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Re-Design for Lake Anne?

Some property owners on Reston Community Reinvestment Corporation want to have a design competition.

Private property owners at Lake Anne Village Center, who are looking to form a limited liability corporation to pursue revitalization, like the idea of an international design competition for the area.

At last week’s Reston Community Reinvestment Corporation meeting, board members continued to discuss how they would move forward on revitalization. The RCRC, a non-profit comprised of property owners at the Lake Anne Village Center and community members, has for several years dedicated itself to Lake Anne revitalization.

The RCRC, however, is different than what is being called a "subgroup" consisting of some property owners interested in forming an LLC. Trying to create a unified voice when talking to developers, the LLC group has discussed interest in holding an international design competition to attract architects to submit revitalization concept plans for the area.

RCRC Board member Anne Strange, a representative of the Washington Plaza Baptist Church who is also involved in forming the LLC, said that property owners have had meetings about setting up the competition.

"We went down this road of a design competition because what we need to know is what can we do and what is possible," said Strange, reporting to her fellow board members at the RCRC meeting.

Last week, the LLC group met with Bill Conklin, the original architect of Lake Anne. According to Strange, Conklin recommended doing a developers' design competition. To learn more about setting up a competition, the group also met with Paul Sprieregen, who helped set up the design competition for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

RCRC BOARD MEMBERS also discussed how the competition might be funded. "It will require money," said Howard Green, RCRC treasurer. "Is that money going to be a grant you are going to try to get through the RCRC?"

But the LLC group had not made any final decisions about where it might try to find funding.

Reston resident Lee Rau, an observer at the meeting and also Hunter Mill District representative to the county's Redevelopment and Housing Authority, said that the RCRC could apply for a grant from the county to finance the competition.

"How much control are we going to have if we go down these different avenues?" said Eduardo Faubert, president of the Lake Anne Merchants Association. "The clarity of the answer is going to dictate which route you take."

One route would be to form a business improvement district, which would be an agreement with the county to self-tax property owners within the district. The money raised by forming the BID could then be used to fund the competition. A BID would require 51 percent approval by the property owners within the district, according to Harry Swanson, the county’s deputy director of revitalization and real estate at Housing and Community Development.

At a meeting in the summer, July 14, Swanson presented other options property owners might choose when to deal with revitalization issues. Some of the options presented to the owners included becoming a limited liability corporation, a community development authority or a BID.

OTHER MATTERS discussed at the meeting included the final report from the charrette. "Have we heard anything back from the folks that ran the charrette?" asked Green.

Kurt Pronske, president of RCRC, said that the report was due in September. Other RCRC board members wanted to know when the report would be finished. In the early summer, the RCRC requested and secured $30,000 from the county to hold the Lake Anne revitalization charrette.

RCRC, which was created in 1997, has consistently facilitated Fairfax County’s effort to help give an economic boost to the Lake Anne Village Center, which was designated a revitalization area in 1998 by the county.

Being a non-profit group, RCRC continues to research revitalization grant opportunities for public-use purposes, such as public parking.