Reston, VA

Before we head off into another weekend with COVID-19 abound, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now in recent days.

  1. Skip the Tidal Basin and check out Fairfax County’s cherry blossoms
  2. Fairfax County vaccine rollout moves to “Phase 1c” as COVID-19 cases stay level
  3. Giant offers COVID-19 vaccines at eight local pharmacies in partnership with county
  4. Fairfax County opens COVID-19 vaccine appointments to all “Phase 1b” groups
  5. 11 student athletes test positive for COVID-19 at South Lakes High

If you have ideas on stories we should cover, email us at [email protected] or submit an anonymous tip.

Feel free to discuss these topics, your socially distanced weekend plans, or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below.

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A new look is being considered for a Herndon Parkway development that has been in the works for more than half a decade.

The Herndon Town Council heard proposals from Penzance Properties to alter the development plan for 555 Herndon Parkway on Tuesday (April 6). Plans for the property have been years in the making after being first submitted in 2015.

Herndon Director of Community Development Lisa Gilleran told the council that Penzance met with town staff “several weeks ago…to discuss the possibility of changing the approved development plan for the property.”

“These changes would require a revision plan to the development plan be filed. That would require public hearing,” Gilleran said.

Approved on April 4, 2019, the current development plan for the site encompasses three buildings: two that have been planned as residential with ground floor retail, and a third planned as an office building. An entry court open space and driveway have also been approved.

The existing plan caps the development’s density at 475,000 square feet for residential uses split between a 12-story low-rise building and a 23-story tower. It allows a maximum of 8,000 square feet of retail and 325,000 square feet of office space in a 24-story building.

The minimum density range is 275,000 square feet for residential, 200,000 square feet for office, and 8,000 square feet for retail. The low-rise residential building must be at least six stories tall, while the tower must be at least 10 stories. The office building has a minimum height of 12 stories.

Penzance’s proposal to the council on Tuesday suggests reducing the height of the tower to be similar to the low-rise residential building.

“Really, what this means is you would be going from a concrete and steel structure down to a wood construction over concrete podium, similar to what’s allowed for [the lower residential building],” Gilleran said.

However, it could result in a potential 10% increase in the number of residential units due to “a rearrangement of the footprint,” according to Gilleran. That would give the development around 500 available units.

Additional changes proposed by Penzance include a rearrangement of the buildings and open space, though the office space would still be planned to meet or exceed the approved minimum.

No changes to the proffers have been proposed.

“I will say, this is really being driven in large part by market forces and some of the issues that the market is posing at this time when it comes to high-rise construction,” Gilleran said.

She stated that the cost of steel and concrete is “one of the driving forces” behind the proposal, but when questioned by Councilmember Signe Friedrichs about a potential change in quality, Gilleran responded that Penzance’s intent is not “to come in with, in some way, a cheaper, less quality product.”

Gilleran could not speak to whether the expanded footprint of the buildings under the proposal would result in less green space.

The council collectively signaled it would hear out the proposals as more details of the development plan are introduced in the future.

Town Manager Bill Ashton also clarified for the council that Penzance has “been made aware” of the council’s desire to create additional workforce housing going forward.

Image via Town of Herndon

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If you’re in the market to buy a house, you’ve got options.

According to Homesnap, there are 140 homes currently for sale in Reston — 90 condos, 20 detached homes and 30 townhomes. Additionally, as of April 4, there have been 67 new listings in the past four weeks and 123 sales.

This weekend, you’ll find a number of open houses across Reston, including:

1308 Stamford Way
6 BD/4.5 BA single-family home
Listed: $1,350,000
Open: Saturday, 12-3 p.m.

11935 Riders Lane
5 BD/4.5 BA single-family home
Listed: $969,900
Open: Sunday, 1-3 p.m.

11234 Hunting Horn Lane
4 BD/2.5 BA single-family home
Listed: $649,000
Open: Saturday, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

11706 Great Owl Circle
3 BD/3.5 BA townhome
Listed: $595,000
Open: Sunday, 1-3 p.m.

1594 Poplar Grove Drive
2 BD/1.5 BA townhome
Listed: $410,000
Open: Sunday, 1-4 p.m.

Photo via James Lee on Unsplash

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It is farmers market season, and Fairfax County has a plethora of options for anyone looking to pick up some fresh fruit and vegetables.

The county operates 10 markets under the Fairfax County Park Authority, but there are also many privately-owned markets, many of which are open year-round.

The county-run markets, however, are strictly seasonal. While they closed for a period of time last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, four of them eventually re-opened.

This weekend, the first of those markets will put out its produce for the 2021 season:

  • Burke: VRE parking lot (5671 Roberts Parkway), Saturdays 8 a.m. to noon, starting April 1
  • McCutcheon/Mount Vernon: Sherwood Regional Library (2501 Sherwood Hall Lane), Wednesdays 8 a.m. to noon, starting April 21
  • Old Town Herndon (700 Lynn St.): Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., starting April 22
  • Reston: Lake Anne Village Center (1609-A Washington Plaza), Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon, starting May 1
  • Oak Marr RECenter (3200 Jermantown Rd.): Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to noon, starting May 5
  • Wakefield Park (8100 Braddock Rd.): Wednesdays from 2-6 p.m., starting May 5
  • Annandale: Mason District Park (6621 Columbia Pike), Thursdays from 8 a.m. to noon, starting May 6
  • McLean: Lewinsville Park (1659 Chain Bridge Road), Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon, starting May 7
  • Kingstowne Towne Center (5870 Kingstowne Towne Center): Fridays from 3-7 p.m., starting May 7

The county-run markets all run through at least late October, with several continuing into December.

What makes these markets unique is that they’re strictly producer-only, meaning vendors can only sell what they’ve raised, grown, or made on their own farms. All farmers and producers also come from within a 125-mile radius of Fairfax County.

Because of the ongoing pandemic, the county has enacted strict safety protocols.

Visitors can browse markets in “pods” of up to four people, but only one customer can approach a stall at a time. Vendor sampling has been prohibited, and people are being asked not to “linger.” Online sales are strongly encouraged.

If 10 markets aren’t enough, there are plenty of privately-run farmers markets around the county.

FRESHFARM runs about 30 markets across D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, including five in Fairfax County:

  • Oakton: Unity of Fairfax Church (2854 Hunter Mill Rd.), year-round on Saturdays from 9 a.m to 1 p.m.
  • Mosaic: The Mosaic District (2910 District Ave.), Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., started April 4
  • Reston: St. John Neumann Catholic Church (11900 Lawyers Rd.), Wednesdays from 3-7 p.m., started April 7
  • Springfield: Springfield Town Center (6699 Spring Mall Dr.), Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., starting May 1
  • The Boro: 8301 Greensboro Dr., Thursdays from 3-7 p.m., starting May 6

The NOVA Central Farm market in Vienna is also on Sundays and open year-round, though hours shifted slightly on April 1.

The Reston Farm Garden Market is also open year-round and daily on Baron Cameron Avenue. Its two “neighborhood markets” will open this month:

  • Springfield: Cardinal Forest Plaza (8316 Old Keene Mill Rd.), open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., starting April 15
  • Herndon: Fox Mill Center (2551 John Milton Dr.), open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., starting April 20

If you want to cross county lines, there is also a number of farmers markets in Arlington.

Be it sweet strawberries, appetizing apples, lucious lettuce that you may desire, there are plenty of options in Fairfax County for community members to get their fill of fresh food and support local farmers.

Photo via Sven Scheuermeier/Unsplash

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If Metro’s board of directors adopts the proposed Fiscal Year 2022 approved by its finance and capital committee yesterday (Thursday), the start of service on the second phase of the Silver Line will officially be delayed until next year.

The $4.7 billion operating and capital budget moves the start date for Silver Line Phase 2 from July 1, 2021 — as stated in the FY 2021 operating budget — to January 2022 at the earliest, citing the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority’s expectation that it will be ready to hand over the project to Metro by Labor Day.

The budget also defers an additional $43.1 million subsidy contribution to the project until FY 2023, though $20 million will still be included in FY 2022 “to mitigate Silver Line Phase 2 service equity impacts,” according to the budget summary.

“We are preparing to welcome back customers as part of a return to normalcy, and welcome new customers who have long awaited the convenience of the Silver Line and new stations serving their communities and workplaces,” Metro General Manager and CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld said. “I am especially looking forward to beginning rail service to Dulles Airport as people resume travel to and from the nation’s capital as one of the great destinations in this country.”

Metro and MWAA officials stated as recently as January that construction on the second phase of the Silver Line, which will extend the transit system from Reston into Loudoun County, would be finished this spring, putting it on track to potentially start service in the fall of 2021.

However, the project continues to be plagued by construction issues that need to be resolved before the Metropolitan Washington Area Transit Authority will take over and begin testing.

In addition to delaying funding for the Silver Line, the proposed budget keeps rail and bus service at their current service levels, which are, respectively, at 80 and 85% of their pre-pandemic service levels.

Significant service and personnel cuts that were previously on the table have been averted, thanks to the infusion of $722.9 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds. That includes $193.4 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) enacted by Congress in March.

“The impact of the pandemic on ridership and revenue forced us to consider drastic cuts that would have been necessary absent federal relief funding,” Metro Board Chair Paul Smedberg said. “Thankfully, the American Rescue Plan Act has provided a lifeline for Metro to serve customers and support the region’s economic recovery.”

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn expressed relief that the federal relief funds will save Metro from making the proposed cuts, which could have included the closure of 19 existing rail stations and three unopened ones on the Silver Line.

“While the WMATA board is working to finalize the FY2022 budget, the Silver Line Phase 2 will now open whenever it is ready and because of the federal funds all Metrorail stations will stay open,” Alcorn said in a statement to Reston Now.

WMATA says it received more than 22,400 responses during the public comment period on the FY 2022 budget, which lasted from Feb. 20 to March 16. That is the most comments the transit agency has gotten on a budget proposal in the past 10 years.

WMATA’s board of directors is scheduled to give final approval to the proposed FY 2022 budget on April 22. The fiscal year will begin on July 1 and last until June 30, 2022.

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Morning Notes

Metro Board Debates Lowering Fares — “During the transit authority’s bi-monthly board meeting Thursday, four board members voiced support for a flurry of proposals that would simplify or reduce rail fees, including lower fares and eliminating rush hour peak pricing.” [DCist]

Paycheck Protection Program Deadline Extended — The deadline for small businesses to apply for forgivable loans from the federal COVID-19 relief program has been extended to May 31. The new PPP application period includes a 14-day window exclusively open to businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees. [Fairfax County Economic Development Authority]

Virginia to Overhaul Police Shooting Investigations — “Virginia’s attorney general and the state’s NAACP announced Wednesday that they are launching a collaborative effort to bring more transparency, impartiality and public confidence to the way police shootings are investigated across the commonwealth.” [The Washington Post]

Hunter Mill Supervisor to Assist with Potomac River Cleanup — “Help clean up our beautiful communities! This Saturday, April 10 is the Potomac River Watershed Cleanup. I’ll be participating in events in Reston and the weather looks good, so please consider joining us!” [Supervisor Walter Alcorn/Twitter]

Federal Assistance Available to Shuttered Venues — The Small Business Association’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program is now accepting applicants seeking assistance with payroll, rent, and other expenses. Supported by $16 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act, the program is open to live venue operators, promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organizations, museums, zoos, aquariums and theaters. [Fairfax County Government]

RCC Unveils Plans to Celebrate Earth Day — Reston Community Center’s 2021 Earth Day activities will include a photo scavenger hunt, play-dough making, storytelling, and supplies for a home herb garden. Advance registration and face masks are required for the Green Reston program on April 24. [Patch]

Photo via Mary Dominiak/Twitter

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A new neighborhood is coming to Herndon this summer.

Reston-based homebuilder Stanley Martin will open the Liberty Park neighborhood in Herndon in July. It will feature 155 two-over-two condo and townhome options.

The townhomes will start in the $700,000 range, while condos start in the mid-$500,000 range. The housing will include options for two to four bedrooms, two to four baths, and up to 2,700 square feet of space.

Both townhomes and condos will have private garages, balconies, and rooftop terraces.

Neighborhood features include garden parks, playgrounds, electric vehicle charging stations, and dog stations. The site also has active recreation areas that include a playing field and basketball court.

MRP Realty originally acquired the property at 13605 Dulles Technology Drive in 2016 as a part of a reported $97 million purchase from Liberty Property Trust, according to the Washington Business Journal.

The purchased Liberty Park portfolio encompassed the entire 32-acre business park with eight buildings and 532,041 square feet, according to MRP Realty’s website.

MPR Realty says that it plans to bring “Class A amenities” to the buildings at Liberty Park, including a “community tenant lounge and conference facility, a fitness center, and outdoor experiences to set them apart from other properties in the market.”

The new residential neighborhood is part of a larger effort by MPR Realty to transform the Liberty Park office complex into a mixed-use development to take advantage of the area’s proximity to the upcoming Innovation Center Metro station.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission approved the developer’s application to rezone the site for mixed-use development on Nov. 8, 2018. According to a final development plan published in March 2019, MPR Realty ultimately hopes to bring up to 530 residential units and up to 6,000 square feet of retail space to Liberty Park.

Image via Fairfax County

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Developers broke ground yesterday (Wednesday) on a much-discussed new senior living community in Great Falls.

Slated to open in the summer of 2022, The Residence of Colvin Run at 1131 Walker Road will be a 53,000 square-foot facility set on 2.8 acres. It’s about a half-mile from the Colvin Run Mill historic site.

The senior living facility will offer 62 single and double occupancy units for adults 65 and older. That includes 44 assisted living apartments and 18 memory care residences.

Amenities will include an art studio, a theater designed for the hearing-impaired, several dining venues, an open-hearth brick oven, and a trail connecting to neighborhood businesses.

In terms of staffing, about 60 employees are expected to be on payroll, operator IntegraCare tells Reston Now.

Renderings depict an architecture that seems similar to a small cottage or a Craftsman-style look with lots of brick and wood.

Senior living facilities of this nature are becoming more in demand as the area’s population ages. In opening remarks, it was noted that nearly 34% of the Great Falls population is over 55 years old.

“In our experiences, we’ve found that seniors want to continue to live in the communities that they raised their families in,” IntegraCare CEO Larry Rouvelas said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “The need to build senior housing communities in the specific neighborhoods that people grew up in is an important part of their quality of life.”

IntegraCare also operates a senior living facility in Hunters Woods on Colt Neck Road.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust has been a consistent supporter of the project, stating that the development fulfills three of his goals for the district and Fairfax County at large.

“First of all, we’re very interested in economic development. This is a business. Secondly, we have a large population that’s aging, and this is a fantastic facility for them to age,” Foust said. “And third, from a land-use standpoint, it’s a beautiful building that’s going to fit into the character of Great Falls and make it even better.”

He also emphasized the concept of “placemaking,” as in providing amenities and creating a community that attracts companies and a workforce.

“It used to be that you built a factory and people came to that factory to work. Today, we build a community that people want to live in. The [workforce] comes to you and the employers come to them,” Foust said.

Foust also believes a greater supply of senior living options will be needed throughout Fairfax County in the future, since the county as a whole is getting older.

According to the county’s latest demographic information, about 14% of county residents — or 164,000 people — are 65 years old or older.

By 2025, that number is expected to tick up by 30,000 people and encompass 16% of the county’s total population. In 2035, as much as 17.5% of county residents — a total of 226,000 people — could be 65 or older.

“The aging of the population has created a need. Fortunately, we have developments like this one to try to meet that demand,” Foust said. “But demand right now far exceeds any supply that we’ve been able to create. So, it’s great to see this type of development occurring across the county for the foreseeable future.”

Construction on The Residence of Colvin Run is expected to take 15 months, with an additional two months for permitting. That puts the opening somewhere between July and September of 2022.

Work on the facility’s footings and foundations will commence in about a month, and then, in about three months, residents and passersby will see a steel frame being erected. The exterior skin will go on after that.

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Graduate students and doctoral candidates receive their degrees during the 2019 Fall Commencement ceremony at Cassell Coliseum.

Virginia Tech’s Evening MBA program is among the best in the country, according to a 2022 survey of the nation’s top graduate schools by U.S. News & World Report.

In the newly released rankings of Best Part-time MBA programs, Virginia Tech’s Falls Church-based program is ranked No. 28 overall and No. 1 in Virginia.

In addition, Virginia Tech’s Arlington-based Executive MBA was named the nation’s fifth best by GreatBusinessSchools.org.

“The rankings reflect our commitment to providing students with top-quality education, immersive experiences, and a robust network that will strengthen their career prospects for years to come, all at a high-value tuition rate,” said Dana Hansson, director of MBA programs at Virginia Tech.

In January, Virginia Tech announced it will expand this commitment by offering a fully online MBA program.

“Accommodating students with virtual learning over the last year across all of our MBA formats allowed us to explore fully online delivery as a permanent option through the recently announced Online MBA. This new program seats its inaugural cohort this summer, and we’re already encouraged by the level of interest and strength of the applications we’ve received,” said Hansson.

The online program will build on the strength of Virginia Tech’s already established programs, said Parviz Ghandforoush, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs at Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business.

“The new format allowed us to combine some of the tried and true features of our established in-person MBA formats and online master of information technology to craft the best possible educational experience for students who value consistent interaction with their classmates and also want the flexibility of an online program,” Ghandforoush said.

Program leadership is encouraged by the latest recognition for its Evening and Executive formats and looks forward to expanding its suite of part-time programs.

“Our strategic focus since 2013 has been to provide working professionals with flexible options that fit into their personal and professional lives. We’re excited to provide this new opportunity to professionals across the globe who want to further their careers and join our talented group of students and alumni who are proud to call themselves Hokies,” Hansson said.

Learn more about Virginia Tech MBA Programs at mba.vt.edu.

This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

As we probably learned and as we teach our children, voting is the most important of civic duties. By choosing our leaders at election time and by deciding questions on referenda, we set the direction for our communities, states, and nation. Voting is a way to express our values and beliefs.

In one of the contradictions that strain the legitimacy of what we teach vs. what we do is to teach our children, proclaim in civic pronouncements and require for Scouting citizenship merit badges an acknowledgement of the importance of voting while at the same time making it difficult and sometimes impossible for some people to vote.

During the colonial period and early years of the state of Virginia, only white land-owners could vote. The Reconstruction era after the Civil War brought Black men into the electorate, but in a matter of decades that free access to voting was cut off by white supremacists who reasserted their power. An avowed purpose of writing a new constitution in 1902 was to disenfranchise Black men. It was successful in that the voting rolls were cut in half as most Blacks and poor whites were not able to make their way through the maze of requirements that one had to meet in order to vote. A blank sheet registration system and a $1.50 poll tax to be paid three years in a row at least six months before an election kept many from voting. White people in the upper crust of local society made it through these hurdles as the voting registrar who was part of the governing machine would provide them assistance while everyone else floundered at trying to get through the process.

Regardless of their race, women in this country have been able to vote for just over a hundred years, and that right came after incredible struggle. The Civil Rights era and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 opened up the electoral process for many Black people. Even now there are debates in the states about ways that access to the polls can be limited.

The Virginia General Assembly has put the Commonwealth on the path to supporting citizens carrying out their civic duty with several of the most progressive voting laws in the country. A headline in the New York Times last week proclaimed that “Virginia, the Old Confederacy’s Heart, Becomes a Voting Rights Bastion.” Over a fourteen-month period and two legislative sessions the General Assembly has passed and the Governor has signed bills to repeal a voter ID law, enact a 45-day no-excuse absentee voting period that permits early voting, made Election Day a holiday, and established a system for automatic voter registration for anyone who receives a Virginia driver’s license. The Virginia Voting Rights Act follows some of the provisions of the earlier federal law but applies to localities in the state to ensure that voting remains accessible.

In Virginia we will continue to say that voting is one of the most important of our civic duties, and now we will have a legal structure that demonstrates we believe it!

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