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Is the End Near for This Brutalist Building on Sunrise Valley Drive?

by Karen Goff May 6, 2016 at 10:00 am 10 Comments

Former API building/Credit: Showcase.com

Developer Sekas Homes is seeking a zoning change in order to build townhomes and condos across from Reston National Golf Course.

But the proposed development would be the end of the former headquarters of the American Press Institute, a 42-year-old Brutalist-style office building that has been empty for several years.

If approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, the plan means tearing down the 48,200-square-foot building designed by noted modernist architect Marcel Breuer.

Sekas’ plan was in front of the Fairfax County Planning Commission on Thursday. The commission will make a decision May 26 on whether to recommend the project for approval to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Seakas wants to rezone 4.6 acres from industrial use to residential in order to build 34 townhouses and 10 condos at Sunrise Valley Drive and Roland Clarke Place.

The residential development would be just east of Reston Heights, JBG’s mixed use development that features hotels, condos and offices.

Unlike many current Reston redevelopment proposals — which are high-rise multifamiliy buildings — this plan is a relatively small one as it is located more than one-half mile from Wiehle-Reston East and the future Reston Town Center Metro station.

According to a county staff report, the townhomes would be four stories tall with agarages on the lower level. Interior units would be about 1,170 square feet, while end units would be about 1,600 square feet.

Renderings for Sunrise Valley Drive/Credit: Sekas Homes The condo building would also be four stories tall, the report says.  Parking for the multifamily building would be provided in the adjacent surface lot. Front door access into the multifamily building is provided both along Sunrise Valley Drive.

The site contains a 135-foot-wide transcontinental gas pipeline easement as four separate pipelines bisect the property, the report says. An Environmental Quality Corridor (EQC) and wet pond is located on the eastern portion of the site, and that should be sufficient for stormwater runoff.

Sekas has proposed a private street and surface parking on a portion of the gas easement, as well as “active open space, an asphalt trail system and a meadow as amenities in the easement.” To the east of the gas line easement is a tot lot.

Here are some of the other specifics:

Residents would be part of Reston Association

There would be 12 percent affordable housing and four units designated workforce housing.

The developer must submit a tree preservation plan.

Proffers would include: $1,800 per resident to Fairfax County Park Authority for improvements in the Hunter Mill District; $107,102 to the park authority for athletic fields; $11,749 per pupil to Fairfax County Public Schools; and additional as yet unspecified contributions for county roads and Metrorail.

  • Mike M

    Well, they are ugly and we surely do need the additional traffic. May we please have extra taxes to build Sekas roads?

  • Sam

    1200-1600 sq ft seems pretty small for our market. I personally don’t need much more than that but competitors like Junction Square in Herndon are in the 2-3000 range.

  • Historic Landmark

    The building was designed to withstand a nuclear attack, perhaps not pretty but practical for its time.

  • Arielle in NoVA

    I thought this was where the Soapstone bridge over 267 was going. Why would they build houses there?

    • Greg

      I recall the Soapstone connector being farther east with a few different alternatives.

    • kbikeva

      The Soapstone Bridge is an extension of Soapstone. 🙂

    • Terry Maynard

      Exactly, Arielle!

      Sekas is trying to UP the value of the property so the County has to pay a bundle more for whatever it needs to build the south approach to the bridge.

      The same thing is happening on the north end where sits a vacant lot. NTL, the owner suddenly has an idea to build an office building there–because there just isn’t enough VACANT office space. Ka-ching!

      And so both landowners will make extra millions of dollars for just filing applications and not building anything. Watch for it.

      • Arielle in NoVA

        Hadn’t thought of that 🙁 Sadly, I think you might be right.

  • Greg

    I won’t miss the Brutalist building, but methinks the replacements will look equally ugly in 40 years (if not sooner).

  • Ken Perkal

    How in the world are these new developers going to build all those units on that little patch of land where the old building (now removed) stood? Are they proposing to develop across the now existing Roland Clark Street where there is an office building on the north west corner and parking lot just east of the Mercer Condominium?

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