Comstock Companies, a real estate developer based in Reston, Virginia, has announced its intention to build a casino near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, according to several local officials. The project would require a change in the state law and a referendum by Fairfax County voters.
A Casino on the Silver Line
The idea of a casino being built along the Silver Line, a Metro rail extension that connects Washington, D.C. with Loudoun County, Virginia, emerged earlier this year when two bills were introduced in the Virginia General Assembly by Sen. David Marsden (D-Burke) and Del. Wren Williams (R-Stuart). The bills would allow for casinos to be built in host cities with a population of at least 1 million and a county executive form of government, which only applies to Fairfax County in the state.
The bills also specified that the casino would have to be within a quarter of a mile of an existing station on the Silver Line, part of a coordinated mixed-use project development, outside the Dulles airport flight path, and outside the Interstate 495 Beltway. These criteria narrowed down the possible locations to seven stations: Tysons, Greensboro, Spring Hill, Wiehle-Reston East, Reston Town Center, Herndon, and Innovation Center.
Although the bills were both withdrawn, Marsden said he would likely reintroduce the bill if he is re-elected to the Virginia Senate in November. He said he thinks the county is interested in exploring the possibility of a casino, which could generate tax revenue and create jobs.
Comstock’s Vision for Reston Station
Comstock Companies is the developer behind Reston Station, a mixed-use project that includes office buildings, residential units, retail spaces, and a hotel near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station. The company also owns several properties adjacent to the station, which could be potential sites for a casino.
Patch reached out to Comstock several times by phone and email requesting an interview with CEO Chris Clemente or a statement about their plans for Reston Station and a possible casino. As of Monday afternoon, no response had been received.
However, several local officials confirmed that Comstock was planning to build a casino at or near Reston Station. Among them were Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, who represents Reston on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors; Reston Association President Julie Bitzer; and Reston Community Center Executive Director Leila Gordon.
Alcorn said he was not in favor of a casino in Reston and that he had not seen any details from Comstock about their proposal. He said he was concerned about the potential impacts on traffic, public safety, and quality of life. He also said he doubted that Fairfax County voters would approve a casino referendum.
Bitzer said she was also opposed to a casino in Reston and that she had not heard from Comstock either. She said she was worried about how a casino would affect Reston’s character and values. She said she hoped that Comstock would engage with the community and listen to their feedback.
Gordon said she was aware of Comstock’s plan but that she had not been contacted by them. She said she was neutral on the issue of a casino in Reston and that she wanted to see more information and analysis before forming an opinion. She said she was interested in how a casino would benefit or harm Reston’s cultural and recreational offerings.
A Long and Uncertain Process
Before a casino could be built in Reston, several hurdles would have to be cleared. First, the Virginia General Assembly would have to pass a bill that would allow for casinos in Fairfax County and specify the criteria for the location. Then, Gov. Glenn Youngkin would have to sign the bill into law. Next, Fairfax County would have to meet all the requirements set by the state law and conduct a study on the impacts of a casino. Finally, a referendum would have to be added to a ballot for an upcoming election, giving all Fairfax County voters the chance to decide whether to allow a casino or not.
The process could take years and face many challenges along the way. Some of them could come from other stakeholders in the region, such as neighboring jurisdictions, competing developers, or anti-gambling groups. Others could come from within Reston itself, where many residents and community leaders have expressed their opposition or skepticism about a casino.
Comstock’s plan to build a casino near Reston Station is still in its early stages and may never come to fruition. But it has sparked a debate about the future of Reston and its relationship with gambling.