Brookfield Property’s 36-acre Reston Crescent project will head to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for final approval on July 31.
Despite attempts to improve the developer’s commitment to affordable housing, the project, located on northwest corner of the intersection of Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive, was given a green light by the Fairfax County Planning Commission on July 12.
Brookfield’s plan for affordable housing would include 258 workforce housing at 70, 90, and 100 percent of the area median income — a rate lower than the county requirement of 80, 100 and 120 percent. In exchange, the developer wants to reduce its contribution to the county’s affordable housing fund. It plans to provide $2.6 million.
The four-million-square-foot project is the future home of Wegmans. Up to 1,721 residential units, 1.9 million square feet of office space, a hotel and 380,000 square feet of retail are planned on the site. Two existing office buildings will remain.
Brookfield contends it should not have to offer contributions to the housing fund for two existing office buildings on the site which were approved before the current project was filed with the county. Affordable housing contributions are calculated based on the square footage of the project’s non-residential elements.
Hunter Mill District Planning Commission John Carter said he supported the developer’s plan because increasing the level of affordability for residential units helps renters who may not otherwise be able to afford rents at higher percentages of the AMI.
However, staff from the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning said the AMI levels being proposed are similar to current rents of comparable projects in Reston’s Transit Station Area.
“We didn’t feel that the county was really benefitting from the levels being proposed,” said Mary Anne Tsai, a staff coordinator with the county’s Planning Division.
John Ulfelder, the planning commissioner for the Dranesville District, said the commission’s discussion about affordable housing warrants a closer look at the county’s policy. Ulfelder said a frequent concern cited by millennials entering the workforce is the lack of affordability areas in Reston’s Transit Station areas.
“Who are we trying to help with the policy?” Ulfelder said.
Carter also noted the developer has committed to meeting county requirements for the road fund and an athletic field, which will include a practice field and 50 parking spaces at the intersection of the Dulles Toll road and Hunter Mill Road.
The developer’s plan, as proposed, would not sufficiently meet Fairfax County standards at the intersection where the development is planned, according to staff from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.
Although Brookfield will alter the grid of streets and has committed to other road and traffic proffers, significant investment in other major improvements that will yield the greatest benefit — a more complex buildout of the grid of streets, the Soapstone Connector, and the Town Center Parkway underpass — is required to ensure the intersection has acceptable levels of service.
Handout via Brookfield Properties
Data centers with a fenced perimeter are inching closer to approval at Sunrise Technology Park, a 21-acre office park with four existing buildings slated for redevelopment. The Fairfax County Planning Commission approved the project by CoreSite Realty Corp. on June 28.
The proposal is part of a move by CoreSite to expand its footprint in Reston. The company selected the location on the south side of Sunrise Valley Drive in order to ensure the operation was near enterprises in Reston. The property was purchased for $60 million from Brookfield Office Properties in 2016.
“They had a choice of where they wanted to be,” said David Gill of McGuireWoods and the developer’s representative, adding that CoreSite was willing to “roll up their sleeves and a pay a premium to adaptively reuse [the] office park.”
The development is divided into four phases, one of which is currently in progress. When the first phase is complete, two existing buildings on the southern half of the property will be reconstructed and expanded with about 291,000 square feet of development. Two buildings will be demolished on the southeastern edge of the property to make way for a three-story building with 240,000 square feet in the second phase.
During phase three, one building and associated parking in the center of the property will give way to a three-story data center and another building. The fourth and final phase on the northern edge of the project will involve the demolition of existing buildings to make way for a three-story data center with 172,000 square feet. The number of stories on the buildings may vary, but will not exceed three stories.
Gill noted that the development will reduce traffic by 60 percent both during peak traffic hours and an overall reduction in trips. The data centers are expected to house a maximum of 45 employees. The development will also remove 700 parking spaces on the largely vacant site, Gill said.
However, planning officials said they were concerned buildings in phase two do not sufficiently meet environmental efficiency standards, namely LEED certification.
Gill noted CoreSite is using technologies like a cistern that uses rainwater to cool servers. CoreSite plans to address the county’s concerns about LEED certification and energy efficiency before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisor’s vote on the project, Gill said.
During the commission’s public hearing, Brian Carpenter, a resident from a nearby residential zone, said he wanted to ensure security cameras on the property would not compromise the privacy of nearby homes. The issue will be discussed with the developer.
Handout via Fairfax County Government
A decision on Brookfield Properties’ four million-square-foot redevelopment of the Reston Crescent site was deferred last week amid a disagreement regarding the developer’s contribution for the affordable housing fund.
Brookfield has proposed roughly 4.2 million square feet of development across 36 acres, including up to 1,721 residential units, 1.9 million square feet of office space, a hotel and 380,000 square feet of retail. The property is divided into eight development blocks. Two existing office buildings on the site will remain untouched.
The first new building, which fronts Reston Parkway, includes a Wegmans with 380 apartment built on top of it. The project is located west of Reston Parkway, north of Sunrise Valley Drive, east of Edmund Halley Drive and south of the Dulles Toll Road.
At June 28 Fairfax County Planning Commission meeting, county staff indicated the developer needs to pitch in more toward the affordable housing fund. Brookfield plans to ensure 15 percent of all units are affordable at income tiers of up to 70, 90 and 100 percent of the Area Median Income — a lower income distribution than county requirements.
Even though the developer is offering units for individuals with lower incomes, county officials and the developer disagree on how much Brookfield should offer for the non-residential aspects of the property. The comprehensive plan indicates the developer should contribute $3 per non-residential square feet.
Because Brookfield is proposing a completely new redevelopment project, county officials contend the developer should contribute based on the total square footage of new development, roughly 1.6 million square feet. Brookfield, however, asserts they only have to contribute funds for 1.1 million square feet of development because other non-residential development was already approved under a previous plan.
In a report, staff said the latest proposal was entirely new and supersedes any previous approvals. “As a result, the proposed non-residential uses on affordable housing and such impact should be fully mitigated through the $3 per non-residential square feet contribution towards affordable housing,” according to the report.
An earlier clash over the developer’s commitment to providing an athletic field was resolved in recent discussions. According to the developer’s representative, Mark Looney of Cooley, Brookfield has an underdeveloped property under contract for a future full-size athletic field. Once the property is purchased, Cooley said the developer should dedicate it to the county’s park authority.
In remarks before the Planning Commission, John Carter, the commissioner for the Hunter Mill District, said the commission needed more time to discuss what could be a “precedent-making” decision. The commission will vote on the project on July 12.
Handout via Fairfax County Government
Brookfield Property Partners now owns two office buildings next to its future Reston Crescent project, a planned mixed used development with more than 2,000 residential units and the likely future home of Wegmans.
The acquisition expands Brookfield’s footprint in Reston. Although the offices have the potential of 290,000 rentable square feet, CBRE has marketed the property as a redevelopment project that could yield up to 1.2 million square feet of mixed-used development.
“The sale of Summit I and II is consistent with our strategy to take advantage of market conditions to recycle capital, deleverage our balance sheet and reinvest the proceeds in higher-yielding growth opportunities,” Matt Kelly JBG Smith’s Chief Executive Officer wrote in a statement.
JBG Smith bought the buildings for $51 million in 2012 and renovated them. The company maintains ownership of other major sites near Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, VY at Reston Heights and RTC West.
Photos courtesy JBG Smith