Fairfax County Public Library’s children’s collection has gotten a big funding boost.
Friends of Reston Regional Library, a volunteer-run organization that supports and promotes Reston Regional Library and Herndon Fortnightly Library along with the rest of the library system, donated $100,000 for the collection.
“This is a major donation for our group and we’re very excited to spread the word, especially as the County is about to publish its draft budget,” the organization wrote in a statement to FFXnow. “We know the library’s collection has so far been seriously underfunded.”
The gift will be used this year to purchase more copies of books that the system already has, as well as new book for young readers. It will help fund the purchase of children’s non-fiction books, picture books and children’s and young adult fiction books.
The check was officially presented on Sunday (Feb. 4) to FCPL Director Jessica Hudson at the Friends’ Mystery and Thriller book sale at Reston Regional Library.
FCPL is seeking a permanent increase in funds to bring its children’s collection up to date. County Executive Bryan Hill will release his proposed fiscal year 2025 budget on Feb. 20.
After several months of uncertainty about the future of Reston Town Center North, some clarity is on the horizon.
The RTC North Task Force — a group assembled by Hunter Mill District Walter Alcorn last year — has officially completed its recommendations for the area, which is roughly bounded by Baron Cameron Avenue, Town Center Parkway, Bowman Towne Drive and Fountain Drive.
The report, which follows months of meetings and an in-person walkthrough, recommends the placement of several public facilities across eight blocks.
At a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting today (Tuesday), Alcorn described the step as a “significant milestone.”
“It should be noted that discussion is ongoing by the Task Force on possible interim uses of county parcels, specifically Blocks 1 and 8, pending funding and county approval processes,” Alcorn said. “It is recognized that there will be a need for flexibility with community needs changing over time.”
The task force recommendations for where to locate facilities in RTC North break down as follows:
- Block 1: Future school site
- Blocks 2, 4 and 6: Inova development
- Block 3: New library
- Block 5: Homeless shelter and human services building
- Block 7: Athletic field
- Block 8: Recreation center
The task force recommends placing a new Reston Regional Library on Block 3, which will face a central green. The new library would have 40,000 square feet of space, including a community meeting space.
“Following best practices in community design, the new library facility should serve as a location for placemaking, which means designing spaces to create community interaction in indoor and outdoor settings,” the report says.
According to the task force proposal, the Embry Rucker Shelter and associated housing would be located on Block 5. Originally built in 1986, the shelter has long needed upgrades. The new 25,000-square-foot facility would have medical beds, training and workforce development services, and 18 permanent housing units.
The task force anticipates the new location will allow residents to access transportation and employment opportunities effectively. The current shelter will continue to operate until the new facility is completed. Read More
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a motion on Tuesday (Sept. 12) by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn asking the county executive to move forward with a real estate exchange agreement with Inova.
The step — which has been contemplated for years — would facilitate the construction of a new Embry Rucker Shelter, affordable housing and Reston Regional Library.
The expedited review comes as a task force has assembled to analyze the proposed public uses at Reston Town Center delivers its final recommendations this fall. Alcorn assembled the task force in April 2022.
If the project goes through, the Embry Rucker Shelter will be replaced with a new facility. Built in 1986, the 10,500-square-foot shelter would be expanded with medical beds, day-use services for training and workforce development, and permanent supportive housing units.
Alcorn noted that the replacement of Reston Regional Library is also a critical need.
“As recently noted by the County Executive, this library has numerous critical systems that are nearing the end of their operational lives, and the timing for the replacement of this popular County facility is also becoming critical,” Alcorn wrote in the board matter.
An interim real estate exchange agreement was approved in September 2015. That concept worked toward a grid of streets and a one-to-one land swap, which would provide the county and Inova with developable blocks.
The future of RTC North was muddied when developer Foulger-Pratt scrapped its plans for a public-private partnership to redevelop the site in February. The unsolicited proposal would have included up to 350 affordable apartments and a new 40,000-square-foot library at the intersection of Bowman Towne Drive and Town Center Parkway.
RTC North is a hodgepodge of irregularly shaped parcels owned by the county, the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority, and Inova. The Fairfax County Park Authority conveyed a 5-acre parcel to the county in exchange for 90,000 square feet of development rights.
The land currently hosts the library, the shelter, the North County Human Services building, the Reston Police Station and the North County Governmental Center.
A developer that filed a plan for a new Reston Regional Library and affordable housing in the Reston Town Center North area is challenging Fairfax County’s handling of its procurement process in court.
The complaint, filed by Reston Civic Core LLC late last year, is being litigated even after developer Foulger-Pratt withdrew its offer of a public-private partnership for the same area — a move that leaves no immediate option for the redevelopment.
Foulger-Pratt offered an unsolicited proposal in October 2021 under the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act to redevelop two properties with up to 350 affordable apartments and a new library on land owned by the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority.
The county and FCHRA declined to comment, given that the issue is under active litigation.
“As a matter of policy, we don’t comment on matters in litigation,” said Linda Hoffman, a county spokeswoman.
In addition to retaining 30 units at Bowman Towne Court, Norton Scott’s plan called for 324 affordable housing units and a new library on mostly county-owned property next to the Bowman Towne Center property. It also included a public plaza, homeless shelter, performing arts amenities, and above-ground parking for the Hunter Mill District Supervisor’s Office and the police department.
The complaint formally alleges that the county violated Dillon’s rule and urges the county to accept its application for consideration. It also calls on the court to cancel the interim agreement with Foulger-Pratt — which has since been canned.
The county issued a call for competing proposals — as required by law. Norton Scott’s competing plan was rejected.
The county moved to sign an interim agreement with Foulger-Pratt in July, but the agreement was voided in February. Foulger-Pratt cited “significantly higher construction costs and recent interest rate hikes” as the primary reasons for scrapping the proposal.
Norton Scott argues that the because the proposal publicly posted by the county had 74 of 188 pages fully redacted, it barred the developer from developing an understanding of its competition.
“As a result of the heavily-redacted proposal, it was impossible for potential offers to gain a clear understanding of what the county sought when it invited competing proposals of the project,” the complaint says. “The lack of transparency runs counter to the principles of open competition and access to information that are at the foundation of public procurements.”
The developer also alleges that the county did not not formally reject its proposal and instead “determined that the proposal will not be accepted for detailed review,” according to legal documents.
“Under the PPEA, after accepting the proposal or consideration, the county was without authority to reverse course and not accept the proposal for consideration,” the complaint states.
At a later point, the county then stated the proposal was “ineligible for review.”
A task force with various stakeholders is currently examining key issues in Reston Town Center North.
Chelsea Rao, a senior vice president with Norton Scott, said it seems that the development’s team solution is not being considered at all.
“It seems silly that there is a task force looking for a solution that is not considering the option we have proposed,” Rao said.
The case is currently in the discovery phase.
At a board meeting yesterday (Tuesday), the board approved a motion by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn to procure the 4.5-acre site and direct the RTC North task force to help plan its future.
“There is a pressing need for new and updated public facilities and affordable housing, including a new regional library and emergency shelter for our homeless population, as those facilities are at or near the end of their functional life,” the board matter states.
The move comes just a month after Foulger-Pratt withdrew its proposal to redevelop the property with 350 affordable housings units and a new Reston Regional Library, citing increasing construction costs. The proposal had been processed through the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act.
The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority owns a little over half of the property, along with a nearly 1.6-acre parking lot for the Reston District Police Station.
Alcorn directed the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services to develop a plan for health and human services in the RTC North area.
“This motion will, I think, really help with the process forward as the community starts to basically get its arms around what needs to happen in RTCN,” Alcorn said.
The motion also asks FCRHA to create a procurement strategy for the development of the property.
Alcorn created a task force last spring to make recommendations on the redevelopment of the 47-acre RTC North property, which is composed of several parts of land at the intersection of Bowman Towne Drive and Town Center Parkway.
The task force has been meeting this year and will also make recommendations about replacing the Embry Rucker Community Shelter and building a new county health and human services facility.
Meetings have been ongoing by the task force, which is chaired by former board chair Kate Hanley.
In a termination letter, the developer cited “significantly higher construction costs and recent interest rate hikes” as the primary reason for ending the agreement. The team also stated that a 24% increase in the project’s overall costs — which would have delayed the completion of the site.
The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority had approved an interim agreement with the developer in October to build up to 350 affordable apartments and a 40,000-square-foot Reston Regional Library on FCRHA-owned property at the intersection of Bowman Towne Drive and Town Center Parkway.
That leaves the county’s existing affordable housing at Bowman Towne Court in limbo. The construction of a new Reston Regional Library will also be delayed by several years, according to the county. Both facilities are at the end of their useful life.
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said the withdrawal offers the public sector a chance to lead the redevelopment process in the future.
“The withdrawal of the unsolicited proposal under PPEA provides an opportunity for the public sector to better define the redevelopment approach for this site — instead of reacting to a developer’s ideas for highest and best use,” Alcorn wrote in a statement. “Our pressing public needs have not changed — starting with a new regional library, a new shelter, updated and more affordable housing.”
Until a future redevelopment plan is identified, the county’s housing authority will maintain its units on the site. Fairfax County Public Library is also evaluating how to meet the immediate challenges of its aging building.
“It is anticipated that a new library would be built through a public-private partnership in order to leverage a $10 million bond that voters approved in 2012. The existing library is at the end of its useful life, and a new building is urgently needed,” the county says.
Fougler-Pratt was the first to offer up the proposal to the county — a process that was publicly questioned by developer Norton Scott, which hoped to submit a competing proposal for consideration.
County housing officials anticipate that the location’s redevelopment is “inevitable,” given its proximity to the Reston Town Center Metro Station.
FCHRA will now prepare to seek redevelopment proposals for the project.
A task force will discuss the redevelopment of Reston Town Center North (RTC North) beginning today (Monday).
The meeting will set into motion a master plan focused on community facilities in the area, which is roughly bounded by Baron Cameron Avenue, Town Center Parkway, Bowman Towne Drive and Fountain Drive.
Led by former Fairfax County Board Chair Kate Hanley, the task force was created by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn in April.
The work will help guide several key development forces taking shape in the area.
Most notably, Foulger-Pratt is working with the county on plans for a new regional library in the Bowman Towne Court area. The project could include a 350-unit multifamily community and will be on a nearly 4.5-acre piece of land partly owned by the county and the Fairfax County Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
An approved conceptual plan between Inova Health Care Services and the county contemplates a mix of uses for RTC North, including office space, residential units, and public uses like the Embry Rucker Shelter, supportive housing and the North County Human Service Building.
So far, a 3-acre area — formerly the home of the Inova Cameron Glen Nursing Home — is set to remain as an open green area.
“Actual development within the resulting blocks will be subject to future community input in addition to the DRB and Fairfax County zoning review processes,” the county said.
The county hopes to redevelop the area into a vibrant, urban, mixed-use environment that provides a transition from the denser Reston Town Center to the surrounding environment.
The task force includes representation from surrounding neighborhoods. The first meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the North County Governmental Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive).
After the pandemic unearthed new needs, Friends of Reston Regional Library is offering $200,000 in grants to support literacy efforts in the community.
The organization, which supports and promote Reston Regional Library and the overall Fairfax County Public Library system, is accepting applications for grants ranging from $5,000 to $30,000 to nonprofits that offer hands-on programming that impacts literacy in Reston, Herndon and the county overall.
“The Friends of the Reston Regional Library was founded with the intent of supporting our local library branch, our library system, and our community,” organizers wrote in a statement. “In light of the recent increase in challenges faced by many populations, including the difficulty in accessing information and educational resources, we seek to strengthen and improve our involvement in the community at large.”
Applications for grants are due by Jan. 11.
The grant program comes after the Friends raised $200,000 this spring for FCPL.
The organization has also set aside funds for a new library planned for Reston in anticipation of challenges associated with the property. It’s likely the new facility may not provide enough space for book sale and donation processing — the primary method for the organization to raise funds.
That application is currently working its way through the county’s approval process.
More information about the grant application process is available online.
The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s commissioners voted yesterday (Oct. 20) to approve an interim agreement with the developer for up to 350 affordable apartments and a 40,000-square-foot Reston Regional Library on the 2.9-acre property owned by FCRHA at the intersection of Bowman Towne Drive and Town Center Parkway.
Foulger-Pratt submitted an unsolicited proposal last year under the Virginia Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002 (PPEA). The FCRHA’s vote kicks off a period of community engagement that is set to begin this winter.
“In consideration of the Interim Agreement, we received and considered a great deal of feedback from the community,” FCRHA Chairman Melissa McKenna said. “We are eager to continue the discussion, as we have with communities across the county in PPEA projects such as this, in order to further explore the opportunity for expanding affordable housing on the FCRHA’s property, and deliver well-integrated, high-quality housing in one of the largest activity centers in the county.”
Foulger-Pratt’s plan includes apartments for households between 30 and 70% of the area median income, a parking garage, and landscaping. It allocates 240 parking spaces for the library, along with a drop-off area for patrons and book returns.
The agreement has been criticized by developer Norton Scott, which asserts that a competing proposal it submitted should also be considered with more opportunities for public comment.
“Reston deserves a thoughtful and public process to determine the placement of a new Regional Library. This is only possible if the community can consider all of the options available,” wrote Chelsea Rao, a senior Vice President with Norton Scott, in a statement to FFXnow.
If the Foulger-Pratt proposal moves forward, the county would finance, own and operate the public library, while the developer would finance, design and operate the affordable housing component of the property.
FCHRA’s vote to approve the interim agreement is not an official vote in favor of the project. Separate rezoning and land use approvals will be required.
Following a community outreach program, FCHRA will enter into a comprehensive agreement with the developer, with the ultimate goal of moving towards permitting and construction. An exact timeline was not immediately available.
A developer that filed a competing proposal for a new Reston library and affordable housing is calling into question Fairfax County’s handling of an unsolicited proposal it received for a new library near the same site.
Developer Norton Scott says the county mishandled the solicitation process after developer Foulger-Pratt filed a proposal to redevelop 4.5 acres of land at the intersection Bowman Towne Court and Town Center Parkway in October 2021.
Norton Scott is petitioning the county to incorporate more public opportunities to review other sites for the library that the company says would better serve Reston residents and are more in line with Reston’s comprehensive plan.
“They are sliding this through in a way that circumvents the public process that is so inherent to planning in Reston,” Chelsea Rao, vice president of Norton Scott, told FFXnow.
The Foulger-Pratt proposal — which was publicized with significant redactions — would redevelop the 4.5-acre property into an apartment building for working families and a new library, while demolishing 30 affordable rental townhomes on the site. What’s publicly known is that roughly 350 affordable housing units across two buildings with a garage and the library are planned.
The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA) issued a call for competing proposals earlier this year — all governed under the provisions of the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002, which lays different groundwork for public-private partnerships.
To date, the Norton Scott proposal is the only competing application received.
Located near Reston Regional Library’s current site and a neighboring lot owned by the developer’s subsidiaries across from the police station’s parking lot, the Norton Scott plan would have consolidated three county-owned parcels with a one-core parcel to the south.
It would’ve created a 1.8-acre plaza, 39,000-square-foot library, a new homeless shelter, a performing arts center, a human services building, and 582 housing units — including 354 affordable units. The plan would also preserve existing affordable housing on the Bowman Town Center Court property.
But FCHRA spokesperson Benjamin Boxer told FFXnow that Norton Scott’s application was deemed non-responsive because it involves a completely different site.
“Norton Scott’s competing proposal was non-responsive to the solicitation because the site for their proposal was located on entirely different property owned by the Board of Supervisors, as well as a separate parcel owned by Norton Scott, not the FCRHA-owned property identified in the request for competing proposals issued by the FCRHA,” Boxer said. “Norton Scott may submit its own unsolicited proposal for the other location, and they were so advised over a month ago.” Read More