Norton Scott takes county to court over handling of Reston Town Center North proposal

Norton Scott’s plan for Reston’s civic core is now a matter of litigation (courtesy Norton Scott)

A developer that filed a plan for a new Reston Regional Library and affordable housing in the Reston Town Center North area is challenging Fairfax County’s handling of its procurement process in court. 

The complaint, filed by Reston Civic Core LLC late last year, is being litigated even after developer Foulger-Pratt withdrew its offer of a public-private partnership for the same area — a move that leaves no immediate option for the redevelopment.

Foulger-Pratt offered an unsolicited proposal in October 2021 under the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act to redevelop two properties with up to 350 affordable apartments and a new library on land owned by the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

The county and FCHRA declined to comment, given that the issue is under active litigation.

“As a matter of policy, we don’t comment on matters in litigation,” said Linda Hoffman, a county spokeswoman.

In addition to retaining 30 units at Bowman Towne Court, Norton Scott’s plan called for 324 affordable housing units and a new library on mostly county-owned property next to the Bowman Towne Center property. It also included a public plaza, homeless shelter, performing arts amenities, and above-ground parking for the Hunter Mill District Supervisor’s Office and the police department.

The complaint formally alleges that the county violated Dillon’s rule and urges the county to accept its application for consideration. It also calls on the court to cancel the interim agreement with Foulger-Pratt — which has since been canned.

The county issued a call for competing proposals — as required by law. Norton Scott’s competing plan was rejected. 

The county moved to sign an interim agreement with Foulger-Pratt in July, but the agreement was voided in February. Foulger-Pratt cited “significantly higher construction costs and recent interest rate hikes” as the primary reasons for scrapping the proposal.

Norton Scott argues that the because the proposal publicly posted by the county had 74 of 188 pages fully redacted, it barred the developer from developing an understanding of its competition.

“As a result of the heavily-redacted proposal, it was impossible for potential offers to gain a clear understanding of what the county sought when it invited competing proposals of the project,” the complaint says. “The lack of transparency runs counter to the principles of open competition and access to information that are at the foundation of public procurements.”

The developer also alleges that the county did not not formally reject its proposal and instead “determined that the proposal will not be accepted for detailed review,” according to legal documents.

“Under the PPEA, after accepting the proposal or consideration, the county was without authority to reverse course and not accept the proposal for consideration,” the complaint states.

At a later point, the county then stated the proposal was “ineligible for review.”

A task force with various stakeholders is currently examining key issues in Reston Town Center North. 

Chelsea Rao, a senior vice president with Norton Scott, said it seems that the development’s team solution is not being considered at all.

“It seems silly that there is a task force looking for a solution that is not considering the option we have proposed,” Rao said.

The case is currently in the discovery phase.

Read more on FFXnow…

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