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).
At a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday (Tuesday), Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn introduced a motion formally expanding the review’s scope to incorporate elements like equity, community health, and land use issues related to Reston’s village centers.
The review comes after Alcorn’s 31-member task force created a draft of the amended plan. The draft plan was the product of 58 full task force meetings from May 2020 through August 2022. County staff are preparing recommendations for updating the comprehensive plan.
“In order for the range of recommendations to be considered, the goal s to now formally expand the scope fo the plan amendment to include these topic areas for consideration as part of the proposed comprehensive plan amendment,” the board matter said.
Alcorn’s fellow supervisors voiced some concerns about the plan, similar to issues expressed last year about its scope.
“I know this is a pretty Herculean lift,” Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk said.
Sully Supervisor Kathy Smith said she was very concerned about the incorporation of equity and community health into the policy plan — which could conflict with the county’s future policy plans.
“I think that succinctness and putting things in the right place is important in the comprehensive plan and so, redundancies of policies into the area plans could be difficult,” she said.
Others said Alcorn’s expanded list should not be viewed as an appropriate template for other comprehensive plans.
Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross said that the “devil is in the details.”
“I’m also very concerned that I would not want to see this particular list as a template for doing comprehensive plans in other parts of the county, because I think it will strangle opportunity and I think it will give our staff just an overload of work,” Gross said.
In addition to the topics discussed above, the plan will include discussion of land uses for 1810, 1825 and 1950 Samuel Morse Drive and 11111 Sunset Hill Road. The plan would also establish the appropriate land use mix for the Roland Clarke Place residential mixed-use section near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.
A staff report on the revised plan is expected mid-February. The Fairfax County Planning Commission will take a look at it on April 26, following by an anticipated vote by the board on May 9 or 23.
The location of Reston’s future arts center is officially inching closer to realization.
At a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ meeting today (Tuesday), Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn introduced a board matter selecting Block J — near the intersection of Sunset Hills Road and Town Center Parkway — as the location for nearly 60,000-square-foot future arts center.
So far, the county has determined that the block is the most appropriate location for the arts center. It’s part of proffers in Boston Properties’ development plans. The land could have been used as a park or a ball field.
The cost of the project is expected to be hefty — hovering between $58 million in current dollars and $81 million accounting for inflation.
“This process clearly established that the arts center option is not only feasible, but it is clearly superior to the alternatives offered in the proffer,” Alcorn said in the board matter.
The center would be located across the street from the Reston Town Center Metro Station, fulfilling land use and transportation goals, according to the board matter.
A survey in 2019 found that 68% of residents supported the idea of a larger performing center in Reston. While Reston Community Center has advocated for the venue, no determination has been made yet on who will operate it.
RCC hosted a series of meetings on the issue and conducted a feasibility study on the possibility of the center.
Alcorn noted that the board matter doesn’t address financing and other details of the plan, but RCC has indicated that Reston’s small tax district will not be used to pay for the project. A bond referendum would likely be used to pay for the project.
The board approved the measure to accept Block J as the location for a community arts center.
“Accepting this land is accepting it under the provision that it become an arts center, should financing be worked out,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said. “If for some reason that changes, there are other avenues we could pursue in the future.”
The next step in a major rewrite of Reston’s Comprehensive Plan is on the horizon.
At a media briefing earlier this week, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said that the draft plan is slated for public hearings before the Fairfax County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors in April and May.
Because of the nature of the update, Alcorn expects county planners to hold one or more workshops on the update.
Despite some concerns about the ambition of the rewrite, Alcorn said he expects the draft to include tweaks.
The task force approved draft recommendations on Aug. 28 after 58 public meetings, significant public feedback and rigorous debate. Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn convened the task force after he took office in 2020.
“What I’m hoping for is any additional improvements to the plan language, where there might things that either need tightening up or maybe need additional attention,” Alcorn said.
Last month, the board’s land use policy committee asked county staff to incorporate the equity and community health focuses of the draft into a countywide policy plan. The county already has a policy broadly related to equity — One Fairfax.
Because of this direction, Alcorn noted that the plan will likely be rewritten in some areas to apply the ideas directly to Reston.
“Once again, Reston is leading the county on those social issues, which certainly we’ve seen before,” Alcorn said.
A new vision for the future of the Lake Anne area in Reston is brewing.
Fairfax County has hired the consulting firm Streetsense to lead the visioning effort. Beginning next month, the team will launch an initial immersion and discovery phase, followed by a significant community engagement process, according to Tracy Strunk, director of the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Development.
“A final report will identify a strategic position for the area within the competitive landscape, and guide future developments, including branding, marketing, design, and merchandizing, that create a market-relevant consumer experience,” Strunk said.
The four-month study will cost roughly $125,250.
The report will target the Lake Anne Commercial Revitalization Area in an effort to create a market approach with the interests of area stakeholders. The 44-acre area was established in 1998.
At a meeting with media yesterday (Monday), Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn emphasized that the “economic visioning study” will begin with conversations with “various stakeholders.”
Earlier this year, the county approved $300,000 in county funds to help develop a revitalization plan for the area.
In a Jan. 10 letter to Lake Anne residents, Alcorn said the funding would be used for economic envisioning and master planning in order to “support the long-term sustainable development planning for Lake Anne.”
A cursory review of the plaza flagged nearly $37 million in repairs for the aging area.
Nearly a dozen proposals to possibly open up Fairfax County’s comprehensive plan for land use changes to allow development in specific areas of Reston and Herndon are moving forward.
The requested changes largely circle around a common theme: aging office buildings are no longer competitive and more housing stock is needed, according to the applications.
Of the 15 nominations in the Hunter Mill District submitted through the county’s Site-specific Plan Amendment (SSPA) process, a handful did not make it to the next screening phase.
Specifically, plans to replace Reston’s two golf courses — Reston National and Hidden Creek Country Club — with residential development and open space did not get a favorable vote from the board.
In a Dec. 6 statement, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn emphasized that he does not support any proposal to change the comprehensive plan’s golf course designations for those sites unless there is support from surrounding communities.
“Even after considerable community engagement and outreach by the owners of the golf courses, nearby residents — by a large majority — and their cluster association leaders contacted my office and clearly stated that they did not support changing the zoning comprehensive plan designation of the two golf courses. My commitment to community-based comprehensive planning is unchanged,” Alcorn wrote in the statement.
Nine Reston nominations advance
In the Town Center North area (1760 Reston Parkway), RTC Partnership LLC wants to build a 419,000–square-foot residential building instead of the 23-story office building that was approved for the site in 2016.
The developer says the project provides “needed multifamily residential housing,” while boosting “Reston’s economic vitality by helping drive the demand for retail and locally-serving office uses.”
“The proposed nomination would also provide a catalyst redevelopment project in the Town Center North area which would, hopefully, encourage adjacent owners to move forward with similar projects,” according to the application.
Near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, developers are reimagine the future of aging offices surrounded by surface parking.
On Preston White Drive, the developer says in its application that office buildings built in the 1980s “are struggling to survive’ in their current state.
Instead, the developer is seeking the county’s approval for a project with 60-85% residential uses, 5-10% of office space, 5-10% of retail and up to 5% hotel uses.
Highbrook Investors, the owner of property at 12120 Sunrise Valley Drive, wants to demolish the vacant office building on the property and replace it with a higher density residential building than originally planned.
Although the Property has good pedestrian access to the Reston Town Center Metro Station, it is a real challenge for the existing office building to compete with newer, three larger office buildings at the Metro station that provide more amenities, more usable office space configurations, and easier access to Metro for office employees (who tend to not be willing to walk as far as residents to transit).
In a deviation from the push for more housing, at Commerce Metro Center, the developer wants to up the development intensity and allow more space for offices. CP Management Center would demolish an office building in the development to create a new mid-block road and an urban plaza area with street-level areas. Read More
The path to maintaining the aging Vantage Hill condominiums in Reston is officially clear.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday (Dec. 6) to move forward with the redevelopment, which will replace the southwest portion of the property — an abandoned pool that closed years ago — with 28 townhouses.
Sales generated with the sale of the for-sale townhouses by Craftmark Homes will finance roughly $4.5 million in long-needed upgrades for the condos, a 152-complex that was built in 1962.
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said that without this project, Vantage Hill could have been looking at “some very difficult choices.”
“This is an example of how it really should be done when it can be done,” Alcorn said.
Alcorn — who serves on a statewide task force on aging structures — said that similar models may be applied to other areas in other districts.
“Unfortunately, many times, it’s going to be a question of swiping the site and starting over or somehow finding the funding the money for the required improvements,” he said.
Sales generated from the sale of the townhomes are expected to finance new windows and doors, upgraded heating, new plumbing, a bigger playground, and metered electrical service for each unit.
The cold and rain didn’t dampen enthusiasm for the opening of Metro’s long-awaited, $3 billion Silver Line Phase II.
Yesterday marked the much-anticipated public opening of the 11.4-mile extension of the rail line from Reston into Loudoun County. Along with six new stations, this marks the first time that locals can take a train to Dulles International Airport.
Over multiple ribbon-cutting ceremonies throughout the chilly, wet November day, local officials touted the debut of the line as a “game-changer” and a “new era” for western Fairfax County and the D.C. region as a whole.
“It really is the establishment of a new identity for the Dulles corridor,” Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said at the new Reston Town Center station. “Now, what we’re going to see is the Dulles corridor tied together with transit in a way that was really never anticipated…We are in a new era.”
Riders, too, recognized what this could mean for the region and their daily travel.
“It’s going to change my life,” Raj Paradaar told FFXnow while riding the extension’s first passenger-filled train heading westbound. He lives in Ashburn and works near the Reston Town Center station, so he plans to ride the Metro most days.
Inside the Innovation Center station, commuters came and went, including a United Airlines flight attendant headed to work at Dulles. He lives in an apartment building across the street from the new station, along with a number of other flight attendants, FFXnow was told.
“That’s where we live,” the United Airlines flight attendant said pointing outside. “And that’s where we work…Honestly, taking a train is just much easier.”
Other riders said the extension won’t significantly affect their day-to-day habits, but they agreed it will make getting to the airport simpler.
Franconia resident Terry Rice, clutching luggage, happened to have a trip to Italy scheduled on the extension’s opening day. While planning, she realized that Dulles Airport was now only a train ride away.
“It may not change my life, but it’s going to make my life much easier,” Rice said.
Pulling into Reston Town Center station, the first stop on the new line. pic.twitter.com/83JP2LwMQh
— Matt Blitz (@WhyBlitz) November 15, 2022
During yesterday’s ceremonies, officials tried to make clear that the Silver Line extension’s impact is anticipated to go beyond simply being a link to the airport, reiterating a message that many have been saying for years.
“We have within our grasp…the ability to completely reinvent, reimagine [this corridor] as mixed-use development, as transit-oriented development, as environmentally friendly, as improving quality of life, as reducing carbon emissions, and as restoring choices for people who live in Northern Virginia,” said newly reelected Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11) at a ceremony outside of the Innovation Center station. Read More
Fairfax County staff are still reviewing a draft of Reston’s new comprehensive plan — a two-year-long effort to update the county’s vision for the area, including development goals.
A staff report — which includes responses to public comments — will be released early next year. The draft report covers 14 topic areas and was created after Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn in the January 2020.
At an October Board of Supervisors meeting, staff and some board members anticipated major changes to the draft text. Supervisors also noted that the plan may be ambitious or difficult to enforce.
County staff expect to offer updates to the Fairfax County Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors in December and January, respectively.
That means public meetings will be pushed into the spring of 2023.
In an October newsletter, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn noted that he plans to have one-on-one meetings with the other supervisors in the coming months to discuss the plan.
“Residents should continue to provide written input or ask questions about the Reston Comprehensive Plan recommendations here,” Alcorn said in his newsletter.
As the county officially approves paying an additional $40 million to finish the Silver Line Phase II, fare evasion continues to irk supervisors.
At yesterday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the county followed through on the transportation committee’s recommendation last month to pay an additional $40.25 million to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) for the completion of the Silver Line Phase II.
As noted at the Sept. transportation committee meeting, the board didn’t have much choice in the matter. In July, MWAA agreed to increase the budget for the extension by $250 million which will be largely shouldered by Dulles Toll Road users. Because the original project agreement calls for Fairfax County to pay about 16% of the overage, the county owed an additional $40.25 million.
Last month, Board Chair Jeff McKay expressed his frustration about paying even more money for the much-delayed project but noted that it was a “requirement” and the county didn’t have the flexibility to not pay it “without significant negative consequences.”
At yesterday’s meeting, though, McKay struck a slightly different tone by focusing on the Silver Line Phase II’s potential to be a “game-changer” for the region.
“We can’t understate the importance of this project to the long-term success of Fairfax County,” McKay said. “It’s a major milestone.”
There remains no set date for when the line will be ready for riders, though Metro confirmed to FFXnow yesterday that it’s on track to open by Thanksgiving with the go-ahead to add more trains.
The supervisors also took a few moments at this week’s meeting to discuss Metro’s plans to stop fare evasion. Earlier this month, Metro announced it was ramping up enforcement and will be testing new station fare gates that are more difficult to jump over.
Metro estimates that fare evasion has cost the agency about $40 million this year, or nearly a quarter of its budget gap.
Several supervisors noted that they were pleased there was finally movement on better enforcement of fare evasion. Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said there are certainly “equity issues” when it comes to enforcement, but “it has to be a level playing field.”
However, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust called fare evasion the “least of [Metro’s] challenges” in terms of securing long-term funding for a system that could be facing a $500 million funding gap next year.
“They need a plan that goes way beyond [dealing] with fare evasion,” said Foust.