As co-owner of Reston's Used Book Shop at Lake Anne Village Center, Sue Burwell has mixed feelings about an effort underway to revitalize and possibly redevelop Reston's historic area.
"I am nervous about it," she said. "I'm concerned that they'll dissolve Lake Anne Plaza as the heart of Reston."
Like Burwell, many Lake Anne residents and business owners are worried about the push to revitalize Lake Anne. Last week, more than 100 concerned citizens met with county and local officials at the Reston Community Center at Lake Anne to learn the status of the project.
Organizers insist it is too early in the process to discuss specific plans about what precisely is in store for Reston's first village center, which combines homes, restaurants, shopping, offices and recreation.
Those specifics are expected to come out before the end of the year, once consultants wrap up an economic study currently underway to research the area's infrastructure, land ownership and market conditions. The consultants, led by the Baltimore firm of Basile, Baumann, Prost & Associates, have until Dec. 9 to complete their study.
"This study will give us a yardstick to let us know what exactly is needed to turn Lake Anne into a vibrant, self-sustaining center," said Kurt Pronske, president of the Reston Community Reinvestment Corporation, a nonprofit organization spearheading the revitalization effort.
BUT THE ECONOMIC study is not the only facet of the revitalization effort underway. Several developers, particularly Atlantic Realty, have made offers to buy properties around Lake Anne that have been identified as probable sites for redevelopment.
David Ross, Atlantic Realty's CEO, has said he would like to buy the building housing the Association of School Business Officials International and the Millenium Bank building. Ideally, he said, he would demolish the ASBO building and expand the entrance to the lake. To increase parking, he said he would build an underground parking garage where the existing parking lot is.
Ross also said he would like to build condominiums in the area with several hundred units, slightly increasing the density of the immediate Lake Anne Village Center area that is home to 5,785 people.
Other developers have made offers to buy the Good Shephard Lutheran Church, which will soon be vacant. And the parcels of the land adjacent to the Lake Anne Fellowship House and behind the Washington Plaza Baptist Church have also been identifed as prime locations for new commercial or residential buildings.
Should a developer cobble together a few properties, it would be on a better footing to handle the upcoming redevelopment project and positioned well to build new businesses and residential high-rises.
Pronske said he is not sure what will happen once the study is completed, but the slew of developers attempting to gain a foothold in Lake Anne is evidence that changes are probably in store for the area.
"Reston's hot right now," he said. "Something is going to happen around that plaza."
LAKE ANNE resident Kaye King said she is worried that amidst the potential changes the plaza could lose its quaint ambiance.
"If we want noise and cars and pollution, we walk a mile to Town Center," she said. "Why would we want to follow that? We're the alternative."
King also disagreed with the assumption that Lake Anne needs more density to sustain its businesses. And by redeveloping and adding high-rise residential buildings, longtime Lake Anne residents could be pushed out by higher rent and cost of living, she said.
"I don't understand why they're trying to monkey around with us," she said. "They want us to be a third-rate Town Center, but we're already a first-rate Lake Anne."
The president of the Lake Anne Merchant Association and owner of Jasmine Cafe, Eduardo Faubert, said he believes Lake Anne has some room to grow, but in a sensible, measured way.
"There can be growth in a tasteful way to allow for additional merchants and residents," he said.
But Faubert said that whatever happens, Lake Anne must be kept a "village" — a reasonably quiet center of residential and commercial life.
"We're not going to let this get out of hand," he said. "It's going to be something that we can all live with."