After hearing four separate proposals which could bring over 1,000 new condos to Reston, Richard Eckhardt wondered if it might be too much.
“Is there any fear, by any of the developers, that we’re going a little too fast here?” said Eckhardt, chair of the Reston Association’s Planning and Zoning Committee.
The developments are sufficiently different and spaced apart that they should not really conflict with each other, said Art Fuccillo, vice-president of development for Lerner, one of the developers.
The main concern of developers is that the economy stays strong and there continues to be a demand for condos as upscale empty nesters want to live in smaller houses without yards to maintain. “Now, God willing, the market stays strong,” he said.
Fuccillo’s project was the fourth on a busy night for the committee. His company is proposing to build two condo buildings on the 23-acre campus of the Oracle Corporation, off Sunset Hills Road. Oracle has a plan which would allow construction of four office buildings on the site.
Two are already there and a third is planned, said Mark Looney, attorney for Lerner. However, Oracle decided that they would not need the fourth office building and so entered a deal with Lerner to develop residential buildings on the site. The buildings will be within a 10 minute walk of the Reston Town Center, Looney said.
The plan calls for two buildings, one 13-stories and the other 15. There will be a total of 452 condominium units, each less than 1,000 square feet. Lerner also hopes to include a small restaurant with some outside seating on the site, Fuccillo said.
The plan is tentatively scheduled to go before the Planning Commission on Feb. 13, Looney said. Because of the nature of the project, it does not need to go to the Board of Supervisors for final approval.
If it is approved, construction will start soon. “We anticipate that we’re going to go forward with this immediately,” Fuccillo said.
Another high-density residential project would go in the center of Reston. Two blocks of the Town Center, between Bluemont Way and Market, Library and Explorer streets are being developed by Boston Properties.
Boston owns both blocks, and wants to put a three-building office complex with ground floor retail on the northern of the two. Boston is a commercial developer, and current market conditions do not make it economical to build an office building with sufficient parking, the developer says. So Boston is proposing to develop the southern block as residential with extra parking to handle the overflow of its office buildings.
They plan to build both the office building and parking garage simultaneously, and hope to start early next year – the Planning Commission is scheduled to hear the proposal on Dec. 1. They will the enter into negotiations with a residential developer to construct a condo building on top of the operating parking garage, said Looney, also the attorney for Boston Properties. Looney says they are asking to be able to build about 400 units on top of the garage, but he anticipates that number will drop a bit.
The development will not include any affordable housing units, Looney said. However, they will make a $1.25 million contribution to the county’s affordable housing fund.
Boston officials will also consider some strategies to try and reduce people’s dependency on cars, such as have parking spaces set aside for flexible car rental services, such as “Zipcar.”
Boston plans to fund half of a study to determine how to widen Reston Parkway between Temporary Road and Baron Cameron Drive.
The other half of the study will be funded by another of Looney’s clients. Equity Office Properties Trust has plans to build a complex at the corner of New Dominion and Reston parkways, in what is now commonly known as the Ruby Tuesday’s parking lot.
The developer already has approval for a 250,000 square foot office building on the site and they are asking for the addition of an option to include residential. The new option would remain in essentially the same configuration, and would include some ground-floor retail.
Looney said the developer would offer 10 units to the county at-cost to be used for affordable housing, and would also contribute $500,000 to the county’s affordable housing fund.
The committee did not receive the proposal well. This site, several members noted, was intended to be a 21-story gateway project.
“I think it’s the wrong building,” Eckhardt said. His concern was not with the residential use, but in the design of the building.
The building encroaches too much on Reston Parkway, Eckhardt said. He fears that the parkway is losing the green strip on either side of it. “There has to be a discussion in the community of what we want to see along Reston Parkway,” Eckhardt said. “What is happening is we are beginning to lose all these little park spaces.”
In the fourth project, George Kfoury is proposing a development on the Prison Fellowship property on Old Reston Avenue. The 5.2-acre site is home to the Manor House and two office buildings, explained Bill Keefe, attorney for Kfoury.
The initial plan had been to renovate the existing buildings and turn them into residential condos, but that plan didn’t work. “We have to demolish the buildings and start from scratch,” Keefe said.
The new project, which will retain the Manor House, will be three buildings of from 40-60 units, about 3,000 square feet each. The buildings will have roughly the same total square footage as the already approved plan. “We’re taking that approved [density] and we’re putting it into residential,” Keefe said. This project will also contribute to the county’s affordable housing fund, but will not build any units on-site.
The plan calls for retaining much of the existing tree buffer along the edges of the property. Eckhardt asked that the trees which will be removed be marked, so that committee members can better evaluate what it will look like and assess if additional plantings might be needed.
This project does not yet have a hearing date scheduled at the Planning Commission.