How 1 new Silver Line stop could spark development in 2 counties

The new Innovation Center Station straddles Fairfax and Loudoun counties, and there is already a variety of new development nearby.
The new Innovation Center Station straddles Fairfax and Loudoun counties, and there is already a variety of new development nearby. (Courtesy Northern Virginia Transportation Authority)

Some local residents might not know the location of one particular stop along the new Silver Line extension — Innovation Station.

But if someone mentioned “that oddly shaped, dark-colored glass building you see from the Dulles Toll Road,” that would solve the mystery.

“If you’ve seen the CIT building, you know exactly the area where we’re talking about, because that is better known now as the Innovation Station area,” said Jeff McKay, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

The Center for Innovative Technology property — including the 149,000-square-foot office building — straddles Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

“The Innovation Station area is a Reston Town Center Part Two, come to life,” said McKay — at least, it could be.

While the Reston Town Center has had a decades-long head start in mixed-use development, and “is thriving and successful by all measures,” with housing, offices, retail, restaurants and amenities, McKay said the opening of the Silver Line will likely spark more growth for Innovation Station.

There are 2,000-plus parking spaces, bike racks and bike lockers for station visitors, McKay said, and charging stations that are all part of the garage itself.

There are hundreds of affordable housing units as well.

“There are apartment, condo and townhome units that are walkable to the station,” McKay said. “The retail is coming to life in that area. There’s restaurants. There’s stores.”

The train station is technically in Herndon, in Fairfax County. “This station is right on the border of Loudoun and Fairfax and there’s development opportunity all around it,” said McKay.

Last month, Loudoun County Supervisor Matt Letourneau said plans are advancing for the Rivana at Innovation Station project.

“It’s interesting, because this is the campus we pitched to Amazon for HQ2, with a joint Loudoun and Fairfax effort,” said Letourneau. “This would be our largest project in our history.”

What’s different about Innovation Station

McKay said the Loudoun County and Fairfax County development plans “are speaking the same language in terms of ensuring that this is not just a station that people drive to and park, but that we’re creating an entire mixed-use neighborhood.”

McKay is also a board member of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, which provided $69 million in funding for the Innovation Station project.

“It checks a lot of boxes that NVTA is interested in,” said McKay — “obviously, multimodal transportation, getting single-occupancy vehicles off of congested roadways, helping people spend less time in traffic.”

Given Innovation Station’s proximity to the airport and to the new Reston Town Center and Herndon stations, “The station supports not just the rail, but also significant bus connections, bike and pedestrian connections, so obviously it’s checking a lot of boxes, and one of the reasons it received so much NVTA money,” McKay said.

NVTA contributed $188 million to Silver Line Phase Two projects as part of its goal of funding long-term projects that benefit the region.

McKay and Letourneau agree the Innovation Station project is a prime example of transit-based development, in which counties can work together for a shared goal.

“Most people couldn’t care less if they’re in Loudoun or Fairfax, so this particular station, we want to make sure it’s planned in a way that’s seamless — we have to make sure that it succeeds.”

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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