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Tentative RTC North Plans Include Expanded, Urban Library & Shelter

by Karen Goff November 5, 2015 at 11:30 am 19 Comments

Reston Regional LibrarySome details are starting to take shape of what Fairfax County officials and area citizens would like to see on the first two blocks of redevelopment at Reston Town Center North.

At a community meeting on Wednesday, Fairfax County officials presented rough standards for Blocks 7 and 8 — the area along Bowman Towne Drive where the Reston Regional Library and the Embry Rucker Community Shelter are located.

Those two facilities will be rebuilt in the same spot — only in a larger and more urban format with more services and amenities.

 “We are not looking to copy the Reston Town Center space, but rather to complement it,” county project manager Andy Miller said about the plans for the overall 49-acre redevelopment that will stretch from Bowman Towne Drive to Baron Cameron Avenue.

No specific plans have been drawn, and the county must first go through a lengthy rezoning and planning process.

But in theory, an idea is emerging of what will be there in the future.

The current library is 30,000 square feet. The replacement library would be 39,000 square feet, which would make it the largest library in the Fairfax County system (not including Fairfax City, which houses the Virginia Room, a large facility for historic documents), said Miller.

The library will be built in “urban form,” meaning it will take up one or two floors in a larger structure. There will be parking beneath the building and no surface parking. There will also be an additional 4,000 square feet of space that will likely be used for senior services.

Embry Rucker Community Shelter, meanwhile, will be replaced with a facility nearly twice its size. The current shelter is 10,500 square feet with 70 beds. The proposed replacement shelter would be 21,300 square feet with 90 beds.

The 90 beds would include space for 11 families, 40 individuals, 6 medical spaces and expanded space during hypothermia season (November to March).

The shelter will in urban form as part of a larger building, with an additional 28,000 square feet being considered for use by non-profits.

Both the library and shelter will need to be temporarily housed elsewhere during construction.

Citizens, as they did at a previous meeting in September, gave feedback on what they would like to see at both facilities. Among the suggestions: tutoring rooms and more children’s areas at the library;  and the temporary shelter being relocated to the empty Cameron Glen Care building nearby.

The county also showed tentative plans for other development on Blocks 7 and 8. There will likely be between 270,000 and 340,000 square feet of retail/commercial/office space, much of it in the same buildings as the library and shelter.

Tentative residential plans for Blocks 7 and 8 include 360-420 market-rate units; 12 percent affordable units (44-51 units); and 30 “supportive housing units” related to the shelter (mainly for people/families making less than 30 percent of the area median income).

An estimated timeline for redevelopment: Rezoning and and a Request for Proposals would take place in 2016, followed by individual rezoning of Blocks 7 and 8 in 2018. The design and permit process would take about 18-24 months in 2018-2020. Construction would take several years, with the final product being delivered in 2023.

Read about overall plans for Reston Town Center North in this previous Reston Now story.

  • Arielle in NoVA

    Would love to see a larger library, but I hope if they’re putting the parking underground they’ll have a drive-up drop-off lane from which you can get people, leave people, and quickly return books.

    • Ming the Merciless

      They’ll put the same people on that who designed the Wiehle metro kiss-n-ride.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    Isn’t it amazing how that whole design looks so much like the diagram from the instruction page insert in an Kotex box?

    • LakeNewportLady

      I would have pegged you as a Tampax guy

      • Chuck Morningwood

        Nothing quite like either to plug the occasional gun cleaning accident.

  • RickDotSalt

    It would be nice if the shelter had a computer lab.

  • Mike M

    “We are not looking to copy the Reston Town Center space, but rather to complement it,” county project manager Andy Miller said.

    I can think of no better complement to the RTC than a HOMELESS SHELTER! Which reminds me. . . Has anyone ever seen any homeless camped out at the RTC? I haven’t. Yet they are a fixture over at the Harris Teeter center. Is there some private enforcement going on at RTC? Does the FFX Police provide that service at the RTC?

    • Mike M

      Meanwhile, I continue to wait for those “repairs” to the bridge connecting RTC with the other side of the W&OD. Although I strongly suspect there are no repairs going on and there is some other reason the bridge has been Berlin Walled up.

    • Feh

      Nothing “complements” (i.e., completes and makes perfect) an area where citizens live safely and productively like importing dangerous and/or unproductive subgroups. This is a sure-fire recipe for peace and prosperity.

      Just ask Andrea Merkel and Jeb Bush.

  • concordpoint

    So, 8 years from now Reston will finally have an initial finished product when funding has been available and identified for nearly a decade. 18 years . Your government at work.

  • Jason Rub

    Sounds like a solid plan for the both the library and shelter! The shelter has been there since 1987, and I’m glad to see those services remain as close to the town’s walkable core with the most mass transit options available nearby. And the library is getting expanded! Hopefully it’ll be big enough that they won’t have to throw brand new books out.

    Anyone who could attend the meeting know if there was any talk about enhancing connectivity and walkability with The Paramount and the Winwood Children’s Center behind Blocks 7 and 8? The Paramount in particular sits on that awkward hill which effectively cuts off the whole structure from the rest of that land parcel.

  • Terry Maynard

    Glad to hear that there is strong consideration to expanding the library, but I question whether the 30% increase is sufficient. It is already the busiest library in the county and overused despite the mis-guided depletion of books. Reston’s population is supposed to grow from about 60,000 to 100,000–a 67% increase–over the next 25 years, virtually all in the Metro stations areas, including Town Center North The library should grow proportionately at least, say from its current 30,000 to 50,000 square feet. It may need to grow more than that to help accommodate other nearby population growth since it is a “regional” library.

    Getting the overall building square footage right is one issue. Another is making sure sufficient shelf space is designed in to that new library and it doesn’t just become a computer or makerspace (3D printing, etc.) lab as some have proposed. While FCFCA has proposed that any library renovations provide at least the historic peak level of shelf space (see http://www.reston2020.blogspot.com/2015/11/fcfca-resolution-on-preservation-of.html), I believe we should look forward as well as backward: Shelf space for books in the re-built Reston Regional Library should increase from its historic peak by at least two-thirds, the scope of the planned increase in Reston’s population over the next 25 years. And, yes, the shelves should be filled with books–all kinds for all ages.

    I am equally pleased so see the County thinking in terms of a significantly expanded homeless shelter. Regrettably, we will almost certainly need it to accommodate a growing number of homeless among us, again, probably larger than what has been proposed.

    • Mike M

      I propose a homeless shelter by your house.

      • Terry Maynard

        The insensitivity expressed here & on other RestonNow articles to the suffering of the homeless just kind of astounds me, especially so in a community committed to providing housing for people of all ages, races, and incomes.

        Most people who are homeless are homeless for reasons beyond their control–mental illness, downsizing at work, mounting healthcare debts, whatever. And, yes, some are homeless because of personal weaknesses, such as drugs or alcohol, which also has gotten beyond their control. Still, that does not make them criminals even if they are not wearing the latest from Town Center boutiques.

        The least we can do is provide them adequate public shelter while county and non-profit groups among us, such as Cornerstones, FISH, and others–help them find ways to get back on their feet, and even find them a new job or a new home.

        Poverty and homelessness are all around us. If people haven’t seen it, it is just because their eyes are not open or, worse, they choose to ignore it. We have an opportunity to relieve some of the pain. To not take that opportunity is insensitive at the least, and probably immoral.

        • Sally Forth

          Mr. Maynard, I could not agree more. Who are these crass people who malign homeless people? But for the grace of god go you. I certainly hope your ilk are NOT my neighbor! If you feel like this, perhaps you should move out of Reston.

          • Nyla J.

            Let the trolls troll.

        • Mike M

          So, you won’t mind then?

    • Nyla J.

      We definitely need more shelter space for our new community members joining us via Silver Line.

    • Hank from rtc

      Unfortunately Fairfax county has started a legal battle to eliminate the clear statement in the deed that states the property is subject to the Reston DRB (design review board) and RA covenants. They have also misstated the text in the latest Reston Master Plan. They claimed that the central green was capped at 2.6 acres, where the Plan explicitedly states that the RTC North central green shoul be 5 acres. They also stated that the plan specifies that the library should be 39,000 square feet. There is no mention of 39,000 square feet in the Plan, just multiple statements that the library shoul be expanded.

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