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by Dave Emke October 26, 2017 at 4:00 pm 12 Comments

During its meeting last week (video), Reston’s Design Review Board heard a presentation about the large number of covenants requests Reston Association staff handles, and how they can be better handled in the future.

Cate Fulkerson, RA’s CEO, and Anna Varone, RA’s director of covenants administration, informed the panel of RA’s plans to add a post-project approval inspector position to help make sure approved requests are being checked into in a timely manner.

“After you all have made decisions on an application, within a six-month time period, staff is supposed to go and inspect to make sure that what is [to be] done is actually being done,” Fulkerson told DRB members. “A lot of the issues that we have after the fact, after you’ve made a decision — it could be 18 months, it could be two years, it could be 10 years, it could be 20 years after the fact — is that applicants have put things in on a property that is not what you approved.”

At its September meeting, the RA Board of Directors approved the new position as part of the second draft of the 2018 budget. The position is estimated to add $55,885 (salary and benefits) to the budget, which would have a $2.65 impact on the assessment rate.

Decisions about budget items have not been finalized, as the full 2018-2019 budget is slated to be approved by the board in November. Public hearings on the budget are planned for Thursday and Monday nights.

Fulkerson said the new position would just be the latest in a number of changes being made within the covenants administration department as well to help tackle the large volume of inspections that need to be done. These include the digitalization of property files and internal reorganization that has helped the department direct more focus on ensuring “quality interactions” when dealing with members, Fulkerson said.

“[We want] to prevent from going to court, prevent from putting a lien on somebody’s home,” Fulkerson said. “We would much rather have a conversation and get them to understand the important of following the guidelines.”

According to information provided by Varone, the covenants administration department had handled as of Sept. 20 more than 7,900 cases this year. These included more than 5,800 covenants violations, of which about 35 percent were design violations. The department currently has six employees who are primarily responsible for handling inspections, complaints and applications.

Varone and Fulkerson both said the number of cases is increasing year-to-year and the staff is having a hard time keeping pace.

“[Our ability to] meet the expectations of the members is slowing down, because we’re getting way too much volume,” Varone said. “Based on the Deed, we’re supposed to provide approval or a decision … within 30 days. Based on the volume and backup that we have, we’re teetering on not being able to meet that 30 days.”

Fulkerson requested a work session with the Design Review Board prior to its November meeting to discuss how processes could be addressed to help staff better handle the large number of requests it receives.

“This is a partnership,” she said. “I want to collaborate with you all to put those changes in place, because it affects the way we do these meetings going forward.”

Fulkerson said the discussion would include, among other topics, whether DRB’s four different types of meetings can be consolidated to help speed up the process.

The DRB agreed to schedule the work session for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14.

by Dave Emke October 23, 2017 at 2:45 pm 6 Comments

During its meeting last week (video), Reston’s Design Review Board gave its stamp of approval to plans for exercise equipment, playground equipment, site lighting, site signage and more for the future mixed-use redevelopment of Tall Oaks Village Center.

The commercial design of the property was also approved, with an alteration requiring faux windows in the retail tower be made of a reflective surface. In the design presented to the DRB last week, the faux windows had been proposed to consist of recessed EIFS.

The lone affected party to speak during the meeting was Mary Elyn McNichols, co-owner of Tall Oaks Assisted Living. While giving her overall approval to the plan, McNichols requested that some amount of exterior seating around the development’s stores be made handicapped-accessible.

In the landscape plan, the developers were asked by the DRB to find more locations to plant trees where possible.

One place were developers said they have already increased plants and trees is between the development’s 2-over-2 townhouses and the assisted-living facility, which was done at the facility’s request to create more of a buffer. The exercise station plans for the development were also designed after discussion with the assisted-living facility, developers said.

In addition to the development’s landscape plan, the garage doors and lighting were tabled for a future meeting, along with sliding doors and windows.

The redevelopment will include approximately 5,800 square feet of office, 8,500 square feet of retail and 156 residential units.

The village center was bought in December 2014 by McLean-based developer Jefferson Apartment Group. Plans to redevelop the property into a mixed-use community were approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in July 2016.

Located on a dead-end of North Shore Drive off Wiehle Avenue, Tall Oaks Village Center struggled for many years before the redevelopment proposal arose. Its longtime anchor tenant, Giant Foods, closed in 2007 and further vacancies followed quickly afterward. The 70,000-square foot center was 86 percent empty by the time the redevelopment was approved.

by Dave Emke October 17, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Reston’s DRB Meets Tonight — Among items on the Design Review Board’s agenda are specific aspects of the upcoming redevelopment of Tall Oaks Village Center. [Reston Now]

Children’s Art on Display at RCC — The mixed media exhibit “The World in the Eyes of Children” is on display at Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road) until Nov. 5. [Reston Community Center/Instagram]

Body Camera Pilot Program Proposed by FCPD — If approved by the county Board of Supervisors next month, officers in the Mason and Mount Vernon districts may begin the 90-day program as early as February. [Fairfax Times]

New School in Herndon To Be Discussed — The Hunter Mill Land Use Committee will meet tonight at 7:30 p.m. at McNair Elementary School (2499 Thomas Jefferson Drive, Herndon). To be discussed is a proposal from the Fairfax County Board of Education to construct a new three-story school building on the site. McNair Elementary currently serves grades K-6. In the plan, the existing school would serve K-3 and the new building would take grades 4-6. [Hunter Mill Highlights]

Seahawks Up One in Post Poll — Following their 44-0 win over Washington-Lee last week, the South Lakes High School football team settles in at No. 13 in the area rankings. They had been ranked No. 14 the previous week. The 6-1 Seahawks return home Friday night to play McLean. [Washington Post]

by Dave Emke October 12, 2017 at 4:00 pm 8 Comments

At its meeting Tuesday night (agenda), Reston’s Design Review Board will discuss specific plans for the residential and commercial aspects of the upcoming Tall Oaks Village Center redevelopment.

The project was last brought before the DRB in August, at which time the general landscape and architecture plans for the project were approved. Next week, the developers will be looking for approval of several other aspects of the plans, including the final landscape plan, the comprehensive sign plan, the lighting plan and material specifications.

Included in the final landscape plans is exercise and playground equipment, as well as a putting green. Site furnishings up for discussion include artistic bike racks and custom bus shelters. Three entry signs and a directional sign will be considered as well.

See the full residential presentation from applicant Jefferson Apartment Group and architect KTGY here.

The redevelopment plans call for 156 homes (a mix of townhomes, 2-over-2 townhomes and multifamily buildings), community space, 8,500 square foot of retail and about 6,000 square feet of office space. The end result will be the first such overhaul of one of Reston’s original village centers.

The 70,000-square-foot center was 86 percent empty by the time the redevelopment was approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in July 2016. Jefferson had conducted a market study that showed attracting a new retail anchor was not an option.

by Dave Emke September 20, 2017 at 4:15 pm 19 Comments

Despite statements from local residents to the contrary, Reston’s Design Review Board says a proposed senior-living facility on Sunrise Valley Drive will be an appropriate addition to the community.

During their meeting Tuesday (video), the DRB voted 4-2 to give conceptual approval to the Kensington Senior Living project, pending final architectural drawings. The facility would be constructed at 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive, which is the current home of Good Beginnings School.

After previous designs for the property were for a building of up to 91,000 square feet and five stories, the developers have brought their proposal down to about 65,000 feet and two stories. However, residents of adjacent Wethersfield Cluster say they have concerns that even a two-story building will result in their privacy being disturbed.

“I can still see sight lines from the second floor into our first-floor rooms,” said Thea Kreinik, of Approach Lane. Kreinik and other residents said having the building so close to their properties would also have a negative effect on their property values.

Following comments from numerous residents about the use of the property, which is outside the DRB’s purview, vice chair Richard Newlon said he doesn’t agree with their assertions that an assisted-living facility is a bad fit.

“You have room there to build 30 townhouses, something like that,” Newlon said. “The residents of this facility are not going to be driving in and out all the time, the parking is underground, there’s not going to be a lot of traffic outside, [and] people in this type of facility are probably not going to be out in that backyard playing volleyball and making a lot of noise.”

One resident who spoke following the Board’s discussion said the “better this than that” mentality does not sit well with the community.

“The impression I’m getting from the Board — your kind of thinly veiled comment to us — is, ‘Suck it up with this old-folks home, or you’re going to get something worse,'” said Lisa White, of Wethersfield Court. “That’s not making me feel comfortable.”

The issue of lighting from the facility affecting nearby residents was also brought up, and the developers were told by DRB to “be cognizant moving forward” to address the issue.

Residents of the cluster who attended the meeting and spoke out against the project let their displeasure be known as they exited the room following the vote.

“I hope all of you [who voted for it] get one on your doorstep,” one member could be heard telling the Board following the passage of the motion.

The Kensington Senior Living facility is planned to include 96 beds within 70 units. It still must receive additional approval both locally and at the county level.

by Dave Emke September 20, 2017 at 11:30 am 30 Comments

A 12 inch-by-12 inch sign reading that “Hate Has No Home Here” can stay in the Orchard Green Cluster, Reston’s Design Review Board says, despite the cluster president’s stance that it should be removed for its political nature.

During their meeting Tuesday (video), the DRB rejected an appeal of an August ruling by a three-member panel that the sign is OK for display as long as it is no bigger than one square foot. That came after the Orchard Green Cluster board had asked for a 2 foot-by-3 foot sign displaying the message to be removed.

Tuesday night, Orchard Green Cluster President Dan Pennington told the full DRB that the ruling should not have been made based on the sign’s size, but rather on the political nature of its message. According to Reston Association’s rules for small yard signs, temporary political signs up to 2 feet by 3 feet are allowed to be displayed, but must be removed “no later than one week after announcement of election results.” Orchard Green Cluster’s board voted on the sign, displayed in the yard of resident Rikki Epstein, at their June meeting and “voted to request its removal under the general RA Signs rules.”

“Fundamentally, what you’ve done for our cluster is establish a design guideline that anybody can put up a 12-by-12 [sign], regardless of content [and] regardless of quantity, [with] no limitation and no content issues,” Pennington said to the DRB said. “It’s an untenable standard going forward for our cluster. … I would say it’s a misreading of the rule.”

Pennington suggested that if this sign is allowed to remain indefinitely, another resident could put up numerous one-square-foot signs reading “Trump is President: Get Over It” with each sign displaying only one letter of the message.

“Do you have a limiting principle?” Pennington asked the DRB. “This is a political sign and it should have been adjudicated under the political-sign standard and not the 12-by-12 standard.”

DRB members, along with their legal counsel Wil Washington, said there was no misreading of the rule when the panel informed Epstein she could display a 12- by 12-inch version of the sign, as the size rule overrides the political rule. They also said Pennington’s example of numerous signs with one letter each was hyperbolic, as the rules refer to “the sign” in the singular form.

“The content [of the sign] is irrelevant — the regulations say what they say,” said Nick Georgas, landscape architect member of the DRB. “I don’t think it’s this board’s job to determine what the content of that one-square-foot sign is.”

Pennington said his cluster board is working to pass its own rule that signs of any kind not be allowed, except for home-security signs and “other minor exceptions.”

“We simply don’t want signs in our cluster,” Pennington said.

Image via Hate Has No Home Here website

by Dave Emke August 17, 2017 at 1:30 pm 3 Comments

The long journey toward a permanent building for Martin Luther King Jr. Christian Church (11400 North Shore Drive) is a little closer to its conclusion.

After discussion during Tuesday’s meeting of Reston’s Design Review Board (video), approval was given for the site plan for the 6,000-square-foot building. The new structure will be located on the opposite side of the parking lot from the current, temporary church building. The project still needs to go through the county approval process, along with further local approval.

Church representatives said they would like to keep the current building — a prefabricated double-wide structure — in place even after the new building is completed. They said the extra space would be required until an addition could be added to the new building.

However, Design Review Board members balked at that idea.

“I work with churches regularly, and I know every church out there would want to hold onto that building,” said Neal Roseberry, DRB vice chair. “Frankly, it’s our job as the Review Board to say, ‘Hey, it was temporary when it was approved over 10 years ago; it needs to come down now because you’re finally building your permanent church.’ That’s my position at least of why we should help you do what you said you were doing originally.”

The church is located between the Crescent Apartments and the Northgate Condominiums. DRB told the church representatives there needs to be more communication between them and their neighbors in regard to the development. Andrew Ivovich, representing the Northgate community, spoke during the meeting regarding the lack of communication.

“It’s much clearer what you’re proposing at this meeting … [but] I do, however, wish that it was presented with a little more time for us to review,” Ivovich said. “I’m glad you met with some of the community members, [but] we have not heard from you. We are your neighbors too, so we would love to sit down and meet with you guys.”

Ivovich, along with DRB members, shared questions about removal of trees and retention of a vegetative buffer.

“I think the site plan as you presented it is much more modest, [with] much less tree removal,” Roseberry said. “The landscaping along the path and paying attention to North Shore Drive is probably the biggest weakness in what’s still there.”

In addition to removal and replanting of trees, a portion of Reston Association’s Blue Trail would need to be moved for the construction. Larry Butler, RA’s director of parks, said there has been “good discussion” about those plans. He added that there is an RA easement that will need to be re-routed for the work.

The future addition to the proposed building, for which they are asking permission to clear space ahead of time, is also included in the church’s plan. Mel De Gree, representing the church’s building project, said it is hoped that it would be added within five years of the building’s construction.

The Design Review Board approved the plan as presented, with several conditions. Among those are the development of an updated landscape plan and meetings with the community members. Results of those conversations, along with other provisions from the DRB, are to be presented at a future meeting.

The full presentation packet provided to the DRB during the meeting can be downloaded from the Board’s website.

Illustration via Waldon Community Architects

by Dave Emke August 16, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

The goal is to keep the tall oaks in Tall Oaks.

That’s what representatives of developer Jefferson Apartment Group and architects from KTGY told Reston’s Design Review Board during their meeting Tuesday (video). JAG is working toward ironing out the details of the future redevelopment of Tall Oaks Village Center, approved by the county last year.

At a meeting between the parties in July, members of the Design Review Board told the applicants about their concern regarding how the new development — which will include multifamily residential buildings, two-over-two condominiums and townhouses for a total of 156 residential units — would look from Wiehle Avenue. This month, the developers said they listened.

“There obviously are some constraints, so we’re being more surgical in how we place our trees in order to get the desired look,” said Mike Medick of KTGY.

In order to preserve the sight line from the North Shore Drive/Wiehle Avenue intersection to the southwest corner of the site, Medick said architects have moved entrance walkways and pushed them closer together to allow for the planting of seven large canopy trees. Medick said those will include red, white and pin oak trees.

At planting, the trees will be 16 feet tall. In a decade, they will be about 22 feet tall — reaching the third floor of the townhomes behind them. When they are fully grown, Medick said, they will fully conceal the development from the intersection.

“We’re comfortable that given this planting scheme … we can still get this natural feel for the frontage of North Shore [Drive],” Medick said. “[This will] emphasize again that theme that is so important here, the namesake of the project, the tall oaks.”

Grace Peters, land planner and landscape architect member of the DRB, said she would like to see more down elsewhere on the property to increase tree cover.

“I would appreciate it if the applicant could look into providing additional landscaping where possible [and] save more trees as much as they can,” Peters said.

The developers also responded to comments provided by the DRB last month regarding architectural elements of the buildings themselves and the design of site amenities. The changes were met with mostly positive comments from the DRB, with continued comments about small details.

“We’re faced now in Reston with jumping away from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s architecturally, and I think this effectively does that,” said Richard Newlon, DRB vice chair. “I think you guys have come a long way. I’m relatively satisfied with these [buildings] at this point.”

The DRB voted to approve the general architecture plan as presented, with stipulations that the rooftop units on condominium units be screened, that the application return with material and color palettes for final approval, and that the other comments presented during Tuesday’s meeting be considered as well.

The DRB also voted to approve the landscape plan, with a comment asking the developers to intensify landscaping along North Shore Drive, as well as in the middle and along the northern edge of the property, if at all possible.

Illustrations via Jefferson Apartment Group/KTGY

by Dave Emke August 15, 2017 at 11:30 am 16 Comments

The redevelopment of Tall Oaks Village Center will once again go before Reston’s Design Review Board during its meeting tonight.

In July, the DRB deferred voting on approval of the site plan for the project that will see Tall Oaks transformed into a mostly residential neighborhood. Plans call for 156 homes (a mix of townhomes, 2-over-2 townhomes and multifamily buildings), community space, 8,500 square foot of retail and about 6,000 square feet of office space.

In the presentation developers Jefferson Apartment Group and architects KTGY will present to the DRB (download), additional elevation maps are provided for the Board to consider. In addition, more detailed information about the common areas, tree buffer along North Shore Drive and more will be provided as requested by the DRB in July.

Among other topics on the agenda:

  • Plans for a new building for Martin Luther King Jr. Christian Church (11400 North Shore Drive) will go before the DRB.
  • The Board will consider a request for extension of the Colvin Run Stream Restoration project.

The DRB meeting will begin at 7 p.m. tonight at Reston Association headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).

Images via KTGY

by Dave Emke August 2, 2017 at 10:15 am 334 Comments

Signs claiming “Hate Has No Home Here” have popped up around the community, but one has caused controversy at the Orchard Green Cluster.

Rikki Epstein, of the 11400 block of Orchard Green Court, went before a panel of Reston’s Design Review Board on Tuesday evening to appeal a ruling by her cluster association that her 24-by-18-inch sign was not appropriate for display in her yard.

Dan Pennington, president of the Orchard Green Cluster Association, provided an official written statement as an affected party in the case, saying the sign should not be permitted “based on the clear definitions of Political Signs and what is permitted under RA rules.”

[Epstein] is applying to have a Political Sign displayed on her property. The nature of the impasse is her belief that it is a general sign and not a political one.

As the cluster board we reviewed this issue at our most recent board meeting in June. We voted to request its removal under the general RA Signs rules.

The resident in question also confirmed that this sign was given to her by the Democratic Party at one of the Reston Farmer’s Market this year.

A cursory review of the sign’s web site and underlying organization clearly reveals a political bias despite lip service to the contrary.

The DRB panel denied Epstein’s request to overrule the cluster association and allow placement of the sign, she said, on the basis of its size. Reston Association’s rules for small yard signs say they must be no bigger than one square foot in size to be displayed without a permit. The size of Epstein’s sign is the standard size distributed by the Hate Has No Home Here project.

Temporary political signs, up to 2-by-3 feet, are allowed by RA to be displayed in support of candidates or ballot issues, but must be removed “no later than one week after announcement of election results.” Epstein contends her sign is “clearly not a political sign,” but rather “promotes just and inclusive communities.” She says she intends to appeal the decision to the full Design Review Board for review and consideration, and she will be obtaining a one-square-foot version of the sign to display in the meantime.

In her official statement to the DRB panel, she said:

In Reston, the “Hate Has No Home Here” signs have been distributed at numerous locations including the Lake Anne Farmers Market, as well as at local businesses throughout our community and are available for any individual or group to download the artwork for free. In light of the recent tragic hate crime that occurred nearby, it is more important than ever that our community demonstrates our support for one another and ensures that everyone feels safe.

According to “Another Way of Living: The Story of Reston, VA,” a video project, our founder Robert Simon dreamed of “another way of living” that valued community, nature, diversity and social equity. This innovative American planner set out to build a new kind of walkable suburban community that integrated citizens across racial, economic and religious divides. I have to believe that Robert Simon would embrace the “Hate Has No Home Here” project.

“Today I feel disappointed to be a resident of Reston,” she said in an email.

Image via Hate Has No Home Here website

by Dave Emke August 1, 2017 at 11:30 am 0

Before its meeting tonight, Reston’s Design Review Board will have another one-hour work session with the developers of the proposed Kensington Senior Living at 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive.

Following a work session with the DRB in May, Kensington has made the following changes to its plan to reduce the project’s size:

  • Eliminated an entire floor of the building, resulting in a 2-story building
  • Reduced the overall mass of the project by about 30 percent, from 91,000 square feet to 65,000 square feet, resulting in an approximate FAR of 0.83
  • Narrowed the width of the building toward the south of the site, resulting in an additional setback to the nearest townhomes of 20 feet
  • Reduced the unit count by 23 percent from 91 to 70, and the bed count by 26 percent from 130 to 96

Previous designs for the proposal featured as many as five stories.

The facility would be at the site of the current Good Beginnings School. The property has not yet been sold, with the deal contingent upon the plan’s approval.

At the May work session, residents of the Wethersfield Cluster expressed their concerns about lowered property values, privacy and architectural compatibility. Kensington says it “has considered and is working through different architectural styles, and it “plans to present more detailed building elevations” during tonight’s session.

The documents that have been provided prior to tonight’s session are available here.

The discussion is scheduled for 6 p.m. at RA headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). The DRB’s regular meeting will begin at 7.

Image via Moseley Architects

by Dave Emke July 26, 2017 at 11:30 am 14 Comments

Representatives of Bozzuto Group again brought a presentation about redevelopment of St. Johns Wood to Reston’s Design Review Board during a work session Tuesday.

Again, DRB members expressed the same concerns — too big.

Tuesday’s one-hour session was the latest in a long series of meetings about the proposed redevelopment of the North Reston residential community. After the project was deferred in April, the redevelopers brought new sketches to the DRB as they continue to work toward adding dwelling units to the property.

The previous proposal that had been brought for consideration featured featured 481 multifamily units within two buildings on the 14.3-acre North Point property. Two options presented by architectural firm KTGY at Tuesday’s session reconfigured the buildings and brought the number of units down to 441 or 454.

One option features a street between the two buildings, while the other has a central tree grove.

After the 20-minute presentation, members of the DRB panel shared their thoughts. The massing of the project remained a major hangup for the group, as it was in April and before. Members of the DRB asked if there is any way the developers can lower their threshold for the number of units they need on the property.

“You might have chopped off a unit here or a unit there, but these are still 450-whatever-plus units,” said Richard Newlon, DRB vice chair. “If we’re going to get anywhere with this, we have to talk turkey here and say ‘Where’s your cutoff point?’ If 450 is absolutely the smallest you can make it and still make a profit out of this project, then we’ve got a real problem.”

Some members of the panel said they would be more comfortable with the proposal if the developers would consider breaking the massing into several smaller buildings, such as what is currently on the property. Rohit Anand, of KTGY, said that may not be feasible, considering the use of parking structures in the property plan.

“People want parking in proximity to their home, and these schemes provide that,” Anand said, adding that creating smaller parking garages for each unit is also not desirable.

Brian Winterhalter, of Cooley LLP, representing Bozzuto, asked the panel if they could make a determination on what is more important to address — the height of the buildings or the overall footprint.

“It seemed like your concern was that you would prefer it to have less footprint,” Winterhalter said. “There’s only so much we can do in terms of narrowing the footprint and reducing the height at the same time.”

In response, DRB members said the concern was more about scale and overall size, not specifically about height or footprint. Winterhalter later said if some specific parameters of acceptability could be provided by DRB, the developer could begin moving in that direction.

Ken Kneuven, DRB lay member, said someone will have to break before an agreement can ever happen.

“One side or the other is going to have to give,” he said, imploring the developer to figure out how much it can do to move toward more common ground. “Otherwise we’re going to have another workshop and another workshop and continue to waste your time [and ours].”

The work session was recorded and will be made available on Reston Association’s YouTube channel this week.

by Dave Emke July 25, 2017 at 9:00 am 2 Comments

DRB Meets Tonight — A work session about the St. Johns Wood redevelopment will precede the regular meeting of Reston’s Design Review Board tonight. [Design Review Board]

Cooper’s Hawk Job Fairs Today and Wednesday — Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant (12130 Sunset Hills Road) plans to open next month, but it must hire more than 200 people before then. Its last two hiring events will be today and Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day, at 12100 Sunset Hills Road Suite 130. [Reston Now]

Former SLHS Coach Takes Over at U. of Arizona — Matt Blamey, who was the head lacrosse coach at South Lakes High School for seven years, was named last week as the new head coach of the University of Arizona’s men’s lacrosse program. [CollegeCrosse.com]

Proposed Zoning Changes To Be Discussed — Fairfax County is hosting an open house Wednesday night at the Herrity Building (12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax) to discuss proposed zoning changes including those to short-term rentals, e.g. Airbnb, and rear-yard coverage such as patios. [Fairfax County]

Loudoun County Shoots Down Metro Tax — The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously last week on a resolution to oppose a one-cent regional sales tax. County staff have put together an “alternative capital funding scenario” to the tax. [Loudoun Times-Mirror]

Photo courtesy Richard Hernandez

by Dave Emke July 24, 2017 at 4:00 pm 6 Comments

After being deferred “indefinitely” in April, the proposal to redevelop St. Johns Wood is again showing signs of life.

Reston’s Design Review Board will meet with representatives of the Bozzuto Group for a work session Tuesday evening. The discussion is scheduled for 6 p.m., prior to the start of the DRB’s regular meeting, at RA headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).

According to Mike Leone, Reston Association communications director:

“The work sessions are an opportunity for the Design Review Board members and the applicants to discuss and suggest revisions to a set of proposed plan. Unlike the full DRB board meetings, it is an informational meeting that allows everyone to ‘roll their up their sleeves’ and work together on ideas. The Design Review Board does not render any decisions at these sessions; therefore, no minutes are taken. The applicant does provide notice to the adjacent property owners and affected parties, so the work sessions are held as an open meeting so members can observe the sharing of new ideas and plans.”

Leone said RA has requested new drawings for the plan from the applicant but hasn’t yet received them.

The most recent redevelopment proposal from Bozzuto featured 481 multifamily units within two buildings on the 14.3-acre North Point property, where there are currently 250 multifamily units in nine buildings. At a work session with DRB in April, just days before the plan was deferred, both DRB members and residents spoke out about what they see as an imposing development being planned for a residential neighborhood.

“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?” DRB member Neal Rosenberry said at that meeting. “It’s literally scary to think of this thing landing in that neighborhood up there.”

Leone said the work session will be recorded and the video will be available on Reston Association’s YouTube channel later this week.

by Dave Emke July 19, 2017 at 5:00 pm 27 Comments

After a lengthy discussion during its meeting Tuesday (video), Reston’s Design Review Board deferred voting on approval of landscape, architectural elevations and other aspects of the Tall Oaks Village Center redevelopment.

In their presentation, representatives of Jefferson Apartment Group described their plan for the residential portion of the redevelopment, which will include multifamily residential buildings, two-over-two condominiums and townhouses for a total of 156 residential units.

“One of our main goals with these schemes was to continue to provide diversity, not only in the number of different housing types proposed, but to really give each housing type its own identity while still maintaining a very consistent theme throughout the site,” said a representative of architectural design firm KTGY, emphasizing that the development’s architecture would be “innovative and of its time, but still respectful of its surrounding context.”

KTGY said the two multifamily home buildings in the plan directly relate in scale and density with the adjacent Tall Oaks Assisted Living facility, while the two-over-two buildings and townhomes would have “more of an appropriate relationship to the surrounding neighborhoods.”

Members of the DRB, however, were concerned by the fact that all residential buildings within the development would be four stories tall, creating what some called a “cavernous” feel.

“There’s a sense of walking through a valley,” said lay member Bruce Ramo. “It seems very un-Restonlike, particularly in the context of where it is sitting, not in a transit area.”

DRB members also expressed concern about what the townhomes would look like as drivers approach the development from North Shore Drive.

“To me, as I turn onto North Shore Drive from Wiehle into this new Tall Oaks Village Center environment, I feel a little disappointed to see brownstones,” said W. Neal Roseberry, DRB vice chair. “I kind of would want to see, personally, something that’s Reston in a contemporary way.”

Roseberry said the proposed design of the townhouses would be like a “little piece of West Market” at Tall Oaks.

Richard Newlon, another of the committee’s vice chairs, agreed.

“From three years ago, May of 2014, our interest has always been to try to keep North Shore looking more Restonlike [with] a more natural buffer,” he said. “Please, pay attention that. That’s a key element.”

Images via JAG/KTGY

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