Developer Bozzuto is deferring “indefinitely” its application to redevelop St. Johns Wood, according to information sent out by Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ office Thursday afternoon.
Hudgins’ office says the community meeting on the project that had been scheduled for Tuesday is being canceled, and a representative for the supervisor said it is her understanding that “all meetings” regarding the proposal are off the table.
The plan was scheduled to go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission on May 25, following additional meetings with Reston’s Planning & Zoning Committee and Design Review Board on May 15 and 16. Meetings with the P&Z Committee and DRB this week featured many comments against the project from North Point residents, and the DRB in particular was critical of many elements of the project.
Brian Winterhalter of Cooley LLP, the commercial real-estate attorney representing Bozzuto, said at Tuesday’s DRB meeting that his team would follow up about scheduling a work session with the Design Review Board. However, he expressed disappointment with how the process was progressing.
The proposal has been in the works since 2014 and has seen numerous changes in that time. The current plan calls for 481 multifamily units within two buildings on the 14.3-acre property.
Winterhalter has not responded to requests for comment.
Speaking to representatives for developer Bozzuto during an informational session Tuesday night, the vice chair of Reston’s Design Review Board expressed deep concern about the future of the community.
“It’s imperative as we get new developments that they respect the Reston quality, and not allow us to become simply another suburban development,” Richard Newlon said. “Internal overdevelopment will destroy Reston.”
Newlon, who has served on the DRB for 18 years, said roughly 10 percent of the 134 clusters in Reston are owned by developers such as Bozzuto, JBG and Lerner. He said the St. Johns Wood project is a “precedent-producing application.”
“One of my concerns is if all of those 13 or so clusters do the same thing, Reston as Reston exists today is gone,” he said. “Reston as we know it would cease to exist.”
Bozzuto’s redevelopment proposal features 481 multifamily units within two buildings on the 14.3-acre North Point property, where there are currently 250 multifamily units in nine buildings.
Members of Reclaim Reston also spoke during the session, presenting similar information to what they did at a Monday night session with the Planning & Zoning Committee. Members of the DRB agreed with much of what the affected parties shared, including about the apparent lack of context-sensitive design within the proposal.
“Contextualism is a term that suggests an architecture that responds to its surroundings by respecting what’s already there, and I think we have a problem here because I don’t think that’s happening,” Newlon said. “I think you guys [Bozzuto] are going to really have to look at the design and do what you can, both from a massing standpoint and, as we get to it, an architectural standpoint.”
DRB member Neal Roseberry said the potential of having such an imposing development go up in a residential neighborhood is frightening.
“How do you insert this relatively high-density anomaly into an existing setting, an existing neighborhood that doesn’t have anything like this at all, and [the development] obviously scares people?” he said. “It’s literally scary to think of this thing landing in that neighborhood up there.”
Brian Winterhalter of Cooley LLP, the commercial real-estate attorney representing Bozzuto, said his team would follow up about scheduling a work session with the Design Review Board. However, he expressed disappointment with how the process is progressing.
“You have approved a plan [in July], we came back with a revised plan. You had very specific comments about the revised plan, which we feel we have addressed very well based on what you gave us, and now we’re back two steps backward,” Winterhalter said. “And so I don’t know what we make of that going forward in terms of the comments we just received.”
Newlon said the plan that was approved in July was a different plan that the board felt was “going in the right direction.”
“This is a whole new project, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “It’s doing, in my mind, all the things we were hoping wouldn’t happen.”
Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins has a community meeting on the proposal slated for next Tuesday at Langston Hughes Middle School. The proposal is set to go before the Planning & Zoning Committee and the Design Review Board again next month, on May 15 and 16. A Fairfax County Planning Commission hearing on the project remains scheduled for May 25.
Screencap via Reston Association YouTube channel; rendering via Bozzuto/KTGY
The last time North Point residents addressed Bozzuto about the developer’s proposed St. Johns Wood redevelopment, the catchphrase was “size matters.”
At Monday night’s meeting of the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee meeting, the message was tweaked — with a nod to Johnnie Cochran.
“In order for the developer to pack in the desired density, to squeeze in nearly double the current number of units and who knows how many residents, the developer again proposes a design that simply does not fit,” said Linda Platt, one of several members of Reclaim Reston who spoke in succession in a coordinated effort to fight the latest proposal. “And if it does not fit, they must quit.”
That rhyming phrase was repeated throughout Platt’s statement and was invoked by other speakers as well as community members had the chance to speak in response to Bozzuto during the latest informational meeting on the proposal. Bozzuto was presenting to the Planning & Zoning Committee for the sixth time since the project was first proposed in 2014; tonight, the proposal goes before Reston’s Design Review Board for the sixth time as well.
Brian Winterhalter of Cooley LLP, the commercial real-estate attorney presenting the plan on behalf of Bozzuto, told the committee Monday that the proposal to put 481 mid-rise multifamily units within two buildings is suitable for a property that was originally marked in the Reston Master Plan for high-density development.
There are currently 250 multifamily units on the 14.3-acre property.
The redevelopment proposal features 33.6 units per acre, which classifies it as medium-density. Winterhalter said the proposal is for about 60 percent one-bedroom units, with a third of the units having two-bedrooms and only about 5 percent with three bedrooms.
Meetings are on the agenda with Reston’s Planning & Zoning Committee on Monday night, and with the Design Review Board on Tuesday. The most recent informational meeting on the project, last month at the Planning & Zoning Committee, once again drew large community response opposing the plan.
That response from the community has been consistent since the project was first proposed in 2014. Bozzuto has made numerous alterations to the plan since, with the proposal made at March’s P&Z Committee meeting being the seventh iteration.
In addition, Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins will host a community meeting on the proposal later this month, featuring representatives from Bozzuto. That meeting will be held Tuesday, April 25, from 7-9 p.m. in the lecture hall at Langston Hughes Middle School (11401 Ridge Heights Road).
A Fairfax County Planning Commission hearing on the project is slated for May 25.
Bozzuto Management brought the seventh version of its plan to redevelop St. Johns Wood to the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee for a public information session Monday.
Dozens of community members, many sporting yellow “Reclaim Reston” T-shirts, were in attendance to hear what Bozzuto and the P&Z had to say, and to give their thoughts on the matter — which, for the most part, haven’t changed.
The latest incarnation of the developer’s plan for the community features 481 mid-rise, multifamily units in two buildings. All townhouses that had been part of previous designs have been removed from the plan. Heights of the buildings have been reduced “significantly,” according to Brian Winterhalter, Cooley LLP commercial real-estate attorney, who presented the plan to the committee.
In addition, Winterhalter said a tree buffer along Center Harbor Road has been restored in its entirety; setbacks on all sides of the site have been increased; open space in the site plan has been increased to 55 percent; proffers have been added to account for pedestrian and vehicle safety on Center Harbor Road; and a community-gathering area and recreational facilities have been relocated and expanded.
With the changes, several members of the Planning & Zoning Committee said the developers are getting closer to where they need to be. But residents, who have been opposed to the project since it was first proposed in 2014, remained unwavering.
The development would top out at five stories at its center — and the property sits at the highest elevation in North Reston, concerned residents pointed out.
“Size matters when you propose to place a nearly 60-foot-tall building on the highest point of the highest ridge in the area, so it towers above the surrounding neighborhoods,” he said while listing potential problems with the development. “There are more reasons to send the developer again back to the drawing boards — or preferably, back to Maryland.”
While the topic was not on the agenda of last week’s Reston Association Board of Directors meeting, Director Ray Wedell spoke for about 10 minutes in regard to a rumor that an email question-and-answer opportunity with Bozzuto was being set up by RA for members.
“To open the door in any manner for any member to directly confront Bozzuto or discuss with Bozzuto anything about this when we have on the table that we’re firmly opposed to this… would be a huge, huge, huge mistake,” Wedell said. “If I’m wrong, at least make the board vote on it to say that.”
CEO Cate Fulkerson said, contrary to the rumor, no email service for members to submit questions for Bozzuto has been created. She did say that in response to a member’s suggestion, there had been discussion about setting up a page on RA’s website for staff to answer member questions about Bozzuto’s proposal.
The most recent proposal for the redevelopment of St. Johns Wood called for two multifamily residential buildings totaling 467 units, along with 44 townhomes. Last year, the Board of Directors unanimously passed a resolution stating it is firmly against the plan. A letter communicating such was sent to the county in September. Considering that, Wedell said, RA should not entertain any further discussion of the proposal.
“If we can’t kill this abomination, we’ll never kill anything,” Wedell said. “And there’s a hell of a lot of abominations coming, as we all know.”
Fulkerson reiterated to Wedell that no work has been done by her or staff to extend the conversation through a Q&A with Bozzuto.
“We have done nothing,” Fulkerson told him. “I want to make it very clear, no email Q&A has been set up [and] nothing has changed on the Association’s website.”
While the RA Board and concerned members have both expressed their displeasure with the proposal to Bozzuto, the developer remains within its rights to propose the redevelopment. That could be approved by the county through waivers and exemptions to the Master Plan. The plan is scheduled to be reviewed again by the Fairfax County Planning Commission on May 25.
Tonight’s meeting of the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee to hear Bozzuto’s latest proposal is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).
This is an open letter submitted by residents of the North Point area, addressed to the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee, Reston Design Review Board, Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning, Fairfax County Supervisors, and all affected community members. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now.
The undersigned residents of the North Point area of Reston seek your attention and assistance regarding anticipated changes to plans for redevelopment of the St. Johns Wood apartment complex.
The property is located at the intersection of Reston Parkway and Center Harbor Road. Please assure that Bozzuto Development Company Inc. (Bozzuto) provides all affected reviewing authorities and the public-at-large sufficient time and information to review the revised plans that the developer has indicated will be made.
The numerous submissions by Bozzuto for redevelopment of the property, seeking to convert 250 multi-family garden apartments in nine three-story buildings to 467 new apartments and 44 townhomes, have undergone many changes over several years. County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins currently advises on her website, “Bozzuto is in the process of revising their plan; therefore, the public hearing was deferred until May 25, 2017.” This postponement by County Planning follows deferral of review by the Reston Design Review Board in October 2016 and a statement of non-support for the Bozzuto application by the Reston Association in September 2016.
More recently, the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee calendared the review of a yet-to-be publically released revision of the developer’s redevelopment plans for St. Johns Wood. That meeting is scheduled for March 27.
Despite the rapidly approaching dates for Reston Planning & Zoning Committee review and the County Planning public hearing, to date Bozzuto has not provided the public with any information about changes to its application.
If the changes are not significant, it is unconscionable to withhold public scrutiny of this potentially neighborhood-altering project. If, as is suspected, the changes to the application are significant, it is even more imperative that the public be provided meaningful opportunity to examine and comment. This is particularly important given the troubling deficiencies cited by the Reston Design Review Board and the Reston Association.
The St. Johns Wood project will so greatly affect the quality of life, environment, safety and property values of the North Point area of Reston that the project must be reviewed in the most transparent manner possible. Please help!
Proposed redevelopment of the St. Johns Wood apartments, opposed vehemently by residents and the Reston Association Board of Directors, won’t go before the county Planning Commission for at least a few more months.
The hearing on the topic was first scheduled for 2015, but has had numerous postponements. The most recent scheduled date for the hearing was Jan. 26. However, according to Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ office, property owner Bozzuto is still revising its plan, pushing the date of the hearing back once more.
The proposal originally called for redeveloping the 250-unit garden apartment complex (11500 Olde Tiverton Circle) near North Point Village Center into 625 multi-family units and 34 townhomes. The concept has already been altered multiple times, with the most recent plan calling for 467 units and 44 townhomes.
The Design Review Board deferred action on the project after a November meeting with Bozzuto.
Reston residents have organized a petition opposing the plan, and many attended a community meeting in August 2016 to share with Hudgins and other officials their myriad concerns about the proposed development. Opposition to the project’s aesthetics, increased traffic and impact on the environment was voiced. Bozzuto says the area has always been slated for high-density development.
At an October meeting of the Reston Association Board of Directors, RA’s land-use attorney John McBride explained that while the board and residents can take a stand, they do not have much power in stopping development. According to the Reston Comprehensive Plan, which was modified in 2014 and 2015, McBride said, Bozzuto is within its rights to propose the redevelopment plan.
The Fairfax County website says the date of the public hearing “will be changing to a future date to be determined.” Hudgins’ office says it won’t occur until at least May 25.
The Reston Association Design Board is scheduled to hear Bozzuto Development Company’s new plan for the site at 11500 Olde Tiverton Circle at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The meeting is at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Dr.)
The design proposal has changed several times since the redevelopment was first proposed in 2014, when it started as a plan for 625 apartments. Earlier this year, Bozzuto amended the plan to feature 511 apartments and 51 townhomes.
Still, the plan is looked upon unfavorably by some residents, particularly locals who live in the nearby North Point Village Center. Many of those locals turned out at an August town hall meeting to voice their displeasure over the proposal.
Some residents said the design was too sterile, comparing the look to that of a hospital or a college dorm. Others said it would be too many homes too far from the Metro, increasing traffic, particularly at Center Harbor and North Village Drive.
Bozzuto representatives have countered the negative feedback, noting the proposal fits in with the vision for Reston going back to the 1960s. That area of Reston always has been slated for high-density development, and is currently underdeveloped, they have said.
However, many locals pointed out that the Reston Master Plan was updated in 2014, lessening density allowances. Bozzuto then agreed to revise its design further.
The developer was originally scheduled to present their latest design to the Design Review Board last month. But the developers decided to take more time to tweak the design further after receiving more negative feedback from Reston residents, some of whom started a petition.
The most recent version of the proposal is to transform the property’s 250 residential units in nine garden-style buildings into 467 new apartments and 44 townhomes.
If the Design Review Board approves the proposal, the plan then will go before the Planning and Zoning Commission on Dec. 19 and the Fairfax County Planning Commission on Jan. 26.
Image via Bozzuto
Developer Bozzuto is now on the planning commission’s schedule for Oct. 26.. Most recently it had been scheduled for a hearing on Sept. 29.
The plan to more than double the size of the garden-style development at Reston Parkway and Center Harbor Drive has been on and off the county agenda for more than two years. It has also been reworked several times.
The postponement gives Bozzuto more time to make changes, since the current tweaks are not well-received by area residents, who have spoken up at two recent community meetings.
Bozzuto’s latest plan for the 14-acre space is to turn the 250 units in nine garden-style buildings into 467 units and 46 townhouses. They will be rental units.
That’s scaled down from the starting point for 625 units in 2014 and then 511 units and 51 townhouses in an amended plan earlier this year.
The latest plan was called many things — none of them very affirmative — at the Aug. 4 meeting organized by Bozzuto and the Hunter Mill Supervisors’ office. They said the plan looked like “Inova Fairfax Hospital,” or a “VCU college dorm with a facade like the Mosaic District.”
“This is way too large,” said area resident Gary Fogel. “It is twice what is there now. If you told me 100 more units, that makes sense. But doubling it? That’s insane.” (more…)
North Point-area residents packed a Reston Association meeting room Thursday to point out a long list of issues they have with plans to redevelop St. Johns Wood apartments.
Project developer Bozzuto has made several changes to its redevelopment plan for the 14-acre garden apartment complex over the last two years. The newest one calls for turning 250 units in nine garden-style buildings into 467 units and 46 townhouses.
That’s scaled down from the starting point for 625 units in 2014 and then 511 units and 51 townhouses in an amended plan earlier this year.
It’s still too much for a quiet, suburban-style residential neighborhood, residents said Thursday. They said the plan looked like “Inova Fairfax Hospital,” or a “VCU college dorm with a facade like the Mosaic District.”
“This is way too large,” said area resident Gary Fogel. “It is twice what is there now. If you told me 100 more units, that makes sense. But doubling it? That’s insane.”
Bozzuto reps say the complex at Reston Parkway, North Village Road and Center Harbor Road was identified for high density as far back as when Reston was first planned in 1964. The idea was to have critical mass around Reston’s village centers, said Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins.
“Basically, it has been underdeveloped,” Hudgins told the crowd. “The only place you will see density [growth] is near the village centers.”
However, the Reston Master Plan update in 2014 brought down the density allowances farther from the Metro. That’s why Bozzuto reworked St. Johns Wood, which is more than a mile from the future Reston Town Center station, from 46 dwelling units per acre to 39 units per acre and now 36 units per acre.
The developer also has changed the facades of the townhouse to have cleaner lines and has scaled the buildings from six stories to five to rise no higher than the current tree line.
The under-construction residential property by Reston developer Chuck Veatch and Bozzuto has a name: The Aperture.
The Aperture is the project at Sunset Hills Road and Metro Center Drive, across the street from the Wiehle-Reston East Metro and Comstock’s Reston Station.
The Aperture will feature 421 apartments in a seven-story building, and has been approved for 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. The five-acre site was previously home to a mini-storage facility and retail strip center.
The site was also previously zoned industrial. Now that it is residential, residents will be Reston Association members.
Planned amenities include a pool, pet play area, outdoor kitchen, fire pit, outdoor yoga space, and amphitheater, according to the Bozzuto website. The building will have 15,000 square feet of amenities, including an expansive resident clubroom.
Among the other amenities: a 24-hour concierge, a movie screening area, library/work space, three adjacent fitness spaces, underground parking and a Wi-fi lounge with computer games.
Photos: Top, rendering of finished product/Courtesy Bozzuto; Bottom, building under construction last week.