Farewell, American Press Institute Building

Demolition began on Wednesday at 11690 Sunrise Valley Dr., where for more than 40 years stood Virginia’s only building designed by famed architect Marcel Breuer.

The building formerly housed the headquarters of the American Press Institute, but had been empty since API merged with another organization in 2012.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in July approved Sekas Homes’ application to build 34 townhouses and 10 condos on the site.

The proposal was approved after a late effort by historians, design experts and Reston citizens, who protested that the Brutalist building should be repurposed for another use rather than destroyed. The building had not been considered for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places because it is less than 50 years old.

The building owner and commercial real estate representatives said there was no interest from other businesses to relocate to the 45,000-square-foot building.

The demolition is expected to take about three weeks. Looking through some of the holes made Wednesday, it was visible that the tear-down was happening even as some of the Mid-Century modern furniture and other fixtures remained.


Sunrise Valley Drive Continues March Toward New Development

Rendering of RP 11720 Sunrise Valley/Fairfax County

Just days after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a controversial residential development on the site of the former American Press Institute building, the Fairfax County Planning Commission reviewed an application from the same owner for 54 townhomes a few feet away.

Office building at 11720 Sunrise Valley Dr.RP 11720, LLC, part of Rooney Properties (which also owns the API building), plans to tear down a 30-year old office building at Sunrise Valley Drive and Roland Clarke Place to build the urban-style homes.

The commission expressed concerns Thursday about parking, both in everyday and in special situations. Among the concerns: is 19 feet wide enough for garages, which are planned for the four-story townhouses? And where will delivery trucks go when servicing the units that front Sunrise Valley Drive?

The developers believe that width is sufficient for garages and planning staff says the delivery may have to block someone’s driveway.

Parking, transportation demand management (TDM) contributions and money to the Fairfax County Park Authority also came up as issues at Thursday’s public hearing, so the commission deferred decision on the project until Sept. 24.

Developer representatives said they did not include TDM because of the low-density estimate for the new neighborhood but they are willing to work with developers towards that if it is a development condition.

The parcel is at 11720 Sunrise Valley Dr., just west of the Mercer Condos, (part of JBG’s Reston Heights) and right across Roland Clarke Place from the American Press Institute property, where 34 townhouses and 10 condominiums are planned.

The property also sits across from Reston National Golf Course, which has fended off redevelopment for now.

The development would include a quarter-acre pocket park to the north of the proposed private street, which is designed to include public art, sidewalks, signage, bike racks, benches, light poles and landscaping, according to the application.

The applicant also proposes a pedestrian walkway that transverses the property north to south to provide a pedestrian connection through the development to the pocket park and to the trail and cycle track along Sunrise Valley Drive.

The developer is proposing a $151,160 proffer contribution to the Fairfax County Park Authority for the construction and maintenance of athletic fields of $151,600. The park authority has requested $260,752, based on the calculation of $1.72 per square foot of gross floor area.

Lori Greenlief of Mcguire Woods, speaking for the developer, said they think that amount is sufficient since residents would also be full Reston Association members with access to RA recreational facilities.

Photos – Top, rendering of new townhouses/Credit: Fairfax County; Bottom: current office building at 11720 Sunrise Valley Drive/Reston Now file.


Supervisors OK Razing API Building to Make Way for Homes

Former API Building

After a campaign by architectural archivists and historians to save and repurpose the Marcel Breuer-designed former American Press Institute building in Reston, the building learned its fate Tuesday night.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to allow developer Sekas Homes to demolish the 42-year-old Brutalist building and construct in its place 34 townhomes and 10 condos.

Interior of API BuildingHunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said while she appreciated the efforts to save the building at 11690 Sunrise Valley Dr., the building did not have historical designation and was not in a historical overlay district.

The supervisors’ mission is to stick to judging an application on “meeting the criteria set forth in the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance for this area and supported by recommendation of approval by Department of Planning and Zoning,” she said.

While a DPZ staff report recommended approval for the redevelopment, the Fairfax County Planning Commission did not.

Prior to the supervisors’ vote, the board heard from more than 20 speakers on both side of the issue.

Cheryl Terio-Simon, wife late Reston founder Bob Simon and the vice chair of the Reston Historic Trust, pointed out that one of Simon’s seven principles for Reston was “beauty, both structural and natural, is necessary for the good life and must be fostered.”

“With the API building [Breuer] demonstrated he can do small and gentle as well as bold,” she told the supervisors. “He gave as much attention to the interior as well as the exterior. Natural light was brought in from outside. Like Lake Anne Village Center, it is set into the landscape and does not shout from the curb. Like Lake Anne, it is Brutalist architecture with human scale and elegance.”

But there were several speakers who enumerated the impracticality of the 45,000-square-foot building, which has been empty since the API merged with the Newspaper Association of America in 2012.

“It’s a building no one wants to occupy,” said James Lee, president of Ronney Properties, which purchased the building three years ago. “We entered a contract to sell to Sekas because of his understanding of the market. I understand sentimental attachments to this building. It would have been nice if they put a historical encumbrance on it before it went to market, because we would not have bought it if we knew if was functionally obsolete and could not be leased.”

“We have determined adaptive use is [not possible] because of the way it was built,” he added. “As a result if the rezoning is denied, we are left with an asset that has no cash value. It has to be demolished.”

Josh Simon of KLNB Commercial Real Estate said his company has tried for more than two years to lease the property. They have shown it to schools, law firms, religious institutions “and we had virtually no interest,” he said.

The supervisors and the planning commission have said they would increase efforts to identify potential historic structures so this kind of struggle does not happen again. The supervisors also passed a motion that efforts will be made to preserve an archive of the building and its history.


Last Chance for Tall Oaks, API Building Comes Tuesday

Empty Tall OaksFront of API BuildingTwo items on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ agenda for Tuesday may mean the end of two structures that have stood in Reston for more than 40 years.

Jefferson Apartment Group’s (JAG) application to raze most of Tall Oaks Village Center and turn it into a mostly residential neighborhood will have a public hearing at the supervisors’ meeting (Fairfax County Government Center) at 3:30 p.m.

JAG’s plan for 156 homes (townhomes, 2-over-2 townhomes and multifamily units), 8,500 square feet of retail space and about 6,000 square feet of office was recommended for approval by the Fairfax County Planing Commission last week.

If the Board of Supervisors approved JAG’s plan it will be the first time an original Reston Village Center will essentially disappear.

Tall Oaks thrived in Reston’s early days, but as the community expanded, so did retail options. The center has been failing since Giant Foods left in 2007. The center is now only 13 percent occupied and other anchor stores have no interest in opening at the center, JAG reps have said.

The retail planned for the new Tall Oaks will be neighborhood-serving small shops such as fast food, coffee shops, and dry cleaning, though many residents are still lobbying for at least a small food store.

The new Tall Oaks will also have green space, an outdoor amphitheater, outdoor fitness stations and a children’s play area incorporating natural elements. See the county staff report, including development conditions, for more details.

Meanwhile, the supervisors will also be making a ruling on the future of the Marcel Breuer-designed former home of the American Press Institute. That public hearing is at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The Brutalist building on Sunrise Valley Drive was home to the API from 1974 to 2012. It has been empty and for sale ever since.

Seakas Homes has been working for more than a year on a plan to build 34 townhouses and 10 condos on the wooded spot where the API building now stands. However, as the plans approached their date with the Fairfax County Planning Commission last month, a grassroots effort of architectural historians and former API staffers lobbied to save the building.

Library supporters have also asked the county to consider it as a new spot for the Reston Regional Library, which is the county already has $10 million in bonds for construction.

The API building is the only Breuer-designed building in Virginia.

The planning commission reached a tie vote (4-4) on Sekas Homes’ plans in June. The commission sent it to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation for denial. However, county rules say there must be a majority, so the commission voted again last week. They sent it to the supervisors a second time — this time with a 7-4 majority for denial.

Will the supervisors agree? Stay tuned.

Photos: Top, Tall Oaks; Bottom, API Building


API Building Gets a New Vote — With Same Results — at Fairfax Planning Commission

Former API BuildingThe Fairfax County Planning Commission had a “do over” of sorts on Thursday regarding the former American Press Institute building.

The planning commission had to go back and take another look at its June vote to recommend denial of Sekas Homes’ plan to tear down the Brutalist office building and build 34 townhouses and 10 condos in its place along Sunrise Valley Drive.

After the historical significance of the Marcel Breuer building — the only structure in Virginia designed by the famous architect — was brought to the planning commission’s attention fairly late in the application process, the commission reached a tie when voting for a recommendation for denial last month.

The board sent the recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. However, it was then brought to the planning commission’s attention that that recommendation was not valid since it needs a majority vote.

“Under the county zoning ordinance, the planning commission can only take valid action only if authorized by a majority,” said Hunter Mill PC representative Frank de le Fe. “As a result, our votes did not constitute any action.”

The board then held some discussion on parking considerations, but nothing about the historical preservation of the building.

In the end, it voted Thursday 7-4 for denial of the project. The Board of Supervisors will make a final ruling at a date not yet determined.

The building, which housed API from 1974 to 2012, has been empty for four years.

Former API employees and architectural historians began protesting the plans and signing a petition last spring to make the planning commission aware of the building’s historic significance. There has also been a grassroots effort to get Fairfax County officials to consider turning the building into a public library.

The building has not been considered for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places because it is less than 50 years old.


After ‘Major Screw Up,’ Planning Commission Recommends Denial of API Building Rezoning

Former API Building1

The Marcel Breuer-designed building in Reston will get a reprieve after some of the Fairfax County Planning Commission admitted “a major screw up” by them. The commission will send Sekas Homes rezoning application to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors with a recommendation for denial.

“This was a major screw up,” said At-Large Member James Hart. “I hope this is a wake up call to us that we need to make sure something like this does not happen again.”

The building on Sunrise Valley Drive is the only Breuer-designed building in Virginia. Breuer is a famed architect of the Brutalist style of the 1960s and 1970s. The building housed the American Press Institute (API) from 1974 to 2012. It has been vacant since 2012, when API merged with the Newspaper Association of America.

Sekas Homes is planning to rezone the property to build 34 townhomes and 10 condos. A planning commission staff report earlier this year recommended the project for approval.

But that was before the protest of the last few weeks, including a petition signed by more than 1,300 people and several speakers at a May planning commission public hearing, made the commission aware of the building’s historic significance.

The building has not been considered for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places because it is less than 50 years old.

“This is a treasure,” said Sully commissioner Karen Keys-Gamarra. “I understand we are bound by the comprehensive plan, but I think we made a mistake. I think we need to find some way to protect and preserve [the building] for our community.”

There was a long discussion among the commissioners about what to do with application. Frank de le Fe, who  represents Hunter Mill, the district in which the building is located, said he is sympathetic to the “passionate and extensive movement to delay or further defer decision this application.”

However, he said the commissioners are bound by the process of the comprehensive plan, and the historical significance of the building was not noted during that process two years ago.

He said he was making that recommendation with very mixed feelings, however.

“On a personal note, the recommendation I am about to make is one of the most difficult ones I have had to make in many years on the planning commission, especially as I look at the petitions,” he said.

Many on the board did not agree with de le Fe’s recommendation. They asked for a deferral of the decision, as well as further study of the reuse of the building.

That idea visibly upset developer John Sekas.

“I stuck my neck way out on a limb with this application,” Sekas told the board. “The owner wanted to take building down before we filed application. If this process goes any further, my neck gets cut off. “

“I’m a developer of 30 years. For 30 years I have worked in this county. I have defended this county. The only reason we were [originally] deferred was to a small stormwater issue. We heard from no citizens other than architectural review [courses]. We have gotten calls from neighbors who WANT this project.”

The supervisors will likely further discuss the building’s historic impact before making their own decision.

The planning commission also unanimously passed a motion to recommend that the supervisors’ staff  “be directed to undertake whatever appropriate inventory of historic sites in Reston area we missed a year ago and may that effort be prioritized in light of this situation.”


Op-Ed: API Hosted Pulitzer Prize Winners, Visionaries

Front of API BuildingThis is an op-ed by William L. Winter, Executive Director of the American Press Institute from 1987 to 2003. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

The many voices now calling for action to save Reston’s historic, Marcel Breuer-designed American Press Institute (API) building from demolition are singing in close concert with the city’s founding principles. This unique planned community called Reston was intended to be, and has, since its creation in the 1960s, been true to its founding principles of “Live, Work, Play, and Get Involved.”

As Reston has grown and matured, its leaders and most prominent institutions have worked hand-in-hand with residents to make sure the community is, in all ways possible, a special place. Reston today thus is a careful reflection of the city’s founding principles. Its parks, schools, golf courses, and other public venues exist comfortably and in careful balance with residential and commercial development, and echo founder Robert E. Simon’s call for a community of, by, and for those seeking immersion in the very best life that a true “community” can offer.

There can be no doubting that the historically and architecturally significant API building on Sunrise Valley Drive has contributed greatly to Reston’s feel of distinctiveness. To have within its borders a classic structure created by the famed designer of the Whitney Museum (now the Met Breuer) in New York City, the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, the headquarters of the U.S. Departments of HUD and HEW in Washington, D.C., and many other noted structures around the globe gives Reston an air of style, class, and grace — a sense that the community truly understands and appreciates the best work of the world’s most talented individuals.

Adding to the API building’s special aura has been the flow of supremely talented women and men who came there as faculty members, guest speakers, and honored guests, including:

Washington Post Publisher Katharine Graham and Executive Editor Ben Bradlee, both of whom stood firm in supporting their newsroom’s dogged reporting during the Watergate saga;

Al Neuharth, newspaper visionary and chairman of Gannett Co., Inc., the largest publisher of U.S. newspapers. Neuharth created a national newspaper (USA TODAY) and turned it into a historic success despite critics who lampooned it as “McPaper” because of its reliance on brief stories. He then leveraged that success into the creation of The Freedom Forum and its Newseum, the highly popular Washington, D.C., museum devoted to celebration of the First Amendment. Neuharth also played a major role in API’s decision to move to Reston.

Pulitzer Prize winner Ellen Goodman, among the most widely syndicated columnists in the U.S., was the first woman to open the op-ed pages of newspapers across the country to female voices during an era when women began to speak loudly about equality.

Arthur Sulzberger Sr. and Jr., dynamic publishers of The New York Times. To this day, the Sulzberger family continues to pour huge resources into The Times’ newsroom, even as most other newspaper owners are in financial retreat.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists such as Washington Post investigative reporter Bob Woodward, who, in tandem with Post reporter Carl Bernstein, revealed the government corruption that came to be known as Watergate.

Janet Hill, a member of the board of directors of the general partner of the Carlyle Group, and a director of The Wendys Company, Dean Foods Company and Esquire Bank. From 1981 until her retirement in 2010, she served as Vice President of Alexander & Associates, Inc. She is married to Calvin Hill, a running back in the National Football League for 12 seasons. Grant Hill, a graduate of Reston’s South Lakes High School and a retired professional basketball player, is their son.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize winner, biographer, historian, and political commentator. Kearnes Goodwin has written biographies of several U.S. presidents, including “The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga” and “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.” “Lincoln,” the Steven Spielberg film that was nominated for 12 Academy Awards in 2012, was loosely based on Kearns’ biography of the 16th U.S. president.

Jeff MacNelly, three time Pulitzer-Prize winning editorial cartoonist and creator of  the popular comic strip “Shoe,” and Jack Ohman, 2016 Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist.

World-renowned management consultants/authors Tom Peters and Alan Weiss. Peters, who has been called “the Red Bull of management thinkers,” is best known for “In Search of Excellence.” Weiss’s consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients such as Merck, Hewlett-Packard, Mercedes-Benz, The Federal Reserve, The New York Times Corporation, and more than 500 other leading organizations.

National political figures such as New York City Mayor Ed Koch and Republican operative Lee Atwater, the man largely responsible for the GOP’s “Southern Strategy.”

Cristiana Chamorro, noted journalist and daughter of former Nicaraguan President Violeta Chamorro.

Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz, owner-publisher of Mexico City’s largest daily Newspaper, El Universal.

In addition, prominent university presidents and faculty, leading business executives, entrepreneurs, and scores of top newspaper editors and business-side executives flowed through the API building’s magnificent entry foyer. They engaged seminar and conference attendees in candid conversation and vigorous debate about organizational leadership, and contemporary trends and issues in the world of journalism, and beyond.

Tens of thousands of program attendees participated in seminars that lasted three to 14 days. When they departed Reston, they left behind millions of dollars spent for hotels, meals, entertainment, and other expenses. Returning home, they shared stories of a special planned community tucked into the rolling hills of Northern Virginia. A Place Called Reston.

Clearly, the Breuer building has brought countless blessings to the Reston community. It is only right that the city now returns the favor by ensuring that the remarkable structure stands for many more decades. That would be a declaration that Reston appropriately honors its past, embraces its future, and clearly understands how to marry the two for the good of its citizens.



Library Advocates: Repurpose, Don’t Demolish, Former API Building

Front of API BuildingDon’t bulldoze the Marcel Breuer-designed former American Press Institute building in Reston. Turn it into the new Reston Regional Library.

That’s the suggestion of the Fairfax Library Advocates, who are urging citizens to write to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the Fairfax County Planning Commission in support of the idea.

The planning commission will make a decision June 16 on whether to recommend Sekas Homes’ rezoning application to the Board of Supervisors.

Sekas seeks to build 34 townhomes and 10 condominiums on the 4.6 acres off of Sunrise Valley Drive in South Reston. A county staff report recommends approval of the application.But in the last few weeks, there has been concern by historical groups and former employees of the American Press Institute, which was housed in the building from 1974 until 2012. The building has been vacant and for sale for more than four years.

The groups are urging the county and state to consider the building for historic designation, even though it is less than 50 years old.

The library advocates say repurpose it. Reston needs a new library and $10 million in county bonds have been set aside to build one. The current plan is to build in the Reston Town Center North area, close to where the current Reston Regional Library stands.<

Here is what the library advocates have to say on their blog:

Fairfax County’s Architectural Review Board has asked that the county reconsider bulldozing the American Press Institute (API) building on Sunrise Valley Drive in Reston.

They believe the building, designed by Hungarian-born architect Marcel Breuer, has historic architectural significance and should not be taken down and replaced with townhouses. API is the only building in Virginia designed by Breuer.

This building at 48,000 square feet is large enough to house a regional library. It’s in an excellent location. The $10 million library bond approved by voters is enough to purchase and renovate the building.

Current development plans for the library parcel in Town Center North and for the API site on Sunrise Valley Drive need to be paused to consider an adaptive reuse of the API building as a public library.

Please write the Planning Commissioners and the Board of Supervisors as soon as possible to ask that this option be considered.


Petition: API Building: ‘Crucial Chapter in Reston’s Rich History’

Front of API BuildingSupporters of saving the former American Press Institute building have started an online petition to protect the Brutalist building from the wrecking ball.

The building was designed by noted architect Marcel Breuer, who also planned Atlanta’s Central Library, the Whitney Museum of Art in New York City, and buildings at Yale University and New York University, among others.

The building housed the API from 1974 to 2012. It has been vacant and for sale since 2012.

Sekas Homes is looking to rezone the 4.6-acres of land from industrial to residential in order to build 34 townhouses and 10 condominiums at 11690 Sunrise Valley Dr. A county staff report recommends approval of the application.

There has been a last-minute effort, including letters from the Fairfax County Architectural Review Board and state historical society, to stop that process.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission toured the empty building last week and will make a recommendation on June 16.

The building is the only Breuer-designed project in Virginia and should be given historical designation, some say. Others are of the opinion that it is an outdated office building that is ripe for redevelopment. A planning commission public hearing was held last month.

Here’s what the petition says:

The American Press Institute (API) building in Reston, VA, is under the threat of demolition.

It is the only building in Virginia by the internationally acclaimed architect Marcel Breuer, “a master of Modernism” who also designed the Whitney Museum of American Art (now the Met Breuer), UNESCO Headquartersin Paris, and the HUD buildingin Washington, D.C.

For nearly 38 years, tens of thousands of news media executives — representing a “Who’s Who in Journalism” — attended leadership seminars in the nonprofit’s Breuer-designed headquarters in Reston.

  • The API building is historically and architecturally significant.
  • It is a crucial chapter in Reston’s rich history.
  • It should have a second life instead of being torn down.

That’s why we’re asking you to sign this petition to save the API building.

On June 16, the Fairfax County Planning Commission will make a final decision on a local developer’s application for rezoning the property from business to residential and a demolition permit.

If the commission and, soon after, the Board of Supervisors approves this plan, the building will be razed so that single- and multi-family housing can be built on the site.

A growing coalition — local and nationwide — questions this plan given what’s at stake, including:

  • Fairfax County Architectural Review Board (ARB)
  • Fairfax County History Commission
  • Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Historic Resources
  • Reston and other Fairfax County residents
  • Community leaders
  • Architects, historians and preservationists
  • Journalists and other news media executives across North America who attended API programs
  • Former API staff members
  • Those who believe that architectural treasures should be preserved

County, State Experts: API Building Should Be Considered for Historic Designation

Front of API Building

To some, the former American Press Institute headquarters on Sunrise Valley Drive is a vacant office building on a nice wooded lot. To others, it is a shining example of Mid-Century modernism and should possibly be included in the National Register of Historic Places.

Fairfax County and Commonwealth of Virginia Architecture experts have written to Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova asking for a last-minute reconsideration of Sekas Homes’ rezoning application for the property.

Sekas Homes application will go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission Thursday night.

Sekas is looking to rezone the 4.6-acres of land from industrial to residential in order to build 34 townhouses and 10 condominiums at 11690 Sunrise Valley Dr. A county staff report recommends approval of the application.

The Brutalist-style building, designed by noted architect Marcel Breuer housed the API from 1974 until API merged with the Newspaper Association of America in 2012. The building has been vacant since.

In Sekas’ application, it said there were no known heritage resources on the land.

That’s where the architectural experts differ.

“The ARB requests that the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors request and review adaptive reuse studies to answer some fundamental questions about the building’s feasibility of adaptive reuse, so that informed decisions can be made based on professional analysis,” Fairfax County Architectural Review Board Chair Jason D. Sutphin wrote following a meeting on the subject Tuesday.

“Further evaluation of resources found to be potentially eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places should be further evaluated, and if such resources are found to be eligible, mitigation measures should be developed,” he said.

Sutphin says the ARB needs to look “at resources throughout the Reston community and that there may be potential historic overlay districts (HOD) in addition to the established HOD at Lake Anne Village Center.”

A state historian agrees.

“It is our opinion that the API building reaches the level of exceptional importance as an outstanding example of Brutalist architecture as designed by internationally known architect Marcel Breuer,” David Edwards of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources wrote to Bulova.

“Breuer’s career spans several decades and his portfolio includes such noted buildings as the Breuer House in New Canaan, Ct.; UNESCO Headquarters in Paris; and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, just to name a few. The API Building is equally significant at state and local levels, and, as our research indicates, the only Breuer building in Virginia.”

“If the API Building were to be demolished, the community and the state would lose the work of a master architect, Edwards’ letter continues. “Additionally, and maybe even more importantly, Reston would lose a building that is part of the community’s distinctive architectural history.”

Edwards recommends the building be renovated for office space or repurposed for residential use. He also says the building has potential for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.


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

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.


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