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Thursday Morning Notes

A flash flood watch is in effect — The watch will remain in effect through tonight. Multiple rounds of rainfall will be possible throughout the day. Saturated soil from previous rains may result in flash flooding. [National Weather Service]

Fair and carnival kicks off today — The 70th Annual 4-H Fair and Carnival kicks off today at Frying Pan Farm Park today through August 5. The event features four days of fresh air, farm fun and good times for friends, family and neighbors. Activities include fair food, 4-H exhibits, carnival rides, games and live entertainment. [Fairfax County Government]

If you’d rather not pay taxes — From Friday through Sunday, a sales tax holiday means you won’t have to pay taxes on things like school supplies, emergency supplies and energy star items. [Fairfax County Government]

Register for Reston Community Center programs — Registration is now open for Reston residents and employees to take part in RCC programs, classes and trips. [Reston Community Center]

The official version of events — A press release discusses the recent approval of the 4.1 million square foot Reston Crescent development, which will include Reston’s first Wegmans. [Fairfax County Government]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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County Board Approves Nearly 10 Million Square Feet of Development in Reston

In a streak of votes on development proposals in Reston Tuesday evening, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved three projects totaling nearly 10 million square feet of development and up to 3,731 residential units at full development capacity.

The first approval by CoreSite brings nearly 943,000 square feet of space for data centers to Sunrise Technology Policy, a 21-acre office parking with four existing buildings.

David Gill, the applicant’s legal representative, said the project represents a significant investment in Fairfax County and would help serve current and future enterprises in Reston. Gill said CoreSite intentionally chose Reston instead of Loudoun County to serve as the premier data center provider for this reason.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said the data center would also significantly reduce trip generation. “In some sense, that’s a good news piece,” she said.

Approvals for two other mixed-use projects, Reston Gateway and Reston Crescent, would open the door to a new phase of development in and around Reston Town Center. The board unanimously approved Brookfield Partners’ Reston Crescent proposal, which brings up to 1,721 residential units, 1.5 million square feet of office space, 380,00 square feet of retail and a 200-room hotel. The project is located on Sunrise Valley Drive between Edmund Halley Dive and Reston Parkway and will be the future home of a two-story Wegmans.

On the north side of the Reston Town Center Metro Station, Boston Properties’ Reston Gateway project, which brings 4.8 million square feet of development across 28 acres. The plan includes 2.2 million square feet of office, up to 2,010 residential units, a hotel, 93,900 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

The plan for Reston Gateway piqued concerns by Rob Whitfield, a Reston resident of 20 years, who said an immediate and detailed transportation plan was necessary for Reston Town Center, which he said is already congested during peak traffic hours.

Hudgins said that while projects on the drawing table are largely unfunded, each developer is offering transportation funding that will help fund future improvements that she said are necessary. Hudgins also noted that the arrival of the Silver Line over the next two years would reduce the number of drivers on the road.

“This is a large transition as we see it,” she said. 

Whitfield was the only individual to testify during the public hearings on all three projects Tuesday evening.

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Fairfax County Planning Commission Gives Nod to 36-acre Reston Crescent Project

Brookfield Property’s 36-acre Reston Crescent project will head to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for final approval on July 31.

Despite attempts to improve the developer’s commitment to affordable housing, the project, located on northwest corner of the intersection of Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive, was given a green light by the Fairfax County Planning Commission on July 12. 

Brookfield’s plan for affordable housing would include 258 workforce housing at 70, 90, and 100 percent of the area median income — a rate lower than the county requirement of 80, 100 and 120 percent. In exchange, the developer wants to reduce its contribution to the county’s affordable housing fund. It plans to provide $2.6 million.

The four-million-square-foot project is the future home of Wegmans. Up to 1,721 residential units, 1.9 million square feet of office space, a hotel and 380,000 square feet of retail are planned on the site. Two existing office buildings will remain.

Brookfield contends it should not have to offer contributions to the housing fund for two existing office buildings on the site which were approved before the current project was filed with the county. Affordable housing contributions are calculated based on the square footage of the project’s non-residential elements.

Hunter Mill District Planning Commission John Carter said he supported the developer’s plan because increasing the level of affordability for residential units helps renters who may not otherwise be able to afford rents at higher percentages of the AMI.

However, staff from the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning said the AMI levels being proposed are similar to current rents of comparable projects in Reston’s Transit Station Area.

“We didn’t feel that the county was really benefitting from the levels being proposed,” said Mary Anne Tsai, a staff coordinator with the county’s Planning Division.

John Ulfelder, the planning commissioner for the Dranesville District, said the commission’s discussion about affordable housing warrants a closer look at the county’s policy. Ulfelder said a frequent concern cited by millennials entering the workforce is the lack of affordability areas in Reston’s Transit Station areas.

“Who are we trying to help with the policy?” Ulfelder said.

Carter also noted the developer has committed to meeting county requirements for the road fund and an athletic field, which will include a practice field and 50 parking spaces at the intersection of the Dulles Toll road and Hunter Mill Road.

The developer’s plan, as proposed, would not sufficiently meet Fairfax County standards at the intersection where the development is planned, according to staff from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation. 

Although Brookfield will alter the grid of streets and has committed to other road and traffic proffers, significant investment in other major improvements that will yield the greatest benefit — a more complex buildout of the grid of streets, the Soapstone Connector, and the Town Center Parkway underpass — is required to ensure the intersection has acceptable levels of service.

Handout via Brookfield Properties

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Decision on Reston Crescent Project Deferred to July 12

A decision on Brookfield Properties’ four million-square-foot redevelopment of the Reston Crescent site was deferred last week amid a disagreement regarding the developer’s contribution for the affordable housing fund. 

Brookfield has proposed roughly 4.2 million square feet of development across 36 acres, including up to 1,721 residential units, 1.9 million square feet of office space, a hotel and 380,000 square feet of retail. The property is divided into eight development blocks. Two existing office buildings on the site will remain untouched.

The first new building, which fronts Reston Parkway, includes a Wegmans with 380 apartment built on top of it. The project is located west of Reston Parkway, north of Sunrise Valley Drive, east of Edmund Halley Drive and south of the Dulles Toll Road.

At June 28 Fairfax County Planning Commission meeting, county staff indicated the developer needs to pitch in more toward the affordable housing fund. Brookfield plans to ensure 15 percent of all units are affordable at income tiers of up to 70, 90 and 100 percent of the Area Median Income — a lower income distribution than county requirements.

Even though the developer is offering units for individuals with lower incomes, county officials and the developer disagree on how much Brookfield should offer for the non-residential aspects of the property. The comprehensive plan indicates the developer should contribute $3 per non-residential square feet.

Because Brookfield is proposing a completely new redevelopment project, county officials contend the developer should contribute based on the total square footage of new development, roughly 1.6 million square feet. Brookfield, however, asserts they only have to contribute funds for 1.1 million square feet of development because other non-residential development was already approved under a previous plan.

In a report, staff said the latest proposal was entirely new and supersedes any previous approvals. “As a result, the proposed non-residential uses on affordable housing and such impact should be fully mitigated through the $3 per non-residential square feet contribution towards affordable housing,” according to the report.

An earlier clash over the developer’s commitment to providing an athletic field was resolved in recent discussions. According to the developer’s representative, Mark Looney of Cooley, Brookfield has an underdeveloped property under contract for a future full-size athletic field. Once the property is purchased, Cooley said the developer should dedicate it to the county’s park authority.

In remarks before the Planning Commission, John Carter, the commissioner for the Hunter Mill District, said the commission needed more time to discuss what could be a “precedent-making” decision. The commission will vote on the project on July 12.

Handout via Fairfax County Government

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Report: Wegmans Close to Agreement for Store Near Future Town Center Metro Station

(This article was edited at 4:30 p.m. to clarify information about the size of the potential store.)

Citing a pair of unnamed sources, the Washington Business Journal reports that grocery chain Wegmans has signed a letter of intent to put an urban-format store near the future Reston Town Center Metro station.

According to WBJ, the store would be built in the future Reston Crescent development, a 36-acre plot of land in the northwest corner of the intersection of Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive. That’s across from Reston Association headquarters.

In May, the WBJ reported the Western New York-based chain was looking at a 23-acre property assemblage on Association Drive, near the intersection of Sunrise Valley Drive and Soapstone Drive. Among factors that may have burdened a deal for that site is the proposed Soapstone Connector, which would cut through the property.

The new report states the upscale grocer has committed to Reston Crescent developer Brookfield Properties. The store would be small for a Wegmans, similar in size to the store approved for Tysons at 80,000 square feet. (On its website, Wegmans says its stores range in size from “75,000 to 140,000 square feet.”)

Currently going through the County approval process, the 36-acre property is scheduled to be redeveloped to add up to 2,260 dwelling units, 1.18 million square feet of office space, up to 125,000 square feet of retail, and potentially a 160-room hotel. Six parks are also included in Brookfield’s plan. The WBJ report indicates a deal with Wegmans may mean the site plan will require a redesign to accommodate the grocery store.

There are more than 90 Wegmans stores in six states, ranging from Massachusetts to Virginia. The company has plans to open a store in DC soon, as well as for expansion into North Carolina.

Wegmans’ website shows two confirmed future locations in Fairfax County:

  • A Chantilly location, at Route 28 and Westfields Boulevard, is scheduled for a 2018 opening
  • The Tysons location, at the future Capital One Center near I-495 at Route 123, is listed as a “future site”

The nearest current locations are in Sterling (Dulles 28 Center) and Fairfax.

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RA Board Hears Land Use Update; More Than 40 Projects In The Works

Nearly four dozen major redevelopment projects have been proposed in Reston in the past two years, and residents need to be aware of how much change that means for the community.

That was the message of Larry Butler, Reston Association’s senior director of parks, as he addressed directors during their meeting Thursday. Butler shared information about some of the largest potential redevelopments that remain on the horizon. Butler’s information came from a map that was provided to him recently by the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning.

“When I received it, I was fascinated,” Butler said. “Some of these, most people have not seen.”

Butler specifically shined the spotlight on five projects outlined on the DPZ map.

  • Reston Gateway Commons, to be bordered by Town Center Parkway, Sunset Hills Road and the W&OD Trail. The 23-acre plot, proposed for development by Boston Properties, is between the future Reston Town Center Metro station and RTC itself. In the pre-application process, Boston Properties is proposing 3.94 million square feet of residential and retail, along with a 1/3-acre park. It could have as many as 1,688 dwelling units.
  • Campus Commons, located on the south side of the Dulles Toll Road near the southeast intersection of Wiehle Avenue and Sunrise Valley Drive. The rezoning application, which is in process, would add four new residential buildings and four parks. This could add up to 1,100 dwelling units on the 11.6-acre property.
  • A major property assemblage on Association Drive, near the intersection of Sunrise Valley Drive and Soapstone Drive. This 23-acre plot, which is in the pre-application phase, is rumored to be sought after by grocery chain Wegmans. The design shared by Butler with the board shows a grocery store on the south side of the property, bordering Sunrise Valley Drive, among its numerous retail and residential buildings. Butler said nothing has formally been submitted to the County on the project, but “there are clearly discussions going on that there’s a general concept plan that has been drawn up for this.”
  • The redevelopment of Isaac Newton Square. Butler said the proposal remains in the pre-application phase and there is no preliminary information available yet.
  • Reston Crescent, located in the northwest corner of the intersection of Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive. Currently going through the County approval process, the 36-acre property — which Butler called a “monster development” — would be redeveloped to add up to 2,260 dwelling units, 1.18 million square feet of office space, up to 125,000 square feet of retail, and potentially a 160-room hotel. Six parks are also included in the plan from developer Brookfield Properties.

A total of 44 redevelopment proposals appear on the map provided by DPZ.

“The main point to highlight is there is a lot of activity going on,” Butler said.  “This gives you an idea of the volume of activity that is happening here in Reston.”

As director of parks, Butler noted that the revised Comprehensive Plan calls for three fully lighted athletic fields near the TSAs — something absent from the redevelopment proposals.

“In none of these have we seen a ballfield,” Butler said. “I think we need to drum up a little interest in this … to define locations on some of these major assemblages where these things can occur.”

John McBride, RA’s land-use attorney, said it is impressive to see so many developers willing to invest in the community; however, he added, Restonians need to make sure they remain informed on each application and remain engaged with Fairfax County throughout the approval process.

“It’s a lot of work to get up on these applications, [but] public input is so important,” McBride said. “You are listened to by senior County staff and all of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors members and planning commissioners only when you do your homework [and] you’re reasonable.”

None of the properties highlighted by Butler in the proposal lie within the purview of Reston Association, meaning any meeting with the Design Review Board by a developer would be as a courtesy only.

Map courtesy Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning via Reston Association

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Report: Wegmans Grocery Chain May Be Eyeing Expansion into Reston

(This article was edited at 4:45 p.m. with comment from Wegmans.)

Upscale grocery store Wegmans is looking to expand into Reston, the Washington Business Journal reports.

According to the report, sources tell the WBJ that the Western New York-based chain is looking at a 23-acre property on Association Drive, near the intersection of Sunrise Valley Drive and Soapstone Drive. The several owners who own pieces of the property have banded together to offer the assemblage for sale, the WBJ previously reported.

That location is only about a half-mile west of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station, in an area that is seeing a huge amount of residential and retail development.

There are more than 90 Wegmans stores in six states, ranging from Massachusetts to Virginia. The nearest current locations are in Sterling (Dulles 28 Center) and Fairfax.

Among factors that may burden any deal for the property is the planned Soapstone Connector, which would cut through the property. The grocery chain is also considering property close to the future Herndon Metro station at Fairfax County Parkway, according to the report.

Wegmans requires a large footprint — approximately 15 acres — for one of its stores.

In response to an inquiry from Reston Now regarding the report, Wegmans media relations coordinator Valerie Fox said the following:

On our website is a list of sites where we have announced plans to build a store. There are always many rumors about other new sites, but we don’t comment on rumors or speculation. We open just three or four stores each year and our new store growth is concentrated in the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions.”

The site shows two future locations in Fairfax County:

  • A Chantilly location, at Route 28 and Westfields Boulevard, is scheduled for a 2018 opening
  • A Tysons location, near I-495 at Route 123, is listed as a “future site”
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Why Wegmans Will Never Open at Tall Oaks

wegmansThe Reston community continues to chime in on what to do with the largely empty Tall Oaks Village Center. One answer pops up often: “I’d love to see a Wegmans there.”

Ah, Wegmans. It’s a happy place. With 11 kinds of salmon, a coffee bar, cheese so rare it’s kept in a locked case and a chef custom-making your lunchtime stir-fry. Restonians are clearly fans — but must travel to Sterling or Fair Lakes to get an $18 artisan fruit tart.

Could it be that the mostly available space at Wiehle Avenue and North Shore Drive would make gourmet grocery dreams come true?

Sorry, no.

“We are not considering this location,” Jo Natale, Wegmans Director of Media Relations for the Rochester, N.Y., based chain wrote in an email.

Wegmans didn’t become Wegmans by squeezing the stores into any old space. The company has requirements of 150,000 square feet for the store alone, along with 800 surface parking spots, says a local land use attorney.

That means Wegmans needs about 15 acres to be Wegmans. The Tall Oaks site is about seven acres — and the anchor store, which used to house a Giant Food, is only about 38,000 square feet.

And that’s before the discussion would even begin on the traffic pattern and access from Wiehle Avenue.

So to review — Wegmans is not interested and the site is not appropriate.

You’re still going to have to head to Loudoun County or Fair Lakes for the hand-silced Nova lox or a wine selection curated by someone who knows a Syrah from a Cabernet.

Photo: Wegmans/Credit: Wegmans

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