Lane and ramp closures this week — Phase two of the Silver Line project ushers in several lane, shoulder and road closures this week along the Dulles Toll Road, the Dulles International Airport Access Highway, Herndon Parkway, Sunset Hills Road and Sunrise Valley Drive. The complete list of closures is available online. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]
Not denser than Manhattan — Canaan Merchant responds to an opinion piece published on Reston Now that asserts Reston is going to be denser than Manhattan. [Greater Greater Washington]
Bechtel brings it — The engineering giant moved its global headquarters from San Francisco to Sunset Hills Road in Reston this year. The company has become one of Washington’s biggest privately held players. [The Washington Business Journal]
Suspicious package cleared by Metro transit police — A package found on Friday at Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station was cleared by police. [Metro Transit Police]
Corn night moon gathering tonight — View this month’s full moon, which, according to American Indian folklore, is named the Corn Moon. It indicates the time of the year to harvest crops. View the moon through the park’s telescope and enjoy a corn-inspired treat over the fire. Registration is $8. [Fairfax County Government]
Flickr pool photo by vantagehill
This is an op/ed submitted by Rescue Reston’s North Course Committee. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now. No development plans for Hidden Creek Country Club have been formally proposed to the county. If you wish to submit an opinion piece, email [email protected].
Wheelock Communities, the Connecticut-based company that bought the Hidden Creek Country Club in north Reston, says it wants to build housing on 40 percent of the golf course land on almost half of the golf course that comprises the biggest part of north Reston’s open space. The land design firm that Wheelock is working with told a community focus group last month that Wheelock foresees building between 500 and 2,000 housing units in the open space.
Building housing on Hidden Creek golf course would violate the Reston Master Plan that is part of the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan, as well as require a change in the County zoning ordinance. The County has designated Hidden Creek as private recreational open space, specifically a golf course.
All of the Hidden Creek golf course needs to remain as private recreational open space, and here’s why: In this area, buying a house is almost always the biggest investment decision that any of us will make.
Because it is such a consequential decision, we homeowners count on the land-use plan to give us some confidence about what we can expect to see in our community over time. In fact, the Fairfax County website says, “The purpose of planning is to ensure that Fairfax County’s excellent quality of life will continue.” The Reston Master Plan Task Force’s goal was to guide the community’s growth and development for the next 30 to 40 years.
Why should one real estate development company that has had no connection to our community be able to make an investment decision that would undermine the individual investment decisions of many thousands of Reston households?
Allowing that would be counter to one of Robert Simon’s primary goals for Reston: “that the importance and dignity of each individual be the focal point for all planning, and take precedence for large-scale concepts.”
Building new housing where it’s not supposed to be–and losing 40 percent of north Reston’s planned open space at Hidden Creek in the process–would hurt Reston households. And it would hurt not just those who live in the Lake Anne/Tall Oaks district of Reston, but all Restonians who rely on the two major north-south roads through north Reston: Wiehle Avenue and Reston Parkway.
Putting housing on Hidden Creek would add to the Wiehle Avenue traffic that is currently bumper-to-bumper during rush hours. Wiehle Avenue traffic is already expected to worsen because another development company has put in an application to build 2,100 units in the Isaac Newton area (behind the Wiehle Avenue firehouse). That area is within the Wiehle-Reston East Transit Station Area, so new housing development is conceivable there under the approved Reston Master Plan. Add to that the 156 units in new development that has already been approved for Tall Oaks Village Center.
The Hidden Creek golf course is outside the Wiehle transit station development area and should remain ineligible for new housing, lest we both lose our precious green open space plus overburden our roads and other infrastructure–such as our public schools–even more.
Restonians already know what it’s like to crawl along Reston Parkway in the morning or late afternoon. But more traffic will be coming there, too, from the 20-story condominium that has been approved for the corner of Temporary Road and Reston Parkway. That area was zoned for high density living in the Reston Master Plan because it is within the Reston Town Center Transit Station Area.
Wheelock Communities bought a golf course that is supposed to remain as open space. They knew it when they bought it, and we as a community need to work to keep the zoning ordinance and the Reston Master Plan as they are in order to protect all of it as open space. Based on the information on their website, Wheelock’s strategy as a developer is to buy, build, sell, and leave. They have no long-term interest in Reston.
if Hidden Creek Country Club becomes yet another housing development, Reston National Golf Course may suffer the same fate. Chipping away at one big parcel of green space will set a precedent for destruction of other open space within Reston and Fairfax County.
Speculative developers will not stop trying to pave over green spaces when they can make millions by building more housing. Let’s not give them an opening to take away our green space in Reston. If Wheelock does not have the vision for how to make Hidden Creek the gem of a golf and tennis club that it should be, then they should sell to those who do have the vision.
We have enough planned development coming to Reston. Let’s not allow additional unplanned development. Learn what you can do.
Three big-name developers are partnering to build the “Midline,” a mixed-use project with 1.8 million square feet of development near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.
If approved, the project by JBG, EYA and Chevy Chase Land Co. would bring 1.2 million square feet of residential development, a senior living center, 260,000 square feet of office and up to 250,000 square feet of retail to 17.5 acres east of Wiehle Avenue, south of Sunset Hills Road, and west of Michael Faraday Drive.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission will vote on the project on September 27. A vote by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is likely in October, but an official date has not been scheduled yet.
The plan requires redevelopment of four low-rise office buildings and surface parking. Northern Virginia Community College will relocate to 1821 Michael Faraday Drive, two blocks east of the development. Plans for the relocation of Marymount University are not known.
Four blocks with several buildings are proposed. Block A would include one building with 127 independent units and a 33-bed assisted living facility. The second building would include a 225-unit multi-family building and around 103,870 square feet of other uses. Block B would include a 225-unit multi-family building and around 260,000 square feet of office space. The 14-story office building is the tallest in the development.
The plan for blocks C and D is more flexible, with a mix of multi-family units and townhouses proposed. Overall, the residential portion of the development would serve up to 1,500 residents.
The applicant is also seeking a 21 percent reduction in the number of required parking spaces. State law allows reductions if proposed development has high density and is nearby a current or planned Metrorail station.
In an Aug. 30 report, staff from the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning said the location of townhouses along Reston Station Boulevard is “a central site design concern.” Reston’s comprehensive plan envisions the street as a main street with ground floor retail. The report also notes that lawns for townhouse owners are so small they may be hard to maintain.
In addition to contributions to the county’s road fund, the applicant will provide $40,000 for four new traffic signal preemption devices near the development and around $1.5 million for the county’s school fund. Estimates indicate the development would generate between 123 and 148 new students.
The Midline project adds itself into a mix of approved and in-progress applications near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.
Photos via handout/Fairfax County Government
The plan calls for redeveloping Lake Anne Fellowship House, an affordable housing community for seniors on North Shore Drive, into a new, eight-story, multi-family building for seniors. The 240-unit building will include a crafts room, community gardens, and a garage. A terrace will overlook North Shore Drive.
The remainder of the property will include up to 72 market-rate, for-sale townhouses to help finance the senior housing construction project.
In July, the DRB suggested a series of changes, including redesigning the southeast corner of the multi-family building away from North Shore Drive, redesigning the building’s parking garage, rethinking the placement of a row of townhouses away from North Shore Drive, more landscaping, and more contemporary architecture that uses flat roofs, rooftop terraces and metal canopies.
Fellowship Square Foundation and the Community Preservation and Development Corporation redesigned the multifamily building by shifting the parking garage from the base of the building to allow for more landscaping and further distance from North Shore Drive.
The garage wall will be screened by louvers or metal panels. To address concerns about the placement of two rows of townhouses, the applicant plans to increase the space between some rows by three feet. Architectural designs will also include more modern and contemporary elements.
The meeting is set for 7 p.m. at 12001 Sunrise Valley Drive in the conference center. The project will go before the county’s Planning Commission on October 4 and the county’s Board of Supervisors on October 16.
Photos via Reston Association/Handout
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.
Foulger-Pratt, a Potomac-based developer, is seeking to build a 1.5 million-square-foot project on Reston Association Drive, joining a long list of developers honing in on land near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.
The project, one of several major mixed-used developments near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, will include up to 907 residential units, an assisted living facility, an office building and ground-level retail. The developer envisions contributing funds for the right-of-way road the Soapstone Drive overpass and construction of the southern portion of the new roadway.
The Washington Business Journal reported that the project is expected to cost $400 million. The existing office park, which contains seven office buildings built in the early 70s and 80s, will be transformed into a transit-oriented development with eight development blocks. The project is located on the north side of Sunrise Valley Drive, west of its intersection with Wiehle Avenue.
Plans for each development block are as follows:
- Block 1: An assisted living facility on the southwestern corner of the site along Sunrise Valley Drive and the western side of the future Soapstone Drive overpass. The eight-floor building will include 210 units. A healing garden will be available for use by patients, visitors, and staff.
- Blocks 2, 3 and 4: A combination of townhouses and two-over-two flats totaling roughly 138 units. A central green, gateway park, cycle park, and neighborhood park are also proposed.
- Block 5: A residential condominium with 154 units with a “variety of price points to encourage first time home buyers,” according to the project’s statement of justification. The ground floor will contain 6,000 square feet of on-site retail. A five-story office is also pitched as an alternative to the residential building.
- Block 6: A 14-story office building with 6,166 square feet of ground-level retail and five levels of parking. Outdoor plazas with seating and other amenities are also planned.
- Block 7: A seven-story residential building with 360 units and a fenced dog park.
- Block 8: Around 45 units, likely a combination of townhouses and two-over-two flats. A garden park is located in this block.
In documents submitted to the county, the developer indicated the project is intended to be a “community-focused site with an abundance of quality open spaces intended to invite and activate those living, working and visiting there.”
“By placing parks of a variety of scales throughout the site, all are invited to travel throughout the community exploring the different spaces. The entire site becomes the ‘backyard,’ a shared space meant for the community to gather, play and relax,” according to the development plan.
Photos via Handout/Fairfax County Government
A redevelopment plan before the county could transform Isaac Newton Square, the aging office park at Sunset Hills Road and Wiehle Avenue, into a residential neighborhood with around 2,100 residential units.
Peter Lawrence Cos. and MRP Realty submitted plans in late August to redevelop two-thirds of the office park with 2.8 million feet of development, nearly 90 percent of which would be residential. The development would be spread across roughly 32 acres that Peter Lawrence Cos. controls.
“We spent a lot of time developing the project vision, and we’re proud of it,” said Andrew Painter, the development team’s legal representative. The plan is in line with the county’s comprehensive plan, which has long envisioned the office park’s future as entirely residential. The project is north of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.
Painter told Reston Now that the development team intentionally designed the project to serve as a transition between the higher density areas close to the Metro Station and established residential communities towards the north and east of the property. The site is bounded by Hidden Creek Country Club, a gas station and a fire station, which will be rebuilt.
“Building heights will generally taper down as one moves from south to north, and our planned “Nature’s Edge” area rings the proposed neighborhood, which provides a landscaped buffer and path along our northern and western edges adjacent to Hidden Creek,” Painter said.
Residential units will be a mix of apartments, condominiums, flats and townhouses, which 14 percent of the total number of units being set aside as affordable units.
The proposed neighborhood will contain up to 10 development blocks with a mix of residential, retail and office uses. The heights of buildings and the intensity of the development will taper off near the existing woodlands near the southern edge of the property.
The developer plans to preserve the property’s row of mature Willow Oak trees, by creating a new “Willow Oak Park.” The 1.45-acre park will serve as the “heart of the neighborhood’s public realm,” according to the proposal.
A full-size athletic field open for active recreation activities will also be included in the plan. Roughly 25 parking spaces will be reserved for field visitors during designated times. A neighborhood green, just under half an acre, will sit next to the athletic field.
A 0.75-acre east-west pedestrian walkway, called the “community mews,” will serve as a mid-block crossing connecting Wiehle Avenue and parcels to the west. Unlike the athletic field and community green, this “mews” will be reserved for residents only. The plan also calls for “The Commons,” the neighborhood’s commercial center.
The developer will create a connection to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. Infrastructure on the property will also support cycling.
Although an overwhelming majority of the development is residential, 260,000 square feet of office uses will be present nearest to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station. Roughly 68,884 square feet of retail uses are also proposed.
The plan hasn’t been accepted for review by the county yet, according to Brian Worthy, a spokesperson for the county.
Photos via Google Maps and Andrew Painter
The Fairfax County Office of Community Revitalization and the Reston Urban Design Advisory Group are seeking feedback on draft guidelines for the urban design and streetscape details for new development in Reston’s Transit Station Areas.
During a community meeting on September 24 at 6 p.m. in the Reston Community Center, local officials will seek input from the public. Written comments can also be submitted to [email protected].
The design guidelines are formulated to support the implementation of the Reston Comprehensive Plan, which was last amended in 2014. They will apply to all properties located within the boundaries of Reston’s three TSAs and help applicants and designers proposing to develop in TSAs by providing specific goals. Precise standards will not be prescribed, according to a county statement.
Following the first community meeting, additional meetings will be held with the Reston Association’s Design Review Board, Reston Planning & Zoning Committee and the Reston Town Center Association in September.
The comprehensive plans aim to establish a sense of place for TSAs while respecting surrounding neighborhoods, aims to improve connectivity and foster walkability and seeks to design sustainable environments.
Draft guidelines are available online. Printed packets are also available for view in the following locations:
- Hunter Mill District Office (North County Government Center) – 1801 Cameron Glen Drive, Reston, VA 20190
- Reston Association Member Services – 12001 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, VA 20191
- Public Art Reston – 12001 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, VA 20191
- Reston Library – 11925 Bowman Towne Drive, Reston, VA 20190
- Herndon Municipal Offices – 777 Lynn Street, Herndon, VA 20170
- Herndon Library – 768 Center Street, Herndon, VA 20170
Map via Fairfax County Government
Norton Scott, a McLean-based developer, plans to build a $50 million condominium north of Reston Town Center. The building will be located on the north side of New Dominion Parkway, roughly 300 feet west of its intersection with Fountain Drive.
The 59-unit building will include up to 15 stories and a three-level underground parking garage. According to The Washington Business Journal, the units will be on sale for between $850,000 and $1 million.
The plans, which was accepted by the county on August 17, are below.
Two residential projects are up for a vote by the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee on Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the North County Government Center.
Woodfield Acquisitions is seeking to redevelop Roland Clarke Place, a 3.6-acre of land less than one mile from both the Wiehle-Reston East and Reston Town Center Metro Stations. The developer seeks to replace the office building on 1941 Roland Clark Place with 310 residential units in one building. The second office building at 1950 Roland Clarke Place would be redeveloped at a later date.
Plans include courtyards, pocket parks, a dog park and a trail that loops around the property. If approved, the project would be developed in two phases. A public hearing date before the Fairfax County Planning Commission is set for October 11.
The committee will also consider a second proposal by Pulte Home Company, LLC to rezone intended for industrial use to allow for planned commercial development. Plans include building 40 single family attached units and a parking garage. The project is located at 12700 Sunrise Valley Drive.
The existing office on the property will remain. Open space amenities include a tot lot, a wildlife observation area, a central green space, and a gathering place with public art for future residents and employees of the office building. According to the application, the plan is intended to transition between existing and planned high-intensity development surrounding the future Herndon Metro Station and single-family houses across Sunrise Valley Drive. A public hearing before the Planning Commission is set for September 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Photo via Google Maps
Pulte Homes Corp. has submitted plans to the county to add residential development to Reston Arboretum, which is located on the southern edge of the Dulles Toll Road at 12700 Sunrise Valley Drive.
The company is seeking to rezone the property from industrial uses to planned development commercial, which allows for office and residential uses. Under the current proposal, 44 single-family attached residential units and a parking garage.
The four-story office building on the property will remain. It was built in 1998 and contains 95,600 square feet. According to JBG Smith’s website, the property is within walking distance from the Herndon-Monroe Park & Ride and the future Herndon station.
A public hearing on the proposal is set for September 13 at 7:30 p.m. before the Fairfax County Planning Commission. The county’s planning and zoning staff will release their assessment of the project on August 29.
Map via Google Maps
The deep blue and green colors of the EXO at Excelsior Park, which houses two 16-story residential towers, has attracted some attention from passersby, including some raised eyebrows.
At R2L:Architects, the design firm behind the 457-unit apartment building on the Oracle campus, wanted exactly that distinguishing quality from other nearby projects.
“We wanted to come up with something that isn’t boring and that has a lot of variety,” said Lee Rubenstein, a principal with R2L:Architects.
The building includes a glass facade that automatically tints based on the direction of the sun. Tenants can also control how tinted they want the glass to be. The EXO is also LEED gold.
The color, which shifts from green to deep blue depending on the viewer’s perspective, was intentionally selected to help make the building standout.
“It makes a statement for sure, in addition to just having actual color. There are so many buildings out there and they don’t have much chroma at all. This punctuates the landscape,” Rubenstein said.
Because the site plan was already approved, the architecture firm was charged with doing something creative with a limited framework, he said.
The EXO rests on a landscaped parking plinth. The space between the two towers contains outdoor seating, dining areas, a swimming pool and landscaping. It also has 642 parking spaces.
Readers, we’d love to hear what you think of the color and design of the building in the comments below.
Photos by Fatimah Waseem and vantagehill
A developer is seeking to build a 128,000-square-foot multifamily residential building on the north side of Dominion Parkway.
According to plans submitted to the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning on May 14, the multifamily building is planned between the Winwood Children’s Center and the Paramount condominiums on Fountain Drive.
Preliminary plans include 59 multifamily dwelling units, serving roughly 124 people, on the 0.8-acre site. The developer, NS Reston LLC, also plans to build a three-level underground garage with 131 spaces and six surface parking spaces near the main entrance of the property.
“The proposed multifamily building will be an attractive addition to the perimeter of the Town Center Urban Core and provide additional residential units to reinforce the live, work, play environment of the Town Center and the surrounding area,” wrote John McGranahan Jr, who represents the applicant.
Proposed amenities include a rooftop terrace with a swimming pool and 0.25 acres — thirty percent of the property — will remain as open space.
Access to the property is planned from two entrances along New Dominion Parkway. The application has also requested a waiver to reduce the number of required loading spaces from three to two.
The application has not yet been accepted for formal review by the county, said Brian Worthy, a spokesman for Fairfax County government. Once accepted, applications are scheduled for public hearings and other steps of the planning and zoning process.
Photos via Google Maps
The funding request for the $169.2 million project comes roughly five years after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a hybrid design for the project, which will provide an additional overpass over the Dulles Toll Road and ease traffic on south Reston roads.
Major development in the Wiehle-Reston East area, including Comstock’s Reston Station mixed use project, is expected to generate additional traffic on area roadways.
Local and state officials have long identified the need for the project, which aims to alleviate bottlenecks along Wiehle Avenue at Sunset Hills Road and Sunrise Valley Drive and improve connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists to the Wiehle-East Metrorail Station.
According to preliminary plans, the new road will include a three-lane cross section with one travel lane in each direction and a two-way, left-turn-only lane. Other features include five-foot wide bicycle lanes on each side, a five-foot wide sidewalk on the west side and a 10-foot wide path on the east side.
Construction is not anticipated until after 2023. Additional design, engineering and environmental work is expected to continue through 2022. In 2014, the county’s board placed the project on its list of high priority projects for 2015 to 2020.
A funding gap of $25 million remains to complete the project. Requests to the Commonwealth Transportation Board have been made. Construction is expected to cost $45 million.
The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority will review the request, which is one of 60 candidate transportation projects in the area. NVATA is seeking public comment on the project on May 10 at 3040 Williams Drive, Suite 100 in Fairfax. Online comments can be submitted through Sunday, May 20.
During the company’s quarterly earnings conference call Wednesday, BXP Chief Executive Officer Owen Thomas lauded a recent lease signed with Fannie Mae for the mixed use project. Fannie Mae will anchor two office building in the project, which also includes 3.5 million square feet of development.
The new mixed use project is designed to complement “the amenity base and community environment of the highly successful Reston Town Center,” Thomas said.
Fannie Mae plans to occupy the building in the first quarter of 2022. A mid-sized hotel, more than 600,000 square feet of residential development and 90,000 square feet of ground floor retail is planned on the site.
BXP President Doug Linde said he was pleased by the strength of Reston Town Center, which he called “a magnet for private sector contractors and technology tenants.”
“We have recently signed two expansion and extension deals with technology tenants for 112,000 square feet. One tenant grew 30% and the other grew 40 percent. And we are negotiating a third expansion and extension this time growing 115,000 square feet tenant to a 160,000 square feet. We are also in early renewal discussions with tenants for more than 300,000 square feet of space,” Linde said.
The company opened the Signature, a residential high-rise in Reston Town Center, in January.
So far, 11 percent of residential units or 86 of the 508 units are leased, Linde said.
Overall, the real estate investment trust reported an income of $176 million, up from $97 million this time last year.