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by Kali Schumitz

Staff Writer

The five-story Reston Town Center Office Building that has adorned the corner of Reston Parkway and Bowman Towne Drive since 1979 soon might be replaced with a 23-story office building.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors signed off on the plan Tuesday, despite concerns from some Reston residents and county staff.

When it was rezoned in 1978, the property was not subject to any building height limits. It then was left out of subsequent rezonings of the Reston Town Center area that imposed height limits.

County staff recommended that the board reject the development because the proposed building would be significantly taller than anything else nearby. Two adjacent properties, now developed with low-rise buildings, also are slated for redevelopment, but with no building taller than 14 stories.

Some Reston residents also expressed concern about the traffic that will be generated by the new building, which is planned to have a 1,000-plus space parking garage and is located more than a mile from the planned Reston Town Center Metrorail station.

“It is the right building for Reston, it is just at the wrong location,” said Ken Knueven, president of the Reston Association Board of Directors.

Andrew Painter, the representative for developer RTC Partnership, said it only would be about a 14-minute walk to the future Metro station, and about a nine-minute walk to the Reston Town Center transit station, a major bus hub. In addition, the building would offer amenities like showers and lockers for cyclists and shuttle service to Reston Town Center.

Other longtime Restonians said during a public hearing that the building is a good fit for Reston Town Center, and both opponents and supporters praised its distinctive architectural design.

Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) ultimately sided with those who believe the planned community of Reston’s original design, including the pathways that tie the community together, will be sufficient to tie the building into the community and avoid major traffic issues.

“There are many places that exist today without rail but with great walkability and transit service,” she said.

Supervisor Linda Smyth (D-Providence), who ultimately abstained from the vote, said she does believe the concerns about the intensity of the new building are valid, and that it runs counter to what the county is doing in Tysons Corner and other areas — putting the largest buildings closest to Metro stations.