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Reston Regional Library (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Fairfax County is gearing up to officially swap land with Inova, moving forward several key elements of the redevelopment of Reston Town Center North.

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.

Reston Town Center Station (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

A three-year-long planning effort has culminated in the adoption of a new comprehensive plan for Reston.

At a meeting yesterday (Tuesday), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an overhaul of the Reston Comprehensive Plan, setting into place new guidance on affordable housing, community health, equity and other issues.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn kicked off the overhaul of the plan in January 2020. After more than 50 task force meetings with community stakeholders, county staff and county officials pared down a task force’s draft into a revamped plan. Some called it ambitious, while others worried it was too prescriptive.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said the plan safeguards existing neighborhoods, while bolstering transit and positioning Reston as a major economic development center in the county.

“The adoption of the Reston Comprehensive Plan Amendment is a momentous achievement for Reston, ushering in a new era that ensures Reston’s continued success,” McKay said.

Unlike the previous plan, the new plan includes dedicated principles that define Reston as a new town. Those principles include community health, equity, preservation of neighborhoods and affordable housing.

Alcorn thanked Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner John Carter for his work in producing the final proposal.

“After much deliberation by the Planning Commission and my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors, I am proud to say that Reston has an updated comprehensive plan that is much more than a land use document,” Alcorn wrote in a statement. “It is also a blueprint for the next phase of what Reston has always been – an inclusive community that values our green open spaces and a vibrant economy.”

Alcorn said the plan aims to maintain Reston’s fidelity to founder Robert E. Simon’s original vision while meeting today’s challenges.

“This plan and process proves that even in times of the highest levels of community concern and anxiety about growth and development, this is a consensus community plan. Focusing growth around Metrorail is not only possible, it is the reality in Reston,” Alcorn said.

At yesterday’s meeting, supervisors continued to massage language in the plan.

For example, Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross argued that it was unrealistic for the plan to say the future relocation of Reston Regional Library should not impact service.

“The community will anticipate that its going to be smooth sailing,” Gross said, adding that “disruption” is an in inherent part of the process.

Several pending issues may be ironed out in future updates — including the approval of several applications for zoning changes in Reston.

Alcorn introduced several follow-on motions. Two topics — community health and equity — may be explored in a future update to the county’s overall plans.

Alcorn directed the Fairfax County Park Authority, Reston Community Center, Reston Town Center Association and Reston Association to develop a strategy for the long-term maintenance and upkeep of community facilities in Reston.

He also asked staff to improve safety at Sunrise Valley Drive and Fairfax County Parkway, as well as along Reston Parkway from the Dulles Toll Road to Sunrise Valley Drive.

The planning commission also wants the county to develop and implement design standards for better pedestrian and bicycle access to Metro stations.

The new Sugarland Run Bridge in Herndon gets a ribbon-cutting ceremony (courtesy Fairfax County Park Authority)

A new pedestrian bridge at Sugarland Run Stream Valley Park has officially opened.

The steel bridge, located in a section of the park between Heather Down Drive and Eddyspark Drive, was added to connect the community to the Sugarland Run Stream Valley Trail on the opposite bank of the creek.

The 10-foot-wide structure now completes the connection, which was previously broken due to flood and storm damage for many years.

The project was funded by nearly $740,000 from a park bond in 2020, according to the Fairfax County Parks Authority.

“We celebrated National Park and Recreation Month in July, and the theme of this year’s observance was ‘Where Community Grows,'” FCPA Executive Director Jai Cole said during the ribbon cutting. “I can’t think of a more fitting example of how parks and recreation, particularly our trails and bridges, bring communities together and connect residents to a wide range of opportunities, amenities and to one another.”

Crews demolished and removed the remaining structure so the previous bridge, installed a prefabricated steel bridge and built 10-foot-wide, connecting approaches to the bridge.

Local officials and staff, including Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, celebrated the grand opening of the bridge earlier this month.

Several local employers were honored for their participation in Bike to Work Day (via DATA)

More than two dozen local businesses were honored last month for their commitment to “green commuting.”

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn honored the 29 businesses for taking part in this year’s Bike to Work Day employer challenge, which rewarded companies that encouraged their employees to commute via bicycle.

Alcorn said the new Silver Line stations from Reston to Ashburn mean more employees than ever have the option for cycling to and from a bus or train stop.

“Employers who encourage a healthy and green commute, and employees who enjoy our scenic trails on the way to work all contribute to Fairfax County’s sustainability efforts and quality of life,” Alcorn said.

The challenge by the Dulles Area Transport Association (DATA) recognizes local medium and large companies with five or more employees for participating in Bike to Work Day. DATA is a nonprofit public-private partnership between businesses, government, and the community in the greater Dulles area.

The July 28 ceremony also recognized participating small businesses with two or more employees.

A list of this year’s participants is below.

Read More

Lake Anne Plaza in Reston (photo by Ray Copson)

A consultant is beginning a three-month-long process to determine the feasibility and buy-in required to implement a comprehensive revitalization of the Lake Anne area of Reston.

Consultant Street Sense has begun phase two of its economic visioning study of the Lake Anne Commercial Revitalization Area, which kicked off last year. The consultant will conduct a series of one-on-one meetings with individual property owners soon, according to Fairfax County.

“The findings of Phase Two will shape the scope of work for a potential third phase of the Economic Visioning Study, which would investigate the feasibility of implementing the various components contained in the vision plan,” Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said in his weekly newsletter yesterday (Wednesday).

The first phase of the study concluded this summer after a series of public engagement efforts with the community.

So far, the vision suggests a concentration of new apartment units on the Crescent property at 1527 Cameron Crescent Drive, added 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.

The third phase of the study is expected to begin in the first quarter of next year. It could be funded via a carryover adjustment from the fiscal year 2023 budget. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will vote on that carryover package on Sept. 26.

The work comes as the county begins working with stakeholders over the next year to redevelop the Crescent Apartments property at the plaza.

A rendering of Reston Row (via Fairfax County)

Reston Association is asking Fairfax County to find ways to ensure that future development in Reston’s Transit Station Areas (TSAs) commit to joining the association.

In a statement to FFXnow, RA says more than 3,000 units in the TSA areas have been approved without a commitment to join RA.

The Reston Master Plan — the latest version of which is under review — states that development within the area can be better integrated into the fabric of the community with access to existing many amenities — an end “best achieved” by incorporation into RA or the Reston Town Center Association.

“Each of these entities has indicated a willingness to include these new developments in their associations,” the plan states.

But over the last few years, some developers have declined to join RA, despite using amenities managed and owned by RA in marketing materials. RA maintains 55 miles of trails, 15 pools, 54 tennis courts, ballfields, pavilions and four community buildings.

“Unfortunately, over the years several developers have not yet joined RA while using RA facilities in their advertising to entice tenants to rent their apartments,” RA said. “Among them are Comstock, EYA and the Apeture.”

“We have not heard an explanation for these decisions,” RA wrote in a statement.

That issue came to light at a July 28 Fairfax County Planning Commission meeting. During a public hearing on proposed changes to Reston Row, RA president John Farrell expressed the association’s concerns about Comstock, the neighborhood’s developer, not planning to join RA.

“A wise man said the proof of insanity is to make the same mistake over and over,” Farrell said, urging the commission to deny the application. “Let us not continue the insanity of allowing the people of Reston and the taxpayers of the county to subsidize some TSA residential developers.”

Developers that have joined RA include Sekas, Pulte and Toll Brothers.

RA argues that if the nearly 3,000 units authorized in the TSA area were built and subject to RA’s deed, the association would reel in nearly $2.4 million in revenue — enough to reduce the yearly member assessment by $100 each for the 24,000 homeowners in Reston.

“Over the next several years, many of those developers will be coming to the County to reposition their projects and RA will ask that the Hunter Mill Supervisor condition any future approvals on those projects joining RA so that the developer support[s] the maintenance of the RA facilities upon which the developers’ marketing efforts are based,” RA wrote.

The county says that, while the master plan encourages developers to join RA, the plan is intended as a land use document and can’t compel developers to join a local organization.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said he appreciates Reston Association “raising the financial burden associated with managing their extensive network of community recreation and park facilities.”

“We have a rather balkanized system of community facilities across Reston Association, Reston Town Center Association, Reston Community Center, and the Fairfax County Park Authority – in addition to all the cluster associations and NOVA Park’s W&OD trail,” Alcorn said. “I welcome the discussion on how Reston’s community infrastructure could be maintained and updated fairly and sustainably during the coming years and decades.”

The Reston Town Center expansion (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Several deferred proposals to change land uses in Reston are coming to light once again.

At a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday (July 25), Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn proposed that the county begin considering a set of 10 Site-Specific Plan Amendment (SSPA) proposals that were deferred earlier this year due to ongoing work to update Reston’s Comprehensive Plan.

Alcorn asked the county to begin work on the applications, which are part of a countywide set of nominations submitted through its Site-Specific Plan Amendment process.

The move formally seeks to move the applications from tier three of the work program — the lowest priority — to tier one of the program. The work program includes authorized current and future planned studies and amendments to the county’s comprehensive plan.

Tier one applications are focused on areas of development or support a priority explicitly identified by the county, such as affordable housing. Those applications receive the highest priority for staff resources and timing, according to the county’s website.

“While the ultimate outcome of each of these SSPA nominations is still to be determined, there are common themes across the nominations in Reston that would greatly benefit from staff research and analysis that has not yet started,” the board matter states.

The timeline for the approval of the overhaul of the Reston Comprehensive Plan was delayed to Sept. 12 due to recent changes in state codes affecting public hearings. If the change had not been instituted, the plan would’ve been up for consideration at the board’s meeting on Tuesday.

Generally, Reston’s SSPAs favor more housing opportunities and less office development. Areas targeted by the developer proposals include Reston Town Center North, Michael Faraday Court, Commerce Metro Center, Lake Fairfax Business Park and more.

All of those applications will now be moved up and combined into a broad study of Reston’s Transit Station Areas.

A rendering of a nixed plan for development at Lake Anne (via Fairfax County/Lake Anne Development Partners)

Over the next year, a major redevelopment project involving the Crescent Apartments at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston may be on the horizon.

The Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development will work with county partners for the next year to develop a process for the redevelopment of the Crescent property, according to Tom Fleetwood, the department’s director.

The news comes as work on a visioning study to determine the future of Lake Anne continues. Consultant Street Sense is formalizing a vision for the village center area after working with residents and other stakeholders.

“The redevelopment is anticipated to reflect the guidance from the economic visioning study and comport to the board’s intent when it purchased the property in 2006: to preserve and expand the affordable housing opportunities on this site, and to contribute to the economic vitality of historic Lake Anne Village,” Fleetwood wrote in a statement to FFXnow.

Both pieces — the economic visioning study and the development plan — will work in tandem to explore ways to reshape the area.

“The goal is to merge the local market’s pulse with the aspirations of the Lake Anne community and shape a prosperous future for everyone,” said Elizabeth Hagg, director of the community revitalization section in the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Development.

At a June 8 meeting on the economic visioning study, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn emphasized that he wants to ensure the vision for Lake Anne aligns with the redevelopment of the Crescent site.

“I wanted to make sure if at all possible what happens with the Crescent is consistent with what else is happening at Lake Anne,” Alcorn said at the meeting.

Yesterday, Alcorn requested an additional $200,000 from the county for the third phase of the economic visioning project.

The current land use plan for the site was approved in March 2015.

But that December, a long-awaited, 1.7-million-square-foot revitalization plan for the area was pulled. The application covered land unit D of the village center, which includes the Crescent parcel and the gas station. It called for 935 new development units, 15,800 square feet of retail, and 30,000 square feet of office space.

Per the county’s comprehensive plan, there are two options for the site: a redevelopment option and a full consolidation option.

The redevelopment option limits the area to 902,000 square feet of development, with a cap on residential uses of up to 750 apartment units and a non-residential component of up to 2,000 square feet, not including the gas station.

Under the option of full consolidation of the area, the number of residential units is capped at 1.1 million square feet or 935 units and up to 48,000 square feet of non-residential space. The gas station would be consolidated and redeveloped.

The county is currently reviewing an update of its comprehensive plan for Reston, but since the economic visioning study is still underway, the language related to Lake Anne is largely unchanged from the existing plan.

In 2015, the county’s private partner — Lake Anne Development Partners (LADP) — said the development plan was not feasible at the time. LADP had originally intended to break ground later that same year.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn tours Tysons Forest with community members (courtesy Hunter Mill District Office)

With development starting to pick up in the Spring Hill area, the need to protect some of the last remaining natural green space in Tysons has taken on a new level of urgency.

Acknowledging the potential threat, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn — who represents Tysons west of Route 7 and north of Route 123 — will create a community task force to determine the best way to preserve Old Courthouse Spring Branch Stream Valley, also known as Tysons Forest.

“The Task Force will provide a forum for discussion and recommended action to maximize the ecological benefits of this green corridor while maintaining appropriate access by us humans,” Alcorn said in an announcement at yesterday’s Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Encompassing over 40 acres of wooded land, Tysons Forest extends from the Ash Grove historic site down to the Tysons Towers apartments. It includes Raglan Road Park (8590 Raglan Road) as well as the stream valley park.

The area was dubbed “Tysons Last Forest” by residents who banded together in 2013 to halt plans for a road through Old Courthouse Spring Branch Stream Valley Park.

The county’s Tysons Comprehensive Plan emphasizes that the Old Courthouse Spring Branch and Scotts Run stream valleys “should not only be protected from development and infrastructure impacts, but be restored and enhanced.”

However, the plan also envisions “substantial redevelopment” for Tysons West to transform an area currently dominated by auto dealerships and offices into a mixed-use, transit-oriented district with “significant office, residential and retail components, as well as arts and entertainment uses.”

While that development mostly hasn’t emerged yet, the parkland is already close enough to human activities that a potential deer hunt last year was deemed too risky.

The plan proposes developing “multi-use trail and other passive recreational facilities” at Old Courthouse Spring Branch park, while considering athletic fields or other “local-serving recreational uses” at Raglan Road Park.

No changes to that plan will come from the new task force, which isn’t intended to address development in the area, Alcorn told FFXnow.

“Rather it is a task force of representative property owners along the stream valley to discuss management and ecological enhancement of this green corridor that forms the border of Tysons,” he said. “Some of the area has already completed stream restoration but there is as of yet no coordinated plan for the stream valley that lies between the Dulles Toll Road and Gosnell Road.”

According to Alcorn, the task force will be community-led and include representatives of property owners and other “community partners.” He said the other county supervisors and their staffs are also welcome to participate.

The group will convene this fall and is expected to wrap up its work in early 2024.

“It’s actually going to be a fun exercise to see how those ecological assets could be built upon and used for the broader community,” Alcorn said.

Alcorn’s full announcement is below: Read More

By the water at Reston’s Lake Anne Plaza (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 5 p.m.) The final phase of the economic visioning of the Lake Anne area is nearing.

At a meeting today (Tuesday), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors opened up a request for an additional $200,000 for the third phase of the project.

Consultant Street Sense is wrapping up the first phase of the Economic Visioning Study for the Lake Anne Commercial Revitalization Area. The study intended to build community consensus on a path forward for the area.

(Correction: This story previously said the study’s first phase wrapped up this spring, as indicated by a project timeline, but the Hunter Mill District office says it’s just now finishing.)

“We sought an economic vision that was aspirational, grounded in market realities, and able to strengthen the economic viability and sustainability of the area,” Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn wrote in his board matter. “There was extensive participation by the Lake Anne community to shape the economic vision through a combination of focus groups, an online survey, and several in-person workshops and meetings.”

So far, the plan suggests a concentration of new apartment units on the Crescent property at 1527 Cameron Crescent Drive, added 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.

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 Alcorn, who sought to build consensus on the economic vision for the area.

In the second phase of the project, Streetsense will work with individual property owners and determine their willingness to take part in implementing the economic vision.

During the final phase, Streetsense and sub-consultants will investigate options for implementation in a more comprehensive manner.

“This information will provide landowners and the county with a clear understanding of options and allow all stakeholders to construct an actionable plan for realizing the economic vision,” the board matter states.

The final phase is expected to kick off in the first quarter of next year. The funds could be allocated this fall via a carryover adjustment from the fiscal year 2023 budget.


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