After nearly two years of discussions and 15 meetings, a study group has voted in favor of ditching three pedestrian crossing options offered by a developer of an approved mixed-use development near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.
TF Cornerstone plans to transform an aging office park east of Wiehle Avenue between Sunrise Valley Drive and the Dulles Toll Road into a 1.3-million-square-foot development called Campus Commons. The county approved the project in late 2019 — but how the development will connect to Metro and provide safe passage to pedestrians remains a significant concern.
The developer proffered to encourage the formation of a study group that would assess three proposed pedestrian overpasses or identify another crossing option at the crossing of Wiehle Avenue at the Dulles Toll Road ramps at the northwest corner of the site.
All of the study group’s members voted against the developer’s proposal for a pedestrian overpass. Instead, a major of the 17-member group voted in favor of an underpass — an option that would up the cost of the project.
The study group did not vote on a singular option to address the issue and instead provided a general sense of preferences voiced by members and other community members.
The report noted that while the developer’s proposal for an overpass would be developer-funded, the option presents design, utilization, and maintenance concerns.
The first developer-proposed option would include a ramp and stairs on the west side of the road and elevators and stairs on the east side. The second bridge option would include elevators and stairs on both sides. The third option would include a ramp on the west and egress into the building on the east side.
An underpass would utilize the existing grade, provide the shortest consistent crossing time, and provide easier ADA access, according to the report. But cost and feasibility due to surrounding utilities remain a concern.
At a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday, Hunter Mill District Supervisor formally accepted the group’s findings. The board now has one year to select the best and most feasible option. If the county for pedestrian crossing. If it does not select one of the three options proposed by the developer, the developer will provide $1.65 million towards another solution.
Additionally, the board will determine if an at-grade crossing at Wiehle Avenue and the Dulles Toll Road eastbound ramps should be provided by the developer. This proffer is separate from the grade-separated crossing options discussed above.
A study group will scout the area this week to find the best option for constructing a future pedestrian crossing at Wiehle Avenue near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.
The walkthrough is part of a proffer for Campus Commons, an approved project by TF Cornerstone that would redevelop an aging office park at 1900 and 1902 Campus Common Drive into a 1.3 million-square-foot development. The meeting is set for Feb. 27 at 5 p.m. at the site.
Community opposition to the project — including the successful surge of a grassroots organization Rescue Sunrise Valley — resulted in a number of changes to the application, which was approved last year.
One of the most contentious issues was a proposed crosswalk at ramps to enter and exit the Dulles Toll Road at Wiehle Avenue. The developer’s original pitch — a crosswalk at the current stoplight in the area to get to the other side of Wiehle Avenue across two traffic islands in the multi-lane roadway — was rejected by the county due to serious safety concerns.
TF Cornerstones agreed to find a better solution for walkability. A proffer part in the approved application requires the developer to convene a workgroup with community representation through the office of Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn.
The workgroup is tasked with finding the best type of pedestrian bridge for the area. Options on the table include but are not limited to an above-grade bridge or a below-grade underpass or tunnel.
A final recommendation for the pedestrian crossing will be presented to the board by October. The developer will either build the crossing or give the county $1.5 million to complete the work.
Concerns on the lack of pedestrian connectivity to and from the Reston Town Center Metro Station and Wiehle-Reston East were also flagged by the board last year.
The developer plans to build three buildings with 655 apartments, more than 520,000 square feet of office space, and a little over 28,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. A 24-story tower and two small towers are proposed.
For more information about the meeting, email Jose Delcid at [email protected].
Photo via Fairfax County Government, Google Maps
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Campus Commons on Tuesday — the first major redevelopment project in a transit-oriented area in Reston near established neighborhoods. Although community criticism pushed developer TF Cornerstone to amend its plan, citizens and resident groups remained concerned about the scale and impact of the 12-acre development.
TF Cornerstone plans to redevelop 1900-1902 Campus Commons Drive with two residential towers with 656 units, an office building, and seven public parks. Two office buildings will remain on the site.
The scale of the project — as well as a controversial proposed on-grade pedestrian crossing at Wiehle Avenue and the Dulles Toll Road — prompted the eruption of community consternation and the formation of Rescue Sunrise Valley, a community group that pushed the developer to scale back the site.
Last month, TF Cornerstone shifted roughly 86,550 square feet from an office building near Sunrise Valley Drive to a residential building and reduced its height from 12 to seven stories. The setback along the curb of Sunrise Valley Drive was also increased to a minimum of 50 feet.
The approval of the project highlights the challenge of transitioning the community to mass transit. Community planners rely on the hope that transit-oriented developments like Campus Commons will reduce the number of vehicles — a transition that will likely happen over time and raises questions about community impacts in the interim.
At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting, residents said the project adds additional congestion in an area that already has high traffic volumes.
Although the developer’s plans show an on-grade crossing at the intersection of Wiehle Avenue and the toll road, TF Cornerstone will work with the county to explore three options for a pedestrian bridge. The study group, which will also represent local residents, will work for up to three years to explore the best way forward. TF Cornerstone committed to constructing the bridge of contributing $1.5 million to help finance any alternative.
Michelle Kimmel, a member of the Coalition for a Planned Reston, said that while she supports transit-oriented communities, Campus Commons does not hit benchmarks for well-planned development, especially because it is not harmonious with existing residential areas.
“We got people ending up on a pork chop in the middle of the toll road,” Kimmel said. “It’s just beyond me how this project can succeed.”
Reston Association President Cathy Baum said the project illustrates the association’s longstanding concern about high densities planned for transit station areas and the inadequacy of transportation to keep up with development.
Baum also encouraged the board to remove the on-grade crossing at Wiehle Avenue from plans “as an assurance to our members that it is truly not an option.”
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins thanked residents for their involvement in the project and said she hopes the county will work diligently to ensure the developments like Campus Commons reduce traffic in the long-term. Hudgins also noted that the county’s planning documents call for redevelopment projects like Campus Commons in the corridor of Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset. Hills Road.
Hudgins also said she hopes the developer will continue to work with residents as the project is built.
Photos via handout/Fairfax County Government
New York-based TF Cornerstone will return to receive the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee’s blessing for its plan to redevelop nearly 12 acres of land near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station with two residential buildings and a new office building.
The proposal, Campus Commons, has attracted criticism from nearby residents and led to the formation of a citizen-led advocacy group called Rescue Sunrise Valley.
Although the developer addressed several concerns, a representative of Rescue Sunrise Valley, said residents are not satisfied with the developer’s attempts to scale back the development and improve the safety of a planned crosswalk on Wiehle Avenue. The committee did not recommend the project for approval Monday night.
“They have not adequately engaged the community not have they adequately addressed the community’s concerns,” the representative told Reston Now. “We sincerely hope TF Cornerstone will defer further requests for approval and commit to working with the community properly.”
If approved, the proposal would redevelop two 1980s office buildings with two multi-family buildings with 629 units. A new 14-story office building with more than 26,000 square feet of retail is also planned on the site, which is located east of Wiehle Avenue, between Sunrise Valley Drive and the Dulles Toll Road.
Ken Houle, vice president of TF Cornerstone, said the company has made several changes in response to community feedback:
A specific proffer to construct a grade separated crossing of Wiehle Ave
A commitment to engage all stakeholders in a study to determine the preferred grade separated solution, coupled with a financial commitment of $1.5MM to implement that solution if it differed from our proposed solution
Significant modifications to the building heights, lowering both the residential tower on the Toll Road by 44′ and the office building at the corner of Wiehle and Sunrise Valley by 48′
Modified the building façade on Sunrise Valley Drive to respond to architectural preferences raised by the Upper Lakes residents
Increased the size of the community playground by 22% with a commitment to include accessible play equipment
Modified the design to incorporate a community amphitheater space in the 1 acre corner park
Committed to work with an independent arborist and Fairfax County to study trees for potential preservation, coupled with an existing commitment to provide 150% of the required tree canopy in the new development featuring native species trees.
Committed to work with the Upper Lakes residents to accelerate signal timings of existing traffic lights, install a new traffic light at Upper Lake, support Upper Lakes residents in the application of resident only street parking district, and to fund and implement a future traffic calming program for Upper Lakes
Given the fact that many residents remain concerned about the scale of the project, Houle said TF Cornerstone will continue a dialogue with stakeholders to “ensure this project delivers the future that Reston envisioned with the adoption of the Reston Comprehensive Plan.”
“The plan that is proposed is in conformance with the comprehensive plan and has been recommended for approval by the Fairfax County Planning staff.”
Houle added Campus Commons creates a “premium park” that breaks the “mold of development surrounding the metro station of high-rise towers on the prominent corners.”
In a Sept. 11 staff report, the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning staff recommended approval of the proposal. The Fairfax County Planning Commission is set to take up the plan on Sept. 25, followed by a vote by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 15.
Photo via handout/Fairfax County Government, photo via Rescue Sunrise Valley