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County Board Supports Proposed Soapstone Connector Route Amid Concerns about Historic Resources

County officials seek to proceed with construction of the Soapstone Connector, a major road extension between Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Road, amid concerns the path of the half-mile extension would disturb potentially historically significant buildings on Association Drive.

On Sept. 25, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to support the county’s proposed route for $169 million project because buildings on Association Drive are not likely eligible a historical designation on the national register. The board’s approval responds formally to a Virginia Department of Historic Resources letter that urged the county work with the Fairfax County Architectural Review Board (ARB)  to determine if the buildings on Association are historically significant.

Earlier this year, the ARB raised concerns that the 1916 Association Drive and ten office buildings on Association Drive could be eligible for National Register of Historic Places as a historic district. The county’s environmental assessment of the property did not concur with the ARB’s analysis.

Construction of the connector, which will create a new crossing over the Dulles Corridor, is not anticipated to begin until after 2023.

Tom Biesiadny, director of the county’s transportation department, said the county was ready to pitch its proposed route in January when concerns about the historical significance of the buildings arose. After direction from state officials, the department consulted with boards, agencies, property owners and developers to determine how to proceed. Two historic studies commissioned by architectural historians offered conflicting opinions on the historical significance of the buildings, which served educational associations.

If the state’s historic resources department determines the proposed route of the Soapstone Connector impacts historic resources on the site, county officials will need to mull additional alternates to avoid disturbing any historic resources. But county officials hinted the overall discussion on the impact of possibly historically significant buildings was largely moot because the entire office park is slated for potential redevelopment as a mixed-use project. Reston’s comprehensive plan was amended in 2014 to allow high-density development in the area and property owners have long expressed eagerness to proceed with redevelopment.

“I think you’re looking at an uphill climb to preserve this area as a district,” said Frank Selden, director of the Fairfax County’s Department of Planning and Zoning.

Biesiadny also said the future road connection would run through the building on 1904 Association Drive, which is not likely of historical significance. The building that is likely historically significant is 1916 Association Drive and lies on the opposite side of where the connector would run through.

The board indicated overall support of the project, which it formally approved several years ago. Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said the connector was desperately needed to manage traffic generated by additional redevelopment and development.

“This would be an additional north-south crossing of which we have two that are already congested and [are] desperately in need of an alternative,” Hudgins said. She also suggested the county and the developer could acknowledge the historical significance of the buildings through other means.

An attempt to defer the vote to the board’s next meeting failed.

“This is not something that hasn’t been vetted and worked through,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova.

Although the state transportation department is procuring a consultant to design the Soapstone Connector, design work cannot begin unless state officials are aware of the final road alignment.

Photo via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Reston Corner Redevelopment Plan Heads to Planning Commission

A proposal to build 145 multi-family units and offices is headed to the Fairfax County Planning Commission for approval on Thursday (Oct. 4).

An affiliate of Angelo, Gordon & Co. hopes to rezone office property to build the residential development on 4.3 acres of land on the southwest corner of Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive. A second application is under consideration by the same developer to increase the density of 9.9 acres of adjacent land as part of the same proposal.

The site of the project, called Reston Corner, is currently an office park. The developer hopes to create “a new urban neighborhood” with a seven-story residential building and an 85-foot office building.

The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department has requested $10,000 from the developer to install one traffic signal preemption device in order to “meet response time goals to emergency incidents,” according to a staff report.

The county estimates the development will generate 16 new students. The developer will contribute $12,262 for each student.

Other features of the plan include the following:

  • A four-level garage with a maximum height of 40 feet.
  • The garage will be screened from view from Reston Parkway by existing office buildings and the residential project.
  • 12 percent of the residential building will be set aside as workforce housing.
  • The developer seeks special exception to increase density across the existing office uses.
  • Outside seating on the western edge of the residential building for “gathering and relaxation.”

A date before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has not yet been set.

Photos via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Trio of Office Buildings on Sunrise Valley Drive Under New Ownership

Bridge Investment Group, a private real estate and property management firm, has purchased The Campus at Sunrise, a 255,000-square-foot office campus with three low rise buildings.

The company plans to renovate buildings on the 12-acre property, including updated lobby areas, a renovated tenant amenity center, office suites, and space for communal outdoor areas, special events and entertainment.

The office campus was 85 percent leased at the time of the sale. The company did not disclose the purchase price of the property. The buildings, located at 11130, 11190 and 11180 Sunrise Valley Drive, were previously owned by Grosvenor Americas, which purchased the property in 2011 for $63 million.

The asking price of the property was $61 million. BPG Properties, a private equity real estate company, owned the campus before Grosvenor.

Promotional material cites the buildings’ close proximity to Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station and Reston Station.

Photo via Cushman & Wakefield

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Two Residential Projects Head to Reston Planning and Zoning Committee

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

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San Diego-Based Big Data Firm Opens Reston Office

BigBear, Inc., a San Diego-based big data and analytics firm, has opened an office in Reston. The company signed a three-year lease for 2,600 square feet of office space at 12007 Sunrise Valley Drive. BigBear, Inc. has another office in Charlottesville and plans to keep its headquarters in San Diego, Ca.

In a statement, the company said its revenue grew by more than 220 percent last year and could gain an additional 50 percent by the end of the year.

“By having our senior technology experts and engineers located near our customers, it enables the kind of close collaboration that is required to provide the high-level mission-critical support we deliver,” wrote Frank Porcelli, the company’s CEO in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to bring the incredible cost savings and productivity-enhancing benefits of our platform and expert team to more customers throughout the defense and intelligence communities.”

The company creates private, secure cloud environments that help organizations complete big data computing, machine learning, and decisionmaking. It specializes in cloud computing, big data analytics, machine learning, biotech and life science, and data mining and systems engineering.

Photo via BigBear Inc.

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Crime Roundup: Bicyclist Crashes into Car

A bicyclist crashed into a car while crossing the intersection of the Washington and Old Dominion Trail and Sunrise Valley Drive on Saturday.

According to the Fairfax County Police Department, the bicyclist did not stop before crossing the intersection and hit the side of a car around 5:55 p.m. The bicyclist did not suffer life-threatening injuries.

In a separate incident, a robbery happened today on the 2200 block of Hunters Woods Plaza at around 5:20 a.m. Despite a helicopter-assisted search early this morning, the suspects were not caught. An investigation is ongoing.

FCPD also reported the following incidents in recent days:

LARCENIES:

2200 block of Castle Rock Square, cash from vehicle

2400 block of Centreville Road, bag from location

2500 block of Centreville Road, beer from business

600 block of Deerfield Pond Court, property from residence

1800 block of Fountain Drive, cash from locker

11700 block of Great Owl Circle, property from vehicle

11800 block of Great Owl Circle, laptop from vehicle

12200 block of Laurel Glade Court, backpack from location

1800 block of Fountain Drive, merchandise from business

11900 block of Market Street, merchandise from business

11600 block of Old Brookville Court, laptop from vehicle

11600 block of Plaza America Drive, cell phone from location

11800 block of Spectrum Circle, merchandise from business

11600 block of Springhouse Place, property from vehicle

11800 block of Sunrise Valley Drive, wallet from business

12100 block of Sunset Hills Road, merchandise from business

1600 block of Waterhaven Drive, laptop from vehicle

11400 block of Waterhaven Court, property from vehicle

11400 block of Waterhaven Court, property from vehicle

STOLEN VEHICLES:

1500 block of Deer Point Way, 2015 Infiniti G35

As we reported late last week, the body of Xuanfang Zhou, 81, a missing man, was found at Runnymede Park on Friday. Police said there is no indication of criminal activity.

File photo

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Commuter Alert: Road and Lane Closures Planned This Week

Several lane, shoulder and road closures will be in effect along the Dulles Toll Road, Herndon Parkway, Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Road this week.

Drivers are encouraged to pay attention to all signs, barricades and speed limits. Slow vehicles may be entering and exiting highways and surrounding roads.

A complete breakdown of closures, provided by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, is below:

Dulles Toll Road East

When:   Monday, July 23 – Friday, July 27, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., Saturday, July 28, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

What:    Alternating right and left lane closures of varying lengths

Where:  From mile marker 1.3 to 5.2 (from just west of the Route 28 overpass to the Reston Parkway overpass)

Why:     Civil work

Dulles Toll Road West

When:   Monday, July 23 – Friday, July 27, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., Saturday, July 28, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Sunday

What:    Alternating right and left lane closures of varying lengths

Where:  From mile marker 5.7 to 1.5 (between the Route 28 and Reston Parkway overpasses)

Why:     Civil work

Dulles Toll Road West

When:   Thursday, July 26, 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

What:    Two right lanes closed

Where:  From mile marker 4.5 to 3.5 (from 3/10 mile before the Fairfax County Parkway overpass to the Monroe Street/Van Buren Street overpass)

Why:     Pedestrian bridge construction

Dulles Toll Road West

When:   Friday, July 27 – Saturday, July 28, 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

What:    Full closure

Where:  From mile marker 6.2 to 2.4 (Single lane closures begin prior to the Wiehle Avenue overpass. Full closure from the Fairfax County Parkway to Centreville Road; follow detour along the southbound Fairfax County Parkway, westbound Sunrise Valley Drive, and northbound Centreville Road where traffic will re-enter the westbound Dulles Toll Road)

Why:     Pedestrian bridge construction 

Dulles Toll Road West

When:   Saturday, July 28, 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

What:    Three left lanes close with 20-minute stoppages on right through lane

Where:  From mile marker 6.6 to 4.2 (between the Wiehle Aveue overpass and the Fairfax County Parkway overpass)

Why:     Striping

Sunrise Valley Drive East

When:   Monday, July 23 – Thursday, July 26, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Friday, July 27, 9:30 a.m. to noon

What:    Right lane closed

Where:  From Edmund Halley Drive to Colts Neck Road

Why:     Clearing and civil work

Sunset Hills Road East 

When:   Monday, July 23 – Thursday, July 26, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Friday, July 27, 9:30 a.m. to noon

What:    Alternating right and left lane closures

Where:  From 500 feet west to 500 feet east of 12011 Sunset Hills Road

Why:     Civil work

Sunset Hills Road West 

When:   Monday, July 23 – Thursday, July 26, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Friday, July 27, 9:30 a.m. to noon

What:    Two left lanes closed

Where:  From the entrance to 12011 Sunset Hills Road to 500 feet west of the entrance

Why:     Civil work

Herndon Parkway East

When:   Monday, July 23 – Thursday, July 26, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Friday, July 27, 9:30 a.m. to noon

What:    Right lane closed

Where: From 1000 feet east of Van Buren Street to 800 feet west of Exchange Place

Why:     Equipment mobilization

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Data Centers to Replace Office Buildings on Sunrise Valley Drive

Data centers with a fenced perimeter are inching closer to approval at Sunrise Technology Park, a 21-acre office park with four existing buildings slated for redevelopment. The Fairfax County Planning Commission approved the project by CoreSite Realty Corp. on June 28.

The proposal is part of a move by CoreSite to expand its footprint in Reston. The company selected the location on the south side of Sunrise Valley Drive in order to ensure the operation was near enterprises in Reston. The property was purchased for $60 million from Brookfield Office Properties in 2016.

“They had a choice of where they wanted to be,” said David Gill of McGuireWoods and the developer’s representative, adding that CoreSite was willing to “roll up their sleeves and a pay a premium to adaptively reuse [the] office park.”

The development is divided into four phases, one of which is currently in progress. When the first phase is complete, two existing buildings on the southern half of the property will be reconstructed and expanded with about 291,000 square feet of development. Two buildings will be demolished on the southeastern edge of the property to make way for a three-story building with 240,000 square feet in the second phase.

During phase three, one building and associated parking in the center of the property will give way to a three-story data center and another building. The fourth and final phase on the northern edge of the project will involve the demolition of existing buildings to make way for a three-story data center with 172,000 square feet. The number of stories on the buildings may vary, but will not exceed three stories.

Gill noted that the development will reduce traffic by 60 percent both during peak traffic hours and an overall reduction in trips. The data centers are expected to house a maximum of 45 employees. The development will also remove 700 parking spaces on the largely vacant site, Gill said.

However, planning officials said they were concerned buildings in phase two do not sufficiently meet environmental efficiency standards, namely LEED certification.

Gill noted CoreSite is using technologies like a cistern that uses rainwater to cool servers. CoreSite plans to address the county’s concerns about LEED certification and energy efficiency before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisor’s vote on the project, Gill said.

During the commission’s public hearing, Brian Carpenter, a resident from a nearby residential zone, said he wanted to ensure security cameras on the property would not compromise the privacy of nearby homes. The issue will be discussed with the developer.

Handout via Fairfax County Government

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Renovation Planned at Westin Reston Heights as New Owner Takes Over

Noble Investment Group, a Georgia-based investment company, has acquired Westin Reston Heights, a 191-room hotel located at 11750 Sunrise Valley Drive.

The company plans to renovate guests rooms and common areas in the hotel. Westin Reston Heights has a business room and is also the location of Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro.  The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Noble principal Ben Brunt said the acquisition was motivated by substantial growth and corporate relocations planned in Reston.

“The Westin afforded Noble the opportunity to acquire a first-class physical asset that is well suited to the wide array of demand generators in the area while offering substantial upside through the reconfiguration and enhancement of the hotel public spaces and guest rooms,” Brunt wrote in a statement.

Nearby, another hotel changed hands this year. In March, Wurzak Hotel Group and DoveHil Capital Management acquired Sheraton Reston Hotel at 11810 Sunrise Valley Drive. A renovation project is planned for the 298-room hotel.

Photo by Starwood Hotels

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Funding Approved for Improvements at Fairfax County Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved $500,000 to cover preliminary engineering for interim improvements at the intersection of Fairfax County Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive.

Planned upgrades include lane reconfiguration, signal optimization and improvements to pedestrian and bike facilities.

Depending on the option selected by individuals, the project is expected to cost between $2.2 million and $4.3 million. The board approved intersection improvements as part of Reston’s transportation funding plan in late February last year.

The timeline of the project was not immediately available.

Photo via Virginia Department of Transportation

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Trio of Office Buildings on Sunrise Valley Drive Hits The Market

Campus at Sunrise, a three-building portfolio with nearly 254,000 square feet, is on the market for $61 million, according to recently released marketing information by Cushman & Wakefield.

The commercial real estate company is seeking buyers for the trio of buildings on 11130 Sunrise Valley Drive, 11190 Sunrise Valley Drive and 11180 Sunrise Valley Drive, which were built between 1987 and 1990 on nearly a dozen acres.

Jennifer Dietze, a senior property manager for Lincoln Property Company, said Cushman & Wakefield is currently preparing an offering memorandum. Dietze also declined to provide any other information on the sale, including why the company is seeking to shed the property.

BPG Properties, a private equity real estate company, sold Campus at Sunrise to Canada-based Grosvenor Americas, the current owner, for $63 million in 2011 — two million more than the current sale price. Soon after, the company renovated the buildings’ HVAC systems, which they said “greatly enhance the tenant experience.”

Promotional material cites the buildings’ close proximity to Wiehle-Metro East, indoor and outdoor terrace lounge areas, an on-site delicatessane and fitness center.

Eric Berkman, a representative for Cushman & Wakefield, declined to comment on the building portfolio due to a confidentiality agreement.

Photos via Cushman & Wakefield

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Decision on Kensington Assisted Living Facility Delayed

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors deferred a decision on a proposal to bring a 91-unit assisted living facility to 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive amid backlash from residents neighboring the project.

At a Tuesday night meeting, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said she wanted to work with residents and the developer Kensington Senior Development to tackle concerns raised by residents over several months.

During the meeting, residents continued to protest the location of the two-to-three story building, which they said was shoehorned onto 1.8 acres. The new structure, which would replaces Good Beginning School, a child care facility, is more than eight times larger than the current building. The facility would include up to 125 beds and up to 91 rooms.

Responding to residents’ concerns about limited privacy and the overwhelming nature of the plan, Hudgins said the application was “difficult” even though “the zoning is what the zoning is.”

“The zoning change has been made and it is an acceptable development in the center,” she said. “It’s just difficult for the neighbors to accept as far as the size and the screening that is provided.”

The board will vote on the project on Feb. 6 at 3:30 p.m — a delay that allows Hudgins says allows the stakeholders to settle concerns.

The developer’s representative, Mark Looney of Cooley LLP, pointed to the “evolution” of the plan since it was originally proposed. After back and forth with county entities like the Design Review Board, the developer scaled back the plan by reducing the number of stories from five to either two or three stories.

In a November staff report, the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning recommended approval of the plan.

Photo via handout

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Proposed Assisted Living Facility on Sunrise Valley Drive Draws Opposition

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

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Plan to Bring Assisted Living Facility to Sunrise Valley Drive Moves Forward

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

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Coming Soon: Rise Well-Being Center on Sunrise Valley Drive

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

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