Renovations to South Lakes Village Center to Begin This Summer

Construction on new upgrades to make South Lakes Village Center more of a local destination are planned for this summer.

Thomas Regnell, president and CEO of Chevy Chase Land Company, told Reston Now that construction is expected to start over the next several weeks. Planned upgrades, which include an amphitheater, a bike rack and repair station, and a fire pit, are intended to help turn the aging commercial center into an attractive destination that brings local residents together.

Regnell said it was too early to indicate when upgrades will be completed, but the construction process will take eight weeks.

Some features of the plan — which originally included ping pong tables — were removed at the request of Reston Association’s Design Review Board, which approved the project in June. Citizen groups and nearby residents sounded off against the plans, which they said would attract noise, vandalism, and too much activity.

The project is expected to cost between $300,000 and $400,000, Regnell said.

Photos via Chevy Chase Land Company

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Vantage Hill Condominiums’ Closed Pool and Parking Could House New Townhouses

For seven years, the pool behind Vantage Hill Condominiums (11619 Vantage Hill Road), boxy housing built in the late 1960s, has been closed. Now, discussions are underway to build townhouses on the pool site to save a condominium building that its community association leadership says is on a slow and steady decline.

The assocaition hopes to use revenues generated from the project to help finance around $4.5 million in needed infrastructure upgrades. Rob Schuman, the community association’s president, told the Reston Association’s Design Review Board last night (April 16) that the association has been grappling with major infrastructure needs for years.

The 152-unit development, which has 24 garden-style buildings, was one of Reston’s first projects and offers market-based workforce housing. Prices for a one-bedroom unit start at $140,000 and up to $250,000 for a three-bedroom unit.

Schuman said the association does not have enough money to take on infrastructure improvements on its own. Members pay yearly HOA fees between $420 and $680. Pipes leak every week, the electrical system is 60 years old and doors and windows provide little to no insulation, Schuman said.

The association is considering pooling the one-acre pool site and another acre used for parking to create enough developable space for 38 townhouse units. Parking lost to the development project would be redistributed. Schuman said 70 percent of the association’s members approved of the development proposal. The association’s bylaws require a two-thirds majority from the ownership to proceed with the project.

If approved — a process that could be years away — the townhouse community could become its own cluster with its own community association. So far, association members stressed a formal proposal is forthcoming and discussions are preliminary.

Charlie Hoffman, a DRB member, said he worried that the infill development could hike up the prices of the condo units.

“I would hate to see them get so nice that people can’t afford to live in them anymore,” Hoffman said. Overall, he said the project could bring new energy to the aging building.

Revenue from the project would help fund metered electrical service for each unit, new windows and doors, new entrances, upgraded heating, new plumbing, security upgrades and an expanded playground. Electric vehicle charging stations are also under consideration.

Photos via Reston Association/handout

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Pedestrian Lighting Working Group Returns With Reston Lighting Map

After a year-long hiatus, the Reston Association’s Pedestrian Lighting Working Group made a comeback at the Design Review Board’s meeting last night (March 19).

Working group members Larry Butler, Rick Landers and Bill Burton presented a progress report as a first step toward developing specific lighting guidelines for RA properties and pathways.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ recent call for more streetlights around Reston and some criticism of the lighting at the Sekas development along Sunrise Valley Drive renewed the focus on the lighting, Butler said.

“Lighting is going to be at the forefront for some time to come,” Butler said.

The report highlighted two main goals:

  • development of “contextual application guidelines” for lighting
  • prioritization of pedestrian lighting in the community — common areas including pathways and recreational amenities, transit station areas and clusters

Butler said that the working group is also adopting some guidelines from the Reston Annual State of the Environment Report (RASER).

Burton showed the Design Review Board the Reston lighting map that was created by overlaying existing pathway lights on a new land use map. Burton said that the working group members walked or biked Reston pathways and corridors to note areas of no, low, medium or high lighting.

The map has four main zones:

  • zone 0: areas with no existing lighting for areas where RA wants to preserve darkness
  • zone 1: traditional residential areas — most of the Planned Residential Community — that may want additional lighting
  • zone 2: village centers, brightly lit schools and athletic fields that will need future lighting replacements
  • zone 3: transportation corridor and Reston Town Center

In addition to marking the traditional RA pathways, the map also notes travel corridors along certain roads that bicyclists and pedestrians might frequently use.

The map is meant to serve as a template for the Design Review Board’s review of lighting requests, he said.

Identifying areas that need more lighting is just one step.

“We want to do it right,” Butler said, mentioning LED lights on timers.

Landers added that the technological advances in LED lights provide more options for dimmer or brighter lighting, along with being more energy-efficient.

Vice Chair and Architect Member W. Neal Roseberry praised the three working group members for their effort, which has broad appeal to Restonians. “I think this is really pretty common sense,” he said.

While the Design Review Board supported the map and expressed a desire in making a future action item around lighting, Richard Newlon, the board’s chairman, questioned how much detail should get decided around lighting while still creating an enforceable guideline.

In addition to the progress report, Butler also gave the board a preview on other actions the working group is taking.

A pathway lighting project in Hunters Woods that the Design Review Board approved three years ago now has renewed interest because of a proffer commitment from Atlantic Realty — the developer behind the Hunters Woods at Trail Edge senior living facility — to add new pathway lighting

“We’re working with Fairfax County to get an interpretation on that proffer as to whether or not that money can be joined with our project, our current funding so that we can do lighting down there, because we don’t have enough money to do the whole project,” Butler said.

Butler said that he expects the working group to come back to the Design Review Board in April or May with information on the $81,300 promised in the proffer.

“The face of Reston is changing,” Butler said. “We want to make sure the lighting keeps up.”

Images via Reston Association/YouTube

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Friday Morning Notes

Celebrate International Women’s Day — Head to Lake Anne Plaza tonight for a kick off of weekend events honoring the women who helped shape the plaza. A free event tonight at Reston Community Center’s Jo Ann Rose Gallery includes a gallery reception and panel discussion starting at 7:30 p.m. [Reston Now]

Call for candidates — The Reston Association’s Design Review Board is looking for a member to fill a design professional volunteer position. Architects, land planners and landscape architects are encouraged to apply. [Application]

Done deal — Herndon-based Tyto Athene recently bought Island Information Technology Consultants in a move meant to continue the Herndon company’s strategy of building mid-market tech solutions and managed services. [Washington Business Journal]

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New Private Preschool Now Open on North Village Road

Primrose Schools, a private preschool franchise, expanded its reach with a newly opened location in Reston.

The school announced on Instagram last Monday (Jan. 28) that the Reston location officially opened. Neighboring the North Hills tennis courts and pools, Primrose School of Reston takes the former site of the North Village KinderCare at 1309 N. Village Road.

The new facility is part of a franchise that has more than 400 schools in 29 states and is accredited through AdvancED. The Reston one is the 16th Primrose School in Virginia, with nearby ones in Chantilly and Ashburn. The schools in the D.C. area provide year-round full and part-time education for infants and children as young as six weeks old, according to the website.

The school, which is owned by Rina Patel and Beau and Urvi Athia, was originally expected to open in the fall, Reston Now previously reported

Earlier last month, the Reston location faced criticism concerning the size and color of its red plastic fire truck.

Reston Association’s Design Review Board ultimately OK’d the playground equipment, along with signs for the school.

The school will host an open house on Saturday (Feb. 9). A grand opening is set for April 6.

Images via Google Maps, Primrose Schools and Reston Association/YouTube

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Design Review Board Shies Away From Creating Deck Boat Standards

Reston Association’s Design Review Board was skeptical about a proposal made during the meeting on Tuesday (Jan. 15) asking for deck boat design standards.

Watershed Specialist William Peterson presented two requests that resulted from the Lakes, Boats and Docks Working Group: addition of floating deck specifications in the DRB guidelines for docks and creation of DRB guidelines for deck boat construction.

Peterson asked the board to make a Reston Association standard for deck boats, which could information about appropriate float materials.

He noted that contractors make many of the deck boats on lakes around Reston, and without a standard, people can build a deck boat any way they want to. Use of inadequate materials can result in them falling apart.

Currently, the resolutions have deck boat guidelines for size, lights and motor size for deck boats, and the “Boat Guide” also has stipulations. “The ‘Boat Guide’ is not a standard. It is not required,” Peterson said.

“We’re talking about staff overload as it is and now we’re talking about a whole new design and review of deck boats?” W. Neal Roseberry, the board’s vice chair and architect member, said. “It doesn’t feel like it belongs in the design guidelines.”

Anna Donato, director of covenants administration, said that it may be possible for DRB to create standards without having to review any noncomplying deck boats. “I don’t think it’s something that would be thrown in the hands of the DRB in terms of governing moving forward.”

Donato and Roseberry both questioned whether or not noncompliance would fall under the Legal Committee instead.

“It feels difficult to have it go both ways — to use the authority of the DRB to set a standard and then to say we’re not going to regulate the standard,” Roseberry said. “I don’t think we should be setting the standard in the first place.”

If deck boats can only get regulated by DRB, Roseberry said he would be open to supporting the idea.

While the board was skeptical about creating a deck boat standard, the members signaled a willingness to update the dock guidelines.

Peterson also showed an example of the DRB dock guidelines, which included a picture of a nonfloating dock, and photos of different ways to permanently attach floating docks. The Lakes, Boats and Docks Working Group has disagreed about what “permanently attached” means.

“Some people think a bungee cord or a rope constitutes permanently attached,” he said. “Others think it needs to be more permanent like a hinged structure.”

Peterson also asked for the removal of a sentence in the guidelines that directs readers to RA’s Park and Recreation Department guidelines, which do not exist.

Clarification of “permanently attached” could include language saying that pilings or a hinge system are sufficient for attachment. Peterson said that he plans to come back to the DRB at a later date with a draft with updated language.

“Improving the guidelines for stationary docks with all of the different ones you showed makes sense,” Richard Newlon, the board’s chairman, said to Peterson. “I don’t think that the DRB wants to get into things that move.”

Images via Reston Association/YouTube 

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Design Review Board Approves Tall Oaks Development Changes

Reston Association’s Design Review Board approved minor changes to the size and number of windows for previously approved architectural designs for the Tall Oaks Village Center redevelopment on Tuesday night.

The redevelopment plans to transform the village center (12022 North Shore Drive) into a mostly residential neighborhood by adding 156 residential units, which include 42 two-over-two multi-family units, 44 single units and 70 multi-family units in two residential buildings. Nearly 8,500 square feet of retail and 5,800 square feet of office space are also slated for the site.

On Dec. 19. Stanley Martin Homes officially purchased the residential portion of the property from Jefferson Apartment Group. Currently, Stanley Martin is completing the site plan and brought “small changes” to abide by the county’s zoning to the Design Review Board.

Richard Newlon, the board’s chairman, said he was concerned about replacing some of the larger windows with smaller ones. “It’s not going to have the same architectural drama we thought we were getting before,” he said. “We’re always looking for good design and stuff that is a little bit different and a little bit progressive.”

Ultimately, the board approved the changes.

During the nearly three-hour-long meeting on Jan. 15, the Design Review Board also approved stream restoration with a year-long timeline for the Colvin Run Stream.

Tree clearing is set to begin for the stream restoration on Feb. 4, with an estimated completion of the work sometime in the summer. Planting will then follow in the fall.

The board also OK’d playground equipment and signs at the Primrose School of Reston (1309 N. Village Road).

An affected party — who did not show up to the meeting — had previously raised a concern about the size and color of a red plastic fire truck in the school’s playground.

“Reston is pretty much known for the lack of vibrant color in all of its playgrounds. It’s always supposed to be natural looks — greens and browns,” Newlon said. “I personally have never seen a green or brown fire engine.”

W. Neal Roseberry, the board’s vice chair and architect member, was the only member to vote against approving the playground equipment’s appearance.

Images via Reston Association/YouTube

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Amazon will bring $15 billion and 62,000 jobs by 2030 A study by the Virginia Chamber Foundation predicts that Amazon’s second headquarters in Crystal City will bring a huge economic impact to Northern Virginia and D.C. [Reston Patch]

Design & Wine — Head to ArtSpace Herndon to sketch and paint unique winter villages with artist Melanie Z Stanley from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. tonight. [ArtSpace Herndon]

New MetroAlerts and real-time parking unveiled– Metro introduced yesterday a new MetroAlerts system to allow Metrorail and Metrobus riders to customize the alerts they receive by day and time, along with adding multiple email addresses or phone numbers on one account. In a separate improvement, real-time parking status is now shown on wmata.com. [WMATA]

Reston Association’s Design Review Board meets tonight — The Wendy’s at 1701 Bracknell Drive is on the agenda for the meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. [Reston Association]

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Music and a coat drive — The Reston Chorale will perform George Frideric Handel’s Messiah tonight at 7:30 p.m. at St. John Neumann Church. Locals are encouraged to bring new or gently used coats or new hats, gloves, scarves or socks, which will fill Cornerstone’s Coat Closet, to receive $5 off of the ticket. [Reston Chorale]

Holiday fire safety PSA — The county’s Fire and Rescue Department has safety tips for open-flame candles for Hanukkah celebrations. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]

Design Review Board meeting — The Reston Association’s Design Review Board will meet tonight at 7 p.m. to review pending applications. [Reston Association]

 

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Design Review Board Vote Sets ‘Snakeden’ Stream Restoration Project into Motion

Plans to restore roughly 800 linear feet of Lake Audubon’s streams were approved by Reston Association’s Design Review Board Tuesday night. The project, called Snakeden, would involve tree removal, stream construction and revegetation along RA’s parcels between Cedar Cove Cluster and Wakerobin Lane.

Meghan Fellows, the county’s manager of watershed projects, said a design team has been working on the project, with the input of RA, property owners and residents, for nearly three years.

“The stream is desperately in need of some assistance,” Fellows said at the DRB meeting, noting that portions of the area are degrading significantly.

Richard Newlon, the board’s chairman, said he hopes the project team will minimize the loss of trees by tweaking designs and implementation to conserve trees — even if it meant a minor tweak to save just one tree.

The project was challenged by the need to secure easements across private property and Reston Association property to construct the stream. Land rights for the project were obtained in June following a more than a year-long period of tree and stream surveys and conceptual planning.

After a cycle of revisions, permits were granted in October. After receiving final approval for designs, drawings and permits in the spring of next year, construction is likely to begin in the summer, Fellows said.

Overall, several sanitary crossings in the area are exposed and RA found that 40 trees are likely to fall down if no action is taken. Trees will be replanted during later phases of the project.

County staff estimates the project will cost under $1 million.

Photos via handout/Reston Association

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T-Mobile Installation on Waterford Square Condominium Flatly Rejected Again

Reston Association’s Design Review Board unanimously shot down T-Mobile’s plans to install cell phone equipment on the roof of Waterford Square Condominiums Tuesday night — noting that the company’s tweaked plans did little to address residents’ concerns about the equipment’s incompatibility with the building.

T-Mobile proposed to install cell phone equipment on the building, igniting vehement opposition from residents’ who argued the equipment was extremely visible, damaged the building’s character and posed possible health concerns.

Richard Newlon, the DRB’s chair, said T-Mobile’s plan, which was similar to plans rejected by the board in April, did little to address the panel’s concerns about the visibility of the equipment. Panels are around 12 feet high and 10 feet wide.

“It was clear in April that this kind of design is not going to get approved by this board and it’s the same design,” Newlon said. “It’s almost embarrassing to be sitting here saying the same thing again and I don’t want to be… six months from now… saying the same thing again.”

DRB members also worried that installing cell phone equipment on a residential building could lead to similar proposals by other service providers. The redevelopment of Lake Anne Fellowship House prompted T-Mobile to remove its equipment from the rooftop and scout for other locations in Reston.

More than 25 people, including condominium residents and neighbors of the building, opposed the plan on Tuesday. Some noted that their stance was not indicative of mere opposition to change, adding that residents of the condominium were exploring the possibility of installing solar panels on the roof.

“We’re not trying to live in the past,” one resident, who lived in the building for roughly 20 years, said.

Ed Donahue, T-Mobile’s legal representative, said the company had attempted to strike a compromise by scaling back the structure from the edge of the roof and installing plastic, brick-like screening for the equipment. Donahue also noted that possible health concerns and zoning were outside of the DRB’s purview.

“We are in full compliance of the federal guidelines as we are on the thousands of sites in Virginia,” Donahue said, comparing T-Mobile’s plans to a similar installation at the Heron House.

Other DRB members said that T-Mobile failed to convince the board how the cell phone equipment and towers would be compatible with the architectural integrity of the building.

“I still see that it’s visible and it does detract from the architecture and the roofline,” said Grace Peters, a DRB member.

The equipment by other companies displaced by development at the Lake Anne Fellowship House have not yet proposed plans for reinstallation to other sites.

Photo via handout/Reston Association

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Antsy about antennas — T-Mobile is trying once again to put cell phone equipment on top of the Waterford Square condominium building. Plans were rejected earlier this year, but a second shot is planned will be proposed to Reston Association’s Design Review Board tonight. [Reston Association]

Meet MeSpoke — This company based in Reston offers a digital community for retail shopping. Users download the app and create a billboard, which curates photos of clothing ensembles from the user’s favorite brands. [WTOP]

Meeting on transit station guidelines tonight — A meeting about draft guidelines for Reston’s Transit Station Areas is set for today at 6 p.m. in Reston Association headquarters. Guidelines are intended to implement Reston’s comprehensive plan, which was amended in 2014. [Reston Association]

Woodfield to replace office building — The company wants to tear down the small office building at 1941 Roland Clarke Place in order to build a larger, 308-unit apartment building. [Washington Business Journal]

Farmers Market returns to Reston Town Center — The market will be on from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at the pavilion. [Reston Town Center]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Renovations Proposed for Sheraton Reston Hotel

The new owners of Sheraton Reston Hotel (11810 Sunrise Valley Drive) in Reston Town Center have proposed a series of renovations to the 298-room hotel.

Wurzak Hotel Group, a Philadelphia-based company and DoveHill Capital Management acquired the property in March. Reston Association’s Design Review Board will consider the owners’ proposal to renovate the building’s exterior at the board’s meeting on Tuesday (Oct. 16).

Proposed renovations include repairs and repainting of the building’s facade. New louvers will be installed and wood-printed aluminum screens would be added to bring a “natural element” to the property, according to the owners’ proposal. Nature-inspired wood-printed metal will be repeated throughout the building and a clearer entry to the new Gastropub location will be added.

The DRB meets at 7 p.m. in Reston Association headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). The board will also hear a case that was previously rejected in April.

T-Mobile has filed another application to install antennas on the roof of the Waterford Square Condominiums — a proposal that was flatly rejected after opposition from residents. Opposition to the proposal remains.

Photos via handout/Reston Association

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New Reston Association Design Review Guidelines In Effect

Reston Association’s Board of Directors approved process changes to its design review guidelines  Thursday night. The changes, under discussion for just under two years, are aimed to expedite application processing and boost efficiency.

Overall, review of cluster standard applications would jump from review by the Design Review Board’s panel to consultation-level review with two DRB members. Additionally, other applications would move from consultation-level review to staff-level review only.

A complete list of the approved changes is available online. No content changes to the design guidelines are in effect as a result of Thursday’s approval.

Anna Varone, RA’s director of covenants administration, said the changes will help “streamline the process to allow quicker processing.” The DRB held a public hearing on the changes in July.

Members can still request appeals of applications, including those now delegated to staff-level review.

Photo via YouTube/Reston Association

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Reston Association Seeks Feedback on Design Guideline Changes

Reston Association’s Board of Directors will hold a public hearing on changes to the organization’s design guidelines on Sept. 27 at 6:30 p.m. at RA headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).

The proposed changes aim to improve how RA’s Design Review Board, an independent entity within RA, reviews applications. The DRB reviews applications to change the exteriors of properties within RA.

For example, applications concerning light fixtures governed by cluster standards will move from panel-level to consultation-level review. Other changes related to air conditioners, artwork, attic ventilators, awnings, and cables would move from consultation-level review to staff review only. Similar changes are proposed for single-family detached units. All proposed changes are available online.

The DRB held its last public hearing on the guideline changes on July 17. RA’s design covenants aim to promote qualities that bring value to the property and “foster the attractiveness and functional utility of the community as a place to live, including a harmonious relationship among structures, vegetation, and topography, ” according to RA’s website.

File photo

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