RESTON, VA — Executives representing five Northern Virginia construction and development companies offered suggestions to Fairfax County leaders on how to improve the development process. The suggestions came during a panel discussion about Reston and Herndon’s residential, office and retail markets that took place Thursday morning in Reston Station.

The panel was part of a Bisnow-sponsored event looking at the future of development in Reston and Herndon. Comstock Holding Companies hosted the event on the 12th floor of the first building that will be delivered as part of Reston Station’s second phase.

“The Dulles corridor is one of the key gateways to the Washington, D.C. Reston and Herndon cannot rest on their laurels and just on their geographic proximity,” said panel moderator Andrew Painter, a shareholder at Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh.

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Wrapping up the discussion, Painter asked the five business leaders on the panel for suggestions they would make to Fairfax County leaders about how they could improve the development process, while making sure “we don’t kill the golden goose?”

Tim Steffan, Chief Operating Officer, Comstock

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“I think they should be open-minded as it relates to revenue sources, given the tremendous hit they’re taking in the commercial office space. The tax base has decreased. How can we make up for that? Right now, you need to think about how you can do that. If they don’t come up with alternative revenue sources outside of doubling the taxes on our houses, the golden goose is going to be in trouble.”

Juan Manuel Segura, Director of Innovation, Securiport

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“We needed their help with our transition here to Reston, so I sought that kind of leadership on that front. Just making sure that everything that they do does support companies like ourselves, who come into the area and take advantage of all of the amenities that are being developed, but also have access to Dulles and Reston.”

Stephen Wilson, President, SCG Development

“Maybe a more collaborative approach to parking, particularly in these high density locations, right? Any developer is trying to at least provide enough parking that will match with the market. However, in 20 years, those ratios are going to change, right? So it suggests to me to create a garage that can be torn down and converted into an alternative use, rather than having every site on its own support enough parking today.

“We get pressure from county staff, on the one hand, to reduce parking beyond what the market really needs. On the other hand, zoning is kind of conflicting with that message, because we’re consistently, just in our world, we’re overdelivering on parking demand. So I’m thinking more of a collaborative county-sponsored approach to that.”

Ken Houle, Vice President, TF Cornerstone

“It’s always easy to dump on the government, but I actually think Fairfax is a really, really well-run county. The professional staff, I was really impressed with them throughout the process. The one thing that would be helpful for everyone is to speed up the process. I don’t know how much they can do to speed it up, but speeding it up would help us a lot.”

Aakash Thakkar, Chief Acquisitions Officer, EYA

“It’s fair to say there’s a housing, maybe not affordable housing, but an affordability building crisis. We’re bringing all these great jobs to Reston-Herndon. I think there’s a need for much more housing, much more quickly to keep costs down and a range of housing for what folks need. … Let’s work together. Let’s get the right types of projects that have the vision that county leaders are looking for, and let’s move it as quickly as possible through the process so we can get them up, built and do it all over again.”

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