Pedestrian accessibility and walkability issues with a proposal to redevelop Isaac Newton Square were officially cleared by the Fairfax County Planning Commission.
At a meeting on Oct. 20, planning commissioners unanimously approved road and infrastructure plans for the northernmost area of the site. APA Properties plans to tackle the first 15 acres of the 32-acre project, which is located north of Sunset Hills Road and west of Wiehle Avenue.
John Carter, the planning commissioner for the Hunter Mill District, said the county and the developer had to sort through multiple issues associated with the site — many of which are common issues with urban planning in Reston.
Carter said the county’s priority was improving accessibility within the private neighborhood and to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station. Problems are especially apparent when different developers own private streets and have different plans for street maintenance and improvements.
“It is quite a problem dealing with these issues,” Carter said.
APA Properties committed to working with the county’s Urban Forestry Division to preserve willow oak trees on the property, which are currently in their prime and can last over 100 years.
The application was also smoothed out so that pedestrians do not have to walk into a stormwater retention facility after crossing a six-inch-high curb.
“That is not a workable scheme and we should try to avoid that,” Carter said, especially for individuals with a wheelchair or a cane.
The developer committed to raising the grade of the street up to the level of sidewalks and installing stormwater management troughs where there is no on-street parking.
Streetlights in the neighborhood will also be lower than in other areas. APA Properties will also install straight curbs instead of rolled curbs, which allow trucks and other vehicles to easily jump the curb.
Carter noted that straight curbs are necessary as parts of Reston continue their transition into more urban-style living.
Photo via handout/MRP Realty
The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously approved the redevelopment plan on Thursday night. Members praised the developer, AP Reston Campus LLC maintaining manor house — which is currently on the county’s inventory of historic places — while incorporating new architectural and forward-looking elements.
AAFMA is looking to replace two existing buildings on the site with two Class A office buildings and continue to reuse the manor house as office space, primarily to receive visitors. The plan will preserve the existing gazebo and stormwater management pond.
The manor house, which was built in 1899, was the home of A. Smith Bowman, who owned more than 7,200 acres of land in what now includes Reston.
Bowman also owned the adjacent distillery, which originally served as the Wiehle Town Hall and was used as a church, general store and distillery.
Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner John Carter said the redevelopment plan was “an adaptive reuse of the 19th century house.”
“It will allow a valued existing employer to expand in Reston,” Carter said.
The plan includes an underground garage, a 6,2000-square-foot terrace that connects the two office building.
Andrew Painter, the attorney representing AAFMA, said the development designed the project so that the manor house — which is located in front of the two office buildings — would “pop” in front of the new office buildings.
The developer plans to construct a sidewalk along Old Reston Avenue and provide a connection to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. Mary Ann Tsai from the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning , said the developer also agreed to connect the two planned sidewalks at the request of the county.
Dranesville District Planning Commissioner John Ulfelder encouraged the applicant to consider adding the manor house to the state and national registry of historic places.
AAFMA plans to preserve four parking spaces on the northern property line of the development plan. The county asked the developer to remove the buildings in order to reduce the amount of impervious service.
Painter said the developer plans to use the redeveloped site as their future home “for the next half century of longer.”
The project heads to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for approval on September 24.
AAFMA is a financial solutions provider that offers military life insurance, wealth management and survivor assistance and mortgage services.
The plan for the 4.9-acre site, which is on the north side of West Ox Road and east of Fairfax County Parkway, heads to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a vote in the coming weeks.
Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner John Carter said several “magical” improvements helped address critical stormwater management and drainage issues on the site.
Carter said the county worked with the applicant to reduce setbacks on the western property line, preserve more trees, and install an underground stormwater management system.
The community has struggled with poor drainage systems in the past, with most water pooling to the center of the community.
The commission also worked with the applicant to tweak elements like the relocation of a driveway by 18 feet and the deletion of a retaining wall.
“What we’ve done in the last six weeks is to work on the layout,” Carter said.
The applicant also plans to install a new street — Prince Towne Court — that will intersect with West Ox Road.
A final vote by the Board of Supervisors has not been scheduled yet.
During the Wednesday meeting, the commission once again deferred a decision on a plan to remove 215,000 square feet of office space from Reston Heights (11830 Sunrise Valley Drive). A dispute about easement access with neighboring property owners, among other issues, stalled the vote.
Carter said the commission needed more time to resolve several issues. A vote is scheduled for May 22.
Photo via handout/Fairfax County Government