Representatives of Bozzuto Group again brought a presentation about redevelopment of St. Johns Wood to Reston’s Design Review Board during a work session Tuesday.
Again, DRB members expressed the same concerns — too big.
Tuesday’s one-hour session was the latest in a long series of meetings about the proposed redevelopment of the North Reston residential community. After the project was deferred in April, the redevelopers brought new sketches to the DRB as they continue to work toward adding dwelling units to the property.
The previous proposal that had been brought for consideration featured featured 481 multifamily units within two buildings on the 14.3-acre North Point property. Two options presented by architectural firm KTGY at Tuesday’s session reconfigured the buildings and brought the number of units down to 441 or 454.
One option features a street between the two buildings, while the other has a central tree grove.
After the 20-minute presentation, members of the DRB panel shared their thoughts. The massing of the project remained a major hangup for the group, as it was in April and before. Members of the DRB asked if there is any way the developers can lower their threshold for the number of units they need on the property.
“You might have chopped off a unit here or a unit there, but these are still 450-whatever-plus units,” said Richard Newlon, DRB vice chair. “If we’re going to get anywhere with this, we have to talk turkey here and say ‘Where’s your cutoff point?’ If 450 is absolutely the smallest you can make it and still make a profit out of this project, then we’ve got a real problem.”
Some members of the panel said they would be more comfortable with the proposal if the developers would consider breaking the massing into several smaller buildings, such as what is currently on the property. Rohit Anand, of KTGY, said that may not be feasible, considering the use of parking structures in the property plan.
“People want parking in proximity to their home, and these schemes provide that,” Anand said, adding that creating smaller parking garages for each unit is also not desirable.
Brian Winterhalter, of Cooley LLP, representing Bozzuto, asked the panel if they could make a determination on what is more important to address — the height of the buildings or the overall footprint.
“It seemed like your concern was that you would prefer it to have less footprint,” Winterhalter said. “There’s only so much we can do in terms of narrowing the footprint and reducing the height at the same time.”
In response, DRB members said the concern was more about scale and overall size, not specifically about height or footprint. Winterhalter later said if some specific parameters of acceptability could be provided by DRB, the developer could begin moving in that direction.
Ken Kneuven, DRB lay member, said someone will have to break before an agreement can ever happen.
“One side or the other is going to have to give,” he said, imploring the developer to figure out how much it can do to move toward more common ground. “Otherwise we’re going to have another workshop and another workshop and continue to waste your time [and ours].”
The work session was recorded and will be made available on Reston Association’s YouTube channel this week.
DRB Meets Tonight — A work session about the St. Johns Wood redevelopment will precede the regular meeting of Reston’s Design Review Board tonight. [Design Review Board]
Cooper’s Hawk Job Fairs Today and Wednesday — Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant (12130 Sunset Hills Road) plans to open next month, but it must hire more than 200 people before then. Its last two hiring events will be today and Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day, at 12100 Sunset Hills Road Suite 130. [Reston Now]
Former SLHS Coach Takes Over at U. of Arizona — Matt Blamey, who was the head lacrosse coach at South Lakes High School for seven years, was named last week as the new head coach of the University of Arizona’s men’s lacrosse program. [CollegeCrosse.com]
Proposed Zoning Changes To Be Discussed — Fairfax County is hosting an open house Wednesday night at the Herrity Building (12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax) to discuss proposed zoning changes including those to short-term rentals, e.g. Airbnb, and rear-yard coverage such as patios. [Fairfax County]
Loudoun County Shoots Down Metro Tax — The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously last week on a resolution to oppose a one-cent regional sales tax. County staff have put together an “alternative capital funding scenario” to the tax. [Loudoun Times-Mirror]
Photo courtesy Richard Hernandez
After being deferred “indefinitely” in April, the proposal to redevelop St. Johns Wood is again showing signs of life.
Reston’s Design Review Board will meet with representatives of the Bozzuto Group for a work session Tuesday evening. The discussion is scheduled for 6 p.m., prior to the start of the DRB’s regular meeting, at RA headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).
According to Mike Leone, Reston Association communications director:
“The work sessions are an opportunity for the Design Review Board members and the applicants to discuss and suggest revisions to a set of proposed plan. Unlike the full DRB board meetings, it is an informational meeting that allows everyone to ‘roll their up their sleeves’ and work together on ideas. The Design Review Board does not render any decisions at these sessions; therefore, no minutes are taken. The applicant does provide notice to the adjacent property owners and affected parties, so the work sessions are held as an open meeting so members can observe the sharing of new ideas and plans.”
Leone said RA has requested new drawings for the plan from the applicant but hasn’t yet received them.
The most recent redevelopment proposal from Bozzuto featured 481 multifamily units within two buildings on the 14.3-acre North Point property, where there are currently 250 multifamily units in nine buildings. At a work session with DRB in April, just days before the plan was deferred, both DRB members and residents spoke out about what they see as an imposing development being planned for a residential neighborhood.
“How do you insert this relatively high-density anomaly into an existing setting, an existing neighborhood that doesn’t have anything like this at all, and [the development] obviously scares people?” DRB member Neal Rosenberry said at that meeting. “It’s literally scary to think of this thing landing in that neighborhood up there.”
Leone said the work session will be recorded and the video will be available on Reston Association’s YouTube channel later this week.
Developer Bozzuto is deferring “indefinitely” its application to redevelop St. Johns Wood, according to information sent out by Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ office Thursday afternoon.
Hudgins’ office says the community meeting on the project that had been scheduled for Tuesday is being canceled, and a representative for the supervisor said it is her understanding that “all meetings” regarding the proposal are off the table.
The plan was scheduled to go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission on May 25, following additional meetings with Reston’s Planning & Zoning Committee and Design Review Board on May 15 and 16. Meetings with the P&Z Committee and DRB this week featured many comments against the project from North Point residents, and the DRB in particular was critical of many elements of the project.
Brian Winterhalter of Cooley LLP, the commercial real-estate attorney representing Bozzuto, said at Tuesday’s DRB meeting that his team would follow up about scheduling a work session with the Design Review Board. However, he expressed disappointment with how the process was progressing.
The proposal has been in the works since 2014 and has seen numerous changes in that time. The current plan calls for 481 multifamily units within two buildings on the 14.3-acre property.
Winterhalter has not responded to requests for comment.
The last time North Point residents addressed Bozzuto about the developer’s proposed St. Johns Wood redevelopment, the catchphrase was “size matters.”
At Monday night’s meeting of the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee meeting, the message was tweaked — with a nod to Johnnie Cochran.
“In order for the developer to pack in the desired density, to squeeze in nearly double the current number of units and who knows how many residents, the developer again proposes a design that simply does not fit,” said Linda Platt, one of several members of Reclaim Reston who spoke in succession in a coordinated effort to fight the latest proposal. “And if it does not fit, they must quit.”
That rhyming phrase was repeated throughout Platt’s statement and was invoked by other speakers as well as community members had the chance to speak in response to Bozzuto during the latest informational meeting on the proposal. Bozzuto was presenting to the Planning & Zoning Committee for the sixth time since the project was first proposed in 2014; tonight, the proposal goes before Reston’s Design Review Board for the sixth time as well.
Brian Winterhalter of Cooley LLP, the commercial real-estate attorney presenting the plan on behalf of Bozzuto, told the committee Monday that the proposal to put 481 mid-rise multifamily units within two buildings is suitable for a property that was originally marked in the Reston Master Plan for high-density development.
There are currently 250 multifamily units on the 14.3-acre property.
The redevelopment proposal features 33.6 units per acre, which classifies it as medium-density. Winterhalter said the proposal is for about 60 percent one-bedroom units, with a third of the units having two-bedrooms and only about 5 percent with three bedrooms.
The issue that continued to raise the most questions from members of the Planning & Zoning Committee is the possibility of increased traffic congestion in the area, particularly at the intersection of Reston Parkway and Center Harbor Road. Jake Hovermale, the committee’s first associate member, said no matter what traffic figures are provided that claim there will be little impact, he has a hard time believing there won’t be backups.
“Anywhere between the a.m. peak hours and the p.m. peak hours, there’s an increase in trips [into and out of St. Johns Wood] between 240 percent and 280 percent,” Hovermale said, citing information in the proposal’s traffic study. “I just don’t see how you can increase it by that many trips, and have the infrastructure that exists today, [and] not really piss people off.”
Winterhalter countered by saying there is already a large amount of traffic flowing through the intersection of Reston Parkway and Center Harbor Road today without any congestion. Adding a relatively small percentage of traffic from the complex, he said, would not affect that flow adversely.
But John Mooney, speaking on behalf of the Hampton Pointe Condo Association, claimed the traffic study used for the proposal was “inadequate” and “flawed.”
“[The traffic study used by Bozzuto] uses 2020 as their time horizon and seriously narrows their inquiry’s geographical scope,” he said. “It fails to consider the traffic impact on the SJW area of all future development in the three Metro station areas.”
Residents also continued to express their concerns about the overall height and mass of the project. Winterhalter showed images of medium- and high-density residential structures at Lake Anne, Tall Oaks, Hunters Woods, South Lakes and even elsewhere in North Point, and once again said St. Johns Wood is classified for such development under the Reston Comprehensive Plan, which was modified in 2014 and 2015. In addition, he said, the proposed height of the redevelopment is comparable to that of current buildings at the apartment complex.
Dabney Narvaez, though, was among the residents who spoke to say this development does not fit within the quaint surrounding neighborhood, and that all of Reston should be paying attention to what happens.
“You are setting a precedent which will affect not just the immediate neighborhood, but all of Reston,” she said. “Any residential area in Reston will be fair game for development of the kind Bozzuto is proposing here.”
The proposal is set to go before the Planning & Zoning Committee and the Design Review Board again next month, on May 15 and 16. A Fairfax County Planning Commission hearing on the project remains scheduled for May 25.
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.
A half-dozen residents have thrown their hats in the ring for an At-Large seat on the Reston Association Board of Directors, and they faced the community Thursday in a candidate forum at RA headquarters.
Roberto Anguizola, Eric Carr, Mike Collins, Charles Dorfeuille, Ven Iyer and HeidiAnne Werner are all vying for the three-year term on the board. The forum provided them an opportunity to tout their abilities, as well as their goals if they should be elected.
When contemplating the 2018-19 Reston Association budget, which will be approved later this year, candidates said there is a wide number of factors that must be considered. Collins, who was an RA board member from 2010-2013, said it is important for the board to get back to fundamentals.
“We’re not doing the very basic thing we have to do, and that’s maintaining our facilities to the best of our ability,” he said. “That’s going to require laser-like focus by the board, they are going to have to be intimately familiar with our operations, and they have to just say no.”
Dorfeuille, an eight-year resident and a member of the Community Engagement Advisory Committee, advocated for a line-by-line analysis of the budget that separates essential items from non-essential.
“We are spending too much for what I believe we as a community are being given,” he said. “What is non-essential, we look at in the line-by-line review of what we can reduce or what we can de-prioritize.”
“Our assessments have nearly doubled in the last 15 years — this is not sustainable and it is not warranted,” he said. “In another 30 years, the Reston as we know it now will only be affordable for the wealthy top.”
Carr, a former cluster president with over 20 years of nonprofit and government management experience, said a long-term capital plan is needed so the RA board can “get [its] arms around” the existing capital assets that need to be addressed.
“We think about these 40-, 50-year assets we own in two-year budget cycles,” he said. “That doesn’t make sense and it’s very hard to project into the future, and we continue to get surprised when pools fall into disrepair or when pathways need maintenance.”
Werner, a lifelong Restonian who works as an association manager, said natural environments need to be protected from development. She added that services, programs and facilities available to Reston Association members need to be optimized.
“This really is to put a focus on our facilities, to make sure they are in the proper maintenance and attractive for members to use,” she said.
Anguizola, a trial attorney who has lived in Reston since 2008, said his top priority would be to address aging infrastructure in the community. He touted partnerships with nonprofit groups and businesses as a way to achieve that goal without increasing assessments.
“Most of the recreational facilities and amenities in Reston were built in the late ’70s, early ’80s,” he said. “They need attention, and that’s going to cost money to keep them at the level everyone expects them to be at.”
Collins said the board must do a better job of managing its staff and analyzing its needs in the effort to keep costs down.
“The board needs to have firm controls on the budget from the get-go, they need to be willing to get into the details, get behind the top-level numbers and again, say no,” he said. “Sometimes we don’t need a new truck, we don’t need a new computer system. I hate getting into the weeds like that, but apparently we need to do it.”
Beyond the budget, candidates were asked questions on issues including engagement of the community, how conflicts of interest should be addressed and adherence to the Reston Master Plan. The issue of handling continued development and population growth in Reston is also one of great importance, candidates agreed.
“We can’t look at, for example, St. Johns Wood having people go outside the Master Plan to expand and increase the population density in places that it does not allow,” Dorfeuille said. “The Master Plan doesn’t just give guidelines for developers to increase the population, make it more dense — it also gives us a powerful tool.”
Carr said the future cannot be predicted, only shaped — and he said the Master Plan can be altered, if necessary, to help do so.
“If we don’t like that vision of the future, we change that vision of the future,” he said. “We need to be proactive and we need to take strong leadership to change that Master Plan to something that suits Reston as it is today.”
Iyer said Reston must remember it has the power to stand up to developers.
“The most common way people lose power is by thinking they don’t have any,” he said. “We do have a voice, and RA is on the frontline of that, so it is very important for us to organize our power and our ability together. The very first step toward a movement is to come up with a voice and speak out against [development at] St. Johns Wood, the Lake Newport soccer proposal, and [development at] Reston National Golf Course.”
Anguizola is the president of Reston Soccer and a driving force behind the Lake Newport soccer proposal, which has been tabled indefinitely by the RA board after a pushback from the community. He was the target of a question from an audience member regarding a potential conflict of interest he would have when it comes to the proposal.
“I think it’s impossible to have folks that are deeply engaged in the community that won’t have a potential conflict of interest when they are going to take office,” he said. “The right thing to do is disclose it in all of the annual disclosure documents, and number two, recuse yourself. … If that issue comes before me, or any other Reston Soccer issue, I will recuse myself from that, and every other candidate that has those issues should as well.”
When asked about the recommendations made in StoneTurn’s review of the Tetra/Lake House purchase, Iyer said he wants to see the Tetra Review Committee disbanded and the pro bono offer by community-based Mediaworld re-addressed. Two other candidates, Anguizola and Werner, said it is time to move on.
“We’ve made a bad decision — I don’t think anyone in this whole room is ‘yay’ for the Tetra deal — but we do have some recommendations,” Werner said. “There does have to be some accountability, but Reston does need to move forward and figure out, now that we have this property, how do we utilize it to the best of our association’s ability?”
Carr, who is chair of the Tetra Review Committee, said getting a firm handle on the Lake House’s financials is one of the main goals he has for this upcoming budget.
“We need to disabuse ourselves of the notion that this is ever going to be a profit center for us. It isn’t. It’s going to cost us a lot of money, but we need to know exactly how much money it’s going to cost us,” he said. “We need to accept at some point that it isn’t going to fill our coffers, and we need to budget for that.”
Candidates also answered questions about traffic, pool usage, staff accountability and more. The forum can be viewed in full on Reston Association’s YouTube channel.
Voting will continue through April 3 and can be done by mail or at reston.org.
Arlene Krieger and John Mooney, the two candidates in the race for the North Point seat on the Reston Association Board of Directors, made their cases Wednesday during a candidate forum at the Lake House.
The venue itself was a major topic of discussion during the event. The Lake House has been the subject of a great deal of community debate since its controversial purchase and costly renovation by Reston Association.
Krieger, a longtime community activist, said Reston Association’s board should have recognized from the start that it lacked the expertise to make such a deal.
“It is very, very foolish to initiate a plan when you have no idea what you’re doing and you don’t even know that you have no idea what you’re doing,” she said. “This thing should never have been taken on by this particular group of people. We need to recruit from the community experts who know what they’re doing, [and] we need to include them from the first day anything is planned.”
Mooney, a senior manager in Arlington County for 17 years, said major deals such as the Lake House purchase require an ability to do proper analysis from the get-go.
“[It’s about] making sure that we have the analytic capacity within Reston Association to deal with complex issues, to do upfront, thorough investigation of the issues so that we don’t make false starts and big mistakes,” he said. “We need that both for the renovations and the programming for income, we need advice on both of those.”
Mooney made similar statements when asked about the Lake Newport soccer field renovation project, which has been tabled indefinitely by the RA board after strong outcry from the community.
“When a community process becomes very divisive, so that fruitful dialogue can’t occur, the board needs to decisively and quickly stop the process,” he said. “We need careful and thorough analysis of complex proposals before endorsing them. … I think that could have been analyzed better, and to me it indicates an improvement the Association can make.”
Krieger said the community has “totally and completely made up its mind” on the soccer project, and RA stumbled out of the starting blocks by not including them in the discussion from Day One.
“The mistake Reston Association made again is that they started a project 10 months before the community and the affected parties knew about the project,” she said. “They once again underestimated the power of the community, and that’s why they got themselves again in so much trouble.”
Krieger said the community should always be involved from the outset of a project, and that she would work to create an ad hoc telecommunications committee in the attempt to better that communication. While Mooney agreed that community dialogue is important, he said it’s also important to remember that some projects need to be vetted before involving residents.
“[The community wants] the board to winnow issues down, to structure issues, so the community doesn’t waste time,” he said. “Then you engage the community fruitfully, otherwise the community becomes frustrated and will walk away from the whole process.”
Both Krieger and Mooney have been involved in the fight against redevelopment at St. Johns Wood, though that was a source of disagreement for them in Wednesday’s forum. Mooney cited his work on a critical analysis of the proposal that helped bring it to a stop; Krieger, though, said Mooney didn’t do as much as he claims.
“The reports were a composite of everyone else’s research,” she said. “The only original thing that John did [was when] I assigned John to do a traffic study at the Sept. 14 meeting. I figured out how to get this before the Board of Directors, nobody else could figure that out.”
Mooney said he was “astounded” by Krieger’s claims.
“What I did was not a composite of other people’s work,” he said. “It was the result of 80 hours-plus of careful analysis of the Reston Master Plan and the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan and identifying in very particular, quantified ways how this did not comply with the Reston Master Plan.”
The candidates also answered questions on assessment rates, transparency, potential golf course redevelopment and more. The forum can be viewed in full on the Reston Association YouTube channel.
The candidate who wins the race will serve the remaining two years of a term being vacated by Dannielle LaRosa, who announced in December she would step down. Voting will continue through April 3.
Candidate forums in the races for the Hunters Woods/Dogwood District and an At-Large seat will take place tonight, at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. respectively, at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).
This is an open letter submitted by residents of the North Point area, addressed to the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee, Reston Design Review Board, Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning, Fairfax County Supervisors, and all affected community members. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now.
The undersigned residents of the North Point area of Reston seek your attention and assistance regarding anticipated changes to plans for redevelopment of the St. Johns Wood apartment complex.
The property is located at the intersection of Reston Parkway and Center Harbor Road. Please assure that Bozzuto Development Company Inc. (Bozzuto) provides all affected reviewing authorities and the public-at-large sufficient time and information to review the revised plans that the developer has indicated will be made.
The numerous submissions by Bozzuto for redevelopment of the property, seeking to convert 250 multi-family garden apartments in nine three-story buildings to 467 new apartments and 44 townhomes, have undergone many changes over several years. County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins currently advises on her website, “Bozzuto is in the process of revising their plan; therefore, the public hearing was deferred until May 25, 2017.” This postponement by County Planning follows deferral of review by the Reston Design Review Board in October 2016 and a statement of non-support for the Bozzuto application by the Reston Association in September 2016.
More recently, the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee calendared the review of a yet-to-be publically released revision of the developer’s redevelopment plans for St. Johns Wood. That meeting is scheduled for March 27.
Despite the rapidly approaching dates for Reston Planning & Zoning Committee review and the County Planning public hearing, to date Bozzuto has not provided the public with any information about changes to its application.
If the changes are not significant, it is unconscionable to withhold public scrutiny of this potentially neighborhood-altering project. If, as is suspected, the changes to the application are significant, it is even more imperative that the public be provided meaningful opportunity to examine and comment. This is particularly important given the troubling deficiencies cited by the Reston Design Review Board and the Reston Association.
The St. Johns Wood project will so greatly affect the quality of life, environment, safety and property values of the North Point area of Reston that the project must be reviewed in the most transparent manner possible. Please help!
Bozzuto’s plan to more than double the size of St. Johns Wood apartments will not go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission later this month.
The plan — which has received heavy criticism from nearby North Reston residents — will turn the 250 units in nine garden-style buildings into 467 units and 46 townhouses. They will be rental units.
That’s scaled down from the starting point for 625 units in 2014 and then 511 units and 51 townhouses in an amended plan earlier this year.
The public hearing, scheduled for Oct. 26, has been moved at Bozzuto’s request to a date TBD, according to the planning committee agenda. This will give Bozzuto more time to tweak the plan and respond to citizen concerns.
Some of the complaints from residents: poor design; too much development too far from the future Reston Town Center Metro station; traffic on Center Harbor and North Village Drive; and parking on side streets.
St. Johns Wood is in a wooded, residential area across from North Point Village Center.
Bozzuto reps have said the complex at Reston Parkway, North Village Road and Center Harbor Road was identified for high density as far back as when Reston was first planned in 1964.
Meanwhile, Reston Association’s Board of Directors has sent a letter to Bozzuto detailing its concerns about the redevelopment plans. RA president Ellen Graves says the St. Johns Wood application “does not conform to the site-specific, detailed and unambiguous recommendations of the Reston Master Plan.”
RA does not have approval capabilities of the application. It can take a stance, but the decision ultimately comes from the Fairfax County Planning Commission and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
See the entire RA document below.
Land use, zoning and future Reston redevelopment projects — including Bozzuto’s proposal to double the size of St. Johns Wood Apartments — are all on the agenda for a special meeting of the Reston Association Board of Directors on Wednesday, Sept. 14.
This is an important time for RA as many redevelopment proposals are before the Fairfax County Planning Commission and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. While RA’s Board has no final say in the plans, the board can wield influence as new residents will, in most cases, be RA members.
Says the Sept. 14 special meeting agenda:
The purposes of this Special Meeting are to provide the RA Board and members with an update and status regarding various Land Use/zoning matters affecting the Reston community and an opportunity for the Board to discuss those matters, including but not limited to:
The County’s and Reston Association’s Land Use/zoning application Review and community input processes;
Current and anticipated Land Use/zoning applications in Reston and, – A draft RA DRB policy related to member notification when the RA Design Review Board receives requests for courtesy review and/or DRB covenant required review of applications related to Fairfax County land use/zoning application projects.
The agenda includes:
Discussion of current & anticipated Land Use/Zoning Applications in Reston (John McBride, Esq., Odin Feldman Pittleman, RA’s land use attorney)
Discussion of Fairfax County’ and Reston Association’s Land Use/Zoning Application Review & Community Input Processes (John McBride, Esq., Odin Feldman Pittleman – RA Land Use Counsel Ken Chadwick, Esq. Chadwick Washington Moriarty & Bunn PC – RA Legal Counsel)
Action on the current St. Johns Wood redevelopment application (Mike Sanio, RA Vice President)
The RA Board will likely make a formal motion to oppose Bozzuto’s current St Johns Wood Redevelopment Application, which has received community pushback for being too large (more than 500 units) and incompatible with its surroundings near North Point Village Center.
RA will likely send a letter outlining its position to the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee, the Fairfax County Planning Commission’s Hunter Mill rep and to Cathy Hudgins, Hunter Mill District Supervisor. St. Johns Wood, which has been redrafted several times, is scheduled for a Fairfax County Planning Commission hearing in late October.
The board will also take action on a new resolution calling for more notice given to neighbors and to RA during the redevelopment process. This resolution comes in response to the St. Johns Wood proposal as many neighbors say they were not adequately notified of the plans.
The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at Reston Association, 12001 Sunrise Valley Dr. There will be a member comment period about 8:15 p.m.
Developer Bozzuto is now on the planning commission’s schedule for Oct. 26.. Most recently it had been scheduled for a hearing on Sept. 29.
The plan to more than double the size of the garden-style development at Reston Parkway and Center Harbor Drive has been on and off the county agenda for more than two years. It has also been reworked several times.
The postponement gives Bozzuto more time to make changes, since the current tweaks are not well-received by area residents, who have spoken up at two recent community meetings.
Bozzuto’s latest plan for the 14-acre space is to turn the 250 units in nine garden-style buildings into 467 units and 46 townhouses. They will be rental units.
That’s scaled down from the starting point for 625 units in 2014 and then 511 units and 51 townhouses in an amended plan earlier this year.
The latest plan was called many things — none of them very affirmative — at the Aug. 4 meeting organized by Bozzuto and the Hunter Mill Supervisors’ office. They said the plan looked like “Inova Fairfax Hospital,” or a “VCU college dorm with a facade like the Mosaic District.”
“This is way too large,” said area resident Gary Fogel. “It is twice what is there now. If you told me 100 more units, that makes sense. But doubling it? That’s insane.”
Many community members also attended Aug. 9’s RA Board Governance Committee, where they further expressed anger about the planned development.
“I’ve been here 29 years,” Turnbridge Cluster resident Mike Kenworthy said to the committee. “I had the understanding Reston had a master plan. … We are becoming the town center and that is unacceptable.”
Bozzuto reps say the complex at Reston Parkway, North Village Road and Center Harbor Road was identified for high density as far back as when Reston was first planned in 1964. The idea was to have critical mass around Reston’s village centers, said Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins. St. Johns Wood is in a wooded, residential area across from North Point Village Center.
But St. Johns Wood is also more than a mile from the future Reston Town Center Metro station. After the Reston Master Plan update in 2014 brought down the density allowances farther from the Metro, Bozzuto reworked St. Johns Wood.
Bozzuto recently scaled down the buildings to five stories that will rise no higher than the current tree line. That’s still to much change for the character of the neighborhood, says Susanne Andersson-Tosado, who has organized a petition protesting the plan.
Among other resident concerns: Traffic and parking. Residents have voiced concern about entrances and exits that would be on Center Harbor Road and also from North Village Road, which is a 10 mph passage through Brown’s Chapel Park.
RA Board members say they understand the residents’ frustrations — and also agree the development is too large and out-of-place — but RA is not responsible for approval of Bozzuto’s plan. That falls to Fairfax County’s Planning Commission, and ultimately, the Board of Supervisors.
“We can influence and irritate,” said At-Large Director Eve Thompson. “But we cannot stop anything. I am concerned that there is this perception that we have the ability to stop development.”
At-Large Director Ray Wedell made an impassioned, almost angry, speech on the subject at a special board meeting on Tuesday. Other board members said they were concerned Wedell was misrepresenting RA’s ability to affect change in this case.
“Ten years from now, I don’t want to see a monstrosity and know that I promoted it,” Wedell said. “That is going to be an eyesore –more traffic, less affordable housing. This is a call for RA to step up and defend the community’s rights. Are we going to stand with the members or not with the members?”
North Point-area residents packed a Reston Association meeting room Thursday to point out a long list of issues they have with plans to redevelop St. Johns Wood apartments.
Project developer Bozzuto has made several changes to its redevelopment plan for the 14-acre garden apartment complex over the last two years. The newest one calls for turning 250 units in nine garden-style buildings into 467 units and 46 townhouses.
That’s scaled down from the starting point for 625 units in 2014 and then 511 units and 51 townhouses in an amended plan earlier this year.
It’s still too much for a quiet, suburban-style residential neighborhood, residents said Thursday. They said the plan looked like “Inova Fairfax Hospital,” or a “VCU college dorm with a facade like the Mosaic District.”
“This is way too large,” said area resident Gary Fogel. “It is twice what is there now. If you told me 100 more units, that makes sense. But doubling it? That’s insane.”
Bozzuto reps say the complex at Reston Parkway, North Village Road and Center Harbor Road was identified for high density as far back as when Reston was first planned in 1964. The idea was to have critical mass around Reston’s village centers, said Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins.
“Basically, it has been underdeveloped,” Hudgins told the crowd. “The only place you will see density [growth] is near the village centers.”
However, the Reston Master Plan update in 2014 brought down the density allowances farther from the Metro. That’s why Bozzuto reworked St. Johns Wood, which is more than a mile from the future Reston Town Center station, from 46 dwelling units per acre to 39 units per acre and now 36 units per acre.
The developer also has changed the facades of the townhouse to have cleaner lines and has scaled the buildings from six stories to five to rise no higher than the current tree line.
That’s still to much change for the character of the neighborhood, says Susanne Andersson-Tosado, who has organized a petition protesting the plan.
“This design is not in compliance with the [Reston] Master Plan,” she said. “The Master Plan says buildings should fit in to the natural area and character of the surrounding areas. This is clearly not in line with that.”
“We have to go back to the drawing board,” she said. “This does not fit the criteria. “
Traffic and parking also concern residents. The Virginia Department of Transportation says Bozzuto cannot build an entrance to the development from Reston Parkway because that would have too much impact on a major road. So entrances and exits would be on Center Harbor and from North Village Road.
Andersson-Toasado and several other speakers pointed out that North Village runs through Browns Chapel Park and has a speed limit of 10 miles per hour, which makes it a terrible access road for a development of this size.
Attorney Brian Winterhalter, representing Bozzuto, said density is needed to support Reston’s village centers. He mentioned the demise of Tall Oaks, which sits mainly empty and will soon be redeveloped into a mostly residential neighborhood. He said that village center’s demise was partly due to not enough residents to shop there.
Stephen Canner, a North Point-area resident, said that is a poor comparison.
“The North Point Giant is thriving,” he said. “They don’t need any more support. This project does not belong in our neighborhood. Find another place.”
While the project is scheduled to go before the Fairfax Planning Commission on Sept. 29, that hearing is likely to be postponed until at least October, Winterhalter said.
Meanwhile, Reston Association says it will review comments from Thursday’s meeting into a “comments document,” which will be sent to the developer, Reston Planning & Zoning Committee, the Fairfax County Department of Planning & Zoning and the RA Design Review Board.
Photo: Overhead look at massing of new St. Johns Wood/Credit: Bozzuto
See the presentation featuring new information from Bozzuto in the document below.
After nearly two years of tweaking plans for redevelopment, The Bozzuto Group may be ready to move forward with plans to nearly double the size of St. Johns Wood Apartments near North Point Village Center.
Bozzuto Group and Reston Association representatives are holding a community meeting Thursday, Aug. 4, 6:30 p.m. at RA (12001 Sunrise Valley Dr.).
After several postponements in 2015, and two postponements in June and July of this year, the proposal has a new Fairfax County Planning Commission hearing date of Sept. 29.
The latest plan is for Bozzuto to redevelop the 250-unit garden apartment complex into 511 multi-family units and 51 townhomes.
That’s actually a scaled-down and lower-rise version from the first plans that were shown to community members more than a year ago.
Bozzuto first submitted an application to Fairfax County in 2014, proposing to redevelop the property with three mid-rise residential buildings containing 625 multi-family units and 34 townhomes.
But based on meetings with Fairfax County, the Reston Association Design Review Board, and members of the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee, the developer revised the plan to reduce the scale and scope of the multi-family residential buildings.
Bozzuto eliminated one of the previously proposed multi-family buildings, adjusted the massing of the two remaining residential buildings to improve their compatibility with surrounding uses, and is making an effort to preserve more wooded area on the property.
Some of the other details:
An additional traffic entrance/exit from the community located at Reston Parkway and Center Harbor Road. An exit on Center Harbor has been added to the current one at North Village Road.
Twelve percent of the units will be set aside for affordable housing, as required by law.
The complex will include a fenced dog run and pocket park.
The townhomes will be located along Center Harbor Road. The two five-story buildings will be located along the north end of the property.
The developers expect the planning phase, once the proposal is approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, will take about two years and construction another two years. No word yet on what would happen to current residents during redevelopment.
There have been community concerns about a development of this size — and the increase in residents and traffic — as it is more than a mile from the Reston Town Center Metro station. That station is slated to open in 2020.
Rendering of St. John’s Wood/Credit: Bozutto.
Developer Bozzuto last week showed Reston residents updated plans to redevelop St. Johns Wood — currently 262 garden-style apartments — into two five-story buildings with 512 units, as well as 46 townhomes.
The meeting was for residents in the general North Point neighborhood. Current residents of St. Johns Wood will have an additional meeting of their own, Bozzuto reps said.
Here are some of the details:
The plan includes an additional traffic entrance/exit from the community located at Reston Parkway and Center Harbor Road. An exit on Center Harbor has been added to the current one at North Village Road.
Twelve percent of the units would be set aside for affordable housing, as required by law.
The townhomes will be located along Center Harbor Road. The two five-story buildings will be located along the north end of the 14-acre property.
The redevelopment had been planned for as many as 625 units in three buildings, but earlier input from Reston Association’s Design Review Board and Fairfax County led to Bozzuto downscaling the scope. RA has commented that the new design is more in keeping with the natural and already built environment of the neighborhood.
The plans have been submitted to the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning. There will be a planning commission review and Board of Supervisors vote, both with public hearings.
The developers expect the planning phase will take about two years and construction another two years.
About 40 residents were at the community meeting to voice some of their concerns.
Traffic. Bozutto said their traffic impact study showed minimal impact. However, residents said they are concerned there will be an increase in accidents and traffic congestion since the new exit lies opposite the entrance/exit of the Hampton Pointe Condominiums and a few hundred feet from the intersection of Reston Parkway/Center Harbor.
Schools. Aldrin Elementary School principal Shane Wolfe voiced concerns that the traffic is already a concern with keeping kids safe as they walk to and from school.
Mature Trees. Several speakers were concerned about the loss of large, mature trees that are in the middle of the property.
To see additional maps and renderings, see this presentation on Reston Association’s website.