Amid Concern, Campus Commons Continues to Court Approval of Local Planning Committee

New York-based TF Cornerstone will return to receive the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee’s blessing for its plan to redevelop nearly 12 acres of land near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station with two residential buildings and a new office building.

The proposal, Campus Commons, has attracted criticism from nearby residents and led to the formation of a citizen-led advocacy group called Rescue Sunrise Valley.

Although the developer addressed several concerns, a representative of Rescue Sunrise Valley, said residents are not satisfied with the developer’s attempts to scale back the development and improve the safety of a planned crosswalk on Wiehle Avenue. The committee did not recommend the project for approval Monday night.

“They have not adequately engaged the community not have they adequately addressed the community’s concerns,” the representative told Reston Now. “We sincerely hope TF Cornerstone will defer further requests for approval and commit to working with the community properly.”

If approved, the proposal would redevelop two 1980s office buildings with two multi-family buildings with 629 units. A new 14-story office building with more than 26,000 square feet of retail is also planned on the site,  which is located east of Wiehle Avenue, between Sunrise Valley Drive and the Dulles Toll Road.

Ken Houle, vice president of TF Cornerstone, said the company has made several changes in response to community feedback:

A specific proffer to construct a grade separated crossing of Wiehle Ave

A commitment to engage all stakeholders in a study to determine the preferred grade separated solution, coupled with a financial commitment of $1.5MM to implement that solution if it differed from our proposed solution

Significant modifications to the building heights, lowering both the residential tower on the Toll Road by 44′ and the office building at the corner of Wiehle and Sunrise Valley by 48′

Modified the building façade on Sunrise Valley Drive to respond to architectural preferences raised by the Upper Lakes residents 

Increased the size of the community playground by 22% with a commitment to include accessible play equipment

Modified the design to incorporate a community amphitheater space in the 1 acre corner park

Committed to work with an independent arborist and Fairfax County to study trees for potential preservation, coupled with an existing commitment to provide 150% of the required tree canopy in the new development featuring native species trees.

Committed to work with the Upper Lakes residents to accelerate signal timings of existing traffic lights, install a new traffic light at Upper Lake, support Upper Lakes residents in the application of resident only street parking district, and to fund and implement a future traffic calming program for Upper Lakes

Given the fact that many residents remain concerned about the scale of the project, Houle said TF Cornerstone will continue a dialogue with stakeholders to “ensure this project delivers the future that Reston envisioned with the adoption of the Reston Comprehensive Plan.”

The plan that is proposed is in conformance with the comprehensive plan and has been recommended for approval by the Fairfax County Planning staff.”

Houle added Campus Commons creates a “premium park” that breaks the “mold of development surrounding the metro station of high-rise towers on the prominent corners.”

In a Sept. 11 staff report, the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning staff recommended approval of the proposal. The Fairfax County Planning Commission is set to take up the plan on Sept. 25, followed by a vote by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 15.

Photo via handout/Fairfax County Government, photo via Rescue Sunrise Valley

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Author Christina June to Discuss ‘No Place Like Here’ — June will discuss her book at Scrawl Books (11911 Freedom Drive) today at 7 p.m. [Scrawl Books]

A Close Look at Campus Commons — “New York-based TF Cornerstone filed plans nearly 30 months ago to redevelop an 11.6-acre site located immediately east of Wiehle Avenue, between Sunrise Valley Drive and the Dulles Toll Road. Over the course of those two-plus years, per a recently released staff report, the applicant and the county worked through issues related to the mix of uses, design, connectivity, and transportation improvements.” [Washington Business Journal]

Falls Comes Early to Fairfax County — “In Fairfax County, Virginia Cooperative Extension agents have noticed a lot of white and red oak trees dying. Senior extension agent of horticulture, Adria C. Bordas, says the factors are explained in a report by the Virginia Department of Forestry.” [The Connection]

Staff Photo by Jay Westcott

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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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Tuesday Morning Notes

Citizens Meet to Discuss Campus Commons Plan — Local residents gathered last night to discuss TF Cornerstone’s plan to build three new buildings at the southeast corner of Wiehle Avenue and Sunrise Valley Drive. [Reston 2020]

Donate Blood at Reston Town Center Today — INOVA’s bloodmobile will be at RTC’s pavilion from 1 to 6 p.m. today. Appointments can be scheduled online or by calling 1-866-256-6372. [Reston Town Center]

A Close Look at Algae — Reston Association’s watershed manager William Peterson dives into how algae can be hazardous and unhealthy for the ecosystem, as well as how RA tries to maintain its lakes and local watershed. [Reston Today]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Campus Commons Plan Prompts ‘Rescue Sunrise Valley’ Campaign

More than 100 families neighboring Campus Commons, a mixed-use project on the southeastern corner of Wiehle Avenue and the Dulles Toll Road, are voicing their concerns about the proposed development.

Rescue Sunrise Valley, a group that includes representation from residents who live on Sunrise Valley Drive, as well as the clusters of Great Meadow, Winterport, Harbor Court, Whetherfield, Lakeport, and Boston Ridge, say that they are not opposed to development and instead are concerned about safety and the project’s impact on neighborhoods.

TF Cornerstones’ plan includes two residential buildings with a total of 630 units, an office building, and 26,000 square feet of new retail. Two mid-1980s office buildings will remain on the proprty.

Residents say that the proposal misses the mark on pedestrian safety, especially a proposed sidewalk that connects to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station that they say will “logjam traffic and up and down Sunrise Valley and put pedestrians at risk by sending them across nine lanes of traffic and dumping them on a concrete island in the middle of the off-ramp.”

“Anyone who drives, walks, or rides their bikes on Sunrise Valley near the Wiehle intersection knows this is a recipe for disaster,” the group wrote in a statement to Reston Now.

Residents want the developer to delay the proposal under neighborhood concerns are addressed. They created the group in response to the proposal and to inform unaware residents about the plan. Residents say accurate information about the proposal has been hard to come by. Others said the developer has not engaged with all neighboring residents to hear their feedback on the plan.

“We recognize that the developer wants to fast-track their plans because in their industry time is money, but for us, much more is at stake: our families and our neighborhood,” the group stated.

A TF Cornerstones’ representative told Reston Now the company has launched an extensive community engagement process over the last two years, including two meetings with Hampton Meadow residents, one meeting with Boston Ridge residents, and Reston Association. The development team has been before the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee four times since 2017.

We have also broadened our outreach to include additional homes along Upper Lake Drive.  We are hosting a community meeting and have sent notification to the Harborside association, the Winterport association, and residents along Upper Lake Drive without an association,” said Ebony Young, vice president of corporate social responsibility. “We have made significant commitments for the project based on community input, and we look forward to the upcoming community meeting.”

The proposal heads to the Fairfax County Planning Commission on September 25. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is expected to take up on the plan on October 15.

Photos via handout/Fairfax Count Government

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Amid Concerns, Reston Planning and Zoning to Revisit Campus Commons Proposal

The Reston Planning and Zoning Committee will revisit TFC Cornerstone’s Campus Commons proposal next month.

The committee failed to approve the project, which is located on the southeastern corner of Wiehle Avenue and the Dulles Toll Road, at a meeting on July 15 amid concerns about the proposed pedestrian connection across Wiehle Avenue.

The developer plans to add 630 residential units spread across a mid-rise and high-rise building on the site, along with a new office building at the corner of Wiehle Avenue and Sunrise Valley Drive. The developer will preserve two office buildings from the 1980s on the site and add roughly 26,000 square feet of retail.

Some residents pushed the developer to build an underpass that connects Comstock’s project on the other side of Wiehle Avenue to Campus Commons.

But TFC Cornerstone plans to install at an at-grade crosswalk at Wiehle Avenue — an option that the company Vice President Ken Houle said is the safest and convenient pedestrian crossing.

We have studied the issue extensively with multiple industry experts and FCDOT, looking at both regional and national precedents.  There is a consensus among the experts that an at grade crosswalk is the preferred pedestrian solution,” Houle told Reston Now.

He noted that TFC Cornerstones also plans to contribute land to construct a westbound lane on Sunrise Valley Drive as part of proposed infrastructure improvements.

Residents from Upper Lake Drive — which is neighbors the site — said the developer did not engage with the neighboring community before proceeding with the project.

They expressed concerns about the spillover effects of the new development on their community, including shared parking on Upper Lakes Drive, neighborhoods streets being used as a cut-through, and increased noise and light.

Residential units will not be under the Reston Association’s purview — which residents said should prompt the developer to pay for maintaining the neighborhoods paths if they are used by residents of Campus Commons.

Hoele said they launched an “extensive public review process” over the last two years, including meeting with adjacent communities, the Reston Planning and Zoning, meetings and Reston Association.

In response to concerns, Hoele said the company plans to widen the geographic area of its outreach and schedule an additional public session with Upper Lake Drive residents.

If the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee approves the project next month, Campus Commons heads to the Fairfax County Planning Commission in September.

A timeline for the development of the project has not been made public.

Photo via Kenneth Houle/TFC Cornerstone

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Reston Planning and Zoning Committee to Review Campus Commons, Isaac Newton Square

At its meeting tonight (Dec. 17), the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee will hear presentations on two projects.

1900-1902 Campus Commons LLC’s proposed development, known as Campus Commons, would add an office building and two residential buildings with ground-floor retail space at 1900 and 1902 Campus Commons Drive. The plan retains the two existing buildings at the site on the south side of the Dulles Toll Road and east side of Wiehle Avenue.

“Campus Commons will bolster a pedestrian-focused environment integrated with a system of public urban park spaces to achieve the transit-oriented design goals of the Comprehensive Plan,” the agenda for tonight’s meeting says.

APA Properties No. 6, L.P. and MRP Realty plan to present a redevelopment concept for Isaac Newton Square.

The proposal would convert the office buildings into a mixed-use project, changing the spot into a mostly residential area with a few commercial spaces. The project would include several development blocks and approximately eight acres of publicly-accessible open space, which would include a large neighborhood green that could be used for public events and athletic purposes.

The number of dwelling units and square footage are unknown at the moment, according to the document.

Public hearing dates have not yet been scheduled for the projects.

Tonight’s Reston P&Z Committee meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the North County Government Center.

Images via Google Maps

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RA Board Hears Land Use Update; More Than 40 Projects In The Works

Nearly four dozen major redevelopment projects have been proposed in Reston in the past two years, and residents need to be aware of how much change that means for the community.

That was the message of Larry Butler, Reston Association’s senior director of parks, as he addressed directors during their meeting Thursday. Butler shared information about some of the largest potential redevelopments that remain on the horizon. Butler’s information came from a map that was provided to him recently by the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning.

“When I received it, I was fascinated,” Butler said. “Some of these, most people have not seen.”

Butler specifically shined the spotlight on five projects outlined on the DPZ map.

  • Reston Gateway Commons, to be bordered by Town Center Parkway, Sunset Hills Road and the W&OD Trail. The 23-acre plot, proposed for development by Boston Properties, is between the future Reston Town Center Metro station and RTC itself. In the pre-application process, Boston Properties is proposing 3.94 million square feet of residential and retail, along with a 1/3-acre park. It could have as many as 1,688 dwelling units.
  • Campus Commons, located on the south side of the Dulles Toll Road near the southeast intersection of Wiehle Avenue and Sunrise Valley Drive. The rezoning application, which is in process, would add four new residential buildings and four parks. This could add up to 1,100 dwelling units on the 11.6-acre property.
  • A major property assemblage on Association Drive, near the intersection of Sunrise Valley Drive and Soapstone Drive. This 23-acre plot, which is in the pre-application phase, is rumored to be sought after by grocery chain Wegmans. The design shared by Butler with the board shows a grocery store on the south side of the property, bordering Sunrise Valley Drive, among its numerous retail and residential buildings. Butler said nothing has formally been submitted to the County on the project, but “there are clearly discussions going on that there’s a general concept plan that has been drawn up for this.”
  • The redevelopment of Isaac Newton Square. Butler said the proposal remains in the pre-application phase and there is no preliminary information available yet.
  • Reston Crescent, located in the northwest corner of the intersection of Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive. Currently going through the County approval process, the 36-acre property — which Butler called a “monster development” — would be redeveloped to add up to 2,260 dwelling units, 1.18 million square feet of office space, up to 125,000 square feet of retail, and potentially a 160-room hotel. Six parks are also included in the plan from developer Brookfield Properties.

A total of 44 redevelopment proposals appear on the map provided by DPZ.

“The main point to highlight is there is a lot of activity going on,” Butler said.  “This gives you an idea of the volume of activity that is happening here in Reston.”

As director of parks, Butler noted that the revised Comprehensive Plan calls for three fully lighted athletic fields near the TSAs — something absent from the redevelopment proposals.

“In none of these have we seen a ballfield,” Butler said. “I think we need to drum up a little interest in this … to define locations on some of these major assemblages where these things can occur.”

John McBride, RA’s land-use attorney, said it is impressive to see so many developers willing to invest in the community; however, he added, Restonians need to make sure they remain informed on each application and remain engaged with Fairfax County throughout the approval process.

“It’s a lot of work to get up on these applications, [but] public input is so important,” McBride said. “You are listened to by senior County staff and all of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors members and planning commissioners only when you do your homework [and] you’re reasonable.”

None of the properties highlighted by Butler in the proposal lie within the purview of Reston Association, meaning any meeting with the Design Review Board by a developer would be as a courtesy only.

Map courtesy Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning via Reston Association

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