Sometimes, county Department of Planning and Zoning staff are opposed to a development proposal. But rarely do they use language as strong as they did in describing a proposed development for the Oracle property in Reston.
“Staff believes that this proposal is a very bad one,” said Cathy Lewis of the Department of Planning and Zoning. “It appears that this is being treated as a disassociated development where anything can be placed with impunity.”
The 22-acre Oracle campus is at the intersection of Reston Parkway and Sunset Hills Road. Oracle has approval to construct four office buildings, totaling 725,000 square feet and two parking garages. The site currently has two buildings (totaling about 412,000 square feet) and one garage.
The third office building could be as much as 210,000 square feet.
In the place where the fourth office building was to go, Oracle has contracted with residential developer Lerner to build two, high-rise condo buildings, which will have a combined 457 units. This project is one of several moving forward which could bring hundreds of new condos to core of Reston.
However, because of the zoning on the site (the same zoning as the Reston Town Center), Oracle need not give up any of its office density to be able to build the residential units. In fact, because of the zoning, Oracle could technically build all of the office space, and add about 1,100 condos.
One of the problems that staff has with the development is the way it is laid out. The buildings, said staff, are not oriented toward anything in particular – not the street and not the planned, nearby transit station, Lewis said.
Mark Looney, attorney for the developer, disagreed. “I think it’s a good use for this location,” he said, defending both the residential development and the design. Looney further noted that the zoning in the Town Center actually calls for a minimum of 1,400 residential units in the area, and that this project will help to meet that goal.
Lewis also seemed upset that the size of the buildings was not available. As another quirk of the zoning in this area, residential developers need only provide the county with the number of units they want to build, not their square footage.
THIS SORT OF residential development relatively close to the transit station is a good thing, said Patty Nicoson of the Dulles Corridor Rail Association, a group which supports construction of the new metro line. “It’s going to be the first development in Reston that will have residential that can be considered in walking distance of a transit station,” she said.
Indeed, the property is not subject to the covenants prohibiting residential development which govern much of the land along the toll road, said Planning Commissioner Frank de la Fe (Hunter Mill).
He said that he is continuing to work with Oracle to try and restrict construction of a new office building. “There is 112,000 [square feet] or so … that remains on the site,” de la Fe said.
In a recent meeting at the Reston Association’s Planning and Zoning Committee, Looney seemed receptive to not building a new office building. However, he wanted to ensure that his client would be able to retain the rights to the square footage, in case they wanted to add another floor to an existing building.
The commission deferred its decision about the case until May 4 to give de la Fe time to work out the remaining issues. Because of the nature of the development, a “Conceptual Plan Amendment,” it does not require approval of the Board of Supervisors, only the Planning Commission.