TRAFFIC ALERT: Georgetown Pike at Seneca Road Reopens

Update on Friday, July 26 at 8 a.m.: The road was reopened early Friday morning.

Commuters passing through Georgetown Pike at Seneca Road should plan to take a detour today (Thursday).

The Fairfax County Police Department indicated that the road is shutdown due to emergency repairs.

It is unclear how long the road will remain shutdown.

No other information was immediately available.

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Amid Concerns, Reston Planning and Zoning to Revisit Campus Commons Proposal

The Reston Planning and Zoning Committee will revisit TFC Cornerstone’s Campus Commons proposal next month.

The committee failed to approve the project, which is located on the southeastern corner of Wiehle Avenue and the Dulles Toll Road, at a meeting on July 15 amid concerns about the proposed pedestrian connection across Wiehle Avenue.

The developer plans to add 630 residential units spread across a mid-rise and high-rise building on the site, along with a new office building at the corner of Wiehle Avenue and Sunrise Valley Drive. The developer will preserve two office buildings from the 1980s on the site and add roughly 26,000 square feet of retail.

Some residents pushed the developer to build an underpass that connects Comstock’s project on the other side of Wiehle Avenue to Campus Commons.

But TFC Cornerstone plans to install at an at-grade crosswalk at Wiehle Avenue — an option that the company Vice President Ken Houle said is the safest and convenient pedestrian crossing.

We have studied the issue extensively with multiple industry experts and FCDOT, looking at both regional and national precedents.  There is a consensus among the experts that an at grade crosswalk is the preferred pedestrian solution,” Houle told Reston Now.

He noted that TFC Cornerstones also plans to contribute land to construct a westbound lane on Sunrise Valley Drive as part of proposed infrastructure improvements.

Residents from Upper Lake Drive — which is neighbors the site — said the developer did not engage with the neighboring community before proceeding with the project.

They expressed concerns about the spillover effects of the new development on their community, including shared parking on Upper Lakes Drive, neighborhoods streets being used as a cut-through, and increased noise and light.

Residential units will not be under the Reston Association’s purview — which residents said should prompt the developer to pay for maintaining the neighborhoods paths if they are used by residents of Campus Commons.

Hoele said they launched an “extensive public review process” over the last two years, including meeting with adjacent communities, the Reston Planning and Zoning, meetings and Reston Association.

In response to concerns, Hoele said the company plans to widen the geographic area of its outreach and schedule an additional public session with Upper Lake Drive residents.

If the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee approves the project next month, Campus Commons heads to the Fairfax County Planning Commission in September.

A timeline for the development of the project has not been made public.

Photo via Kenneth Houle/TFC Cornerstone

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Reston Companies Receive Federal Grant to Lead Northern Virginia Smart City Initiative

Two Reston-based companies have secured a $750,000 federal grant to lead the Northern Virginia Smart City Initiative, which aims to bring government, private and nonprofit partners to advance the area’s smart city technology innovation cluster.

Smart City Works, a Reston-based nonprofit business accelerator, and Refraction, a co-working innovation hub that supports startups and high-growth companies, will advance the initiative in order to improve the livability and resilience of cities.

The U.S. Economic Development Administration awarded grants to 26  application from a pool of 183 submission. The Reston companies received the maximum amount of available funding.

Here’s more from the EDA on the initiative:

With the i6 Challenge grant, the Initiative will: 1) accelerate the development and lower the risk profile of companies seeking to provide innovative solutions to infrastructure challenges; 2) grow the number of startups and highly skilled tech talent in the region; (3) accelerate the commercialization of innovative products and 4) strengthen the regional smart city cluster supporting innovation, entrepreneurship, and commercialization.

Over the three-year grant period, the Northern Virginia Smart Region Initiative will create a stronger innovation cluster that will attract talent and capital to the region, stimulate economic development that benefits the entire community, and help to solve the region’s infrastructure challenges.

More than 45 companies are expected to graduate from the accelerator program, which could launch more than 30 new smart city products. The initiative is expected to generate 90 new jobs.

Photo via U.S. Department of Commerce

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Lincoln at Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station to Begin Leasing

A new apartment community near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station will begin leasing in the fall.

Lincoln at Wiehle Station, which is developed by the Lincoln Property Company, is located at 11500 Commerce Park Drive.

The three-acre development, which took up a part of Commerce Business Park, includes 260 units that face a surface parking lot bounded by Sunrise Valley, Commerce Park and Association drives.

The building is seven stories and includes an interior courtyard, a pool and publicly accessible pockets of open space.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the project in December 2016.

Map via Fairfax County Government

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Del. Ken Plum: The Fox Guarding the Chicken Coop

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

In last week’s column I suggested that the record-breaking for brevity, 90-minute session of the General Assembly came about because of a dysfunctional House of Delegates and a lack of leadership by the Speaker of the House. Further evidence unfolding since I wrote that column strengthens my concern and adds to it the problem that in the Virginia House of Delegates the “fox is guarding the chicken coop.”

The Special Session of the General Assembly that was called by Governor Ralph Northam in response to increasing gun violence should have provided a forum for debate to determine a response by the legislature to keep the people of Virginia safe. Few sessions general or special have attracted as much public attention as this one with hundreds of advocates at the Capitol representing all sides of the issue.

One side got high-level special attention. Ordinary citizens and state-wide and national groups concerned about gun violence attended a rally at the Bell Tower in Capitol Square and spent the rest of the morning visiting legislative offices and milling about the street between the Pocahontas Building where legislative offices are and the State Capitol. The National Rifle Association (NRA) representatives were in the Speaker of the House of Delegates Conference Room picking up their red caps and tee shirts and no doubt getting reassurances that everything was going to be alright.

A website inviting NRA members to the event encouraged their attendance: “Governor Ralph Northam and his gun ban allies are ready to push their extreme anti-gun agenda when the General Assembly convenes its special session tomorrow–July 9th. Your NRA is calling on members and Second Amendment supporters to join in the fight against Gov. Northam’s misguided gun control proposals by coming to Richmond on July 9th to personally urge their elected officials to stand up for our rights and oppose the Northam gun ban agenda.”

The most astonishing part of the announcement came in the details of the event: “WHERE: Pocahontas Building, 6th Floor, House Conference Room.” That just happens to be the Conference Room of the Speaker of the House of Delegates!

On this topic the Speaker effectively relinquished any impartial role of conducting the business of the House and became the host for those opposing common-sense gun safety laws that according to dozens of public opinion polls are supported by an overwhelming majority of Virginians. It brings back memories of the time this same Speaker moved from his position as Speaker to take the floor of the House of Delegates to speak passionately against a women’s right to make decisions about her own reproductive health.

The announcement included some red meat to encourage participation: “Our members are concerned that Gov. Northam’s special session is a political stunt aimed at distracting from his scandals…”

With the cooperation of the Speaker of the House of Delegates we clearly have the fox guarding the chicken coop in Virginia.

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Hudgins to Hold Community Meeting on Suspicious Death Investigation Near Hunters Woods

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins is holding a community meeting to provide updates on a suspicious death investigation near Hunters Woods Plaza.

The meeting will be held on Monday, July 29 at 7 p.m. at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road).

Hudgins, police officers from the Fairfax County Police Department’s Reston District Station and representatives from the Hunters woods Neighborhood Coalition will attend the meeting.

Attendees will receive an update on the investigation and discuss how to keep the Hunters Woods area safe.

Jose Lorenzo Guillen Mejia, 24, of Reston, was found dead on June 23 near a path between Hunters Woods Plaza and Breton Court.

Police are investigating the incident as a “suspicious death.” Gunshots were reported moments before police responded to the scene. The state’s Office of the Medical Examiner declined to release the cause and manner of death to Reston Now.

Photo via FCPD

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Thursday Morning Notes

The Harry Potter-inspired Offices of Reston-based Macedon Technologies — The company, which accelerates digital transformation for clients by using technology and software consultants, has been repeatedly listed as one of the best places to work. Its new 25,000-square-foot office has a Harry Potter theme. [Fairfax County Economic Development Authority]

Reston Association Board of Directors to Discuss Boats and Docks — The board meets tonight at 6:30 p.m. to discuss changes to its lake and boat resolutions and early thoughts on the budget. RA CEO Hank Lynch will also offer an update on RA’s strategic plan. [Reston Association]

Take a Break Concert is Tonight — Enjoy Tower House Band and dance music for all ages at Lake Anne Plaza from 7-9 p.m. today. [Reston Community Center]

Photo submitted by Christian Bolus

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