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Consultant pitches divergent plans for Lake Anne’s future, housing

The Lake Anne area could pursue two different directions going forward, a consultant says: adhere to its status as Reston’s original village or transform into a destination landmark.

At a May 18 meeting, consultant Street Sense pitched the two visions for the nearly 60-year-old center. A second community workshop is planned in June.

Overall, the consultant suggests additional residential density on the Crescent site, allowing buildings from three to seven stories in height. The residential project should be between Lake Anne’s current density of 35 units per acre and 65 units.

Other changes are also suggested as part of the balancing act of preserving Lake Anne’s status as a local destination while charting its future growth. While an earlier public survey found community support for a grocery store, that’s off the books for Lake Anne’s economic future due to the nature of the center.

Angela McGarvey, managing director of brand at Street Sense, emphasized that multiple stakeholders, property owners, and properties at different stages of deterioration complicate the visioning effort.

“There is a financial imperative to move forward quickly and expediently toward a solution,” McGarvey said.

The first proposal envisions a “curated community with neighborhood draw.” It focuses on introducing new art studio spaces for rent, improving infrastructure, and redesigning the entry of Lake Anne Plaza’s existing surface lot to prioritize aesthetics, efficiency and wayfinding.

New development could feature low-rise apartments and townhomes, along with several accessibility projects like safe crossings from Lake Anne House and the Crescent to the plaza.

McGarvey noted that the plan puts less strain on existing infrastructure, maintains current programmed activities, and resembles the scale of current housing in the center.

But the vision would provide no new revenue sources, do little to change retail demand and revenue, and likely place the cost of infrastructure upkeep on existing residents and merchants. More partnerships with the county and others would be needed to maintain infrastructure, likely requiring changes to the Lake Anne of Reston Condominium Association’s condominium agreement and responsibilities.

The second proposal positions Lake Anne as an “iconic destination with regional draw.” The addition of cultural attractions is proposed, along with consistent retail hours and a cohesive merchant’s organization.

The presented vision also includes a parking garage on the west public surface lot and new infrastructure for the farmers’ market.

A mid-rise, mostly multifamily residential development is proposed with a centralized green space and connections to the Crescent site and plaza. Also suggested is a connection of the current trail network to Lake Anne, restoration of the tunnel on the east side of the area, and a safer crossing from Lake Anne House and the Crescent to the plaza.

The second vision would create new revenue streams and potentially make Lake Anne a “year-round destination,” the consultant said. Using a more intense residential product would also free up more land for public amenities and cultural uses.

But the plan would require more upkeep, and new programming and venues could impact the amount of open space and the design of public areas around the commercial center.

Both plans simply state the need for a “solution-oriented approach” to clarify roles and responsibilities related to infrastructure, according to Streetsense. In recent years, infighting and local disputes have plagued the village center.

The consultant emphasized that “any movements forward will include a more targeted discussion with property owners.”

Streetsense conducted a visioning survey in February and March to court public opinions, along with in-person workshops and focus groups. A final report is slated for a June release.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn initiated the study last year to form a consensus around the economic vision for the Lake Anne Community Revitalization Area (LACRA).