Condos Galore in Central Reston

Condos Galore in Central Reston

RA's Planning and Zoning Committee hears about series of proposed new buildings.

The march of about 1,400 new condos in the central Reston area continued at the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee on April 3.

None of the three proposed projects were new to the committee, but each had reached a more advanced stage of development, and two of the projects drew criticism from some committee members.

The Parc Reston development is planned to go on about five acres at the corner of the Reston Parkway and Temporary Road. On the site now are 82 units in three buildings. The developer, Athena Renaissance wants to remove those buildings and replace them with a 16-story, 360-unit condo building.

There is already a plan for a building with that number of units in a different configuration. "It is, in essence, a building redesign," said Mark Looney, attorney for the developer.

The initial plan called for a lower building wrapping around a central parking lot. The new project will put the parking underground with the building on top.

Some committee members balked at the height of the new building. "I think its too dense, too high and its not a very good neighbor," said Richard Eckhardt, a member of the committee.

The building, Eckhardt said, is across the street from the core of the Reston Town Center, and should not be as tall. "This is outside the borders," he said.

The height, combined with the building's proximity to Reston Parkway would make it seem to loom over the road, Eckhardt said. He said that there would be a sort of sliding scale, the further from the road, the taller the building could be.

Others on the committee had no problem with the proposed building.

Looney said that the height was necessary to make the project viable. In order to put the parking underground, the units will need to be more expensive. One way to justify that expense, Looney said, is with the view that comes from additional height. "It's really a question of, what are the trade-offs?" he said.

The committee took an informal straw poll on the proposal and rejected it on a 6-5 vote.

ANOTHER PROBLEMATIC development was the proposal to build 457 condos on the Oracle Property. There are currently two office buildings and Oracle could build up to four. Instead of one of the two remaining buildings, Oracle, in conjunction with Lerner, plans to build a condo complex. Because of the zoning on the land, Oracle could actually build the condos, and the fourth building.

The county's Department of Planning and Zoning staff however, are opposed to building residential units on the property, said Planning Commissioner Frank de la Fe (Hunter Mill). While not a member of the committee, de la Fe often attends their meetings.

However, de la Fe noted, Oracle has the right to build the units on the land.

"We're coming in and filling in the details of what we're going to build, not whether we're going to build," said Looney, also attorney for this developer.

Staff is also working with Oracle to ensure that a part of the property is preserved as open space, and working to develop appropriate pedestrian connections.

THE LAST PROPOSAL was the only one actually inside the borders of the town center core. The land at the corner of Reston Parkway and Old Dominion Drive is now mainly a parking lot for Ruby Tuesday's. There is a plan to build a 250,000-square-foot office building, but this building is not well integrated with the rest of the town center, said Looney, also the attorney for this developer.

The new plan calls for a roughly three-story "base" which would contain some retail space and some office space, parking and some residential units. Most of the roughly 525 residential units will come in the 17- 18- and 19-story towers, which will rise off of the base.

"The idea is this becomes the next signature part of town center," said Alan Ward of Sasaki Associates, the project architect.

Dave Edwards, a member of the committee, noted that the residential market, for condos in particular, is cooling. He asked if the developer might revert back to the office building if the market slows too much.

No, said Frederick Rothmeijer of Mid Atlantic Realty Partners, one of the developers. They might go apartment instead of condo, or build the towers in phases, but they are committed to residential development.

The committee approved the plan unanimously.

Each of the three projects would need to go to the Fairfax County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors for approval.