Reston Association will hold its second and final public hearing on the planned purchase of the former Visitors Center Thursday night.
This is the last chance for RA members to offer their thoughts on the purchase of the 3.48-acre property that features a 3,128-square-foot building on the banks of Lake Newport.
The public hearing begins about 7:25 p.m. at RA Headquarters, 12001 Sunrise Valley Dr.
The purchase price for the property will be $2.65 million, based on a recent appraisal, said RA CEO Cate Fulkerson. RA plans to borrow the entire purchase price, according to RA’s Tetra Fact Sheet.
RA has not yet made the appraisal public, saying it is pending the conditional contract for the property.
However, RA members need to also voice their opinion on the purchase in the April referendum. The association needs 10 percent of households (or 1,751 of 17,506 eligible households) voting for the referendum results to be valid.
RA announced in January its intent to purchase the property, which is currently office space for Tetra commercial real estate. Last year’s county tax assessment values the building at 11450 Baron Cameron Ave. more than $1 million less than the sales price, but RA land use attorney John McBride said that is not unusual since the building can be used for many other purposes than its current small office usage.
The original plans for the building approved years ago include the possibility of a second story addition that could make the structure 6,930 square feet. The building is currently zoned “convenience center” under the current Reston Master Plan, which make it possible for a commercial business to operate their, RA officials said.
RA has been advocating for planners to change the designation to “limited office space/community use” as part of the Reston Master Plan Phase 2 draft process, which should be completed in the next several months.
RA is still seeking community input on the best use for the property. Some ideas — after camp care, community classrooms and meeting and special event rentals, the latter of which would bring in revenue for RA.
The acquisition of the property would also give RA 98 acres of contiguous open space, as the property abuts other RA parcels such as Brown’s Chapel Park and Lake Newport Tennis.
RA President Ken Knueven said at Monday’s South Lakes District Meeting there are three main reasons why the association wants to purchase the property:
Protect against overdevelopment — RA’s purchase of the property as common area prevents further commercial development.
Increase and enhance green space — Since RA would repurpose the building for community and recreation purposes. RA also says it will plant more trees and shrubs and reduce parking, which contributes to stormwater runoff at the site.
Increase community and recreational use — RA’s current, year-round programming space is limited, and acquiring the building would be a valuable addition.
The board will vote on the referendum question wording and its conditional contract (which will be pending outcome of the referendum) at tonight’s meeting.