Reston, VA

(Update 5:00 p.m.) The soon-to-be-completed Reston Comprehensive Plan study is reviewing previous plans from 2014-2015 that say the Reston’s population is slated to more than double in the coming years, according to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn.

Reston was home to an estimated 66,000 people in 2019, according to Fairfax County, which projects the population to jump to about 71,000 people by 2040. The existing comprehensive plan makes room for up to 157,000 people to eventually live in Reston — a 138% increase from 2019.

However, the RCP community task force is reassessing that number to see if it still remains appropriate.

“It’s definitely been an area of discussion for the task force,” Alcorn said at a briefing with local reporters on Friday (March 26). “The task force is making sure…the [RCP] infrastructure will be sufficient to manage that, both in terms of residential but also office workers and retail.”

Alcorn also noted that this population hike will have a notable impact on transportation and school capacity, elements that are continually part of the task force’s discussions.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a review of the Reston Comprehensive Plan in January 2020, and the task force formed in May. The goal of the review is to analyze potential changes to the plan, which was last adopted in 2017 and guides future planning and land use decisions for the area.

The process was expected to take 12 to 18 months, but the pandemic may end up delaying the study’s completion by a few months. Alcorn said they are looking to wrap up by the end of the summer.

Chaired by Alcorn, the task force is made up of 32 members, including representatives from Reston Association, Save Our Sunrise, Reston Community Center, and Southgate Community Center.

In relation to anticipated population increases, the task force is also examining land use and areas where density might need to come down. Alcorn specifically noted Hunters Woods, South Lakes, and North Point village centers.

There’s also talk of having developers “earn” requested density by making commitments related to environmental impact and equity.

“How can new development, and the economic activity that comes with that, [make] connections…with underserved communities, communities in the Reston area that have not had the opportunity to fully take advantage of prosperity that comes with new development?” Alcorn said.

In terms of environmental footprint, Arlington County offers a similar exchange to developers, allowing extra density if they promise buildings will earn green building certification.

Alcorn noted that Reston could end up being a model for the rest of Fairfax County with what they are finding out from this study.

“Reston is exactly the right place to start these discussions in Fairfax County, given Reston’s history and Bob Simon’s principles,” Alcorn said.

The task force’s next meeting will take place on April 12.

Photo via Reston Association/Facebook

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Construction is progressing on the $86 million Lake Anne Fellowship House redevelopment at 11444 North Shore Drive with a completion date projected for the summer of 2022.

The property, which is to be called “Lake Anne House,” is framed up to the fifth floor of what will be an eight-story building. Mechanical, electric, and plumbing is also underway. The roof is scheduled to be put on by this June.

Christy Zeitz, the CEO of Fellowship Square Foundation, a non-profit that provides affordable housing to seniors, says that completion is still expected by next summer. That’s despite the fact that construction moved in a  “deliberate” manner during COVID-19.

The construction of the new, modernized Lake Anne House is progressing as scheduled and we are on track for a summer 2022 completion. Our construction partners have been deliberate in their safety protocols to ensure the safety of their teams and workers while also ensuring that the project moves forward so that our residents will be able to move into the new building next year.

Our residents are very excited — as the new Lake Anne House will be more space efficient, energy efficient, and will provide enhanced amenities such as an onsite wellness clinic, fitness center and more while, importantly, still assuring that rent is never more than 30% of a resident’s income.

A time-lapse video from February shows construction over the last month.

Currently, residents live in facilities that are adjacent to the new development and were built in the early 1970s, which was prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Accessibility has continued to be a challenge for residents at those facilities.

Once the project is completed, residents will move into the new building. A timeline notes that should begin by spring/summer 2022, though it depends on building completion.

Once move-in is completed, the old facilities will be demolished and the land sold will be sold for future townhomes.

The project was first approached more than seven years ago, in 2013, and approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2018. Groundbreaking was in October 2020.

The new building is part of an $86 million redevelopment project aimed at serving low-income senior residents.

Lake Anne House is expected to have 240 affordable apartments for seniors whose income is at or below 60% of AMI (area median income) for at least the past 30 years.

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Sheetz in Herndon rendering (Photo via screenshot/Fairfax County Planning Commission)

(Update 2:45 p.m.) A Sheetz is soon coming to Herndon.

On March 3, the Fairfax County Planning Commission is holding a public hearing and a vote to approve a Sheetz gas station, a quick-service food store, and drive-thru restaurant at 13850 McLearen Road. The staff has recommended approval.

After that, the proposal will move to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors where there will be another public hearing if needed and, potentially, a Board of Supervisors vote on March 23.

First reported a year ago, the 6,07-square-foot Sheetz will occupy a roughly 2.7-acre parcel of land. It will take the place of a set-to-be-demolished 1977 two-story office building and surface parking lot, per the staff report, at the intersection of McLearen Road and Towerview Road.

It remains unclear when construction will begin nor when the Sheetz is expected to open.

“Since this project is in the very early stages, it is too soon to provide additional details,” Nick Ruffner, Public Relations Manager for Sheetz, wrote in a statement to Reston Now.

The family-owned popular gas, convenience, and restaurant chain has more than 600 stores across the Mid-Atlantic including a number of locations in Fairfax County.

The Sheetz is planning to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a maximum of nine employees on-site at any one time. It also will have 49-car parking spots (five of which are reserved as electric vehicle charging stations) plus bicycle parking in accordance with county guidelines.

The “architecture character” of the building will include materials such as a brick veneer facade with cast stone masonry. Staff is recommending “high quality landscaping” so the development is “attractive” in its “highly visible site” along McLearen Road.

The new development is also required to incorporate green building practices and the staff prefers that Sheetz makes the building LEED-certified (or an equivalent program).

Fairfax County – as well as other Northern Virginia jurisdictions – have prioritized LEED-certification as a means of meeting long-term goals of cutting carbon emissions.

Photo via handout/Fairfax County Planning Commission

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Station House, a new infill development on Jefferson Street in Downtown Herndon, is finally nearing completion.

The applicant, Doll Homes, is proposing to construct the final two single-family homes on the property. The first home, which is roughly 4,500 square feet, will be located on 647 Jefferson Street, and the second home, which is 5,1010 square feet, is located at 649 Jefferson Street.

Homes in the new development start in the mid-$800,000s.

The Town of Herndon’s Historic District Review Board will consider the application at a meeting tonight. The town’s staff formally withheld a recommendation on the final approval of the property due to pending information needed from the applicant, including whether the homes are intended to follow a bungalow-type house.

“Staff is withholding its recommendation at this time given the additional information that is necessary,” according to a Jan. 6 memo.

In an Oct. 1 letter to the town, the developer wrote that the design of the development is intended to match with the area.

“Overall, we are confident that the design and superior products used to construct this home will accomplish our efforts to provide a new home that not only complements the surrounding structures but helps to preserve the predominant architectural character of the Downtown Heritage Preservation District,” the company wrote.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Photo via Doll Homes

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan by Christopher Land to build 26 single-family homes on nearly 13 acres on Floris Lane.

Christopher Land plans to build the homes on a site at the south end of Floris Lane in the Spring Lake Estates community. The property currently has two single-family homes that were built in the 1950s.

The developer laid out two possible plans for a stormwater management facility on the site, which was a flashpoint between neighbors and the developer.

At a Sept. 15 board meeting, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said he was hopeful neighbors and the developer can agree on ways to improve the area lake. 

“The applicant can go ahead with a base plan or an alternate plan. They can put stormwater facilities on their property or jointly contribute to improving the nearby lake,” Alcorn said.

A five-foot-wide sidewalk is planned on either side of the two private streets in the neighborhood.

The site was rezoned for increased density from R-1, which allows one dwelling unit per acre, to Planned Development Housing, which allows two units per acre.

Vernon Miles contributed reporting to this story.

Photo via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Residents of Lake Anne Fellowship House will soon benefit from new facilities after a company closed on a $86 million deal.

The new development will be located on empty property adjacent to the existing building and create 240 affordable apartments for low-income residents, according to a press release.

Amenities at the new location will include a fitness center, an arts and crafts room, a social hall, a sunroom, a game room and an outdoor terrace and wellness clinic.

To fund the project, “Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority awarded the project 122 project-based vouchers with HUD providing the rest,” the press release said. “The project financing incorporated $46.5 million in tax exempt bond financing from the VHDA as well as a $700,000 loan from the Virginia Housing Trust Fund.”

Other sources of funding came from Capital One, Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority, the Enterprise Community Loan Fund and Enterprise Community Development, according to the press release.

The pre-existing building will be demolished and sold for townhomes once all the existing residents are transferred over to the new facility, the press release said.

A groundbreaking for the project is expected to be held later this year. Development will likely open in June 2022.

Photo via handout/Reston Association

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(Updated to include new information about a dog park, green space, and a clarification about the starting prices).

Construction on a new set of townhomes in Reston is slated to begin in the coming weeks.

Union Towns near Reston Station will consist of 26 new units, according to the developer’s website, adding that prices start in $800,000s.

Lauren DeSomma, the vice president of marketing for Knutson, said that she expects hard-hat tours of the property to be available to interested buyers as early as the end of June.

Knutson received building permits just last week according to DeSomma, who added that the company is in the process of setting up a sales trailer as well.

“In the community there will be a dog park and green space for homeowners to enjoy,” DeSomma said. The community is only a five-minute walk from the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, which features shopping, dining, salons, specialty fitness and more.  

Once moved in, people will have access to amenities like public art, green spaces, a nearby pool and a dog park, according to DeSomma.

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Monday Morning Notes

For the Foodies: ‘Luxe Burger’ Spot Opens Today — A new hamburger restaurant — sister to the Capital Grille steakhouse chain — opens today in Reston Town Center. Items on the menu include lobster bisque, blue cheese, and truffle burger, and prime ribeye steak bites. [The Capital Burger]

Nearby: A Heads Up About the Coronavirus Outbreak –State officials are monitoring the outbreak of the virus, which was first detected in Wuhan, China and caused by a new coronavirus. The situation is described as “rapidly evolving.” [Virginia Department of Health]

Recap: Resetting Reston’s Vision — Angela Woolsey of the Fairfax County Times recaps a recent media meeting with Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, who says that his top priority is managing growth. [Fairfax County Times

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Several Reston-based companies made it to a national list that recognizes employers for dedication to diversity and inclusion.

The yearly list of 500 companies, which is compiled by Forbes magazine, included three Reston-based companies and 13 companies in Fairfax County.

SAIC, an information technology company that stands for Science Applications International Corporation, ranked #91 on the list. Leidos, which is opening up its headquarters in Reston Town Center soon, got the 455th spot while Bechtel, an engineering and construction company, got the 500th spot.

“The workforce today – and the workforce of tomorrow – want to see a commitment to diversity and inclusion by employers, and it is a testament to these Fairfax County companies’ efforts to attract talented employees from all backgrounds and walks of life that they are part of this impressive national ranking,” said Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.

Forbes’ list was compiled using survey data from a sample of more than 60,000 U.S. employees. Other factors like diversity levels among executives, leadership positions responsible for diversity, and the presence of a diverse company culture were also considered as part of the determination.

Photo courtesy Boston Properties

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As Lisa Merkel wraps up her final term as the Town of Herndon’s mayor, she took a moment to reflect and talk to Reston Now about her experiences in office.

Merkel made town history as the first woman elected into the position in 2012 after serving as Herndon’s vice mayor during the 2010-2012 term.

According to Merkel, her decision to not seek re-election wasn’t based on any specific motive, besides a wish to spend time with her family and dedicate more time to volunteering around the community.

“I still plan on being involved in the town,” she told Reston Now.

Merkel told Reston Now her accomplishments include implementation of the Metrorail Expansion Project, the ongoing development of downtown Herndon and the establishment of the Economic Development Department.

“I’m really proud we’ve embraced the business community,” Merkel said, adding that — due to her efforts — the tax rate is now split evenly between residential and commercial incomes.

Many of the local businesses even give back to the community by acting as sponsors for official events like the annual holiday parade, which Merkel said is the largest event of the year.

In a press release, Merkel said her other key achievements include marking June as LGBTQ Pride Month, adding Circulator buses to Herndon Station, providing online and on-demand Town Council meeting access and approving construction plans for a new fire station.

“Sometimes it’s really the smaller things that get attention,” Merkel told Reston Now, adding that small projects make a huge difference in the town and help to develop a sense of place.

She gave examples of adding tables and umbrellas to the Town Square, lights on the W&OD Trail and gateway signs to announce entry into the town. The tables and umbrellas, especially, gave people a fun and welcoming place to gather, she said.

Merkel has faced some roadblocks, though, during her time in office.

She said she had trouble communicating with the public that development projects in the town won’t threaten the small community feel, which she said is at the heart of Herndon’s identity.

“There was a fear that if we started building like that at the Metro station, it would trickle into downtown,” Merkel said. “We had to reassure people that Herndon won’t be a bunch of highrises.”

During her final months in office, Merkel said she hopes to oversee the groundbreaking on the downtown Herndon project and continue to work on installing underground utilities around town.

Going forward, Merkel said she won’t endorse any particular candidate for the upcoming election. But she hopes the next mayor will be an effective listener, willing to consider other perspectives on topics and won’t be afraid to seek counsel on issues they aren’t familiar with.

She encourages anyone passionate about their community to run, regardless of their political experience.

“Don’t mix national policy issues with town issues because we don’t have jurisdiction over those things,” Merkel said. “You don’t want to alienate any of your constituents with issues that don’t relate to the job. That’s been my philosophy.”

Photo via Lisa Merkel

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The Reston Association recently made several key edits to the draft of the 2020-2022 strategic plan, which is up for final approval on Thursday (Dec. 19).

Potential changes in the plan, drafted in November, include:

  • working with Fairfax County officials to ensure developments align with the Reston Master Plan
  • hosting more public forums to discuss land use and strategize with the community
  • increasing community leadership and RA’s public reputation
  • adjusting the association’s budget plans

RA CEO Hank Lynch will present the latest draft of the strategic plan, which is currently available online, before the final vote by the RA this week.

The draft addresses concerns about efficient and productive land use around Reston.

A section of the strategic plan said that the “RA will be actively engaged in the continuous land-use development process in Reston.”

By 2022, operation costs for the Reston Association are expected to rise to $17.9 million, but revenues are expected to increase proportionally by 2.5% as well, according to RA documents.

In 2019, the RA made $300,o00 more than expected, according to the documents.

“When revenues exceed plan and expenses are below budget, it is an indicator of a well-managed organization,” according to the documents. “Reston Association is such an organization.”

When polled by the RA, 73% of community members said they either considered the organization to be good or excellent, while 13% ranked the condition as poor.

A list of proposed goals included several ways that the association could improve public opinion — including the integration of more public forums.

The RA Board will vote to finalize the matter at its meeting on Thursday (Dec. 19) at 12001 Sunrise Valley Drive beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Data in graph via Reston Association

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The Sunrise Square townhome development in Reston is complete after two years of construction.

The development consists of 34 townhouses and 10 condos, many of which have already been sold.

Only eight townhomes remain on the market and are going for $800,000 and above, Jack Appleman, a spokesperson for the real estate group Sekas Homes, said.

During development, five of the homes were made in a way that would let buyers customize them and choose their own interior designs, Appleman said.

The remaining listings on the website include three bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms, featuring 9-foot ceilings and access to nearby trails, Reston Association pools, tennis courts and other community facilities.

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As work gears up on the new fire station in Reston, construction crews will soon tear down the current one.

The demolition on the old facility (1820 Wiehle Avenue) is expected to begin early this December, William Delaney, a spokesperson for Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, said.

Construction is underway for a temporary station at 1800 Cameron Glen Drive to serve the community until the new facility is completed in 2021.

The existing location is too small and does not suit the needs of the community anymore, another spokesperson previously told Reston Now.

The new station will cost $14.8 million, double the size of the station and feature two stories with room for administrative offices, a dayroom, kitchen, storage and bunk rooms.

“I am sure there will be a grand re-opening ceremony when new station up and running,” Delaney said.

Image via Google Maps 

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The developer of a proposed 13-story apartment building near Reston Town Center has filed an appeal against the county’s decision to deny the project earlier this year.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission denied the project in June due its size and scale. NS Reston is proposing to build a 58-unit residential building on the north side of New Dominion Parkway.

The site, which is currently vacant, is next to the Paramount Condominium building and the Winwood Children’s Center, which is approved for a mixed-use building with 125 dwelling units. The county’s planning documents place a 746 unit cap on the two sites, including NS Reston’s project area.

Planning Commissioners said NS Reston’s proposal would exceed the planned density in that area, which is known in planning jargon as Reston Town Center Park 5. The site was also previously marked as a park for more than 20 years.

“There’s some density left, but not 58 units worth,” said Planning Commissioner John Carter at a June 19 meeting, adding that the proposal does not promote circulation and access in a congested area with a major intersection.

The appeal request heads to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Oct 15.

Renderings via NS Reston/Fairfax County Government

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Town of Herndon officials have launched a process to review the town’s comprehensive plan, a planning document that guides current and future development.

The comprehensive plan, which state law states must be reviewed by the local planning commission at least once every five years, will head to the town’s planning commission for review.

Although dates have not been announced, the commission plans to review public input and make suggestions on changes to the plan. The commission will then draft a resolution for the town council that states the plan’s priorities and direction. By law, the Herndon Town Council is not required to take action on the resolution.

In previous years, the town has incorporated major changes to the plan, including planning for downtown Herndon and areas near the Herndon Metro Station.

The following amendments have been approved in recent years since the original plan was adopted in 2008:

  • Downtown Master Plan
  • Downtown Streetscape Map
  • Metrorail Station Area Plan
  • Cycle Track on Herndon Parkway
  • South Elden Area Plan

Changes to the future plan could include updating the parks and recreation chapter, sustainability policy, multigenerational planning, and economic development.

Residents interested in submitting their comments and suggestions on the plan can email [email protected].

Image via Herndon Planning Commission

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