32°Light Snow

by Fatimah Waseem February 23, 2018 at 10:15 am 30 Comments

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

by Fatimah Waseem February 5, 2018 at 9:00 am 0

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

by Fatimah Waseem February 1, 2018 at 3:30 pm 4 Comments

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

by Fatimah Waseem January 30, 2018 at 11:00 am 10 Comments

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

by Fatimah Waseem January 29, 2018 at 2:30 pm 7 Comments

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

by Fatimah Waseem December 21, 2017 at 11:30 am 3 Comments

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.”

For more information, visit www.fellowshipsquare.org or www.cpdc.org.

Renderings via Handout/Grimm and Parker

by RestonNow.com December 15, 2017 at 11:00 am 9 Comments

Snow Possible During Evening Commute — Snow showers could lead to slippery conditions on roads and highways during this evening’s rush hour commute. [Capital Weather Gang, Twitter]

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]

Flickr pool photo by Vantagehill

by Fatimah Waseem December 5, 2017 at 1:30 pm 75 Comments

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

by Fatimah Waseem November 21, 2017 at 11:30 am 0

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.

by Fatimah Waseem November 15, 2017 at 10:15 am 51 Comments

Reston’s ongoing impassioned debate on a move by county officials to change zoning rules to allow for more development will come to The Kojo Nnamdi Show today.

Hundreds of Restonians packed a public meeting earlier in late October to oppose the change, which many said opens up the area to further development without ensuring adequate infrastructure is already in place for current residents. Roughly 900 residents packed the meeting room after the first meeting was postponed due to an overwhelming outcry and burgeoning attendance from the community.

The show, which is on WAMI 88.5, a NPR member-station in Washington, will air at noon today. The segment is titled, “Growing Pains: Reston, Virginia Debates New Limit on Population Density.” The show issued the following description, which paints Reston’s debate as a microcosm of national development issues:

Developers and new residents are eying Reston, Virginia, and Fairfax County officials want to change zoning rules to allow them to move in. But in a trend that is playing out across the region, many long-time residents say their community is becoming too urban too fast. Critics are opposing a proposed change to a zoning ordinance that would raise the current population cap of 13 persons per acre to 16. And so many residents showed up to a meeting to discuss the change that it had to be rescheduled. Kojo explores Reston, Virginia’s growing pains and the difficulty of maintaining a suburban feel in a highly desirable, rapidly-growing region.

The show’s guests are Terry Maynard, co-chair of Reston 20/20 and Leslie Johnson, zoning administrator for Fairfax County.

Restonians can listen to the program when it is live on the radio at 88.5 FM or online at kojoshow.org. Listeners can also participate by calling  1-800-433-8850, emailing [email protected], or tweeting at @kojoshow.

by Fatimah Waseem November 8, 2017 at 9:00 am 1 Comment

Fairfax County School Board to Discuss  School Calendar — The board will review three options to change the school calendar for next year on Monday, Nov. 13. Changes include several options for the first day of school and the selection of the length of winter break and early release days. Proposed changes can be found on the school system’s website. For more information, contact the school system’s community relations and communication office at 571-423-1200. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Federal Capital Partners To Sell Amazon Web Services Building in Herndon — The landlord has hired a firm to market the One Dulles Tower, a 400,000 square foot building for sale. The company purchased the building for $80 million in 2015. [Washington Business Journal]

Event to Highlight Crash Management Efforts in Northern Virginia — Virginia’s transportation department will show how multiple agencies and jurisdictions work together to clear incidents on the state’s roads on Nov. 11 at 10 a.m. The event, which will be held at the department’s Northern Virginia District Office (4975 Alliance Drive), is the first open house in Northern Virginia that will feature a simulated crash scene and indoor technology exposition. For more information, visit the department’s webpage. [Virginia Department of Transportation]

Herndon High School Theatre Presents ‘Twelfth Night’ —  William Shakespeare’s holiday comedy will be performed on Nov. 10, 11, 16 and 17  from 7:30 – 10 p.m. Timings for Nov. 12 and Nov. 18 are between 2 and 4:30 p.m. Parental guidance is recommended, as the performance is not suitable for audience members under the age of thirteen. Tickets, which are $12 for adults and $6 for students, can be purchased on the theatre’s website. Performances will take place in Herndon High School’s auditorium (700 Bennett St.). [Herndon High School Theatre]

Sobriety Check Set for Friday — Officers from the Reston District Station will be conducting a sobriety checkpoint in the area this Friday. A first-time DUI offense can result in fines ranging from $250 to $2,500 and a one-year license suspension. Individuals arrested with a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 or higher must spend at least five days in jail. [Fairfax County Police]

File photo.


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