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Economic vision for Lake Anne area coalesces, but buy-in still needed from property owners

A consultant is working on a final report on Lake Anne’s economic vision, which was initiated by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn (via Street Sense)

In the future, Reston’s Lake Anne neighborhood should chase an economic vision where it will blossom into a local destination with a regional draw, according to a presentation by a Fairfax County-hired consultant.

At a community meeting on June 8, consultant Street Sense laid out the economic vision for the Lake Anne Commercial Revitalization Area following months of surveys, interviews and meetings with the community. The final report is expected to come out sometime this month, according to the county’s website.

The plan suggests concentrating new apartment units on the Crescent property at 1527 Cameron Crescent Drive, the addition of cultural attractions, a parking structure, a centralized green space, connections from the Crescent site to Lake Anne Plaza via a new park, and the restoration of a tunnel to the east side of the area.

A draft concept shows the proposed mix of uses at Lake Anne (via Street Sense)

The next phase of the project will include discussions with stakeholders — particularly the many property owners in the area — to determine if and when there is buy-in for the vision suggested by the Lake Anne Economic Visioning Study. That process could take between three to four months.

Street Sense kicked off the visioning study in mid-February with focus group sessions, followed by several community meetings and workshops. The study came at the request of Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, who sought to build consensus on the economic vision for the area.

Alcorn said redevelopment of the Crescent Apartments property — a prospect for years — is now on the horizon within “the next few years.”

“I didn’t want to move forward with the Crescent until this project moved forward,” Alcorn said, adding that the study was critical to ensuring that the Crescent project aligns with the community’s desire for the surrounding area.

Bruce Leonard, managing principal of Street Sense, said building consensus will be a key decision point.

“The vision isn”t from coming from the county. The vision is not coming from Street Sense. The vision is coming from you,” Leonard said.

Elizabeth Hagg, director of the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Development’s community revitalization section, said buy-in from stakeholders will be necessary to determine if property owners want to participate.

Leonard emphasized that additional retail was impractical, noting that the retail market is especially saturated in Northern Virginia.

“You’re kind of at a sweet spot now,” he said.

Angela McGarvey, managing director of brand at Street Sense, repeatedly noted the uniqueness of the Lake Anne area.

“It’s supremely local, it’s supremely special and it’s supremely one of a kind,” she said.

County officials and the consultants said most community members agreed on the need for a cultural anchor, maker spaces, seasonal amphitheaters, more parking and a centralization of housing at the Crescent site.

But mixed feedback was received on other issues, including how to manage infrastructure improvement and maintenance, the permanent structure of the farmers’ market, the location of the cultural anchor and amphitheater, and the extent to which the local village center can and should become a regional draw.

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