Lake Anne Plaza Business Owner Protests Hanging of Historic Pharmacy Icons on Damaged Wall

The owner of a business at Lake Anne Plaza has filed a cease-and-desist order urging the Reston Historic Trust & Museum and the Lake Anne Condominium Association to temporarily halt the installation of the historic Lakeside Pharmacy icons on a damaged wall at the plaza.

Sarah Selvaraj, the owner of Kiln and Co., says that installing the icons — which where removed last year from their original location at the plaza — could cause further damage to the wall near her business. She says the board has not adequately maintained the wall or addressed her concerns about the damage, which she says has stalled her ability to install a much-needed air conditioning unit in her business for almost two years.

“The internal structure of the wall is already deteriorating and the addition of any signage or other load-bearing material to the wall is going to further add pressure and cause significantly more damage to the wall… the ramifications of this would be significant and detrimental to all property with exposure to or supported by the Wall and their property owners,” wrote Maria Simon, managing partner of The Geller Law Group.

A spokesperson for the Reston Historic Trust & Museum said the museum is expected to provide a statement on the issue sometime today. The board did not respond to a request for comment from Reston Now. The icons — which served as advertisements for the former Lakeside Pharmacy — were expected to be installed over the weekend, according to an email received by Reston Now.

The letter also asserts that the board has “ignored repeated requests to make any repairs.”

“When such harm occurs, the LARCA Board and the Reston Museum will be facing significant liability to all parties who have been harmed as a result.”

Selvaraj says she is concerned about a pattern of issues related to maintenance and repairs at the plaza and its businesses.

Her business — a shop that combines the worlds of pottery and custard — is currently closed due to structural damage. A pipe burst last Wednesday caused major damage to the shop. It’s unclear when the business will reopen.

She says operating the Reston location of her business is especially challenging. Kiln and Co. has other locations in Vienna and Falls Church.

“When you look at the empty storefronts at the plaza, you walk around and wonder why. Then, when you own a business here, you no longer wonder.”

Photos via Sarah Selvaraj

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Community Celebrates ‘Mr. Bob’ for 40 Years at Local Safeway


Over the weekend, community members gathered at the Safeway in South Lakes Village Center as “Mr. Bob,” who has worked at the grocery store for more than 40 years, completed his last day of work.

Residents launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for “Mr. Bob.” As of today (Monday), the campaign raised $3,325 of its $3,500 goal.

Reston resident Suzannah Simmons, who organized the page, wrote the following on the page:

Bob at South Llakes Safeway is known by everyone who shops there for his smile, help, and overall amazing disposition. He has worked for Safeway for over 40 years! He even has lollipops for all the kids and some “kids” who are now in their 40s have never known Safeway without Mr.Bob. Most regular shoppers always wait for his register even when other cashiers are open. We are so sad that he is retiring, but are taking donations to give him a retirement “thank- you” gift from his community.

His last day was on Sunday (Sept. 15). Residents and shoppers gifted him the money, which was raised over the last week.

Photo via Sarah McCue

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Fairfax County Celebrating ‘Try Transit’ with Chances for Free Bus Fare and Prizes This Week

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation is offering residents free bus fare and prizes this week to celebrate Try Transit Week, which is in effect through Friday.

Fairfax County residents can try transit and go car-free with a free $50 Smart Trip Card to use on transit or parking at county Metrorail parking garages to residents. In order to receive the gift card, residents must complete an online survey. Social media users can also share photos of their “smart commuting” experience on the FCODT’s Facebook for a chance to win a free Echo Dot.

Other regional and statewide partners are also offering other promotions:

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation is invested in improving the infrastructure and resources to give commuters choices to get to work or get around town. Fairfax County invites residents to try some of these options during Try Transit Week and Car Free Days to build better commuting habits that will benefit us personally and globally today and well into the future,” according to FCDOT.

File photo

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Reston Home Remodeling: Your Questions Answered!

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

You’ve started to think about a home remodel and it’s suddenly taking up a LOT of your time and is quickly becoming overwhelming. We get it. This isn’t (and shouldn’t be) your full time job!

So this month, we’re providing answers to some of the most commonly asked questions and concerns we hear from homeowners just like you.

Where do I start? 

Figuring out the different approaches to home remodeling is key to helping you understand what type of contractor you need. Added bonus? If you’ve already started getting estimates it’ll give you insights into why they may be all over the place. A general rule of thumb:

  • A general contractor (GC) will usually focus on the install and execution of your vision, meaning you take on more of the legwork in making design and materials decisions, ordering/buying materials and managing the project yourself.
  • A design-build approach means you are guided through your remodel all the way from design to construction with project management along the way. Design-build firms do the heavy lifting so you don’t have to. They do, however, tend to focus on medium to large scale home remodels.

What is the cost per square foot for a home remodel?

This is a great question! Like most things in life, there is no simple answer. It depends on the level of service you are being provided (for example, full service design-build vs. general contractor), the level of finishes you want (from cabinetry to countertops to fixtures and everything in between) and the complexity and size of the space or spaces you want to remodel (is that a “load bearing wall” I hear you say?).

Read more in Square Foot Pricing for a Home Remodel: What You Should Know.

How long does a home remodel take?

Ah, yes, queue HGTV. Three weeks and a few thousand dollars, right? Not so fast! If someone tells you a few weeks, run! Designing thoughtful remodels take time. The design phase comes first, then construction. Most of our remodels take somewhere between 8 to 14 weeks depending on the size and scope (and that’s just the construction phase)!

Having realistic expectations about how long your home will be under construction will set you up for success and avoid those “renovation nightmares” you hear so much about. Don’t let anyone start your remodel until you’ve finalized the design and selected all your materials (materials should be waiting on construction and not the other way around). Once everything is ordered and/or delivered and ready to go, then, and only then, can the sledge hammers start swinging!

Do I need a permit for my home remodel?

Permits are like insurance policies; if you don’t have them and something goes wrong, you’ve got no coverage and no recourse. Some remodeling companies or general contractors will tell you that you don’t need a permit. It saves them time and money and allows them to skirt around limitations set by the state as to the size of projects they’re authorized to do.

Bottom line: Don’t let others put the responsibility on you to pull your own permits (again, not a good idea), so ask your prospective remodeling partner this question at the outset.

In Reston, if you are part of Reston Association you will also need approval from the Design Review Board (DRB) for any exterior changes to your home. You do not need approval for interior changes.

What red flags should I look out for?

There are a few:

  • The contractor hasn’t worked on a project of similar size and scope to your project before
  • They tell you they can get started on construction right away
  • They don’t have a well-rounded website with project examples and client testimonials (and/or won’t give you any references to talk to)
  • They outsource all of their work to subcontractors and have no in-house team for any aspect of your remodel. Read more in Life Under Construction: Who’s in Your Home?
  • The contractor isn’t licensed and insured

Read more frequently asked questions and get the answers you’re looking for! Still not sure what you need? Here are resources to help you figure out what type of approach is right for your remodel and how to find the best remodelers in Reston.

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Races This Saturday Raising Money for Aneurysm Research

The yearly Susco charity races are around the corner.

On Saturday (Sept. 21), the Susco family will host their 12th annual 8k and 2k in remembrance of their son, Tim, who died of a brain aneurysm in 2007.

All proceeds will go toward brain aneurysm research and organ donation awareness. The event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the cause so far alongside the Washington Regional Transplant Community, according to a press release.

The races will begin at South Lakes High School (Gate 1, Seahawks Drive) around 8:30 a.m., regardless of weather conditions.

Registration for the event is $20 for participants doing a 2K and $45 for people who want to run the full 8K.

Anyone who cannot attend the event but wants to support the cause can donate online.

Photo via Susco 8K and 2K: Running With Tim/Facebook

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Now Open: Mathnasium in North Point Village Center

Mathnasium, a learning center that offers customized math tutoring, officially opened its doors in North Point Village Center today (Monday).

Assessments for placement begin this week at the Reston location (1424 North Point Village Center). The business will be open for instructional hours on October 15.

For now, the business is open for assessments from Monday through Thursday from 3-8 p.m and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. No testing is offered on Sunday or Friday.

To celebrate its opening, Mathnasium has launched a grand opening sweepstakes — which offers up a free six-month membership to the Reston location.

Mathnasium also has a location in Herndon (2485 Centreville Road).

Photo courtesy Mathnasium/Facebook

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Monday Morning Notes

Herndon Woman Killed in Crash on Dulles Access Road — “Police said Megan E. Bell, 28, of Herndon, was the driver and only occupant of a Honda Civic involved in the single-vehicle crash that occurred at 2:34 a.m. along the Dulles Access Road (Route 267), a quarter-mile west of Route 123 in Tysons, according to Virginia State Police.” [The Washington Post]

Campus Commons Project Up for Vote — The Reston Planning and Zoning Committee is reviewing the project, which has received criticism from citizen-led organizations, tonight at 7:30 p.m. [Reston Planning and Zoning Committee]

Vehicle Car Payments Due — The county mailed out more than 800,000 annual bills to vehicle owners, and because Oct. 5 falls on a Saturday, this year’s deadline to pay your bill is Monday, Oct. 7. We have many ways to pay and extended hours to help make the process easy for everyone. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo by Jay Westcott

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