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by Fatimah Waseem December 1, 2017 at 10:15 am 33 Comments

A plan to bring an assisted-living facility to11501 Sunrise Valley Drive continued to draw ire from nearby residents Thursday night.

At a public hearing before the Fairfax County Planning Commission, residents argued the 70-unit building, which would replace Good Beginnings School, a childcare facility, was incompatible with the surrounding residential area south of Sunrise Valley Drive.

The proposal by Kensington Senior Development calls for a two-to-three story building roughly 65,000 square feet — more than eight times larger than the current structure. The plan also includes a parking garage.

The developer’s representative, Mark Looney of Cooley LLP, said the developer scaled back the plan significantly after several iterations with Reston’s Design Review Board earlier this year. The latest plan reduces the overall mass of the project from 91,000 to 65,000 square feet, including a reduction of 21 units and 34 beds, attempts to create a more residential-style building and eliminates one floor of the building, he said.

Despite these revisions, residents said the project was too large and too overwhelming for the south side of Sunrise Valley Drive, an area they said was intended to remain largely residential and offer a hard break between high-intensity, high-density land uses in other parts of the community.

Jane Anthony, a resident of the Wethersfield Cluster since the late 1970s, said the project was more appropriate for the Dulles Toll Road Corridor where it would not “disturb the peace” of a long-standing residential community and infringe on the privacy of a commercial convenience center near the site.

“It is shoehorned into a very small area… growth is good but not at the expense of the quality of life of residents,” she said.

Others said the project did provide adequate buffering between a townhouse community on Approach Lane that faces the site. Lynwood Patin, a resident who testified in opposition to the plan, said the plan was “intimidating and overbearing,” providing clear “visual access over privacy fences on Approach Lane.”

Looney, however, said residents have not yet accepted the developer’s offer to enhance landscaping and buffering on the street opposite of the site. He also said the privacy concern “works both ways” for nearby residents and those in the living facility.

“The applicant wants to be a good long-term neighbor to them,” he said.

Others like Stephen Cerny, president of the Wethersfield Cluster Association, said the project wholly violated the spirit of Reston’s Master Plan by overwhelming a small site in an area that he said was intended to remain a “status quo” area on the south side of Sunrise Valley Drive.

James Hart, an at-large member of the committee, however, said the plan did not contain any specific guidance that the building was too large or incompatible with the area. The county’s zoning allows the developer to seek a special exception to permit a medical care facility, which is classified as an allowed institutional use, he said.

Looney also noted that the land’s by-right uses could also allow for a more intense, high-density residential development than what Kensington Senior Development has proposed.

The Planning Commission will continue to hear the case in the upcoming weeks. A decision on the petition was deferred Thursday.

Photo via handout

by Fatimah Waseem November 27, 2017 at 4:00 pm 13 Comments

Progress to bring a 91-unit assisted-living facility to 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive continues as Kensington Senior Development goes before Fairfax County’s Planning Commission this week.

A public hearing on the project, which has been reworked over the last several months, is scheduled for Thursday at 8:15 p.m. in the Fairfax County Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway).

The assisted living facility would replace a 7,600-square foot building currently used as a child care center by Good Beginnings School. The building was built in 1978.

The latest plans include significant alterations from previous versions, including a reduction from five stories to either two or three stories. The facility will include up to 105 beds and up to 75 rooms. The plan also includes 67 parking garage spaces and recreations and amenity space for residents on the ground floor patio.

In a staff report, the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning recommended approval of the plan, which was submitted last year.

To sign up to testify at the hearing, visit the commission’s website.  For more information, call the commission’s office 703-324-2865 or by email.

Photo via handout

by Dave Emke October 18, 2017 at 4:00 pm 0

A nature-centered gathering place is planned to open on Sunrise Valley Drive soon.

Rise Well-Being Center will open in a 3,400-square-foot space at 11130 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 150. According to its website, the center will provide “a relaxing garden space for its members as well as unlimited yoga, meditation and wellness classes.”

Construction on the center began last month, according to a post on its Facebook page. The post says the center hopes to open in November.

A floor plan shared on the center’s website shows that in addition to the indoor garden space, the center will have three therapy rooms, a meditation room and one for private meditation and/or napping, a small studio/classroom, and a yoga studio.

Numerous yoga classes are planned, as well as qigong, brain training, mind/body connection and more. Local art will also be on display and several membership options are available, according to the site.

For more information, visit the center’s website or follow it on Facebook.

Image via Rise Well-Being Center website

by Dave Emke September 20, 2017 at 4:15 pm 19 Comments

Despite statements from local residents to the contrary, Reston’s Design Review Board says a proposed senior-living facility on Sunrise Valley Drive will be an appropriate addition to the community.

During their meeting Tuesday (video), the DRB voted 4-2 to give conceptual approval to the Kensington Senior Living project, pending final architectural drawings. The facility would be constructed at 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive, which is the current home of Good Beginnings School.

After previous designs for the property were for a building of up to 91,000 square feet and five stories, the developers have brought their proposal down to about 65,000 feet and two stories. However, residents of adjacent Wethersfield Cluster say they have concerns that even a two-story building will result in their privacy being disturbed.

“I can still see sight lines from the second floor into our first-floor rooms,” said Thea Kreinik, of Approach Lane. Kreinik and other residents said having the building so close to their properties would also have a negative effect on their property values.

Following comments from numerous residents about the use of the property, which is outside the DRB’s purview, vice chair Richard Newlon said he doesn’t agree with their assertions that an assisted-living facility is a bad fit.

“You have room there to build 30 townhouses, something like that,” Newlon said. “The residents of this facility are not going to be driving in and out all the time, the parking is underground, there’s not going to be a lot of traffic outside, [and] people in this type of facility are probably not going to be out in that backyard playing volleyball and making a lot of noise.”

One resident who spoke following the Board’s discussion said the “better this than that” mentality does not sit well with the community.

“The impression I’m getting from the Board — your kind of thinly veiled comment to us — is, ‘Suck it up with this old-folks home, or you’re going to get something worse,'” said Lisa White, of Wethersfield Court. “That’s not making me feel comfortable.”

The issue of lighting from the facility affecting nearby residents was also brought up, and the developers were told by DRB to “be cognizant moving forward” to address the issue.

Residents of the cluster who attended the meeting and spoke out against the project let their displeasure be known as they exited the room following the vote.

“I hope all of you [who voted for it] get one on your doorstep,” one member could be heard telling the Board following the passage of the motion.

The Kensington Senior Living facility is planned to include 96 beds within 70 units. It still must receive additional approval both locally and at the county level.

by Dave Emke September 13, 2017 at 9:00 am 14 Comments

Public Safety Forum Set for Tonight — The Fairfax County Police Department’s Reston District Station will hold a community public safety forum tonight from 7-9 p.m. at McNair Elementary School (2499 Thomas Jefferson Drive, Herndon). Police leaders will discuss the “State of Reston,” pedestrian safety initiatives and crime prevention, and they will introduce the community to valuable resources. [Supervisor Cathy Hudgins]

Morning Crash Causes Traffic Delays — At about 6:15 a.m. today, FCPD reported a crash on Sunrise Valley Drive in the area of Fairfax County Parkway that caused “significant traffic delays.” All lanes were reported open again before 7 a.m. [Fairfax County Police Department/Twitter]

Supervisors Approve Budget Carryover — At its meeting Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors approved $59.6 million in FY2017 carryover funding, to be used in part to fund reserves and infrastructure needs, along with other projects including the demolition of the Massey Building. [Fairfax County]

Review: ‘Disgraced’ Challenges and Chafes Audiences — The play about Muslim assimilation and identity in America, now being performed at NextStop Theatre Company (269 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon) left a reviewer “examining [his] own life experiences and [his] own long-time, deeply-held progressive values and beliefs.” [DC Metro Theater Arts]

by Dave Emke August 11, 2017 at 9:00 am 7 Comments

Key Information for SLHS Students — Over 2,470 students will be attending South Lakes High School this fall. The school recently provided information about class schedules, counselor assignments and much more in preparation for the new year. [South Lakes High School]

Report: Metro Safety Documents Falsified — Track reports were copied and pasted month after month, raising questions about the competency of inspectors and a lack of supervision. [WAMU]

Deon King Standing Out for Browns — In an interview with Fox Sports Ohio, SLHS alum Deon King talks about the experience he has had thus far in training camp with the Cleveland Browns. King had three tackles and a fumble recovery in the Browns’ first preseason game Thursday night against the New Orleans Saints. [Fox Sports Ohio/YouTube]

Work This Weekend to Install Pedestrian Bridge — Starting at about 10 p.m. tonight, there will be detours on Sunrise Valley Drive in Herndon as the bridge for the Innovation Center Metro station is set over the road. In addition, there will be lane modifications on the eastbound Dulles Toll Road all day Saturday for striping. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

by Dave Emke August 1, 2017 at 11:30 am 0

Before its meeting tonight, Reston’s Design Review Board will have another one-hour work session with the developers of the proposed Kensington Senior Living at 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive.

Following a work session with the DRB in May, Kensington has made the following changes to its plan to reduce the project’s size:

  • Eliminated an entire floor of the building, resulting in a 2-story building
  • Reduced the overall mass of the project by about 30 percent, from 91,000 square feet to 65,000 square feet, resulting in an approximate FAR of 0.83
  • Narrowed the width of the building toward the south of the site, resulting in an additional setback to the nearest townhomes of 20 feet
  • Reduced the unit count by 23 percent from 91 to 70, and the bed count by 26 percent from 130 to 96

Previous designs for the proposal featured as many as five stories.

The facility would be at the site of the current Good Beginnings School. The property has not yet been sold, with the deal contingent upon the plan’s approval.

At the May work session, residents of the Wethersfield Cluster expressed their concerns about lowered property values, privacy and architectural compatibility. Kensington says it “has considered and is working through different architectural styles, and it “plans to present more detailed building elevations” during tonight’s session.

The documents that have been provided prior to tonight’s session are available here.

The discussion is scheduled for 6 p.m. at RA headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). The DRB’s regular meeting will begin at 7.

Image via Moseley Architects

by Dave Emke June 28, 2017 at 4:30 pm 8 Comments

Work has begun to take down a six-story office building at 11720 Sunrise Valley Drive, making room for 54 townhomes in what will soon be a bustling residential area.

Located just east of JBG’s Reston Heights development, the 69,000-square-foot building was bought by Rooney Properties in 2013. A sale of the property to Toll Brothers was reported in April.

The new development is planned to have a quarter-acre pocket park located north of a private street that will run through the center of the property. The park will include benches, a butterfly garden, public art and more.

Developers also plan to build six-foot sidewalks along Sunrise Valley Drive and Roland Clarke Place to help make pedestrian connections to Silver Line Metro stations. The plan also incorporates a separate, 10-foot wide path for bicycles along Sunrise Valley Drive.

The entrance to the community will be on Roland Clarke Place. The developers have a dedicated right of way for a future traffic signal at the corner of Sunrise Valley and Roland Clarke.

The destruction of the building comes about nine months after the American Press Institute building, just across Roland Clarke Place at 11690 Sunrise Valley Drive, was brought down. Sekas Homes is now working to construct 34 townhouses and 10 condos on that site, forming the future Sunrise Square cluster.

The frames of the first row of townhomes there are in place, and signage in front of the property advertises an August move-in date for new tenants. Rooney Properties owns that development as well.

by Dave Emke May 17, 2017 at 11:30 am 0

In a work session Tuesday (video), Reston’s Design Review Board and Kensington Senior Development made progress on the latter’s plan to put a 91-unit assisted-living facility at 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive.

A re-worked sketch for the proposed facility presented to the DRB at the session pushes the building farther away from nearby townhouses on Approach Lane, part of the Wethersfield Cluster. Where previous proposals had the building within 50 feet of the nearest residence, the new configuration leaves about 80 feet.

The proposal also caps the building at three above-ground stories over one level of underground parking. The center portion of the building would have only two above-ground stories, with a rooftop garden accessible from both sides.

Previous designs for the proposal featured as many as five stories.

This seems to me to be progress,” said Richard Newlon, DRB vice chair, who was very critical of previous plans. “I think this is going in a direction that is going to be just better.”

The facility would be at the site of the current Good Beginnings School. The property has not yet been sold, with the deal contingent upon the plan’s approval.

Several residents of the Wethersfield Cluster spoke during the session, expressing their concerns about lowered property values, privacy and architectural compatibility.

The sentiment of the community is that the mass and height of this building is inappropriate at this location so close to a residential community,” said Stephen Cerny, president of the Cluster Association.

DRB members remained skeptical of how the facility would be viewed from Approach Lane and from the adjacent Sunrise Valley Convenience Center. They implored the developer to bring more detailed exhibits to future meetings to address those issues.

While DRB was happy with the effort to move the building farther away from the nearby townhouses, retaining more tree buffer in the process, they asked the developer to explore whether inching even closer to the Sunrise Valley Drive side of the property would be possible.

Screencap via Reston Association/YouTube

by Dave Emke April 21, 2017 at 9:00 am 1 Comment

Giving Back to Emergency Responders — Firefighters from Station 25 presented a certificate to a Reston woman who adopted a fire hydrant in her neighborhood. The woman was involved in a serious motorcycle crash in 1994 and credits emergency crews including fire units with saving her life, and she has loved and supported them ever since. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

Guinea Pigs on Twitter Thanks to Local Students — At Ideaventions Academy, a specialized STEM school in Reston, students have built a computer and are using censors to get classroom pets to tweet out randomized messages. You can follow along @PepperNCaramel. [WUSA]

County Map Shows Youth Crash Locations — A map released Thursday by Fairfax County plots the locations of all 1,840 vehicle crashes involving youth drivers (ages 15-20) in 2016. In Reston, locations including Sunrise Valley Drive, the intersection of Wiehle Avenue and Sunset Hills Road, and the intersection of Reston Parkway and Route 7 had the most incidents. [Fairfax County]

Another Capital BikeShare Station Opens — An 11-dock Capital BikeShare location has opened on Town Center Parkway near Sunset Hills Road, at the RTC West complex. [Capital BikeShare/Twitter]

Map courtesy Fairfax County

by Dave Emke April 19, 2017 at 2:45 pm 5 Comments

Toll Brothers plans to purchase a Sunrise Valley Drive office property slated for luxury townhouse development, the Washington Business Journal reports.

The company will finalize a deal to purchase the land from Rooney Properties “later this year,” the WBJ says. As we previously reported, Rooney purchased the property in 2013 and Fairfax County approved a rezoning request in October. In February, a permit application to tear down the six-story office building currently on the 3.5 acres was filed.

The purchase price of the reported sale was not disclosed.

The WBJ reports Toll Brothers plans to follow through on the plan to tear down the office building, with an aim to complete site-plan approval by fall. Sales would begin next summer, according to the report, with prices in the $800,000 range.

The property is located across Roland Clarke Place from the former location of the API building, which was razed last year to make room for the future Sunrise Square cluster. Also owned by Rooney Properties, that will consist of 34 townhouses and 10 condos.

Both properties are part of a large number of developments planned for the stretch between the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station and the future Reston Town Center station, as progression of the Silver Line’s Phase 2 continues.

Rendering courtesy Rooney Properties

by Dave Emke March 27, 2017 at 10:15 am 9 Comments

Kensington Senior Development LLC hopes to put an assisted-living facility on Sunrise Valley Drive, and the public is invited to give its input.

Fairfax County’s Health Care Advisory Board will hold a public meeting on the proposal Monday, April 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the county Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax). At the meeting, a special-exemption application from Kensington to put the facility at 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive will be reviewed.

The sale of the property to Kensington by its current owners, the Good Beginnings School, is contingent upon the approval of the plan by the county.

The application is scheduled for a Sept. 27 hearing before the county Planning Commission. The Health Care Advisory Board, meanwhile, is tasked with reviewing the application from a health care perspective rather than land use, using criteria such as community and medical need, access to care, cost, quality, and continuity of care.

HCAB will make recommendations regarding the proposal to the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission.

The current plan for Kensington’s proposed 91,000-square-foot Reston facility includes 91 units and 125 to 135 beds. The 2 1/2- to 3 1/2-story facility would feature underground parking. A representative from Cooley LLP presented the plan to Reston’s Design Review Board on Feb. 21.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the April 3 meeting of HCAB and provide comments. Anyone who wishes to speak should call 703-246-8664 by Friday. Written comments can also be considered, if they are received prior to the meeting. They can be sent by email to [email protected] or by mail to HCAB Staff Coordinator, Health Department, 10777 Main St., Suite 203, Fairfax, VA 22030.

Image via Cooley LLP/RA YouTube

by Dave Emke March 16, 2017 at 4:00 pm 2 Comments

Good Beginnings SchoolThe site of a private school in Reston is facing a changing future.

Kensington Senior Development LLC is working with Fairfax County on an application to put an assisted-living facility at 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive, the current home of Good Beginnings School. Miaoling Lin, the school’s administrator, says the site is expected to operate as a school through at least the end of 2018.

The sale of the property to Kensington is contingent upon the plan’s approval by the county, Lin said. Meanwhile, a permit has been filed with Fairfax County for Oak Hill Montessori School to open at the site for a month in April.

“They are in between buildings, and we are shrinking, so we have room for them to use temporarily,” Lin said.

Lin said Good Beginnings will continue to operate at the site through June, after which a school called Mosaic will take over the facility.

Lin said some of the staff of Good Beginnings in Reston will be staying on site with Mosaic and some will be moving to the school’s Loudoun County campus in Stone Ridge. The school has a meeting scheduled for Thursday night to introduce Mosaic to parents interested in staying at the current site after June.

by Dave Emke February 27, 2017 at 11:30 am 7 Comments

Sunrise Square plan/Reston Association

At its meeting last week, the RA Board of Directors unanimously approved the addition of a planned Sunrise Valley Drive community into Reston Association.

Sunrise Square developmentSunrise Square, at the site of the former American Press Institute headquarters (11690 Sunrise Valley Drive), is being developed by Sekas Homes. Its plans consist of 34 townhouses and 10 condos.

A public hearing on the addition of property request was held Jan. 26, at which time the board determined comments from the community warranted further discussion.

With its membership in RA, Sunrise Square will be subject to various terms and conditions, including:

  • The entire property will be subject to the Reston Deed
  • The establishment of a cluster association — Sunrise Square
  • Full payment, per unit of the RA annual assessment
  • The grant of a fee simple dedication for RA common area or easement for RA common area (use and maintenance)

“I think this is a no-brainer,” said Jeff Thomas, At-Large director, prior to the vote. “I think it’s a good investment in Reston, because it provides us a foothold in all the development that’s going to happen around there, and it’s going to help create more contiguous properties that we can tie amenities into.”

The property is located in the corridor that was originally part of the Reston Center for Industry and Government (RCIG).

“We’re injecting residential where it was never planned,” said John McBride, RA’s land-use attorney. “In order to keep Reston Reston, it needs to be subjected to the Reston covenants through a supplemental declaration, and the new residents should be RA members.”

Sunrise Square plan illustration via Reston Association

by Dave Emke February 22, 2017 at 11:30 am 54 Comments

11720 Sunrise Valley Drive

The demolition of a six-story office building at 11720 Sunrise Valley Drive will likely soon begin.

11720 Sunrise Valley DriveA permit to tear down the structure was filed with Fairfax County last week. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved in October an application that would see the building brought down and replaced with 54 townhomes on the 3.5-acre property.

Located on the eastern end of the Reston Heights development, the 69,000-square-foot building was bought by Rooney Properties in 2013. Signage outside the building shows its most recent tenants having been QVine Corp.PVBS and GreenTec-USA.

The property is located across Roland Clarke Place from the former location of the API building, which was razed last year to make room for the future Sunrise Square cluster. Also owned by Rooney Properties, that will consist of 34 townhouses and 10 condos.

Rendering of RP 11720 Sunrise Valley/Fairfax CountyThe new development at 11720 Sunrise Valley Drive is planned to have a quarter-acre pocket park located north of a private street that will run through the center of the property. The park will include benches, a butterfly garden, public art and more.

Developers also plan to build six-foot sidewalks along Sunrise Valley Drive and Roland Clarke Place to help make pedestrian connections to Silver Line Metro stations. The plan also incorporates a separate, 10-foot wide path for bicycles along Sunrise Valley Drive.

The entrance to the community will be on Roland Clarke Place. The developers have a dedicated right of way for a future traffic signal at the corner of Sunrise Valley and Roland Clarke.

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