At the last workgroup meeting on a controversial zoning amendment, county officials stressed that population density increases proposed in Reston’s comprehensive plan are broad targets that will be gradually implemented over the next 30 years.
The meeting, held Tuesday night, was the last in a series of discussions on the county’s proposal to increase Reston’s population density from 13 to 16 people per acre in the community’s Planned Residential Community district.
Representatives from the Coalition for a Planned Reston and Reston Association said that while they were not opposed to development, the cumulative impact of increased development without the infrastructure to manage it was a major concern.
Tammi Petrine, co-chair of Reston 2020, said increasing the density cap only invites more developers to push harder for development — a trend that she said is already clearly evident in the streak of major mixed-use projects approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
Fred Selden, director of the Fairfax County’s Department of Planning and Zoning, said the community has multiple opportunities between when a development plan is proposed and passed to voice their concerns, suggest alternatives and raise critical issues.
“The community, quite frankly, has to give its judgment,” Selden said.
But others felt that concerns raised by community members have little sway in the overall planning process.
Selden said his office would be open to discussing possible changes to Reston’s comprehensive plan if pressing needs arose. In Tysons, the plan was updated seven years after its passage when the planned grid of streets did not align with what was actually being built.
But Selden also noted that major changes to planned land use intensities are rarely incorporated within five years of a plan’s passage. Late last year, CPR and RA suggested altering Reston’s master plan to make specific changes. He repeatedly stressed that Reston’s plan envisions possible future growth, which may or may not be realized given economic and market constraints.
Redevelopment of Reston’s village centers was also a hot topic during Tuesday’s discussion. Selden stressed that the plan already leaves the door open for high-density redevelopment potential — an element of the plan that was supported by some residents during earlier planning discussions.
“We could have said that there’s no redevelopment potential in the village centers,” Selden said. “But that’s not what we heard from the community.”
Others like John Mooney, a member on RA’s Board of Directors, said planning processes focus on the impacts of development in Transit Station Areas without considering the impact on development in all of Reston.
He said traffic studies have not considered the impact of traffic in Transit Station Areas on the rest of Reston.
“I see no evidence, although I’m awaiting further information,” Mooney said.
Photo via YouTube
(This story was updated on Wednesday at 6:27 a.m. to clarify a quote by John Mooney.)
Combined Properties, a D.C.-based company, has acquired Homestead at Reston, a 200-unit apartment complex at 12265 Laurel Glade Court. The deal was closed for $41 million and the company has renamed the complex to Reston Glade.
The complex could be upgraded in the future, although no plans are definitive, according to the company.
“Reston Glade will become a community known for its location and amenities, while still providing value for its residents,” said Ronald Haft, chairman of Combined Properties.
The property was formerly known as Homestead at Reston. In a statement, Combined Properties touted Reston as “one of the most desirable submarkets in the Washington, D.C. region area.”
Gary Scott, the company’s vice president of national acquisitions, said Combined Properties is positioning itself to acquire more residential complexes in the future.
The company has nine mixed projects in its portfolio. Nearby, it owns Sugarland Crossing in Sterling and McLean Plaza in McLean.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved plans Tuesday to replace surface parking in Lake Fairfax Business Park with a four-story hotel.
The 138-room hotel, proposed by TH Holding Company, would be built next to the headquarters of Thompson Hospitality (1741 Business Center Drive), TH Holding’s retail food and facilities management company.
TH Holding Company plans to provide 299 parking spaces, including 149 spots for hotel guests and employees. An outdoor terrace will be adjacent to the hotel’s main entrance.
Under requested rezoning approvals, the hotel will be subject to its own zoning and permit regulations, separate from Lake Fairfax Business Park. The Planning Commission unanimously approved the project on May 3, with one member abstaining from a vote.
Photo via Fairfax County Government, Google Maps
More community meetings about a controversial plan to increase Reston’s population density may be forthcoming.
In an April 23 letter to the Coalition for a Planned Reston, a community group opposing the increase, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins suggested holding more meetings to discuss issues related to the proposal, which would increase population density from 13 to 16 people per acre in Reston’s Planned Residential Community areas.
Hudgins pitched the idea of holding another group meeting with CPR, Reston Association and the county’s planning staff. Work sessions in small groups would follow based on topics like infrastructure implementation, transportation, schools and parks.
CPR and RA declined to meet on April 2 to discuss the county’s response to their concerns. County planning staff reiterated the need to pursue the proposal in order to effectively implement Reston’s master plan. Staff affirmed their commitment to ensuring infrastructure matches the pace of development, but did not accept a number of amendments suggested by both parties.
In her letter, Hudgins acknowledged the county’s response was “slow in coming.”
“But a commitment was made to respond and the planning staff did so in a detailed and thoughtful manner. It is unfortunate that CPR and RA declined to meet on April 2 and to discuss the staff’s response and to outline next steps and the process going forward,” she wrote.
Hudgins also noted that Reston’s master plan includes protections for existing residential communities and Reston’s golf course.
Most of the potential growth is slated for village centers, St. Johns Wood apartments, the retail area north of Baron Cameron avenue near Home Depot, Reston Town Center North, parts of Reston Town Center and other parcels in Reston’s Transit Station Areas.
“As was evident again this year at the Founder’s Day celebration, Reston is a special place that we all love and I am confident that we can all work together to resolve the issue of the maximum density allowed in the PRC zoned area and the concerns of the community regarding the Reston Master Plan,” Hudgins said.
CPR met on Monday to discuss the county’s response. In a statement, Bruce Ramo of CPR said the opposition group is disappointed with the county’s response.
“It is evident that in the absence of leadership by the Supervisor, Restonians must step forward directly to convince the Board of Supervisors of the need for changes in the Master Plan,” Ramo wrote.
Dates regarding when the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will officially introduce the legislative proposal have not yet been announced.
A bedroom community awakens — A look at how younger people are leaving cities and settling in communities like Reston. [U.S. News & World Report]
For job seekers — Reston Association has officially posted a job listing as it continues to search for a new CEO after Cate Fulkerson’s sudden departure from the position this year. [Association Career]
So[lar] awesome — Virginia’s capacity to generate solar electricity is expected to triple over the next year. Can the Commonwealth handle that power? [WTOP]
Going mobile — Joining the rest of the digital world, Metro plans to enable customers to pay for trips by using a mobile device next year. Of course, there isn’t an app for that (yet). [WMATA]
$20 million for Expel — The cybersecurity startup based in Herndon has raised the funds led by a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. Funds will fuel the company’s product development and go-to market efforts. [Washington Business Journal]
Photo by Lauren Pinkston
A 20-story condominium high rise will replace a three-story office building built in the late 1980s on 1801 Old Reston Avenue.
On Tuesday evening, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the project by Renaissance Centro, the developer behind a strip of residential buildings in the area.
The project will include 150 residential units, including 24 for-sale, workforce housing units and 24 bonus units, built atop an underground parking garage.
County officials touted the project for bringing for-sale workforce housing on the market — a rarity in Reston despite the prevalence of residential high rises. Andrew Painter of Walsh Colluci Lubuley & Walsh, the developer’s representative, said the project is the first for-sale condominium in Reston in 14 years.
Painter said Renaissance views the project as a “legacy” development that will transform Reston Parkway from a commuter-cut-through street to an urban parkway. The developer will provide $313,000 for Reston’s road funds and the project is not expected to generate additional traffic compared to the current building, he said.
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said the community and the developer worked together to allay concerns. She said the developer is providing green space that will enhance the community space in area on Reston Parkway that serves as an entrance to high density development across from Reston Town Center and at the foot of Metro.
As the project moves forward, Hudgins also said traffic improvements on Temporary Road and Reston Parkway are needed.
“There are transportation issues in this area. No matter what we would have built, it would have been difficult.”
Three residents who testified in support of the project on Tuesday said the project will offer new home ownership opportunities they have awaited for years. One resident opposed the plan because the developer is requesting a waiver for the minimum lot and reduced loading dock requirements. She also questioned why the project’s zoning designation is classified as mixed use, even though the project has no mixed use element.
Previously, a decision on the project had previously been deferred.
The project will include a pool, an outdoor terrace, a penthouse with terrace space, and an eight-foot-wide asphalt trail. Once built, it will tower above The Harrison and other properties built by Renaissance Centro.
“The applicant has a track record of quality development,” Painter said.
Photos via handout
After weeks of deferrals, a plan to redevelop a three-story office building into 20-story condominiums is getting closer to approval.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously passed Renaissance Centro, a 150-unit project on 1801 Old Reston Avenue, Thursday night.
The project was stalled after the county’s planning and zoning staff and the developer clashed over how the condominiums incorporate workforce housing and parking for workforce housing units. In response to concerns about the intensity of development on the 1.5-acre site, the developer agreed to reduce the scale of the project by 7,500 square feet, reduce the building height from 260 feet to 240 feet and improve tree protection and fencing.
The building will have 150 units, with 24 units set aside for workforce housing, allowing the developer to add 24 units in bonus density. The size of the additional units will be within 10 percent of the size of workforce housing units.
Still, At-Large Commissioner James Hart said the case was “difficult.” Although he voted for the project because it met Reston’s comprehensive plan and county requirements, Hart, who is also the commission’s vice chairman, said the project had “too much intensity on too small of a site.”
He cited concerns that the developer filed the application as Planned Residential Mixed (PRM) use application. As Reston approaches the density cap for the Planned Residential Community district, more developers may file applications as PRM, resulting in what he called a “patchwork” of development.
Overall, commission members said the project highlights the need for the county to clarify workforce housing requirements, especially for parking. Hart said current requirements are at best “confusing.”
“It’s very difficult even for us to understand how the numbers work,” he said.
At Renaissance, which will include a parking garage, residents will have the option of buying one parking space per unit. Two loading spaces will be available along the entrance, in addition to three short-term parking spaces in order to meet growing demand for drop-off stations.
The proposal will head to the county’s Board of Supervisors for final approval. More projects that require repurposing old office buildings into residential and mixed use projects are in the pipeline. If approved, the residential building will be taller than the adjacent Harrison apartments and similar in size to The Signature apartments across the street from Renaissance Centro.
Photos via handout and by Fatimah Waseem
Hours for Parking Fees Extended at Wiehle-Reston East Beginning Today – Beginning Feb. 5, charges for parking on weekdays will begin at 7:30 a.m. instead of 9:30 a.m. On Fridays, fees will continue through 2 a.m. instead of 1 a.m. Other stations will also have fees on Saturdays, but county officials barred an attempt to charge for parking at the Reston station last month. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]
Reston’s Latest Additions Harken Back to Its Modern-Day Design – In a “design perspective” piece, Deborah Dietsch writes that Reston’s last development blocks are being completed with a “welcome return to modern design.” [Washington Business Journal]
Rollicking Roundup Playtime Tomorrow at Frying Pan Farm Park – Children under the age of five can enjoy two hours of free play at the park’s visitor center auditorium from 10 a.m. through noon. Attendees should bring toys to show and share. [Fairfax County Government]
Photo by Fatimah Waseem
An affiliate of Angelo, Gordon & Co. hopes to transform nearly four acres of the Reston Corner office center into a mixed-used project with up to 145 residential units and a parking garage.
The company is seeking to create a “new urban neighborhood” at the heels of the future Reston Town Center Metro Station in an area slated for transit-oriented, mixed-use development. The residential building will create an “attractive” and “appropriate” transition from more intense development in the transit station area and low-rise residential development south of the property, according to a Jan. 4 proposal.
The project is located on the southwestern quadrant of the intersection of Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive.
The developer lays out a vision for a seven-story residential building with up to 1,500 square feet of secondary uses to serve residents. The 85-foot building would tower over office buildings near the site, which range from 55 to 69 feet.
The development implements the county’s vision to “achieve a better balance of residential and non-residential uses,” wrote Ben Wales of Cooley LLP in the statement.
A garage will replace surface parking used for three office buildings in Reston Corner. Residents would use the existing access onto Sunrise Valley Drive to limit the number of cars passing through Reston Corner.
The plan was set in motion when the company partnered with Atlantic Realty to purchase a portfolio of buildings in Reston in a $82 million deal. More development is envisioned as part of the partnership against the backdrop of commercial activity spurred by the Silver Line.
Other features of the plan include the following:
- A four-level garage with a maximum height of 40 feet.
- The garage will be screened from view from Reston Parkway by existing office buildings and the residential project.
- 12 percent of the residential building will be set aside as workforce housing.
- The developer seeks special exception to increase density across the existing office uses.
- Outside seating on the western edge of the residential building for “gathering and relaxation.”
The complete plan is available below.
File photo of Reston Corner II courtesy Atlantic Realty
Pushed by ongoing development in the community, Reston Association committed to publishing an annual report about the state of the environment in Reston last year. Now, the results of the first Annual State of the Environment Report (RASER) are in.
The workgroup charged to lead the effort will present its findings at a community meeting on Thursday from 7-8 p.m. at the Walker Nature Center (11450 Glade Drive).
The nine-member group invested more than 1,000 volunteer hours to produce the report, which draws from interviews and documents from researchers, scientists and others.
The study is intended to give readers a better understanding of Reston’s current environmental conditions in order to provide a baseline against which future changes to the environment can be measured.
“As urbanization expands rapidly, not only in Northern Virginia but also worldwide, there is a growing disconnect between people and nature. When people are isolated from nature, they perceive it as less relevant and more threatening, and its physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits are devalued. Consequently, interest in conserving and protecting the natural environment is weakened, and society comes to accept a lowered environmental quality as the new norm, ” according to the report.
In light of the limited use of tools to manage stormwater when Reston was developed, the study calls on Reston Association to track and block any requested waivers of stormwater management during the land development and redevelopment process.
Other recommendations include the following:
- Develop an incentives system to encourage Reston property owners and associations to manage stormwater runoff on their sites.
- Plant more trees and replace removed tress with native species to increase the quality and quantity of tree cover.
- Push residents and businesses to landscape using native plants instead of turf grass.
- Encourage the placement of more electric car charging stations.
- Identify stream reaches most vulnerable to channel modifications due high-energy water flows.
- Support more follow-up studies of restored Reston streams
- Identify sources of phosphorus and sediment loading in watersheds of lakes
The complete 176-page report is available online.
Photo by Fatimah Waseem
Reston Association is considering a request to add two new developments to its membership.
Proposed additions include Valley & Park, a 54-unit townhouse project on 11720 Sunrise Valley Drive and The Lofts at Reston Station, which will include 32-unit, four-level condominiums and 12 stacked townhouse condominiums at 1825 Michael Faraday Drive.
Both developments will have its own on-site maintenance through a cluster or condominium association.
The developers have committed to pitch in a per unit capital contribution to offset the impact of new members to existing RA infrastructure, according to Larry Butler, RA’s senior director of land use planning. Staff did not disclose the contribution amount in a meeting late last week as negotiations continue.
Valley & Park by Toll Brothers is in the early phases of preparation for construction after a six-story building built in 1985 was razed in June. Located just east of JBG’s Reston Heights development, the 69,000-square-foot building was bought by Rooney Properties in 2013.
The Lofts at Reston Station by Pulte are designed to create “a new urban neighborhood” on 1.5 acres – just a third of a mile from Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station. Redevelopment projects are planned around the site. The project, which is currently under construction, replaces a one-story industrial building and surface parking.
RA’s Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the proposed additions on Feb. 22.
With its membership in RA, the developments will be subject to various terms, including:
- The entire property will be subject to the Reston Deed
- The establishment of a cluster association — Sunrise Square
- Full payment, per unit of the RA annual assessment
- A lump sum payment or other initiation fee
Photos via Fairfax County Government
The county has formally accepted redevelopment plans for Lake Anne Fellowship House, an affordable housing senior community on North Shore Drive.
Fellowship Square Foundation and the Community Preservation and Development Corporation envision the proposal will enhance senior housing residential opportunities, diversity housing types and revitalize Lake Anne Village Center.
“All existing affordable housing units will be replaced in a new, more efficient modern building with better amenities to serve its senior population. This proposal remains true to Robert E. Simon’s vision to provide communities comprised of a diverse residential population in a sustainable environment,” according to a proposal filed with the county last month.
The new plans call for replacing all 240 apartment units in the existing 1970s-era facility. Amenities include a social hall, crafts room, fitness room, wellness center, a game room, two plazas and community gardens.
The remainder of the property will include up to 74 townhouses, diversifying the types of housing and serving as a transition to the established townhouse community to the west, the proposal said. Townhouses will have garages and surface parking for visitors.
New residents will access the buildings through North Shore Drive. Surface parking and an underground parking garage will offer 92 parking spaces.
Residents would remain in their current living space until the new facility is complete, and after they are transferred the old buildings would be destroyed. The portion of the property left unused would be sold for residential development, and the proceeds from the sale would help support the cost of the project.
The collaboration between Fellowship Square and CPDC comes after several years of on-again, off-again plans for redevelopment of the property. Most recently, in 2013, the foundation had an agreement with Cafritz Interests and Novus Development for new housing on the site. That effort fell through by September 2014, which the foundation said was “due to our inability to advance our land use proposal in a manner that will produce the best possible outcome for our residents.”
Renderings via Handout/Grimm and Parker
Discussing Development Around Herndon Metro — “Herndon has the opportunity to redevelop a series of aging office buildings on Herndon Parkway in conjunction with the opening of the nearby Metro station in 2020. The new transit-oriented area is designed to add more residential and commercial space, and to serve as a transition between residential areas and taller, denser buildings closer to the station entrance.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Events Around Reston This Weekend — A number of events, including some that are Christmas-themed, are planned in and around Reston this weekend. [Event Calendar]
A proposal to build 20-story luxury condominiums to 1801 Reston Ave. will go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission tomorrow with an unfavorable report from the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning.
In a Nov. 22 staff report, the department raised concerns that workforce housing does not appear to be “a vital element” of the proposed development, which will include up to 150 units and 294 parking spaces on 1.5-acres of land currently zoned for office uses.
Renaissance Centro, the developer, is seeking one market-rate unit for each workforce dwelling unit — an incentive allowed by the county to encourage inclusive, affordable housing — while also creating a condition would allow the developer to convert unsold workforce housing to market rate units under certain conditions. Plans include 24 workforce dwelling units, allowing 24 market rate units in bonus density.
The developer also opted out of a proffer that requires bonus market rate units to remain similar in size to workforce housing, possibly allowing the developer to sell significantly larger market rate units while only building small efficiency units for workforce housing.
“The county would only receive a monetary contribution at a loss of affordable housing provided onsite. The monetary contribution is not likely to be sufficient to purchase comparable affordable units,” according to the report.
Additionally, staff said the developer is not providing enough money to fund athletic field construction in the Reston area, a developer contribution given to the county’s park authority based on the impact of the new residential development.
The county is seeking $406,668, a figure calculated from the gross floor area of the building. The developer, however, is seeking to provide a reduced amount based on the square footage of the residential parts of the building, a calculation method that staff said was ambiguous and would not meet the need for athletic fields.
If approved by the county’s Board of Supervisors, the project will join neighboring residential developments like the Harrison Apartment and the Stratford Condominiums. In late November, the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee rejected the proposal by a slim 6-5 vote.
A public hearing on the project is set for tomorrow at 8:15 p.m in the Fairfax County Government Center board auditorium. An online stream is available on the county’s website.
To sign up to speak, register online. For more information, call the planning commissions’ office at 703-324-2865.
Renderings via handout
Terraset Elementary School‘s renovation project got a nod from northern Virginia’s real estate development association this month.
NAIOP Northern Virginia recognized the school with an award of excellence in the category for capital improvements of institutional buildings at the annual Best of NAIOP Northern Virginia awards on Nov. 16.
The school underwent a $22.5 million renovation led by Architecture, Inc., a Reston-based architecture firm. The interior and exterior of the building, which was built in 1975, was renovated to improve its HVAC system, traffic flow and ensure interiors complied with current education standards. The project also included a 34,000 square foot addition to accommodate 800 students, as well as a new entryway, pedestrian bridge and a new fine arts area, according to the firm’s website.
The program, which centered around the theme of “Focus on Excellence,” celebrates major new contributions to the area by the commercial, industrial and mixed-use sector. Overall, 33 awards were presented during the dinner in the categories of interiors, membership, marketing, transactions and buildings.
Other awards for Reston projects included the following:
- DPR Construction Mid-Atlantic Headquarters won an award of excellence in the category of interiors, tenant space ranging between 10,000 and 25,000 square feet.
- Ellucian won an award of excellence in the category of interiors, tenant space 50,00 square feet and above. Noblis headquarters also won an award of excellence in the same category.
- 19 Hundred won an award of excellent in the category of speculative office building, fifteen stories and above.
A complete list of all winners is available online.