reston Association, would also be demolished and replaced with an 80,000-square-foot office complex.

* A plan to revitalize Lake Anne Village Center by possibly increasing high-density residential development and using tax, zoning and technical incentives to encourage new commercial development.

* Development of the second phase of the Reston International Center by the Mark Winkler Co. The project would add almost 200,000 square feet of commercial office space just off the Dulles Corridor.

* The conversion of the historic Prison Fellowship Ministries house near Reston Town Center into a restaurant and inn, along with the conversion of 50,000 square feet of existing office space into 25 high-end condominiums.

* The possible construction of a 175-room Marriott hotel near the planned Wiehle Avenue Metro stop, along with 175,000 square feet of additional office space.

* Development of KSI's Midtown luxury condominium buildings at Reston Town Center, designed by accomplished architect Robert Stern and consisting of a total 1,019 units.

ALONG WITH THE NEW commercial and residential development in store for Reston over the next 10 years, residential real estate prices are also expected to rise steadily.

In 1993, a Reston Town Center condominium cost approximately $120 per square foot. In 2008, new condominiums at Reston Town Center are projected to cost upwards of $600 per square foot.

And as areas around Reston continue to grow at an impressive clip — Loudoun County is the fastest growing in the nation — Reston is expected to increasingly become a draw for residents and businesses, thanks to its proximity to Dulles Airport and Washington, D.C.

"Reston is truly becoming the center of the future," Ritchey said.

But the higher residential prices and the potential redevelopment of older housing complexes could impact the availability of affordable housing in Reston, pushing low-income residents out of town.

"Affordable housing will always be a major theme in Reston," Ritchey said. "But the problem is that it's tough to sell high-end condominiums with subsidized housing next door."

PATTI NICOSON, president of the Dulles Corridor Rail Association, said at the luncheon that she was troubled to learn that the area around the planned Wiehle Avenue Metro station does not include much mixed-use development.

"I was a little disappointed looking into the future," she said.

But Ritchey pointed out that the covenants that govern design in that area prohibit residential development. A movement is underway to remove the restrictions, though a push to gather enough property owner votes appears to have stalled.

"The big question right now is getting those RCIG covenants removed," he said.