After Changes, Plan to Redevelop Offices into Condominiums Moves Forward

by Fatimah Waseem February 23, 2018 at 10:15 am 30 Comments

After weeks of deferrals, a plan to redevelop a three-story office building into 20-story condominiums is getting closer to approval.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously passed Renaissance Centro, a 150-unit project on 1801 Old Reston Avenue, Thursday night.

The project was stalled after the county’s planning and zoning staff and the developer clashed over how the condominiums incorporate workforce housing and parking for workforce housing units. In response to concerns about the intensity of development on the 1.5-acre site, the developer agreed to reduce the scale of the project by 7,500 square feet, reduce the building height from 260 feet to 240 feet and improve tree protection and fencing.

The building will have 150 units, with 24 units set aside for workforce housing, allowing the developer to add 24 units in bonus density. The size of the additional units will be within 10 percent of the size of workforce housing units.

Still, At-Large Commissioner James Hart said the case was “difficult.” Although he voted for the project because it met Reston’s comprehensive plan and county requirements, Hart, who is also the commission’s vice chairman, said the project had “too much intensity on too small of a site.”

He cited concerns that the developer filed the application as Planned Residential Mixed (PRM) use application. As Reston approaches the density cap for the Planned Residential Community district, more developers may file applications as PRM, resulting in what he called a “patchwork” of development.

Overall, commission members said the project highlights the need for the county to clarify workforce housing requirements, especially for parking. Hart said current requirements are at best “confusing.”

“It’s very difficult even for us to understand how the numbers work,” he said.

At Renaissance, which will include a parking garage, residents will have the option of buying one parking space per unit. Two loading spaces will be available along the entrance, in addition to three short-term parking spaces in order to meet growing demand for drop-off stations.

The proposal will head to the county’s Board of Supervisors for final approval. More projects that require repurposing old office buildings into residential and mixed use projects are in the pipeline. If approved, the residential building will be taller than the adjacent Harrison apartments and similar in size to The Signature apartments across the street from Renaissance Centro.

Photos via handout and by Fatimah Waseem

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