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Planning Commission Approves RTC West Expansion

The expansion of RTC West, JBG Smith’s mixed-use project less than quarter-mile walk from the future Reston Town Center Metro Station, is getting closer to final approval. The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously approved the project, which adds up to 576 multifamily units, 700,000 square feet of office space and 1.4 million square feet of new development to the existing office park, on Thursday night.

The developer plans to embark on a multiphase expansion for the area, which is bounded by the Washington & Old Dominion Trail to the North and Reston Town Center Parkway to the east, over the next several years. The site is currently home to three six-story office buildings, two parking garages, and retail tenants like Cooper’s Hawk Winery, Nando’s Peri-Peri and honeygrow.

A timeline for the project is pending approval.

If approved and built, the project will add another mixed-use component near the future RTC Metro Station. RTC West is next to the recently approved Reston Gateway project. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will vote on the project on September 25.  The site design incorporates the future Town Center Parkway underpass that would connect Sunset Hills Road to Sunrise Valley Drive through a tunnel under the Dulles Toll and Access Road, according to the application.

Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner Frank Carter said the county worked with the developer to address several issues, including the distribution of workforce dwelling units. The project will provide affordable units at 80, 100 and 120 percent of the Area Median Income. Parking will not be assigned to each residential unit. In order to simplify the process, Carter said affordable units will receive parking at 70 percent the price of parking for market-rate units. The entire project is expected to provide around 2,900 parking spaces for residents and employees. 

Carter said that if parking works like the parking in RTC, the arrangement should be sufficient. The site plan accommodates 57 on-street parking spaces, encouraging people to use other ways of getting around other than cars.

The plan, which includes 3.4 acres of open space, is as follows:

  • Buildings 1, 2, and 3: Existing six-story office building with retail on the ground floor will remain. 
  • Building 4: A one-story freestanding restaurant, Cooper’s Hawk Winery, will remain.
  • Building 5: A new eight-story office with 160,000 square feet, including 10,000 square feet of retail.
  • Building 6: A new 22-story office building with 396,000 square feet, including 16,000 square feet of retail.
  • Building 7: A 20-story residential building with 293 multi-family units.
  • Building 8: A new 22-story residential building with 283 multi-family units. This building wraps the north facade of a second parking garage.
  • Building 9: A new seven-story office building located on top of a current parking structure.
  • Building 10: A one-story freestanding restaurant located on the common green.

A new right-only entrance from southbound Town Center Parkway at the north of the property line will be added to the development. The site itself will contain existing internal streets with on-street parking. Other planned improvements include a new westbound, shared right-turn lane and a five-woot on-road bicycle lane on Sunset Hills Road. A five-foot wide bicycle lane will also be provided on Town Center Parkway.

Photos via Fairfax County Government

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Op-Ed: A Look at the Numbers

This is an op/ed submitted by Terry Maynard, co-chair of the Reston 20/20 committee. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now.

Reston’s future lies largely in the numbers that define the county’s plan for Reston’s transit station areas (TSAs)–the areas roughly within a half-mile of each Metro station.  The results of looking at those numbers are shocking, but not really surprising.

The Board of Supervisors-approved Reston Master Plan calls for 44,000 dwelling units (DUs) in Reston’s TSAs, virtually all of which will be high-rise (“elevator”), high-density DUs–condos and apartments.  

County planning assumes 2.1 people will live in each high-rise, high-density DU.

Put together, that means a potential population of 92,400 people in Reston’s station areas.   That’s without any affordable housing “bonuses” or development waiver approvals or other uncounted DUs or people, a frequent fact of life in Fairfax County.  

When the Reston Master Plan Task Force was working on a new plan for the station areas, the county provided several different numbers for the actual acreage of the study area.  These ranged from 1,232 acres (1.925 square miles) to 1,683 acres (2.630 square miles) of land in Reston’s TSAs.  The county provided no explanation for the range of values.

Dividing the number of people by the acreage, the resulting number is somewhere between 55 and 75 per acre.  On a square mile basis, that Reston TSA density is between 35,200 and 48,000 persons per square mile (pers/SM). 

According to Wikipedia, Manhattan has a density of 26,403 pers/SM.  That makes the planned population of Reston’s TSAs at least one-third denser than and potentially nearly twice as dense as Manhattan is today.  

Wikipedia adds that Manhattan’s residential density “makes it the densest of any American municipality with a population above 100,000.”  And Reston’s TSA population may well exceed that 100,000 number if the county continues its bonus and waiver giveaways to developers.

I don’t think anyone who lives in Reston thinks that two square miles of super-density in Reston’s TSAs cutting through the middle of our community is consistent with any definition of preserving, much less improving, Reston’s quality of life. And the county has no meaningful plans or means to meet the infrastructure requirements of this population or the needs of the surrounding Reston community.

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Five Candidates Seek Seats on Reston Community Center’s Board of Governors

Five candidates are running for three seats on Reston Community Center’s Board of Governors. This year’s candidates are incumbents William Bouie, Gerald Zavala, and Lisa Sechrest-Ehrhardt, along with Richard Stillson and April Tan.

Voting — known as the preference poll — will begin on September 7. Each property in Small District 5 will receive mail ballots, which must be submitted by Sept. 27 at 5 p.m. Walk-in and online ballots must be received by 5 p.m. the next day.

Candidates will hold a candidates forum on September 10 at 6:30 p.m. at RCC Hunters Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road).

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will appoint members to the three three-year positions based on preferences stated by participants in the poll. RCC’s board is designed to bring social, recreational, cultural and educational activities throughout the district.

Candidate statements are available online.

Photo via Reston Community Center

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Town of Herndon Seeks $1.2 Million for Sugarland Run Stream Restoration

The Town of Herndon Council will is seeking $1.2 million in county dollars to design and complete the stream restoration of Sugarland Run South.

The project is expected to cost $1.2 million. Under the agreement between the town and the county, the county would pay the town a percentage of stormwater service district fees collected from Herndon residents. Those funds could be used to help fund the project.

Restoring the stream is necessary in order to meet requirements to improve conditions in the Chesapeake Bay. Currently, conditions along the stream banks and stream valley are deteriorating.

Stable channels will be created in order to protect the stream’s geology and limit channel erosion. The council will consider the agreement at a meeting tonight (August 14) at 7 p.m.

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Monday Morning Notes

Airbnb no longer up in the air — If you’re looking to make your place into an Airbnb, you might have to buy a $200 two-year permit to rent out your house for up to 60 days a year. [The Washington Post]

Lifeguards sought at Reston Community Center — Positions are open at the center for water safety instructors and lifeguards. The positions pay between $11 to $20.77 an hour.  [Reston Community Center]

Drawing class tonight — Reston Regional Library is hosting a class on how to draw your favorite cartoon. The event is open to attendees between the age of 10 and 18. [Reston Regional Library]

Nearby: Overnight shooting — Two juveniles were shot Sunday night in McLean. One of the victims died and another remains in the hospital. [WTOP]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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County Board Approves Nearly 10 Million Square Feet of Development in Reston

In a streak of votes on development proposals in Reston Tuesday evening, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved three projects totaling nearly 10 million square feet of development and up to 3,731 residential units at full development capacity.

The first approval by CoreSite brings nearly 943,000 square feet of space for data centers to Sunrise Technology Policy, a 21-acre office parking with four existing buildings.

David Gill, the applicant’s legal representative, said the project represents a significant investment in Fairfax County and would help serve current and future enterprises in Reston. Gill said CoreSite intentionally chose Reston instead of Loudoun County to serve as the premier data center provider for this reason.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said the data center would also significantly reduce trip generation. “In some sense, that’s a good news piece,” she said.

Approvals for two other mixed-use projects, Reston Gateway and Reston Crescent, would open the door to a new phase of development in and around Reston Town Center. The board unanimously approved Brookfield Partners’ Reston Crescent proposal, which brings up to 1,721 residential units, 1.5 million square feet of office space, 380,00 square feet of retail and a 200-room hotel. The project is located on Sunrise Valley Drive between Edmund Halley Dive and Reston Parkway and will be the future home of a two-story Wegmans.

On the north side of the Reston Town Center Metro Station, Boston Properties’ Reston Gateway project, which brings 4.8 million square feet of development across 28 acres. The plan includes 2.2 million square feet of office, up to 2,010 residential units, a hotel, 93,900 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

The plan for Reston Gateway piqued concerns by Rob Whitfield, a Reston resident of 20 years, who said an immediate and detailed transportation plan was necessary for Reston Town Center, which he said is already congested during peak traffic hours.

Hudgins said that while projects on the drawing table are largely unfunded, each developer is offering transportation funding that will help fund future improvements that she said are necessary. Hudgins also noted that the arrival of the Silver Line over the next two years would reduce the number of drivers on the road.

“This is a large transition as we see it,” she said. 

Whitfield was the only individual to testify during the public hearings on all three projects Tuesday evening.

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Fairfax County Board to Consider Three Major Development Proposals

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will vote on three major mixed-use and office projects in Reston tomorrow (July 31).

The development proposals include data centers at Sunrise Technology Park, additions to RTC West, and Boston Properties’ Reston Gateway project.

CoreSite hopes to bring data centers to a 21-acre office park on the south side of Sunrise Valley Drive. The plan was unanimously approved by the Fairfax County Planning Commission in late June.

The second proposal is by Brookfield Property Partners for its major Reston Crescent Development. The project will also be the future home of Wegmans and an athletic field may be conveyed to the county as part of the proposal. 

Last but not least is Boston Properties’ Reston Gateway project, which aims to bring 2.2 million square feet of office space, a 570-room hotel and nearly 2,010 residential units to the door of Metro and to the border of Reston Town Center. The project is also the future home of Fannie Mae.

All projects were approved by the planning commission. A public hearing will be held prior to votes on any proposals.

Handouts via Fairfax County Government

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Bridge on W&OD Trail Over Wiehle Avenue Approved

An aerial bridge on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail over Wiehle Avenue could be constructed by October 2022.

Earlier this week, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved final design plans for the project, which is expected to cost $11.4 million, according to the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

The bridge includes retaining walls and directional access to Wiehle Avenue for trail users. Wiehle Avenue would be widened from Sunset Hills Road to the Reston Fire Station property in order to make way for future on-road bike lanes.

Plans have long been identified by the Reston Metrorail Access Group’s plan to improve vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian access near the new Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station.

Robin Geiger, a spokeswoman for FCOD, said design plans are currently 90 percent complete. The project timeline expects utility design and relocation to take a little over a year-and-a-half, land acquisition to take a year, construction authorization and permitting to take eight months and construction to take one year.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said the project faces the challenge of ensuring the bridge maintains synergy in the midst of urban properties that are coming together down the street.

The developer of the Isaac Newtown properties, which are being redeveloped, said they were concerned the project’s scale interferes with the development. County officials said they would work with the developer to mitigate any concerns.

However, according to FCDOT, the height of the bridge is necessary because the design of the bridge uses existing infrastructure in order to cut cost costs. The height is also vital to meet grade requirements and requirements stipulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Rendering via FCDOT

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Pedestrian Bridge Project at Wiehle Avenue and W&OD Trail Moves Forward

A grade-separated crossing and bridge at the Washington & Old Dominion Trail at Wiehle Avenue could be coming closer to reality.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider a motion tomorrow (July 10) to allow the county officials to move forward with land acquisition and final design plans.

The project, which is expected to cost $10 million, aims to address safety concern at the intersection. Changes include a new bridge, retaining walls and directional access to Wiehle Avenue for trail users.

Wiehle Avenue would be widened from Sunset Hills Road to the properties near the Reston Fire Station. The pavement would be widened for on-road bike lanes in the future.

Improvements were contemplated in Reston’s Metrorail Access Group’s plan to improve access near the new Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station. The new fire station planned in the area would be built before the pedestrian bridge.

An exact timeline for the project has not been set.

Photo via Fairfax County Government

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To Close Funding Gap, County Board Approves $40 Million for Route 7 Widening

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will contribute up to $40 million to help close a funding a gap in the widening of Route 7.

The $278 million project, which will widen Route 7 between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive from four to six lanes, will cost roughly 95 million more than what engineers’ originally estimated.

The board unanimously voted to approve additional funds on Tuesday (June 19). The Virginia Department of Transportation is expected to also contribute up to $40 million.

Tom Biesiadny, director of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, said cost overruns were linked primarily to how the contract was bid. The state is currently negotiating between two offerors who offered bids above the estimated price. The contract is a design-to-build, which is costlier than design-to-bid projects and would allow the project to begin two years earlier than originally anticipated,  Biesiadny said.

Officials hope to reduce the expected costs of the project by negotiating with the two offerors. Final bid offers must be in by early July.

Most funding to meet the gap will be taken from dollars allocated for Tysons projects. A plan to widen Frying Pan Road will also be deferred, Biesiadny said.

Biesiadny said bicycle and pedestrian improvements are also planned along the seven-mile stretch, which he said connects Reston and Tysons.

It provides benefits to both of those areas by allowing traffic to move more quickly through those areas, reduc[ing] congestion, but also provid[ing[ bicycle and pedestrian improvements and bus stop improvements,” he said.

File photo via FCDOT

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Fairfax County Commits $1.2 Million for Downtown Herndon Redevelopment

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted today (Tuesday) to contribute $1.2 million for the redevelopment of downtown Herndon — an effort being led by Comstock and the Town of Herndon.

The funding commitment is the largest dollar contribution for economic development to date. Funds are drawn from a funding category designed for one-time, seed money for projects that provide direct economic benefits for Fairfax County. Roughly a quarter of $5 million in available funding has been committed to downtown Herndon.

County officials hope to recoup their investment within the first two years after the project is complete. Estimates suggest the redevelopment will generate $800,000 annually in new property and sales taxes for the county, according to an independent analysis commissioned by the town.

The 4.67-acre property, which is owned by the town, is currently tax-exempt. The new town center would pay real estate taxes and generate additional sales tax from retail elements.

The project includes an 18,000-square-foot arts center, which will serve as the centerpiece of the downtown area. Overall, downtown Herndon will include around 281 apartments, 17,600 square feet of ground floor retail and a 761-space parking garage.

Fairfax County will release its funds only when the Town of Herndon contributes $1.2 million of its own funding. The town plans to pitch in $3.6 million for the public-private partnership.

In prepared statements, local elected officials reacted to the funding commitment:

“I am pleased that funding from the County’s Economic Development Support Fund will help make the Herndon Arts Center a reality,” said Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, who chairs the Fairfax County Economic Advisory Commission. “Activities around the arts create thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity in Fairfax County. The Herndon Arts Center will also contribute to the success of a redevelopment project that will significantly increase the tax base of the town and the county. Projects like the Herndon Arts Center also contribute to the county’s economic success by creating a community that will attract a 21st century workforce.”

“Allocation of this grant funding to the town is a tangible, impactful demonstration of Fairfax County’s commitment to economic development in Herndon,” said Mayor Lisa Merkel. “Redevelopment of Herndon’s downtown creates a new and exciting destination at the county’s western edge, and we greatly appreciate the spirit of partnership symbolized by this grant.”

Photo via Comstock

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Route 7 Widening Project to Tysons Hit by Funding Gap

An additional $40 million is being sought to begin widening a seven-mile stretch of Route 7 between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive.

State officials’ estimates of the overall $278 million project came in $95 million above the amount originally anticipated by the proposal. The project has been bid and is ready for construction, pending the approval of additional funding.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider approving funding at their June 19 meeting.

Once the funding gap has been bridged, construction will begin to widen Route 7 from four to six lanes with intersection improvements and the addition of a shared-use path on both sides of the roadway. County and state officials said the project is necessary to reduce congestion, improve safety and boost mobility for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Officials said the project came in nearly $1 million above estimates due to the competitive market generated by ongoing construction in Northern Virginia, several challenging utility relocations (including a $200 million upgrade project by Washington Gas) and the more than 230 property transactions required to ensure right-of-way.

The county is considering pitching in $23 million in funding that was not previously allocated by the board. Dollars will be drawn from the following project:  Route 123’s widening ($13 million), Frying Pan road widening ($3 million) and a park and ride expansion at the Lorton VRE ($690,470). The Virginia Department of Transportation will provide up to $40 million in state funding.

According to 2011 traffic counts provided by VDOT, the stretch of Route 7 carries between 46,000 and 54,000 vehicles per day. That number is expected to increase to 73,000 to 86,000 by 2040, VDOT says.

Map via VDOT

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Monday Morning Notes

Lynchburg police search for Reston man — Police have identified Mark Anthony Goldring Jr., 31, of Reston, as a shooting suspect in a malicious wounding reported late Sunday evening. [WBDJ 7]

Dredging underway at Lake Thoreau — All dozen coves of the lake will be dredged and up to 400 truckloads of material could be removed. [Reston Association]

Five-story hotel approved — A 138-room hotel will replace surface parking in Lake Fairfax Business Park. The county offers an update on the recent approval. [Fairfax County Government]

A fine time — The Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival took place in Reston Town Center. A local outlet posted several photos of the art displays and work. [Around Reston]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Funding Approved for Improvements at Fairfax County Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved $500,000 to cover preliminary engineering for interim improvements at the intersection of Fairfax County Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive.

Planned upgrades include lane reconfiguration, signal optimization and improvements to pedestrian and bike facilities.

Depending on the option selected by individuals, the project is expected to cost between $2.2 million and $4.3 million. The board approved intersection improvements as part of Reston’s transportation funding plan in late February last year.

The timeline of the project was not immediately available.

Photo via Virginia Department of Transportation

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Fairfax County Rejects Redevelopment Proposal for Phase One of Reston Town Center North

(Updated on May 18, 2 p.m. to include information about the release of the RFP)

Fairfax County officials formally rejected a redevelopment proposal for two blocks of the future Reston Town Center North project, a 47-acre plot of land where a street grid, mixed-use buildings and a recreation center are envisioned.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors rejected Reston Civic Core’s October 27, 2017 proposal earlier this month, citing that the proposal’s scope was well beyond the intention of the project and required a “substantial financial commitment” from the county. The cost of the project was not immediately made available.

RTC North, which is located south of Bowman Towne Drive, will be developed through a public-private partnership. The first phase of development, blocks seven and eight, could include more than 420 residential units, an expanded homeless shelter and library, private commercial development and office space for nonprofit organization.

An advisory committee with representation from Reston citizens and senior county staff first recommended denying the proposal. The county will continue examining other development proposals in the coming months.

In response to a request from Reston Now, the county declined to release the RFP, which was issued in July 2017, and Reston Civic Core’s proposal. Here’s more from a spokesman about the denial: 

Because the proposal was rejected, the request for proposal and proposal are sealed, following the county’s purchasing regulations. Reston Civic Core’s proposal was rejected due to its additional scope and the financial commitment required of  the county. Fairfax County is evaluating how to move forward, including considering future planning and procurement options.

This story has been updated.

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