Two major projects near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station are up for discussion at the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting tomorrow.
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.
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.
Comstock, which is developing the mixed-use neighborhood at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station, says it has parted ways with entertainment lawyer and restauranteur Michael Holstein.
When The Stock Market project for the 11,000-square-foot retail center at Reston Station was announced last December, Comstock and Holstein said they planned to have 10-25 vendors selling a variety of food, drink and other goods in the space by summer 2015.
“I still think it is a great spot,” Comstock spokeswoman Maggie Parker said on Tuesday. “The best service to our residents is to have local marketplace.”
Both Holstein and Comstock said the parting was friendly and mutual.
Eventually, the space above the retail center will be built out as a hotel.
The 448-unit BLVD Apartments at Reston Station will begin leasing this fall, with the first residents moving in in February, said Parker.
Parker also said the project’s first office building will begin construction this fall. The 16-story building will have 350,000 square feet of space.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission did not vote on the future of Reston development on Wednesday, but heard from many residents and other interested parties who are concerned about what that future will look like.
After four years of work, the Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force’s comprehensive plan amendment — a massive document outlining everything from density around three Metro Silver Line station’s to street patterns to recreational facilities — has been presented to the planning commission, which will now further review it before making a recommendation to move it on to the county Board of Supervisors or tell the task force to make changes. Task Force Chair Patty Nicoson says the group will also create its own staff report.
The planning commission says it will vote on the plan on Dec. 5.
One of the main points of the plan: where to put the people. The plan calls for ratios of 50 percent commercial/residential within one-quarter mile of the Metro stations at Wiehle-Reston East, Reston Parkway and Herndon-Monroe. In the half-mile range, the ratio should be 75 percent residential, 25 commercial.
“We focused on total amounts of residential/commercial that can be within a district,” Nicoson told the planning commission. “We want to see new recreation center, a performing arts center. We are committed to the environment. We want to see the principles of Reston maintained as we look to the future. This will help us build on Reston as a planned community that was built with nature in mind.
“Some are concerned we have not focused on implementation,” she added. “First have to concentrate on the vision, then implementation.
The concept of implementation — just how the plan will be executed, who will pay and other details — came up often in citizen testimony.
“Planning without implementation is empty,” said Reston Citizens Association President Colin Mills. “It is not just a planning issue, it is a political issue. We support having a single entity responsible for implementation issues.”
Planning commission member James Hart reminded Mills, and the people assembled, that implementation specifics don’t need to be in place as the new Reston will evolve over 30 years and planning will get more specific when variables such as developer proffers, population growth and economic climate are known.
“The comprehensive plan regulates nothing, ” he said. “In Virginia, we are under the Dillon Rule. It is probably inappropriate to put things in the plan like specifics if they have no force of law. The plan is intended to be a general guide. If we bear that in mind a lot of what is in this plan looks a lot better.
The task force is comprised of both developers and citizens – and all have concerns about the plan, even though they voted on the final draft. There were several criticisms of the plan that kept recurring during last night’s testimony:
Park space: Based on future population analysis of 35,000 new residents, there should be 12 athletic fields built in the high-population areas. The plan calls for three.
“This has been of great concern to task force members,” Nicoson said. ” We feel some of the [existing] facilities could be enhanced to accommodate additional fields and add artificial turf and lighting. What we have proposed is that we do more work on this.”
A planning commission member suggested creative thinking, such as recreation facilities on the top of buildings [such as the Kettler ice rink in Ballston] and other urban-style uses.
Parking: The limits on the number of parking spaces are too modest and won’t encourage people to take public transportation, making traffic problems worse.
“The more people who drive cars to and from [work near the Metro stations], fewer will use Metro,” said Terry Maynard, co-chair of Reston 2020, a citizens advocacy group that examines development issues. “We recommend explicit parking limits be restored to plan.”
Said Pete Ottenti, Vice President of Development at Boston Properties: “I personally advocate no maximums. and a ratio of 2.4 spaces per 1,000 people in half-mile from stations to be implemented no sooner than 10 years. Developers are are already incentivized to build less parking. Maximums could have unintended consequences.”
Open space: Task force members were hoping the plan would say “a minimum of 20 percent.” The final draft says “a goal of 20 percent.”
Reston Association: New residents should be Reston Association members, many who spoke said.
“Reston is not two communities separated by transit areas,” said RA CEO Cate Fulkerson. “In order to integrate new residents, [the plan] should provide for integration into Reston Town Center Association or RA.”
Infrastructure: The plan does not talk about who will pay for the road improvements and traffic enhancements the new Reston will need.
“The infrastructure needed to support development in this plan must be completed concurrently,” Fulkerson said. “It must be completed by those who will profit. It should be kept in forefront of all discussion of changes to recommend plan text. Metro will only accommodate less than 10 percent of all commuting trips. The people of Reston must have road, pedestrian, bike and bus improvements.”