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by RestonNow.com March 16, 2018 at 2:30 pm 1 Comment

Final tweaks to a shared parking agreement are underway as Boston Properties prepares to construct the last office property available in Reston Town Center’s urban core.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider a proposal Tuesday to remove roughly 78,823 square feet of future office space covered under RTC’s shared parking agreement.

Some office tenants in a future office building on Block 5, home to 17Fifty (1750 Presidents Drive), which is set to open in 2020, will park in reserved spots in a below-grade garage.

The shared parking agreement serves Phase I of RTC, a 44-acre swath of land in the center’s 84-acre urban core. If the proposal is approved, 226 parking spaces will be reserved for corresponding future office space equal to 86,923 square feet and 3,000 spaces will remain for shared uses.

The request is in response to a change in the mix of uses in the area, particularly in 17Fifty, the future of home of Leidos, Instead of a mix of office and retail, the 17-story tower will be solely composed of office space.

The overall impact of the change is minimal, said Rich Ellis, vice president of Boston Properties.

“All we’re doing is a re-tabulation of what’s required as several uses have changed,” he said.

Shared parking for the theater, eating establishments, hotels and hotel function space will remain unchanged.

Ellie Codding, the county’s director of the code development and the compliance division of land development services, said the change covers proposed buildings in response to a tenant-specific request.

Previously under this agreement, parking spaces were being shared by all office, retail, restaurant, hotel, and theatre uses. The modified agreement, if approved, would decrease the square footage of office space that shares parking under the agreement,” she said.

A parking analysis indicates 3,000 parking spaces are “sufficient to serve the mix of remaining non-residential uses” and will not reduce parking beyond 29.3 percent, a reduction approved by the county in 2014, according to county documents.

Photo via handout

by Fatimah Waseem March 16, 2018 at 12:00 pm 7 Comments

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is set to vote on a plan to redevelop a three-story office building on 1801 Old Reston Avenue into a 20-story condominium building.

The board will consider Renaissance Centro, a 150-unit project that includes 24 units for workforce housing in exchange for 24 units in bonus density, on Tuesday. A public hearing is scheduled for around 3:30 p.m.

On Feb. 22, the Fairfax County Planning Commission passed the project with a 10-0 vote and two abstentions. Concerns about the intensity of development on the 1.5-acre site as well as the distribution of workforce housing and associated parking surfaced from members.

If approved, the project would line Old Reston Avenue with three adjacent residential buildings, including Harrison at Reston Town Center and Stratford Condominiums.

by Fatimah Waseem March 8, 2018 at 2:45 pm 23 Comments

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved plans to realign Sunset Hills Road this week, pencilling in planning language caught in gridlock the proposal hopes to prevent.

Although the project remains far from groundbreaking, the board’s vote approves the realignment of Sunset Hills Road to Crowell Road — a move board supervisors said preserves the character of the surrounding residential area while calming current and future traffic. A roundabout will act as the intersection control and Hunter Mill Road will be converted to four continuous lanes from the realigned area to the Dulles Toll Road’s westbound ramps. 

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said the plan balances the community’s interests while calming traffic in a “critical” area long-slated for improvements. Still, Hudgins hinted much more remains to be done to calm traffic in surrounding areas. 

“I would love to say we’re finished,” she said.

The issue boasts a long and beleaguered history. Proposals have been in county’s books since 1975, when an alignment similar to the current plan was approved.

County staff pitched the plan after a two-year public engagement period yielded seven options, including a no-build alternative. Staff narrowed options to three possibilities, two of which were struck down because they fell in the path of a Metrorail power station or would have required purchasing land from Reston Presbyterian Church. 

“We wanted to come up with a solution that helped preserve the character north and the roundabout really does that,” said Kristin Calkins, who works with the county’s transportation department.

The addition of the roundabout increases the total price tag of the project by around $3 million. No comprehensive cost analysis has been conducted to date.

Some residents expressed satisfaction with the plan after the county’s Planning Commission added language to push the realignment east of the Edlin School, restrict the alignment past north of Crowell Road, and maximize the distance between the new Sunset Hills Road and the adjacent Hunting Crest Community when the road is designed.

Lauding community engagement by Hudgins and Planning Commissioner John Carter, Raj Jain, president of the Hunting Crest Homeowners’ Association, said the changes addresses the community’s concerns about traffic noise and safety. He suggested completing a noise impact and mitigation study during the design phase of the project.

But others like Benise Ungar, vice president of the Hunting Creek Homeowners’ Association, said amendments to allay community concerns carried no legal weight.

Citing her appreciation for the county’s “good faith efforts,” Ungar said the roundabout “will be massive and not compatible with the surrounding area.” She also said residents and property owners impacted by the plan have publicly stated they will not sell their land to make way for the project.

Staff conceded the plan was an imperfect solution. The approved plan adds language into the county’s comprehensive plan. The roundabout is not a prescriptive solution — only  the “preferred solution.”

Information on the following phases, including designing, was not immediately available.

by Fatimah Waseem March 6, 2018 at 2:30 pm 21 Comments

A zoning ordinance change to raise Reston’s population cap of 13 people per acre to 16 has been delayed.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors was expected to officially introduce the proposal, which would increase population density in Planned Residential Community districts, today.

New dates have not yet been announced. Earlier this year, representatives for community organizations, including Reston Association, suggested pushing forward the county’s schedule to allow more time to review the proposal.

Brian Worthy, a county spokesman, said Hunter Mills District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins continues to discuss “the proposed amendment with the community, and the county is continuing it work on it.”

County officials have said the zoning change implements updates to Reston’s Comprehensive Plan in 2014 and 2015 that calls for targeted, increased growth in Reston Town Center, the village centers and TSAs around the three Metro Stations. The proposal has drawn vehement opposition from residents at two standing-room-only community meetings.

File photo.

by RestonNow.com February 21, 2018 at 10:15 am 6 Comments

After weeks of deferrals, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a plan to bring a 91-unit assisted living facility to 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive yesterday.

The plan by Kensington Senior Development drew vehement opposition from neighboring residents who argued the building was being shoehorned onto a small site. The facility will bring an end to Good Beginnings School, a childcare program currently on the site.

Cathy Hudgins, the supervisor for the Hunter Mill District, said county officials worked with residents and the developer to reach an amicable solution in response to residents’ concerns. She said stakeholder meetings brought about “agreeable solutions” in response to concerns about the height of the building and screening between the facility and the surrounding residential community.

“I appreciate the cooperation of the community as well as the applicant,” Hudgins said.

Rendering via handout

by Fatimah Waseem February 7, 2018 at 11:30 am 9 Comments

County officials have not reached a decision on a controversial plan to bring an assisted living facility to 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive.

For the second time this year, the county’s Board of Supervisors unanimously deferred a decision to Feb. 20 at 3:30 p.m.

At a Tuesday board meeting, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins did not explain why the decision was delayed. In January, Hudgins said she wanted to work with residents and the developer of Kensington Senior Development to tackle concerns raised by residents over several months.

Neighboring residents have expressed staunch opposition to the plan, which they said shoehorns a large, incompatible facility in an established, residential area.

The building, which would include up to 125 beds and 91 rooms, is more than eight times larger than the current child care facility on the site.

Rendering via handout

This story may be updated. 

by Fatimah Waseem February 6, 2018 at 9:00 am 8 Comments

County Set to Decide on Assisted-living Facility Today – A decision on a proposal to bring the 91-unit project, called Kensington Senior Development, to 11501 Sunrise Valley drive is expected today at around 3:30 p.m. The project has drawn backlash from neighboring residents. [Fairfax County Government]

One-on-One Time with Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins – On Wednesday, Hudgins will be available to discuss issues with residents. No appointments are necessary for the drop-in time from 4-6 p.m. at Reston Regional Library.

Watch Capitol Steps Perform Live – Reston Association is organizing a trip on Feb. 23 to watch a live performance by Capitol Steps at the Ronald Reagan building. The group has “been putting politics and scandal to music” for the last 30 years, according to an event description. [Reston Association]

Photo by Fatimah Waseem

by Fatimah Waseem January 24, 2018 at 12:00 pm 7 Comments

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors deferred a decision on a proposal to bring a 91-unit assisted living facility to 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive amid backlash from residents neighboring the project.

At a Tuesday night meeting, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said she wanted to work with residents and the developer Kensington Senior Development to tackle concerns raised by residents over several months.

During the meeting, residents continued to protest the location of the two-to-three story building, which they said was shoehorned onto 1.8 acres. The new structure, which would replaces Good Beginning School, a child care facility, is more than eight times larger than the current building. The facility would include up to 125 beds and up to 91 rooms.

Responding to residents’ concerns about limited privacy and the overwhelming nature of the plan, Hudgins said the application was “difficult” even though “the zoning is what the zoning is.”

“The zoning change has been made and it is an acceptable development in the center,” she said. “It’s just difficult for the neighbors to accept as far as the size and the screening that is provided.”

The board will vote on the project on Feb. 6 at 3:30 p.m — a delay that allows Hudgins says allows the stakeholders to settle concerns.

The developer’s representative, Mark Looney of Cooley LLP, pointed to the “evolution” of the plan since it was originally proposed. After back and forth with county entities like the Design Review Board, the developer scaled back the plan by reducing the number of stories from five to either two or three stories.

In a November staff report, the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning recommended approval of the plan.

Photo via handout

by Fatimah Waseem January 22, 2018 at 1:30 pm 7 Comments

A section giving guidance on how to control the impact of traffic-related noise in Reston’s Transit Station Areas was accidentally deleted from Reston’s Comprehensive Plan. At a meeting tomorrow, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider a plan to reinstate the language.

The county’s Planning Commission unanimously approved adding the language back in November. The update is merely editorial, as the language previously passed through the public hearing process and was adopted by the board.

“We couldn’t just say ‘oops’ and put it back… into the plan without going through the whole process again,” said Planning Commissioner Frank de la Fe.

Generally, the plan discourages new residential development in areas with projected highway noise exposure above 75 decibels.

But in Reston Station Areas near highways and Metrorail, new residential development could be appropriate if noise impacts go beyond 75 decibels, so long as specific noise mitigation methods are in effect.

The language requires a noise study during the development review process, as well as after the development is completed in order to evaluate the effectiveness of noise mitigation procedures. If noise impacts are above 75 DBA, disclosure statements detailing potential noise impacts are necessary.

Graphic via handout

by Fatimah Waseem January 18, 2018 at 11:30 am 32 Comments

Fairfax County officials are pushing back against a move by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to charge for weekend parking at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.

Beginning Feb. 5, WMATA plans to charge a $2 fee parking for Metro users who park in the Metro garage or lot on Saturdays. Parking is currently free at the 2,300-space garage, which is owned by Fairfax County.

“Over the past several years, WMATA’s image has been significantly tarnished. Charging for parking on Saturdays, especially when there are so many reasons not to charge, will not improve WMATA’s image,” county staff wrote in a statement.

The county’s Board of Supervisors, which must approve approve parking changes before they are instituted, will consider the matter at a Jan. 23 meeting. The county currently contracts with WMATA to remotely monitor parking garage gates and fare collections while WMATA maintains equipment and processes SmarTrip and credit card payments.

County staff charging fees could decrease weekend ridership — especially when demand for parking is already low on weekends.

“WMATA may actually lose more many from lost rail fares than it gains from the new parking fee,” according to a statement.

Staff listed other reasons to oppose the parking fee:

  • Requires additional costs to maintain equipment and oversee personnel.
  • Discourages new riders, who often try Metro on weekend, from using the service.
  • Is inconsistent with the region’s goal of providing alternatives to single-occupant vehicles.
  • Discourages Metrorail trips, ultimately increasing weekend congestion and air pollution.
  • Makes an already challenging commute for weekend riders — who often deal with delays due to maintenance work on weekends — even harder.

In a statement, WMATA said charging for weekend parking will “allow Metro to maximize utilization of parking facilities without increasing the daily parking rate for Metro customers on weekdays.”

WMATA is also planning to extend the hours of parking fee collections on weekdays — a move the county officials support. Charges for parking 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.

Additional fees collected through the change will generate additional revenue that will help pay off debt service payments on bolds sold to fund additional Metrorail parking. The garage was built by Comstock Partners’ through a public-private partnership with the county.

Comstock’s Reston Station development, a major mixed-use project, sits above the garage.

File photo.

by RestonNow.com December 7, 2017 at 9:00 am 7 Comments

Board of Supervisors to Meet General Assembly Delegation on Dec. 12 — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will host the county’s delegation to the General Assembly for a roundtable work session and discussion of the upcoming 2018 General Assembly session. A reception at 3 p.m. will be followed by a work session from 3:30 – 5 p.m. in the Fairfax County Government Center in conference rooms nine and ten. [Fairfax County Government]

Free Friday at the Greater Reston Arts Center — The center will open its doors on Friday at 5 p.m. for an evening of family art making, storytelling and gallery exploration. The event is free and open to the public. Registration is required online. [Greater Reston Arts Center]

Where Do Annual Assessment Fees for Reston Association Go? — RA has published a guide to help members who own residential property to understand how money is allocated from next year’s assessment fee of $682. [Reston Association]

Reston Association Committee Releases First Annual State of the Environment Report — After more than a year of work, RA’s environmental advisory committee has released its first review of environmental issues in Reston. A member of the committee describes the scope of the committee’s work in a Reston Today video. [Reston Today via YouTube]

by Fatimah Waseem November 22, 2017 at 9:00 am 16 Comments

Fairfax County Adopts Social and Racial Equity Policy — The county’s Board of Supervisors and the school board have instituted the policy, called One Fairfax in order to consider equity in decision-making and in the development of future policies, programs, and services. [Fairfax County Government]

Cops and Kids Coat Drive Seeks New or Gently Used Coats and Warm Clothes — Bring the items to Herndon’s station at 397 Herndon Parkway through Sunday. The drive is made possible through a partnership between the Herndon Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #64 and the Loudoun-Dulles FOP Charitable Foundation Lodge #69. [Herndon Police Department]

Company in the Spotlight: Serco — The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority recently featured the Reston-based technology company Serco on its website. [Fairfax County EDA]

Police Body Cameras Coming to Fairfax County Early Next Year — Patrol officers from district stations in Mount Vernon and Mason will be equipped with the body cameras as part of a three month pilot approved by the county’s Board of Supervisors this week. [Fairfax County Police Department]

by Dave Emke September 28, 2017 at 2:45 pm 2 Comments

Check out these “Throwback Thursday” photos of the early days of Station 25, Reston, posted on Twitter today by Fairfax County Fire and Rescue.

Soon, the station as it has been known by longtime Reston residents will change forever.

The station, at 1820 Wiehle Ave., was built in 1972 and last renovated in 1986. It was one of five fire stations approved for replacement and/or renovation under the county’s 2015 Public Safety Bond Referendum. The new fire station on Wiehle Avenue, according to the county’s Capital Improvement Plan, will cost about $13 million. It is needed due to “outdated infrastructure and critical operational space deficiencies.”

The work on the new station is estimated to take place from spring 2019 through late 2020.

While the permanent station is being replaced, a temporary fire station will stand at 1800 Cameron Glen Drive. The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously gave its OK to the plan for the temporary fire station earlier this month, and the County Board of Supervisors did the same at their meeting this week.

You can see more historical photos of the Wiehle Avenue station at the FairfaxFirefighters.org website.

by Dave Emke September 14, 2017 at 1:30 pm 2 Comments

At its meeting Tuesday (video), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors gave its OK to conceptual plans for mixed-used redevelopment at 1831 Michael Faraday Drive.

Developer Rooney Properties’ plans for the property include 13 single-family attached and 283 multi-family dwelling units, along with up to 10,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space. The property owners say the multi-family structure would have seven stories, approximately 85 feet in height, and will have an attached seven-story parking garage.

McGuireWoods LLP attorney Scott Adams, representing Rooney, said the project “hits the goals and the vision of the Comprehensive Plan” by creating vibrant streets and providing publicly accessible park space.

“The site is designed to really anchor what’s an important corner within this quadrant of the Wiehle Metro TSA, providing those ground-floor retail restaurant uses with outdoor seating to really activate that street frontage,” Adams said. “In addition … the public open space is designed to be fully coordinated with the project to the east of us, and ultimately that combined open space will contain over an acre of publicly accessible park space, with both active and passive recreation amenities — a half basketball court, tot lots, a large grass area — [which is] something that just doesn’t exist anywhere else in this quadrant and isn’t really planned in this quadrant.”

The project east of the property is 11111 Sunset Hills Road, which has a Planning Commission hearing scheduled for Nov. 16. In addition to townhouses and courtyards that mirror the 1831 Michael Faraday Drive site, it would include an extension of the open space at the southeast corner of the site to create a “more extensive and coordinated park” on the southern portion of the properties. Four developers are also working together to redevelop the 17.5 acres west of the property, on Wiehle Avenue across from the Metro station.

“We look forward to the outcome of the collaboration with the adjacent parcels, because I think that’s also a plus in order to make sure this site works well,” said Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, Hunter Mill District representative.

Affordable housing would make up 12.8 percent of the residential units, using 70/80/100 percent AMI (area median income) tiers. A quarter of those units would have two or three bedrooms.

“We’re very excited that were able to get rid of that 120 percent AMI level, and really provide a more targeted AMI level,” Adams said. “We think it really serves a need in the area, and there aren’t a lot of those units out there, so we’re excited we were able to find a way.”

The Board unanimously approved the rezoning, conceptual development plan, and accompanying waivers and modifications. In addition, a parking reduction request (2 spaces/single-family unit; 1.3 spaces/multi-family unit; and 1.5 spaces/five seats and 1 space/2 employees for retail) was approved, based on the proximity to a mass transit station. The Board voted to require that 20 guest spaces for residential uses be designated.

“In looking at an old industrial area and seeing what the vision was in changing the [Comprehensive] Plan, we’re slowly moving through that part and getting there,” Hudgins said. “I think this application is a good reflection of it.”

Rooney hopes to begin construction on the project in the first half of 2018.

by Dave Emke September 13, 2017 at 9:00 am 14 Comments

Public Safety Forum Set for Tonight — The Fairfax County Police Department’s Reston District Station will hold a community public safety forum tonight from 7-9 p.m. at McNair Elementary School (2499 Thomas Jefferson Drive, Herndon). Police leaders will discuss the “State of Reston,” pedestrian safety initiatives and crime prevention, and they will introduce the community to valuable resources. [Supervisor Cathy Hudgins]

Morning Crash Causes Traffic Delays — At about 6:15 a.m. today, FCPD reported a crash on Sunrise Valley Drive in the area of Fairfax County Parkway that caused “significant traffic delays.” All lanes were reported open again before 7 a.m. [Fairfax County Police Department/Twitter]

Supervisors Approve Budget Carryover — At its meeting Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors approved $59.6 million in FY2017 carryover funding, to be used in part to fund reserves and infrastructure needs, along with other projects including the demolition of the Massey Building. [Fairfax County]

Review: ‘Disgraced’ Challenges and Chafes Audiences — The play about Muslim assimilation and identity in America, now being performed at NextStop Theatre Company (269 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon) left a reviewer “examining [his] own life experiences and [his] own long-time, deeply-held progressive values and beliefs.” [DC Metro Theater Arts]


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