Photos: Lofts at Reston Station Now Complete

Lofts at Reston Station will debut new one-level elevator condominiums starting at $544,485  this weekend.

The redevelopment project by Pulte Homes brings 12 two-level townhouse-style condos and 32 one-level condos just a short walk from the Wiehle-Metro East Metro Station.

Megan Skupien, a spokeswoman for Pulte Homes, said the company has sold out its two-story condos.

Heading into the grand opening weekend, almost 50 percent of the one-level condos, which have two bedrooms and two bathrooms, are sold out.

“We couldn’t be happier as we head into the weekend,” Skupien said.

All infrastructure work has been completed, with the exception of topping off the remaining roads. Other road construction work will happen in cooperation with other developers and land owners.

Construction on the project, which is located at 1825 Michael Faraday Drive, began last spring. The county approved Pulte Homes’ proposal to replace an office building and parking lot with a residential development in November 2016.

Residents of The Lofts will be Reston Association members.

Photos by Fatimah Waseem

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Comstock Hires New Head of Acquisitions

Comstock has hired Mike Daugard to lead acquisitions of new properties as the real estate company moves forward on major projects near Metro sites.

Before joining Comstock, Daugard worked with the Washington Real Estate Investment Trust, Rubenstein Partners, JLL, Lowe Enterprises, and The Mills Corporation.

“We are thrilled to have Mike Daugard on the Comstock team,” said Christopher Clemente, CEO of Comstock. “Mike is a seasoned industry professional with deep market knowledge and insight that enhances Comstock’s ability to identify attractive institutional investment opportunities, increase assets under management across asset classes, and drive bottom line results.” 

Daugard graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a B.S. degree in Finance. He has been an adjunct professor at the school for the last six years.

He will probe ways to expand Comstock’s properties in the area, negotiate transaction details and identify acquisition opportunities.

Comstock announced his hire on Monday (May 13).

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Monday Morning Notes

Updated Plans for Reston Crossing — The project has changed slightly since it was introduced, though many of the basics have remained the same. The biggest difference is that the developer is now envisioning seven buildings for the site instead of six, and they’ve now firmed up the planned mix of residential, office and retail space planned for the area. [The Washington Business Journal]

College Planning Event Today — Experts from OneCommonwealth Advisors share tips on how to make colleges more affordable and help families plan ahead at Reston Regional Library from 7-8 p.m. [Reston Regional Library]

Trash Pickup Problems in Fairfax County — “Fairfax County is investigating reports of missed trash pick-ups by a solid waste and recycling collection company in preparation to take legal action. During the county’s Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday (May 7), John Cook and Kathy Smith, the district supervisors for Braddock and Sully, respectively, presented a board matter prompting the investigation into whether American Disposal Services has violated any consumer protection laws. [Tysons Reporter]

Photo by Lauren Pao

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Planning Commission OKs Prince Towne Development

The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously approved Prince Towne LLC’s plans to replace four single-family homes near West Ox Road with nine single-family homes Wednesday night.

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

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Renovations to South Lakes Village Center to Begin This Summer

Construction on new upgrades to make South Lakes Village Center more of a local destination are planned for this summer.

Thomas Regnell, president and CEO of Chevy Chase Land Company, told Reston Now that construction is expected to start over the next several weeks. Planned upgrades, which include an amphitheater, a bike rack and repair station, and a fire pit, are intended to help turn the aging commercial center into an attractive destination that brings local residents together.

Regnell said it was too early to indicate when upgrades will be completed, but the construction process will take eight weeks.

Some features of the plan — which originally included ping pong tables — were removed at the request of Reston Association’s Design Review Board, which approved the project in June. Citizen groups and nearby residents sounded off against the plans, which they said would attract noise, vandalism, and too much activity.

The project is expected to cost between $300,000 and $400,000, Regnell said.

Photos via Chevy Chase Land Company

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City Lab Editor: Reston is a ‘Radical Suburb’

Stereotypes of suburban life — with its big homes, picketed fences, and affluent people — thrive in America. But in some “radical suburbs,” people flocked to the urban fringes to chase a different way of life, according to City Lab Editor Amanda Kolson Hurley.

In her new book, “Radical Suburbs: Experimental Living on the Fringes of the American City,” Hurley examines six suburban towns that are “fertile ground for utopian planning, communal living, socially-conscious design, and integrated housing.”

Hurley says that Reston is a community that strays from the typical idea of a conventional, middle-class suburb. She discussed her book in a Kojo Nnamdi Show segment on Wednesday (April 24).

Reston is an “anti-suburb” developed by Bob Simon, who was born into a family of real estate developers, Hurley said. After taking a bike trip across Europe — with all of its plazas and community-style living — Simon was inspired to sell off his share of Carnegie Hall to build a new town. Like the founder of Columbia, Md. – Reston’s sister city — Simon was tired of the soul-less and ugly character of other suburbs, Hurley said.

“People thought he was nuts,” Hurley said.

But Reston turned out to be a good bet. Unlike other suburbs at the time, Reston was integrated from the very beginning, giving it a forward-looking vision, she says.

But now, Reston — like other radical suburbs — faces a question of identity.

“The question it faces and that more and more suburbs will face in the coming years is one of identity,” Hurley said, “Should it be a suburb or a city?”

Her book examines other model suburbs like Old Economy, Pa., Piscataway, Nj., Lexington, Ma, and Greenbelt, Md.

Photo via Belt Publishing

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Athletic Field ‘Destination’ Proposed in New Isaac Newtown Square Redevelopment

A new, publicly accessible athletic field is a key component of the redevelopment of Isaac Newtown Square, which is located on the north side of Sunset Hills Road and west of Wiehle Avenue.

Peter Lawrence Cos. And MRP Realty are working together to convert nearly 33 acres of the suburban office park into a residential campus with up to 2,100 units. The proposal is making its way through the county’s approval process.

The athletic field will be located next to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, according to an April 9 proposal to the county. The publicly-accessed field is required by Reston’s Comprehensive Plan, which aims to meet future demand for active recreation facilities in Reston’s Transit Station Areas.

“Similar to urban parks in the District of Columbia located adjacent to, or near, high density residential and commercial uses, the athletic field will be easily accessible to pedestrian and vehicular traffic and its attendance foot traffic will help drive local commerce around the civic plaza and village Main Street,” according to the application.

The synthetic turf field will have 50 parking spaces allocated specifically reserved for field visitors. A 0.3-acre warmup field will be located next to the athletic field and a 1.5-acre civic plaza next to the athletic field is “intended to foster social interaction and create a visual identity for the Isaac Newtown Square Civic Plaza,” the application says.

The plaza will also house a 600-square-foot pavilion, picnic areas and shade structures, according to the application. Developers described the athletic field as a “destination” for the public.

The project heads to the Fairfax County Planning Commission on July 24.

Photo via Reston Association/MRP Realty

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Installation to Bring Reston’s Streetscapes to Life

A 56-page document gives detailed guidelines on urban design and streetscape implementation for Reston’s Transit Station Areas. Now, Reston Association and county officials are working to bring the guidelines, which were formulated late last year, to life.

A streetscape demonstration is set for May 2 at 3:30 p.m. at RA’s Central Service Facility (12250 Sunset Hills Road). Several design schemes will be revealed to help developers implement Reston’s guidelines.

Suzie Battista of the county’s Office of Community Revitalization said the demonstration helps showcase Reston’s unique character. Unlike design guidelines for Tysons, Reston’s streetscapes are generally divided into three styles. Overall, the landscape panel is lighter, transitioning from lush landscape with multi-level plantings to a suburban streetscape in areas that are pedestrian-oriented. In between these two extremes is a hybrid streetscape. Denser plants are called for compared to the plan for Tysons, according to the county.

“We want people to see it in real life,” Battista told Reston Now.

The county’s Office of Community Revitalization will invite developers to attend the demonstration.

Reston’s design guidelines are based on the following principles:

  • “Streets and their adjacent streetscape are vital parts of the public realm.”
  • “Streetscapes should be places for social interaction, economic activity, civic activity, and public gatherings.”
  • “Designing from the perspective of the pedestrian is important for creating great places.”
  • “Landscaped amenity zones and landscape features should be used to buffer the pedestrian from the road, and are opportunities to integrate Reston streetscape character into a more urban setting.”
  • “Low impact development techniques for stormwater management should be incorporated into new and redesigned streets where practical.”

The complete guidelines are available online.

Photo via Fairfax County Government

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Golf Course Plaza Redevelopment Plan Resurfaces After Deferral

Plans to redevelop Golf Course Plaza, a three-acre parcel on the west edge of Isaac Newtown Square, are back on the books after they were put on hold in 2017.

The latest proposal, which was submitted to the county on April 3, scales back the number of residential units from 413 to 300. The property (11480 Sunset Hills Road) is currently home to a two-story office building built in 1971, surface parking, and resource protection areas on the northeastern edge.

A “modern and sustainable” multifamily building with up to 300 residential units would take up most of the site, according to the development proposal. The building will face Hidden Creek Country Club and open space will act as a buffer between the building and the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.  A commercial component — which was not discussed in detail in the application — will connect the trail and a public plaza to the building. Part of the trail crosses the property’s access drive. The developer said it is working with the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority to address the issue.

A three-level parking garage is also planned and could “assist with the possible future connection” to Hidden Creek Country Club, according to the plan. To date, the owners of Hidden Creek Country Club have not officially filed a redevelopment proposal, although preliminary plans have been discussed in the community.

Just under 0.8 acres of the parcel is planned as public park space. Part of the property is reserved for a future public street — often referred to as the “road to nowhere” — to connect American Dream Way to the west with Wiehle Avenue to the east.

Ben Wales, the applicant’s legal representative, said the proposed development helps the area transition from office and light industrial uses to a “pedestrian-friendly, mixed-used, urban development pattern built around rail transit as envisioned by the comprehensive plan.”

Previous plans submitted in 2016 were deferred by the applicant in September 2017.

Photos via Fairfax County Government/handout

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Vantage Hill Condominiums’ Closed Pool and Parking Could House New Townhouses

For seven years, the pool behind Vantage Hill Condominiums (11619 Vantage Hill Road), boxy housing built in the late 1960s, has been closed. Now, discussions are underway to build townhouses on the pool site to save a condominium building that its community association leadership says is on a slow and steady decline.

The assocaition hopes to use revenues generated from the project to help finance around $4.5 million in needed infrastructure upgrades. Rob Schuman, the community association’s president, told the Reston Association’s Design Review Board last night (April 16) that the association has been grappling with major infrastructure needs for years.

The 152-unit development, which has 24 garden-style buildings, was one of Reston’s first projects and offers market-based workforce housing. Prices for a one-bedroom unit start at $140,000 and up to $250,000 for a three-bedroom unit.

Schuman said the association does not have enough money to take on infrastructure improvements on its own. Members pay yearly HOA fees between $420 and $680. Pipes leak every week, the electrical system is 60 years old and doors and windows provide little to no insulation, Schuman said.

The association is considering pooling the one-acre pool site and another acre used for parking to create enough developable space for 38 townhouse units. Parking lost to the development project would be redistributed. Schuman said 70 percent of the association’s members approved of the development proposal. The association’s bylaws require a two-thirds majority from the ownership to proceed with the project.

If approved — a process that could be years away — the townhouse community could become its own cluster with its own community association. So far, association members stressed a formal proposal is forthcoming and discussions are preliminary.

Charlie Hoffman, a DRB member, said he worried that the infill development could hike up the prices of the condo units.

“I would hate to see them get so nice that people can’t afford to live in them anymore,” Hoffman said. Overall, he said the project could bring new energy to the aging building.

Revenue from the project would help fund metered electrical service for each unit, new windows and doors, new entrances, upgraded heating, new plumbing, security upgrades and an expanded playground. Electric vehicle charging stations are also under consideration.

Photos via Reston Association/handout

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Building Demolition Planned on 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive Next Month

Plans for a 75-unit assisted living facility are coming closer to reality on 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive next month.

The demolition of the building is scheduled for May 1, according to Dan Gorham, founding partner of Kensington Senior Living. Construction is expected to begin soon after and could take between 16 and 18 months, followed by several weeks for licensing and permitting, Gorham told Reston Now.

The project could be completed as early as the end of next year, Gorham estimated. It will consist of a 66,200 square foot building. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the project in February last year.

The site is home to the Ivy Preparatory School. County permits processed on April 5 indicated the school could locate to 1441 Wiehle Avenue. The owners of the school did not immediately respond to a request for comment and an office person declined to release details on when or where the school will relocate.

Photo via Fairfax County Government/handout

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With Amazon’s HQ2 Decision, A Windfall Expected for Reston, Northern Virginia

Amazon’s decision to bring its second headquarters to Crystal City is sure to send an immediate and impactful jolt across Arlington, but what’s less clear is how the coming of the technology giant will impact Northern Virginia as a whole.

Although Reston is couched far from Arlington, the community could see a windfall from the new headquarters, which will be split between Arlington and Long Island City, especially with the community’s onboarding to the Silver Line and a planned expansion in development and redevelopment over the next two decades. 

Business leaders in the area portend the coming of Amazon will help expedite the transformation of communities like Reston from a federal government town to a technology corridor. That transition is already taking place with the coming of new headquarters like Leidos, a scientific research company, to Reston’s new developments.

Mark Ingrao, CEO and president of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, said secondary and tertiary businesses lured by Amazon’s foothold in Arlington may be enticed to set up shop in new and emerging developments in Reston around the Silver Line.

“It is going to be a prime opportunity to relocate here in an area that’s new and right on the Silver Line,” Ingrao told Reston Now.

Additionally, limitations in the amount and affordability of housing stock in Arlington could push some employees and residents to find housing in Reston’s transit station areas, which are in the process of major transformation and redevelopment. The move could also diversify Reston’s workforce, Ingrao said.

But the move is not without challenges, ushering in associated concerns about infrastructure and transportation impacts that have long plagued discussions about future development in Reston.

Ingrao is optimistic that the coming of tech giants like Amazon will help expedite county and state discussions about needed transportation infrastructure improvements and encourage officials to tackle them in a “more direct way.”

“At the end of the day, it should force local government and others to really concentrate on the infrastructure needs and get them addressed sooner rather than later,” Ingrao said.

Here’s more from what county officials and business leaders are saying about the decision.

“Having HQ2 in Northern Virginia will bring important jobs, business diversity and more innovative technology to the area,” said Gerald Gordon, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. “We look forward to continuing to work with Amazon Web Services to expand its presence here and are excited to collaborate with other innovative companies that will be putting down roots in Fairfax County soon.”

“We congratulate Arlington and Alexandria on being selected in the process for Amazon HQ2,’ said Buddy Rizer, director of Loudoun Economic Development. “We consider this a win for the entire region. Many of Loudoun’s highly educated professionals will join the Amazon workforce, and many of Loudoun’s wine country and other retail and recreation venues will become favorite destinations for Amazon employees throughout the Northern Virginia/DC Metro region. We will continue to market Loudoun County as a world-class location for global businesses like Amazon, and we look forward to making some exciting announcements about new Loudoun companies soon.”

Photo courtesy Crystal City BID

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Fairfax County Planning Commission Approves Midline Project

The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously approved the Midline, a mixed-use project near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station Thursday night.

The approval sets the project, which would bring 1.8 million square feet of development across 17..5 acres east of Wiehle Avenue and south of Sunset Hills Road, in motion for a Board of Supervisors’ vote on Dec. 4.

John Carter, the Planning Commissioner for the Hunter Mill District, lauded the development team, JBG Smith, EYA and Chevy Chase Land Co., for bringing a diverse mix of low-rise housing to the area, a feature that he said is lacking in other projects recently approved in Reston.

Four blocks with several buildings are proposed on land that is currently used for low-rise office buildings and surface parking. The plan includes 127 independent units, a 33-bed assisted living facility, a 225-unit multi-family building and a mix of townhouses. A 14-story office building and retail is also planned on the site nearer to the Metro Station.

Carter said the mix of affordable and workforce housing units, which is integrated throughout the site, is not intended to serve as a precedent for other projects. Due to the variety of housing options proposed, the developer has integrated several affordable units in the townhouse area and the multi-family building, creating a dispersed mix of affordable housing throughout the project, Carter said. Parking will be offered at a cost reduced by 70 percent of the price for market-rate units. The affordability tiers are also 70, 80, and 100 percent of the area median income — a distribution lower than the typical county requirement of 80, 100 and 120 percent of the AMI. Independent living and affordable units will have shared access for several amenities.

Following concern about limited public amenities, the development team also added additional dog parks, playing areas for children, and agreed to work with area developers to install street lights, updated curbs, and signage along Reston Station Boulevard. That road will extend into the Midline project and pedestrian and bicyclist access to the Washington and Old Dominion Trail will also be provided.

The commission deferred a decision on Woodfield Acquisition’s plan to replace office buildings on Roland Clarke Place with residential units to Nov. 15 in order to allow the developer to devise a better way to create a grid of streets in the area.

Photo via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Photos: Demolition of Tall Oaks Village Center Underway

Scattered pieces of the skeleton of Tall Oaks Village Center (12022 North Shore Drive) remain as the redevelopment of the property officially begins.

Demolition of the property, which will be redeveloped into a mixed-use project with 156 residential units, 8,500 square feet of retail and 6,000 square feet of office space, is nearly complete.

Construction of the new homes is expected to begin in October and be completed by the end of 2021, according to estimates provided to Reston Now by the development team in September. The development team, which includes Stanley Martin, the contract purchaser of the property, did not return requests for comment from Reston Now.

Stanley Martin’s plan transforms the village center from a predominantly retail-heavy site to a small residential neighborhood with a strip of retail. The center has long struggled with a lack of visibility from the main street and the vacancies left by Giant Foods’ departure in 2007.  The plan calls for 44 townhouses, 42 two-over-two townhouses and 70 multi-family units in two buildings. 

Recently, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is considering plans to reduce garage size requirements necessary to make the development team’s current plan work.

Tall Oaks’ longtime challenges have been a location on a dead end and lack of visibility from the main street. Its longtime anchor tenant, Giant Foods, moved out in 2007 and vacancies have been mounting since.

Photos by Fatimah Waseem

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County Board to Consider Roland Clarke Project in Reston

Plans to replace a vacant office building at 1941 Roland Clarke Place with a 308-unit apartment building are headed to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for approval next week.

Woodfield Investments wants to demolish a two-story office building and replace it with a 291,650-square-foot multifamily building across around 6 acres of land north of Sunrise Valley Drive, south of the Dulles Toll Road and east of Reston Parkway.

A hearing on the project is set for Oct. 30 at 3:30 p.m.

The property would be developed in two phases. Phase one will include the construction of the apartment building, which has 37 workforce dwelling units. The second phase will retain an 80,000-square-foot office building and the addition of a pocket park. The second phase leaves the option of redevelopment sometime in the future, according to the proposal.

The existing cul-de-sac at Roland Clarke Place will be reconstructed and extended further north to connect two private roads and provide access to the parking garage on the property.

Staff from the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning recommended approval of the project.

Photos via handout/Fairfax County Government

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