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by Dave Emke — April 14, 2017 at 4:00 pm 16 Comments

Developer Bozzuto is scheduled for two more informational meetings next week on its proposal to redevelop St. Johns Wood.

Meetings are on the agenda with Reston’s Planning & Zoning Committee on Monday night, and with the Design Review Board on Tuesday. The most recent informational meeting on the project, last month at the Planning & Zoning Committee, once again drew large community response opposing the plan.

That response from the community has been consistent since the project was first proposed in 2014. Bozzuto has made numerous alterations to the plan since, with the proposal made at March’s P&Z Committee meeting being the seventh iteration.

In addition, Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins will host a community meeting on the proposal later this month, featuring representatives from Bozzuto. That meeting will be held Tuesday, April 25, from 7-9 p.m. in the lecture hall at Langston Hughes Middle School (11401 Ridge Heights Road).

A Fairfax County Planning Commission hearing on the project is slated for May 25.

by Dave Emke — March 27, 2017 at 10:15 am 9 Comments

Kensington Senior Development LLC hopes to put an assisted-living facility on Sunrise Valley Drive, and the public is invited to give its input.

Fairfax County’s Health Care Advisory Board will hold a public meeting on the proposal Monday, April 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the county Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax). At the meeting, a special-exemption application from Kensington to put the facility at 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive will be reviewed.

The sale of the property to Kensington by its current owners, the Good Beginnings School, is contingent upon the approval of the plan by the county.

The application is scheduled for a Sept. 27 hearing before the county Planning Commission. The Health Care Advisory Board, meanwhile, is tasked with reviewing the application from a health care perspective rather than land use, using criteria such as community and medical need, access to care, cost, quality, and continuity of care.

HCAB will make recommendations regarding the proposal to the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission.

The current plan for Kensington’s proposed 91,000-square-foot Reston facility includes 91 units and 125 to 135 beds. The 2 1/2- to 3 1/2-story facility would feature underground parking. A representative from Cooley LLP presented the plan to Reston’s Design Review Board on Feb. 21.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the April 3 meeting of HCAB and provide comments. Anyone who wishes to speak should call 703-246-8664 by Friday. Written comments can also be considered, if they are received prior to the meeting. They can be sent by email to [email protected] or by mail to HCAB Staff Coordinator, Health Department, 10777 Main St., Suite 203, Fairfax, VA 22030.

Image via Cooley LLP/RA YouTube

by Dave Emke — March 22, 2017 at 11:30 am 49 Comments

Rendering for Golf Course Overlook/Credit: olf Course Overlook LLC

Proposed rezoning of Golf Course Plaza, a three-acre parcel on the west edge of Isaac Newton Square, is scheduled for a Fairfax County Planning Commission hearing June 21.

Location of planned high rise near W&OD and Hidden Creek/Credit: Golf Course Overlook LLCThe proposal, which first came to light in May 2016, would see the property (11480 Sunset Hills Road) become the home of a 392,600-square-foot multifamily residential structure with three levels of underground parking. Currently on the parcel is a three-story office building and a surface parking lot.

The residential building would feature 413 units. Developer Golf Course Overlook LLC seeks to rezone the property from I-5 (General Industrial) to Planned Residential Mixed-Use. According to the summary of Reston Association’s March land development tracker, it is “unclear whether any commercial uses would be retained” on the property.

The site is between the W&OD Trail and the fourth hole of the Hidden Creek Country Club golf course. It is about a third of a mile from the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station. According to the land development tracker summary:

“The site is located in the Wiehle Station Transit-Oriented Development District and designated Residential Mixed Use, which seeks to retain a 75/25 mix of residential and non-residential uses respectively, at intensities of up to a 1.5 FAR [Floor Area Ratio]. Isaac Newton Square is planned to be home to 3,200 (of the 4,600) residential units for this district.”

A county staff report on the project is to be released June 6. Signs advertising the hearing are to go up May 31.

Images via Golf Course Overlook LLC

by Dave Emke — March 7, 2017 at 11:30 am 31 Comments

The Fairfax County Planning Department will hear presentations Thursday on the advertised FY 2018-2022 Capital Improvement Program, with a number of Reston projects on the list.

The largest local project in the plan is the reconfiguration and redevelopment of Reston Town Center North, which includes replacing and redeveloping the North County Human Services Center, as well as the Reston Regional Library and Embry Rucker Shelter. An indoor recreation center is also expected to be part of the project.

From the plan:

Reston Town Center North (Infrastructure and Blocks 7 & 8) (Hunter Mill District): Approximately $76,000,000 is proposed to rezone and develop the overall master plan that reconfigures and provides integrated redevelopment of approximately 50 acres currently owned by Fairfax County and Inova at Reston Town Center North (south of Baron Cameron Avenue between Town Center Parkway and Fountain Drive), including the replacement of Reston Regional Library, Embry Rucker Shelter, currently on this site, and development of additional facilities to accommodate Human Services needs. The plan maximizes the development potential consistent with the needs of the community and in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan Amendment approved in February 2013.

North County Human Services Center (Hunter Mill District): $125,000,000 to fund a replacement facility for the existing North County Human Services Center located in Reston. The existing facility is within the redevelopment master plan area known as Reston Town Center North which will be reconfigured for an integrated redevelopment consistent with the needs of the community and in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan Amendment approved in February 2013. The proposed North County Human Services Center will also support a consolidation of existing leased facility spaces in the service area into one Human Services site to provide enhanced and integrated multidisciplinary services to residents in the western part of the County.

The 47-acre area is bounded by Baron Cameron Avenue, Fountain Drive, Town Center Parkway and Bowman Towne Drive.

The projects are expected to be paid for by Economic Development Authority bond financing, according to the report. Approximately $10 million will be required in FY2018 to fund the county’s share of the agreement with Inova that will provide for the real estate exchange, as well as design and construction of the campus site infrastructure.

Funding of $12,000,000 was approved as part of the fall 2016 Human Services/Community Development Bond Referendum for the shelter, and $10,000,000 was approved as part of the 2012 Library Bond Referendum for the library.

Also among the five-year plan are the continuation of current plans including the Silver Line expansion, the redevelopment of the Crescent Apartments site at Lake Anne, upgrades to Reston and Fox Mill fire stations, the addition to South Lakes High School, and improvements to Reston Community Center and the natatorium.

The workshop and public hearing on the Capital Improvement Plan will be held Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Fairfax County Government Center.

Reston Town Center North map (2015) via Fairfax County

by Dave Emke — February 10, 2017 at 2:45 pm 7 Comments

The Fairfax County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing Feb. 23 as the approval process for the Reston Town Center Metro station continues.

The special exemption application for the south entrance pavilion of the station calls for modifying a zoning ordinance that requires 15 percent open space to require only 5 percent. According to the site plan:

“The applicants state that the boundary for the SE area is highly constrained in order to avoid adverse impact to future development of adjacent properties and to ensure that the development of the proposed mass transit facilities remain in harmony with the adjacent development. The site design and layout is consistent with the design of the other entrance pavilion areas along the Silver Line.”

The new station’s entrance pavilion is slated to look nearly identical to the pavilion at the Wiehle-Reston East station.

The Metro station was approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors last year. It is part of Metro’s Silver Line Phase 2, with a projected opening date in 2020.

If recommended, the Board of Supervisors will hear the special exemption application on March 14.

Graphics via project site plan

by Dave Emke — January 23, 2017 at 2:45 pm 53 Comments

Woodland Park Project

Concerns over the ties between real estate company Tishman Speyer and an anti-Muslim hate group dominated discussion during a recent public hearing about property development near the Herndon Metro.

Those concerns now appear to be a thing of the past, however, as the company has ended its business with The Clarion Project. The decision came last week following pressure from the interfaith community, some of which was seen during the Woodland Park hearing.

Tishman Speyer owns the property, located to the west of Monroe Street and south of the Dulles Toll Road, that is up for discussion. It also leased D.C. office space to The Clarion Project, a group that has created and distributed a number of anti-Muslim films and other materials, until it severed the contract last week.

The Clarion Project is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Speakers at the Jan. 11 public hearing included Colin Christopher, the deputy director of government affairs for Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church. Christopher said his mosque wanted the planning commission to delay the vote and take a stand against Tishman Speyer, who he said had to that point refused to address its relationship with The Clarion Project.

“If you don’t think this is a big deal, I’d like you to imagine hundreds of people and faith leaders — maybe from your church or synagogue or mosque — at the next meeting, standing in front of the bulldozers with the local news documenting what’s going on,” Christopher said. “We have that power and we will use it if we have to.”

Christopher said Islamophobia is gaining momentum in the United States and it is the responsibility of citizens and government officials to fight it. His words were echoed by Jeanne Trabulsi, a teacher from Arlington who followed him to the podium.

“Tishman Speyer has chosen to ignore clergy and other citizens who have reached out and who are concerned that allowing a hate group to exist and function in our midst is corrosive to our sense of well-being and to the well-being of others,” she said. “I ask that the board postpone approval of this project until Tishman Speyer becomes a good global citizen.”

Alison Glick, of the DC-Metro chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, also addressed the commission in support of the Muslim community. She said her group had protested at the Pennsylvania Avenue office building in December and 30 interfaith clergy had sent a letter to Tishman Speyer asking them to evict The Clarion Project.

“We want you to know that we understand how important this development project is,” Glick told the planning commission about the Woodland Park Parcel. “But the relationship that we have with the Muslim community… is also important.”

On Jan. 17, the Jewish Voice for Peace said the testimony at the Woodland Park Parcel public hearing was what forced Tishman Speyer’s hand to make its decision regarding The Clarion Group.

“The turning point in the campaign came when JVP DC-Metro partnered with leaders from the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia. The Islamic and Jewish organizations collaborated to challenge a major Tishman Speyer development project that was before the Fairfax County Planning Commission. Last week, the Commission was set to unanimously approve the project, until representatives from Dar Al-Hijrah and JVP testified about Tishman Speyer’s ties to the Clarion Project.”

All commissioners who voted on the project did recommend it for approval, but two commissioners — Karen Keys-Gamarra (Sully) and Janyce Hedetniemi (At-Large) — decided to abstain because of the testimony. Commissioner Frank de la Fe, of the Hunter Mill District, explained that what the speakers was asking was outside the purview of the commission.

“I sympathize and empathize with what I heard. Our nation is going through what I would call some difficult times,” de la Fe said. “But we are here to make land use decisions based on what is good for the county as far as the land use process. I think this application meets those requirements.”

The 31.69-acre property, proposed for residential/mixed-use development, is being planned to house 74 single-family attached homes, 90 two-over-two stacked townhomes, 515 multifamily dwelling units within two buildings, and two office buildings, including 580,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to hold a hearing on the project Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 3:30 p.m.

by Dave Emke — January 5, 2017 at 11:30 am 2 Comments

The Woodland Park area of Herndon may soon be getting even more crowded.

Currently vacant land to the west of Monroe Street, behind the Woodland Park Crossing Shopping Center, is being proposed for a future residential/mixed-use development. The proposal for the 31.59-acre lot is scheduled to be discussed in a public hearing next week with the Fairfax County Planning Commission.

The property borders the Dulles Toll Road to the north and is very near the planned Herndon Metro Station. On current streets, the drive to the station would be slightly less than 1 mile; on a new crossing with Monroe Street proposed in conjunction with project, it would be only about half a mile.

Developers hope the site will one day house:

  • 74 single-family attached homes
  • 90 two-over-two stacked townhomes
  • 515 multifamily dwelling units within two buildings
  • two office buildings, including 580,000 square feet of ground-floor retail

A similar project, the Woodland Park Waterview apartments, was approved last month by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission will meet Wednesday, Jan. 11, at 8:15 p.m. in the Board Auditorium of the Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax).

by Jennifer van der Kleut — October 31, 2016 at 11:30 am 1 Comment

Lincoln at Commerce Park/Credit: Fairfax CountyTwo major projects near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station are up for discussion at the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting tomorrow.

The proposed Lincoln apartment complex at Commerce Park Drive and the Lofts townhomes at Reston Station are on the agenda for about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Wiehle Station Ventures LLC is seeking to redevelop a surface level parking lot across the street from the Sunrise Valley convenience center and, beyond that, Reston National Golf Course, into a 260-unit Lincoln apartment building at Commerce Park, Association and Sunrise Valley drives. The property is also close to Soapstone Drive, where a future toll road crossing is planned.

Lofts at Reston Station/Credit: Fairfax County

The Board of Supervisors also is set to consider the design concept for the Lofts, in which Pulte Homes would redevelop a one-story industrial building at 1825 Michael Faraday Court into 44 residences.

The parcel is about one-third of a mile from the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station. The development and the Metro stop eventually will connect through interior streets, including an extension of Reston Station Boulevard, plans show.

Though the Planning Commission has recommended approval to the Board of Supervisors, the concept has not been without issues.

Hunter Mill planning commissioner Frank de le Fe said he feels the project attempts to jam too many residences into too little land, as the plan calls for fitting 12, two-by-two townhouses into less than two acres.

Other issues brought up had to do with the configuration of open space, the amount of surface parking, the design of a pocket park and the lack of landscaping connecting to public space.

Images via Lincoln At Commerce Park, Lofts at Reston Station, Fairfax County.

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by Karen Goff — October 18, 2016 at 2:45 pm 18 Comments

Crane at new residential construction in RestonReston is changing at a fast clip — with several large development projects in progress and more than a dozen new applications in the pipeline.

Concerned Reston residents say they want to know about those projects in an equally speedy manner.

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and representatives from the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning held a public meeting at Reston Association Monday in which they spelled out how the development process works, from application to final approval from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Even though the development process can take years, the citizens in attendance complained about a lack of opportunities for community engagement earlier in the process.

“The planning process is making me crazy,” said longtime Reston resident Tammi Pettrine. “In reality, citizens have no power against the county.” (more…)

by Karen Goff — October 7, 2016 at 4:15 pm 14 Comments

Commerce Park/Credit: Fairfax CountyThe first phase of an eventual 1.5-million square-foot mixed-use development on the south side of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro was recommended for approval by the Fairfax County Planning Commission on Thursday.

The first phase of Vornado’s plan for Commerce Executive Park at Wiehle Avenue, Sunrise Vally Drive and Commerce Park Drive, calls for a 200-unit residential building, as well as interior roads, pedestrian paths and a cycle track.

The planning commission held a public hearing last week but deferred decision until Oct. 6 to iron out some development conditions. While those issues — when a bike lane on Wiehle will be built, as well as expected contributions to the Reston Road Fund, among others — are not completely settled, Hunter Mill Commissioner Frank de le Fe says he is confident the parties will work together as the development plan comes together. (more…)

by Karen Goff — October 6, 2016 at 1:00 pm 26 Comments

Lofts at Reston Station/Credit: Fairfax County

The Fairfax County Planning Commission has recommended for approval Pulte Homes’ plan to rezone a one-story industrial building into 44 residences at 1825 Michael Faraday Court near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station.

After a planning staff report recommended denying the application and the commission held a public hearing last week, the panel delayed making a decision until Wednesday.

Hunter Mill planning commissioner Frank de le Fe said he still had some issues with the plan for the Lofts at Reston Station — which jams 12 2-over-2 townhouses and 32 multifamily units into fewer than two acres of land.

The staff report asked the developer that a few units be removed to allow greater ease of movement and parking for emergency vehicles and trash trucks.

Pulte said that removing units would affect the number of homes set aside for workforce housing, de le Fe said.

“I really don’t like to go against staff on this,” de le Fe said Wednesday. “While not perfect, [the application] represents compromise. In this case, the compromise centers around design for two units at the end. If we did not keep them, the applicant has made it clear it would be difficult if not impossible to meet WDUs [Workforce Dwelling Units set aside for a lower price] with three bedrooms. WDUs are very necessary.”

The plan will next go to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for final approval.

The parcel is about one-third of a mile from the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station, and will eventually be connected by interior streets, including an extension of Reston Station Blvd, plans show.

The staff report also takes issue with the configuration of open space; the amount of surface parking (27 spaces, which they say should be in structured parking); a poorly designed pocket park; and lack of landscaping in connecting to public space.

Rendering of multifamily building along future Reston Station Blvd at Michael Faraday Drive/Credit: Fairfax County

by Karen Goff — September 30, 2016 at 9:50 am 2 Comments

Rendering of Lincoln Property Co. Project off Sunrise Valley Drive/Credit: Fairfax CountyAnother multifamily project is closer to approval for the area south of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission recommended for approval Thursday Lincoln Property Company’s plans to build 260 multifamily residences on what is now a parking lot at Sunrise Valley, Commerce Park and Association drives.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission held a public hearing Sept. 23, but delayed decision until a few proffer conditions could be worked out.

The developer has now committed to a contribution at the highest level  of the scale ($2200) per unit to go to the Reston Road Fund — which will be used to help make more than $2.6 billion in transportation improvements here over several decades. The developer also agreed to work out issues with building a sidewalk on Association Drive and a possible additional contribution to the Fairfax County Park Authority.

The park authority issue came about because the proposed plan is very urban in nature, with limited open space (about one-third of an acre) that will be used as small pocket parks. The lack of room for active play should be offset with $50,000 more towards county athletic fields. The developer has offered $25,000, in addition to $462,852 it has already committed for fields.

Lincoln Property’s project is a seven-story building with trails connecting bikers and walkers to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station. The plans call for a pool and a natural play area, among other amenities.

Read more details in the county planning staff report.

The project is adjacent to Vornado’s large plan to transform more office buildings nearby. Phase I of that plan, to build a 200-unit multifamily building, was reviewed by the planning commission Wednesday, but the PC deferred decision on the project until Oct. 6.

The Vornado development will eventually be 1.5 million square feet of mixed-use development featuring the existing office buildings, two residential buildings (one of them 24 stories); a 22-story office tower; a retail promenade; a hotel; and five parks.

The Lincoln plan now moves on to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for final approval. A date for that hearing has not been set.

Rendering of Lincoln Property Company’s multifamily building at Commerce Park/Credit: Fairfax County.

by Karen Goff — September 29, 2016 at 10:30 am 23 Comments

Proposed cell tower (tree) at Crossfield ES/Courtesy VerizonAn elementary school is no place for a cell phone tower.

That was the message more than a dozen concerned neighbors and parents of students at Crossfield Elementary School told the Fairfax County Planning Commission in more than two hours of testimony Wednesday night.

A county planning staff report recommends approval of Milestone Communications’ application (on behalf of Verizon) for the tower, which they say is necessary to fill in gaps in coverage in the areas off Lawyers Road, including Reston’s Fox Mill Woods neighborhood adjacent to the school.

“This plan introduces an unacceptable safety risk,” said Chris Aiello, representing Parents Advocating for Safe Schools in Fairfax County, a grassroots group recently formed to take on Verizon’s request.

“It directly interferes with future expansion of school and fields. The applicant failed to meaningfully explore other sites. It defies logic placing a 138-foot tower 127 feet from a school.”

The pole, which would be built to look like an evergreen tree, would be able to carry signals from five mobile carriers. The pole would be on a 2,500-square-foot area surrounded by an 8-foot fence.

While the pole will be in a wooded area more than 200 feet from the school, the location is only 127 feet from the Crossfield playground, many citizens pointed out.

The pole will rise about 80 feet above the natural tree line, which Aiello called “a visual albatross.”

Other parents and neighbors had similar concerns. More than 30 Fairfax County Public Schools, including South Lakes High School, have cell towers on their property. However, only one FCPS elementary school has a tower, planning staff said. Parents said they are not willing to let their young children be test cases for radiation.

The cell phone companies pay the landowners to lease the pole space. FCPS, for instance, has made more than $4 million from the arrangement over the last several years, FCPS officials said.

Milestone collects rent from the wireless carriers on its towers, 40 percent of which goes to FCPS. Schools receive $25,000 each time a tower is built, and then $5,000 from each wireless carrier that leases space on the tower.

Other speakers said they were concerned the fenced tower enclosure would be everything from an “attractive nuisance” for pranks to a target for hackers.

Lisa Namerow, a nearby resident with a child set to enter Crossfield next year, said she is concerned about home values, among other things.

“The affected community is deeply opposed,” she said. “Research shows proximity of cell towers has a negative effect on homeowners.”

The planning commission also heard testimony from two Fox Mill Woods residents who said they cannot get coverage in their homes and the tower is needed.

Planning commissioners had questions on other high-tech ways to fill in coverage gaps (they would not work in this case, Milestone reps said) to the possibility of building the tower on Fairfax County Park Authority land nearby.

In the end, the planning commission deferred decision until Oct. 19, after they can get more information from the county’s Hunter Mill Land Use committee. The land use committee meets on Oct. 18.

Photo: Proposed cell phone tower at Crossfield Elementary School/Credit: Milestone Communications.

by Karen Goff — September 16, 2016 at 10:00 am 6 Comments

Planned location of RP 11720/Credit: Fairfax CountyThe Fairfax County Planning Commission has recommended for approval a plan to tear down a 1980s office building at 11720 Sunrise Valley Drive and replace the building with 54 townhomes.

Rooney Properties’ plan now moves on for final approval by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, most likely in October.

The decision came at the planning commission’s Wednesday meeting, about two months after a public hearing on the project. The commission said then had some concerns with driveway size, garage size and delivery accessibility for Rooney Properties’ plans.

Office building at 11720 Sunrise Valley Dr.Since the 11720 project’s July hearing, the applicant went back and updated the development plan to show designated delivery area in the southwestern corner of property.

The planning commission and the county planning staff also had an issue in July with Rooney’s lack of proffers to provide transportation demand management (TDM) such as traffic lights.

The proposed project sits just across Roland Clarke Place where another Rooney property, the Marcel Breuer-designed former headquarters of the American Press Institute. That building, also owned by Rooney, is in the process of being torn down to make way for way for 34 townhouses and 10 condos.

Photos: Location of project, top; Existing office building, bottom.

by Karen Goff — September 13, 2016 at 4:30 pm 4 Comments

Rendering of RP 11720 Sunrise Valley/Fairfax CountyThe Fairfax County Planning Commission will review and make a decision on an amended plan for 54 townhomes at 11720 Sunrise Valley Dr. at its meeting on Wednesday.

There was a public hearing on the project in July, but the commission had some concerns with driveway size and delivery accessibility for Rooney Properties’ plans to convert an office building to a residential neighborhood.

The proposed project sits just across Roland Clarke Place where another Rooney property, the Marcel Breuer-designed former headquarters of the American Press Institute. That building was recently approved for demolition by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, clearing the way for 34 townhouses and 10 condos. (more…)

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