Fairfax County Proposes Transit Oriented Development for Reston

November 12, 2013

News Highlights

  • Proposed land use plan brings mixed use development to areas within a half mile of the three future Silver Line Metro stations in Reston: Wiehle-Reston East, Reston Town Center and Herndon.
  • Residential development significantly increased by 131 percent compared to the existing land use plan for these areas in Reston.
  • Planning Commision to consider proposed changes on Nov. 13, and the Board of Supervisors expected to hold a public hearing in December.


Like Tysons in the future, Reston may become more urban, walkable and bike friendly in the areas closest to the Silver Line Metro stations.

Fairfax County is proposing transit-oriented development for the areas within a half mile from the three stations, although nowhere near at the same scale as Tysons. The plan calls for 14.02 million more square feet in total development—a modest 25 percent increase over currently planned levels.

However, it dramatically increases future residential development while reducing non-residential building compared to what’s planned today. Commercial and retail space is decreased by 12 percent while residential development jumps from 14.1 to almost 33.5 million square feet—a 131 percent increase.

Over the next 40 years, this new development would be centered around the Wiehle-Reston East, Reston Town Center and Herndon stations.

Significantly, the proposal calls for a shift from suburban office parks to mixed used development, and it envisions more new housing. If approved, the three station areas could be home to a total of 30 million square feet in offices and 28,000 housing units in the future, counting existing, approved and new development.

Offices will be concentrated within a quarter mile from the three Metro stations. This makes them an easy three to six minute walk from the stops. The plan aims for equal amounts of office and residential uses within this quarter mile radius. Housing is planned to make up 75 percent of the development between a quarter and half mile from each rail stop.

Because the three station areas combined already make up the second largest office market in the county, the plan emphasizes residential development. The proposal allows for up to 27,900 new units compared to 14,695 units under the current plan. Housing is critical for successful transit-oriented development. It helps to reduce traffic, and it leads to more active, vibrant neighborhoods, day and night.

This increase in housing cuts the imbalance in the jobs-to-housing ratio in half. Under the proposal, this ratio would be 4.3 jobs to 1 household compared to 8.8 to 1 under today’s plan for the area. Urban planners say that ideal target for TOD areas is 3 to 6 jobs per household.

The three station areas are envisioned to have distinct characters, as well as the neighborhoods surrounding these TOD districts:

  • Wiehle-Reston East: The plans aims to make this station area an education-focused neighborhood with housing that is well-connected to transit by new walkable streets. It could be home to 4 million square feet of office and 3,400 housing units, counting existing, approved or new development. North of the toll road, the area will be anchored by a new “main street,” Reston Station Boulevard. Northern Virginia Community College and Marymount University currently have campuses in the area.

  • Reston Town Center: The area will become Reston’s “downtown” Metro stop, offering lots of shopping and housing. It is planned for 5.5 million square feet in office development and 5,600 housing units in total, counting existing, approved or new development. Urban plazas and a larger park are proposed for festivals, community gathering spots and recreation. This new area will complement the existing development in the Reston Town Center urban core.

  • Herndon: The vision for this station area is a moderate intensity, urban mixed use neighborhood that includes offices, residential, hotels and retail. This area will have the lowest amount of office development—2.1 million square feet, including existing, approved or new projects. The area can include up to 2,000 residential units. Because Sunrise Valley Wetlands Nature Park abuts this station area, the plan also includes trails and walkways to link this existing park to new, semi-urban parks.

These proposed updates to the Reston land use plan were drafted to capitalize on Metro’s Silver Line. It was created by a 40-plus member community task force that met for the past three years. The Fairfax County Planning Commission will consider the update on Nov. 13. It’s then expected that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will take up the land use changes in December.

Since the early 90s, the county’s land use plan called for mixed use development in Reston, anticipating the future rail line. However, Fairfax decided to relook at the area when the Silver Line became a reality.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors authorized the planning study for Reston in 2009. The study focused specifically on the three areas surrounding the Silver Line stations.

Starting next spring, the county will begin a new study looking at areas beyond these stations, including the Village Center, convenience centers and commercial areas north of Baron Cameron adjacent to Reston Town Center. The study will also revise Reston’s land use plan and residential categories to better reflect existing development and align development processes with the existing Countywide Guidelines for Neighborhood Redevelopment.

For more information, visit the Reston Master Plan Web pages.

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