Speaking to representatives for developer Bozzuto during an informational session Tuesday night, the vice chair of Reston’s Design Review Board expressed deep concern about the future of the community.
“It’s imperative as we get new developments that they respect the Reston quality, and not allow us to become simply another suburban development,” Richard Newlon said. “Internal overdevelopment will destroy Reston.”
Newlon, who has served on the DRB for 18 years, said roughly 10 percent of the 134 clusters in Reston are owned by developers such as Bozzuto, JBG and Lerner. He said the St. Johns Wood project is a “precedent-producing application.”
“One of my concerns is if all of those 13 or so clusters do the same thing, Reston as Reston exists today is gone,” he said. “Reston as we know it would cease to exist.”
Bozzuto’s redevelopment proposal features 481 multifamily units within two buildings on the 14.3-acre North Point property, where there are currently 250 multifamily units in nine buildings.
Members of Reclaim Reston also spoke during the session, presenting similar information to what they did at a Monday night session with the Planning & Zoning Committee. Members of the DRB agreed with much of what the affected parties shared, including about the apparent lack of context-sensitive design within the proposal.
“Contextualism is a term that suggests an architecture that responds to its surroundings by respecting what’s already there, and I think we have a problem here because I don’t think that’s happening,” Newlon said. “I think you guys [Bozzuto] are going to really have to look at the design and do what you can, both from a massing standpoint and, as we get to it, an architectural standpoint.”
DRB member Neal Roseberry said the potential of having such an imposing development go up in a residential neighborhood is frightening.
“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?” he said. “It’s literally scary to think of this thing landing in that neighborhood up there.”
Brian Winterhalter of Cooley LLP, the commercial real-estate attorney representing Bozzuto, said his team would follow up about scheduling a work session with the Design Review Board. However, he expressed disappointment with how the process is progressing.
“You have approved a plan [in July], we came back with a revised plan. You had very specific comments about the revised plan, which we feel we have addressed very well based on what you gave us, and now we’re back two steps backward,” Winterhalter said. “And so I don’t know what we make of that going forward in terms of the comments we just received.”
Newlon said the plan that was approved in July was a different plan that the board felt was “going in the right direction.”
“This is a whole new project, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “It’s doing, in my mind, all the things we were hoping wouldn’t happen.”
Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins has a community meeting on the proposal slated for next Tuesday at Langston Hughes Middle School. 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.
Screencap via Reston Association YouTube channel; rendering via Bozzuto/KTGY
Bozzuto Management brought the seventh version of its plan to redevelop St. Johns Wood to the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee for a public information session Monday.
Dozens of community members, many sporting yellow “Reclaim Reston” T-shirts, were in attendance to hear what Bozzuto and the P&Z had to say, and to give their thoughts on the matter — which, for the most part, haven’t changed.
The latest incarnation of the developer’s plan for the community features 481 mid-rise, multifamily units in two buildings. All townhouses that had been part of previous designs have been removed from the plan. Heights of the buildings have been reduced “significantly,” according to Brian Winterhalter, Cooley LLP commercial real-estate attorney, who presented the plan to the committee.
In addition, Winterhalter said a tree buffer along Center Harbor Road has been restored in its entirety; setbacks on all sides of the site have been increased; open space in the site plan has been increased to 55 percent; proffers have been added to account for pedestrian and vehicle safety on Center Harbor Road; and a community-gathering area and recreational facilities have been relocated and expanded.
With the changes, several members of the Planning & Zoning Committee said the developers are getting closer to where they need to be. But residents, who have been opposed to the project since it was first proposed in 2014, remained unwavering.
The development would top out at five stories at its center — and the property sits at the highest elevation in North Reston, concerned residents pointed out.
“Size matters when you propose to place a nearly 60-foot-tall building on the highest point of the highest ridge in the area, so it towers above the surrounding neighborhoods,” he said while listing potential problems with the development. “There are more reasons to send the developer again back to the drawing boards — or preferably, back to Maryland.”
Residents and committee members alike questioned a lack of 3D renderings within the plan to better show what the impact on the surrounding community would be. Susan Mooney, a resident representing Reclaim Reston, showed a homemade 3D model to the audience while her husband John gave a presentation spelling out concerns.
In addition, residents expressed displeasure with the architecture of the proposal, which they said doesn’t blend with other dwellings in the area and therefore does not meet Reston’s Comprehensive Plan. Also, residents and some committee members questioned the veracity of a traffic study cited by Bozzuto representatives that claimed there would be minimal effect on congestion in the area.
“You’re almost doubling the people, which doubles the vehicular traffic,” said committee member Jake Hovermale. “I find to hard to believe that you can add that many people but not affect the surrounding area.”
Bozzuto did not present the traffic study within its revised plan. P&Z Committee Chairman Jared Willcox asked that they do so when they return for the April 17 committee meeting.
The plan would see the current tree canopy of 216,000 square feet reduced to 144,000 square feet. Trees that would be lost would be within the property’s interior, developers said, and replantings would see the canopy restored in a decade.
Winterhalter said 49 of the units in the proposed development would be for workforce housing and nine would be designated for affordable housing, per county regulations. He also said Bozzuto would be providing relocation assistance for current St. Johns Wood residents who would lose their homes.
Bozzuto was instructed by the P&Z Committee to address the questions raised during the information session and return with more details at the April meeting. The developer is also scheduled for an April 18 meeting with the DRB. A Fairfax County Planning Commission hearing on the project is slated for May 25.
While the topic was not on the agenda of last week’s Reston Association Board of Directors meeting, Director Ray Wedell spoke for about 10 minutes in regard to a rumor that an email question-and-answer opportunity with Bozzuto was being set up by RA for members.
“To open the door in any manner for any member to directly confront Bozzuto or discuss with Bozzuto anything about this when we have on the table that we’re firmly opposed to this… would be a huge, huge, huge mistake,” Wedell said. “If I’m wrong, at least make the board vote on it to say that.”
CEO Cate Fulkerson said, contrary to the rumor, no email service for members to submit questions for Bozzuto has been created. She did say that in response to a member’s suggestion, there had been discussion about setting up a page on RA’s website for staff to answer member questions about Bozzuto’s proposal.
The most recent proposal for the redevelopment of St. Johns Wood called for two multifamily residential buildings totaling 467 units, along with 44 townhomes. Last year, the Board of Directors unanimously passed a resolution stating it is firmly against the plan. A letter communicating such was sent to the county in September. Considering that, Wedell said, RA should not entertain any further discussion of the proposal.
“If we can’t kill this abomination, we’ll never kill anything,” Wedell said. “And there’s a hell of a lot of abominations coming, as we all know.”
Fulkerson reiterated to Wedell that no work has been done by her or staff to extend the conversation through a Q&A with Bozzuto.
“We have done nothing,” Fulkerson told him. “I want to make it very clear, no email Q&A has been set up [and] nothing has changed on the Association’s website.”
While the RA Board and concerned members have both expressed their displeasure with the proposal to Bozzuto, the developer remains within its rights to propose the redevelopment. That could be approved by the county through waivers and exemptions to the Master Plan. The plan is scheduled to be reviewed again by the Fairfax County Planning Commission on May 25.
Tonight’s meeting of the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee to hear Bozzuto’s latest proposal is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).
Reminder: RA Board Special Meeting Tonight — The special meeting of the Reston Association Board of Directors originally scheduled for March 14 will be held tonight at 6:30 p.m. at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the findings in StoneTurn Group’s review of Reston Association’s purchase of the Tetra/Lake House property and the subsequent overruns in the cost of its renovation. [Reston Association]
New Town Center Restaurant Seeks Employees — Hen Penny is the newest restaurant by Pheast Food Group, a subsidiary of Thompson Hospitality. Management says it is planning to open March 30 at 1820 Discovery St., the former home of Pheast’s BRB. The business is looking to hire cashiers, delivery drivers, cooks and more. [Pheast Food Group]
St. Johns Wood Redevelopment Again on Agenda — The Reston Planning & Zoning Committee will have an informational meeting March 27 at 7:30 p.m. on Bozzuto’s planned redevelopment of St. Johns Wood. [Reston Planning & Zoning Committee]
SLHS Grad’s Team Falls in NCAA Tournament — Princess Aghayere, South Lakes High School Class of 2015, played 12 minutes for the University of Pennsylvania Quakers in their NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament first-round game Saturday against Texas A&M. Penn led by 21 points early in the fourth quarter; however, Texas A&M staged the biggest comeback in women’s tournament history and came out victorious, 63-61. Aghayere scored 2 points and recorded 2 rebounds. [Penn Athletics]
Students Named to All-State Band, Orchestra — The All-Virginia High School Band and Orchestra will both perform April 8 in Manassas. Among the performers will be 77 students from Fairfax County, including several local students. On the All-State Band are Catie George and Mason Moy (South Lakes High School); and Nathan Coughlin, Noah McKee and Emma Rood (Herndon High School). Members of the All-State Orchestra include Herndon High’s James Adams and Ethan Morad. [Fairfax County Public Schools]
Photo via @FunInFairfax on Instagram
Proposed redevelopment of the St. Johns Wood apartments, opposed vehemently by residents and the Reston Association Board of Directors, won’t go before the county Planning Commission for at least a few more months.
The hearing on the topic was first scheduled for 2015, but has had numerous postponements. The most recent scheduled date for the hearing was Jan. 26. However, according to Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ office, property owner Bozzuto is still revising its plan, pushing the date of the hearing back once more.
The proposal originally called for redeveloping the 250-unit garden apartment complex (11500 Olde Tiverton Circle) near North Point Village Center into 625 multi-family units and 34 townhomes. The concept has already been altered multiple times, with the most recent plan calling for 467 units and 44 townhomes.
The Design Review Board deferred action on the project after a November meeting with Bozzuto.
Reston residents have organized a petition opposing the plan, and many attended a community meeting in August 2016 to share with Hudgins and other officials their myriad concerns about the proposed development. Opposition to the project’s aesthetics, increased traffic and impact on the environment was voiced. Bozzuto says the area has always been slated for high-density development.
At an October meeting of the Reston Association Board of Directors, RA’s land-use attorney John McBride explained that while the board and residents can take a stand, they do not have much power in stopping development. According to the Reston Comprehensive Plan, which was modified in 2014 and 2015, McBride said, Bozzuto is within its rights to propose the redevelopment plan.
The Fairfax County website says the date of the public hearing “will be changing to a future date to be determined.” Hudgins’ office says it won’t occur until at least May 25.
The Reston Association Design Board is scheduled to hear Bozzuto Development Company’s new plan for the site at 11500 Olde Tiverton Circle at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The meeting is at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Dr.)
The design proposal has changed several times since the redevelopment was first proposed in 2014, when it started as a plan for 625 apartments. Earlier this year, Bozzuto amended the plan to feature 511 apartments and 51 townhomes.
Still, the plan is looked upon unfavorably by some residents, particularly locals who live in the nearby North Point Village Center. Many of those locals turned out at an August town hall meeting to voice their displeasure over the proposal.
Some residents said the design was too sterile, comparing the look to that of a hospital or a college dorm. Others said it would be too many homes too far from the Metro, increasing traffic, particularly at Center Harbor and North Village Drive.
Bozzuto representatives have countered the negative feedback, noting the proposal fits in with the vision for Reston going back to the 1960s. That area of Reston always has been slated for high-density development, and is currently underdeveloped, they have said.
However, many locals pointed out that the Reston Master Plan was updated in 2014, lessening density allowances. Bozzuto then agreed to revise its design further.
The developer was originally scheduled to present their latest design to the Design Review Board last month. But the developers decided to take more time to tweak the design further after receiving more negative feedback from Reston residents, some of whom started a petition.
The most recent version of the proposal is to transform the property’s 250 residential units in nine garden-style buildings into 467 new apartments and 44 townhomes.
If the Design Review Board approves the proposal, the plan then will go before the Planning and Zoning Commission on Dec. 19 and the Fairfax County Planning Commission on Jan. 26.
Image via Bozzuto
Bozzuto Development and Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins will present a revised proposal for St. Johns Wood Apartments at a community meeting on Wednesday, May 4.
The meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Hunter Mill District Office, 1801 Cameron Glen Dr. in Reston.
The St. Johns Wood plan has been through a couple of changes since first plans were shown to community members more than a year ago.
The 14.3-acre development currently consists of nine three-story, garden-style apartment buildings containing a total of 250 multi-family residential units.
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 single-family attached 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.
The revised plan is now for 511 multi-family units in two buildings, and 51 single-family attached units.
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 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 will take about two years and construction another two years.
No word yet on what would happen to current residents during redevelopment.
The plan is expected to have a Fairfax County Planning Commission public hearing on June 23.
Rendering of St. John’s Wood/Credit: Bozzuto