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Approved Master Plan Changes Could Shape New Village Centers

by Karen Goff June 3, 2015 at 9:30 am 1,123 49 Comments

Dock at South Lakes Village CenterThe Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved changes to the Reston Master Plan that will provide guidelines for any changes to village centers and neighborhoods as Reston moves into its second 50 years.

The changes, commonly called Reston Master Plan Phase 2, ensure that future residential and commercial growth will be concentrated in the Town Center, the Transit Station Areas and the Village Centers; and the Vision and Planning Principles created in Phase 1 should apply to the whole of Reston.

Phase 1, which set standards for development close to transit centers at Wiehle-Reston East and Reston’s future Reston Parkway Metro Station, was approved by the county in early 2014.

Some of the vision and planning principles for both: that Reston place an emphasis on diversity of housing, affordability, walkability and the role plazas play as community gathering spaces.

Reston Association CEO Cate Fulkerson, one of a handful of speakers at the public hearing portion of  Tuesday’s meeting, requested that a sentence be added “Reston has always been a place where nature is valued and protected.”

“This summarizes the most important characteristic of Reston and needs to be incorporated,” she said.

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins agreed, and suggested that it be added to a prominent place at the start of the final document.

Hudgins had some questions for county planning staff at the meeting. One of the questions centered on whether St. Johns Wood, the garden apartment complex owned by Bozzuto, can redevelop without a comprehensive plan amendment.

Bozzuto is in the early stages of proposing redevelopment to the complex near North Point.

The planning staff says Bozzuto will still have to go through the required process for redevelopment, including community meetings, plan submission, a county planning commission hearing and Board of Supervisors hearing and approval. There is also a separate Reston Association Design Review Board approval process.

Staff also confirmed that the process to redevelop Tall Oaks Village Center is still a long one. The master plan changes in general remove the requirement for village centers to undergo a comprehensive plan amendment should they be redeveloped.

For Tall Oaks specifically, the plan says “the redevelopment plan may include a significantly reduced non-residential component and that any redevelopment should emphasize quality design and and the creation of a neighborhood gathering place.”

The Jefferson Apartment Group (JAG), which purchased the nearly vacant Tall Oaks in December, is also in the early stages of a plan that would transform the village center into 154 homes with a small amount of retail. JAG has held two community meetings and will likely hold more before formally filing any site plans for approval.

“Tall Oaks is not functioning today,” said Hudgins. “It has an opportunity to be a true village center. ”

Bob Simon, Reston’s 101-year-old founder, hopes that Tall Oaks — and any other future village center redevelopment — will be a better example of the vision he had when he planned Reston in the early 1960s.

“The opening in 1965 of Reston involved 227 townhouses and 60 high rise units and smattering of retail,” Simon said on Tuesday. “It was not a big deal, however, to our amazement it turned out to be an international phenomenon.”

“Over the years, I have tried to analyze what happened to that little development,” he said. “I think what happened was reintroducing to the U.S. to a gathering place called a plaza. I was fired in 1967, and my successors did not appreciate the plaza.”

The village centers that were then built (South Lakes, North Point, Tall Oaks and Hunters Woods) were not “important social venues, but strip centers,” Simon said. He said he would like to see them all redeveloped.

“My hope is that over the next 50 years, all the village centers will be destroyed and replaced with plazas surrounded by density. For Tall oaks, it is important to become a real village center. Village centers should be plazas, surface areas surrounded by stores and other relatively dense housing. I hope that’s what we get.”

Photos: Top, dock at South Lakes Village Center; Bottom, Rendering of plans for Tall Oaks Village Center redevelopment (Courtesy Jefferson Apartment Group)


    I am sick to death of hearing from Robert E. Simon. He was fired in 1967. Yet he is spewing socialist rhetoric constantly. Why does his opinion matter more than anyone else’s? What does he mean by “important social venues”? The talk of “neighborhood gathering spaces” is ridiculous. No one wants to go to Giant and gather with their neighbors. What Robert Simon envisioned from 1965-1967 is not relevant in 2015. Period.

    • trolltroller

      Why do even live in Reston? Move to Ashburn troll!

      • Douchebaggius

        Why do YOU even live in Reston? or completely remove do.. because you don’t need two verbs.. Why even live in Reston?

        Please Troll using proper Grammar.

    • Cluster Tycoon

      FTB if you re ” sick to death ” maybe check into the hospital. Perhaps Robert e Simon will find time to perform last rites and place a hand caught Lake Anne sewer rat right on your big heart. It’s an old Indio ritual that would ensure your soul going straight to the happy hunting grounds without detour. Let us know how it goes, if possible.


        I just don’t understand why Simon is treated any differently than any other Reston resident. What his vision was 48 years ago is not relevant.

        • GreenVillage

          that’s why

          • Ray Wedell


        • Karen Goff

          To be fair, he was one of only three speakers at the hearing yesterday. The others were Cate Fulkerson and attorney Shane Murphy representing the chamber of commerce. So, if other citizens spoke, other citizens might have been quoted.

          • JCSuperstar

            Well said. How many here took the time to speak — at any of these public hearings? What surprises me is the infamous RCA/2020 trio did not speak. Yup, a handful of ’em love to tell us what common sense already tells us — but none seem interested in representing. Other than Ms. Hartke and her efforts with Rescue Reston

        • David Peter

          The major concepts that Bob Simon envisioned — racial integration, open spaces, connectivity, recreation and housing for all income levels — are still relevant, and in fact were all held true by the people who fired him. They fired him because he was overly optimistic about the timing and the ability to raise money, and they did a lot more “mainstream suburban” development after sacking him to keep the process moving.

          That said, his concept of the mixed-use plaza as a gathering space for shopping, eating, arts, living, etc. is exactly what RTC is; it was just built on a far larger scale. Lake Anne was a thriving place initially, but suffered because it was too small and too well hidden to be viable in the face of competition from other retail outlets with a sea of parking in front of them that were built afterward. As the revitalization occurs (crafted by my former business partners), it will thrive again, and revive the destination that it already is, for generations to come. Tall Oaks, sadly, is smaller than Lake Anne even is today, and is far less of a destination. It would be hard to make it into the plaza that Mr. Simon once envisioned, which is why Jefferson Group has proposed something more focused on residential.

          Mr. Simon’s “vision” from 54 years ago is still what ultimately became of Reston. I agree that he is not a “god” or “the Messiah”, but he is rightfully recognized as a remarkably astute planner, by every architectural and planning faculty around, despite his business demise in 1967.


            Thank you for your input. What housing at RTC is for “all income levels”? Last time I checked a 700 sq ft. condo sells for about 300K plus carries a 300 per month condo fee. Lake Anne will not be successful if it is surrounded by low income housing.

          • David Peter

            While I will concede that there is little within RTC that is “affordable”, there are ample housing choices throughout Reston (which is what I said). Lake Anne will not be surrounded by low income housing, in fact, the majority of what will be built is actually market rate housing (a mix of rental and for sale) and commercial space. The affordable housing units currently on the site will be replicated, and then a portion of the new added units will be affordable or workforce, as is the norm in all new developments in Fairfax County (and in most other places, as well). Your assumption that it will be primarily low income housing does not reflect the design or the proposal that was presented. I would urge you to look more closely at the proposal and plans for the Lake Anne Redevelopment.


            Time will tell I suppose. I’ve seen the plans. I hear you when you say the current Sec 8 units will be replaced, and then more will be added. Good luck.

          • Greg

            Time did tell. See above and take a drive/ride/walk on Glade. And, of course, Lake Anne, the Crescent, (and Tall Oaks and Hunters Woods) did not deteriorate into the dilapidated eyesores they are, and that have taken millions of our tax and RA assessment dollars and years of government schemes like charettes to sort out, because they were well “administered” by the RA, were “vibrant village centers,” or were desirable places to “live, work, play.”

          • Chuck Morningwood

            So, Mr. Peter, would you embrace a Low Income tower in your North Reston neighborhood?

          • David Peter

            Well, that is a bit of a “trick” question, because a high-rise tower of anything would be inappropriate in the middle of a single-family detached community where I live, but in an urban or quasi-urban setting like Lake Anne, or Tall Oaks, or RTC, yes, I would have no issues with a low income tower as part of an overall development. I would, however, embrace far more openly, a mixed-income development that interspersed the affordable units throughout the community, even in my North Reston neighborhood.

          • Chuck Morningwood

            In other words, you don’t want it next to you and you intentionally bought in a place where such a beast couldn’t be placed next to you.

          • David Peter

            As I said, you posed it as a trick question, and now you are attempting to twist the answer to suit your viewpoint.

            I think I said fairly clearly above that I have no issue whatsoever with low income housing being built in (or next to) my neighborhood. In fact, I believe I also said the sort of interspersed units that would be possible in a single-family neighborhood, is the most appropriate way to deliver it as well.

            I did not choose my neighborhood to get away from the poor people, which seems to be what you and a few others are arguing should be done by not allowing housing to be built near you (if at all).

            Your accusation is offensive, and just plain wrong.

          • Chuck Morningwood

            So, why don’t you sell and move next to some low-income housing? You won’t, and not because you can’t afford to. It’s because Low-Income is better in someone else’s backyard.

          • Greg

            He doesn’t have to sell: he can register his house as a section 8 rental property, negotiate away any potential hazards with the government inspector, and the county will find him plenty (hundreds) of prospective tenants. Then he can take his above-market rent, move to south Reston and live among all manner of low-income housing projects. Shadowood, Stonegate, Reston Glen, West Glade. Or, for higher-end living, there’s Coquina, Maginella, and Angel Wing — all of which, of course, are “administered” to the impeccable maintenance standards set forth in the Reston deed. He won’t find so much as a dandelion that doesn’t conform to Reston’s Panton-perfect color palette. Oh, and all those jacked-up jalopies on the pothole-filled streets? Not Reston’s problem — that would be VDOT’s domain.


            I think Heron House should become a low income tower.

          • Ming the Merciless

            Each car broken into, each person attacked near Hunters Woods, each new home invasion, is a further data point for the relevance and viability of those “major concepts” you mentioned. But we must never admit failure! We must work harder!

          • Guy Montag

            Open Spaces + Connectivity + Integration resulted in South Reston and a ton of crime.

          • Jan B

            Some weeks there’s much more crime in north Reston and it’s ignored. Open space and connectivity resulting in more crime is beyond illogical. So it must be integration you’re talking about – again. If you want a lily white area, why not move?

          • Greg

            Some weeks? Care to share which weeks those are? And quantity, if you will, what “much more” means.

            And why is it ignored? At time in or in any location. And by whom is this crime ingored?

    • Guy Montag

      I’d gather near the safeway; however, my inability to speak Spanish leaves me at a significant disadvantage.

      • Ricky Spanish

        ¿Dónde está la biblioteca?

      • Guest

        How’s that racism working for you?

    • Ming the Merciless

      Like the Bible or the Constitution, liberals quote him or ignore him according to the political needs of the moment.

    • Greg


    • Jason Rub

      you’re a sad, sad person

  • meh

    “I think what happened was reintroducing to the U.S. to a gathering place called a plaza. I was fired in 1967, and my successors did not appreciate the plaza.”
    I think we should investigate how plazas are used in central amercia and then we would have a good idea of how the ones in reston will be used .

  • Concerned resident

    Bob Simon left Reston in 1967 and only came back in the early 90’s. Granted he had the initial vision but nearly everything that has happened since then has nothing to do with Mr. Simon. However some treat him as if he is the Messiah, and every word he utters is gospel!
    The concept of the plazas was a noble theoretical concept but did not work in practice. One only needs to look at Lake Anne. A pretty place, but commercially a disaster, was actually worse than Tall Oaks until Giant left Tall Oaks.
    Were it not for the Reston Town Center, Spectrum and North Point most of the retail in Reston is a commercial disaster.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    I can hear it from here. The Boards of Directors of the Development companies are laughing at us.

    While maybe only three people spoke up, would it have mattered if it were 30 or 300? The only thing the Developers, and the their minions the BoS, listens to is the sound of money.

  • Ray Wedell

    I find the criticism and classless bashing of Mr. Simon to be a prime example of why there will never be any meaningful discussion in here. Does anybody really think that a sane person will engage with yahoos calling themselves Green Lantern, Batman, Emperor Toto, Bozo the Clown, Clarabell, or any of the other spineless names you post under? The sum total of you, added together, would not fill a thimble compared to the influence Mr. Simon has had, and still has, to the positive development of Reston. Show some respect.

    So you are all “tired of hearing from Mr. Simon” or “sick to death” of his socialist rhetoric? Ever occur to you that people are sick of your uninformed commentary?

    Mr. Simon, you keep on talking….you keep on influencing.

    Oh wait, I hear Spiderman ready to write a response saying what an idiot I am. Or is that Marco Polo?

    • Guy Montag

      Mr. Wedell thank you for your informed response; however, I must inform you that you are mistaken. You must say “Beetlejuice” three times and then parle can commence.

      I thank you for you left wing ideologies and defending of Mr. Simon, without you I would have to wait until Ken Plum’s next article on gun control

    • Marco Polo

      We are only 10k residents short of being another Silver Spring MD. The only difference will be they have light rail and we have “green space”.

    • Headless Ned Stark

      Ray Wedell the Troll is correct. We should have heeded the words of Maester Simon. Soon the Great Silver Giant will be delivering the White Walkers in to the belly of Reston, and there is nothing we can do about it. Kings Landing has only provided aid against Reston. Heed my words Reston.. Winter is Coming!!!!


      “Does anybody really think that a SANE person will engage with yahoos calling themselves Green Lantern, Batman, Emperor Toto, Bozo the Clown, Clarabell, or any of the other spineless names you post under?

      Well Mr. Wedell, your own comment points out your INSANITY, since you engage all the time with the previously mentioned commenters.

      And you, a RA Director, should show some respect .

      • Greg

        And Ray Weddell should display a lot less hypocrisy.


          How did he even get elected to the Board of Directors? Oh yes, I recall that he ran unopposed. Many RA Board members have commented on this site, and have always been thoughtful in their comments. But not Wedell. He is boorish.

      • HealthyAtEverySize

        Don’t forget he’s the kind of person that text’s while driving or so say public court records

    • Bozo the Clown

      man, traffic is really bad in reston.

    • Ming the Merciless

      Congratulations, Ray. Posting a high quality, logically irrefutable argument like “anonymous posters are all cowardly ignorant yahoos!” under your own name will surely convince everyone that only those who post under their own name are worthy of attention.

      Ray’s homework for tonight: read Justice Hugo Black’s opinion in Talley v. California.


      “Anonymous pamphlets, leaflets, brochures and even books have played an
      important role in the progress of mankind. Persecuted groups and sects
      from time to time throughout history have been able to criticize
      oppressive practices and laws either anonymously or not at all. The
      obnoxious press licensing law of England, which was also enforced on the
      Colonies was due in part to the knowledge that exposure of the names of
      printers, writers and distributors would lessen the circulation of
      literature critical of the government. The old seditious libel cases in
      England show the lengths to which government had to go to find out who
      was responsible for books that were obnoxious to the rulers. John Lilburne was whipped, pilloried and fined for refusing to answer questions designed to get evidence to convict him or someone else for the secret distribution of books in England. Two Puritan Ministers, John Penry and John Udal, were sentenced to death on charges that they were responsible for writing, printing or publishing
      books. Before the Revolutionary War colonial patriots frequently had to
      conceal their authorship or distribution of literature that easily could
      have brought down on them prosecutions by English-controlled courts.
      Along about that time the Letters of Junius were written and the
      identity of their author is unknown to this day. Even the Federalist Papers, written in favor of the adoption of our Constitution, were published under fictitious names. It is plain that anonymity has sometimes been assumed for the most constructive purposes”

      Everyone ignore those cowardly yahoos who issued the Federalist Papers under the clownish name of Publius!

    • Rational Reston

      Mr Wedell,

      I do not care for many of Bob Simon’s ideas or even more so, the deification of him.

      You are right that name calling isn’t called for. However, you do so by name calling. That does not solve the problem, does it. Sadly, you’re an RA board member, as such you should be conducting yourself in a much higher standard in a public forum. When you are in your position, lowering yourself to third grade behavior is uncalled for.

      I will remember this when your term is up and you’d like my vote to remain on the RA board.

    • Religion

      Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

  • Wings!!

    I have a vision of a Village Center in Reston, with a Hooters, where I can sit down with a plate of wings and a cold beer.

  • Greg

    Nothing about plazas and mixed living here… https://vimeo.com/104423543

  • JCSuperstar

    Many here have caught on that development/redevelopment in Tysons, Reston, Herndon and now even parts of Loudon County has become a political hot button.

    Acting as individuals will achieve nothing. Reston Association is learning fast — I’m seeing their land use attorney and CEO spending more an more time with the county staff, the P&Z, the BOS and even the state.

    The community can leverage RA’s status and it’s efforts from one perspective — RA is being proactive with both the developers and the local governments, and it represents possibly the largest voting base that can affect the outcome of a supervisor, state representatives and even a federal representative.

    But, again, acting as individuals won’t achieve anything. Rather, showing a unified, bipartisan, issue-driven agenda can get politicians attention.

    Otherwise, the developers do have the upper hand in this climate. Which, by the way, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I can understand the uneasiness of many here.


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