Revitalization Efforts Accelerate

Revitalization Efforts Accelerate

Community meetings on Lake Anne plan amendment expected soon.

The organization guiding the Lake Anne revitalization process is optimistic that there will soon be an opportunity for the public to engage in dialogue with Fairfax County. The Board of Directors of the Reston Community Reinvestment Corporation (RCRC) said public meetings would take place before the end of March.

The Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) — made up of community members and county-hired consultants, and charged with generating conceptual guidelines for the comprehensive plan amendment at Lake Anne — completed its work earlier this month, and has a document ready to present. While RCRC board members Robin Smyers and Phil Tobey — also members of the TAP — presented TAP's work without too much detail, the consultants presented the actual document to the county's Architectural Review Board (ARB) on Thursday.

"It's a written document," said Tobey of TAP's final product. He said the county asked that the document not be discussed in any detail to allow it time, roughly two weeks, to come up with a draft it can present to the community.

"This is going to be a lot of words and concepts," said Smyers. "There is going to be no drawings. There is no drawings here," she added. Smyers said she expected there would be a public meeting to discuss the document before the end of the month.

The goal of the TAP, said Tobey, was to produce guidelines that would enhance the physical beauty and the economic viability of the Lake Anne Village Center. In the meantime, he said, the guidelines sought to preserve Lake Anne's historic core while increasing residential density in zones and rings of activity around the village center. Some office and retail space would also be added.

"It is a framework for development without being too prescriptive," said Tobey of the document. He said the document was created to entice developers to take interest in Lake Anne revitalization while allowing for some imagination on their part. However, TAP's work was only to advise the consultants, who could choose whether to listen to the recommendations or not. Tobey said he believed the consultants would give strong consideration to TAP's recommendations.

"We haven't seen the final version [of the document] yet either," said Smyers.

RICK HARRISON, MEMBER of the RCRC board asked if the document was so conceptual that a reader would have to make an effort to interpret it. Tobey said he did not think it would require much interpretation, but that the real issue was management of expectations. "There may be a surprise that it's a written document," said Tobey.

Low income housing was discussed at some of the six TAP meetings, according to Tobey. He also added that sufficient parking was expected to be provided, most of it underground. Reston founder and member of the RCRC board, Bob Simon, said the 130 owners of the parking lot at Lake Anne all thought they were sitting on a gold mine, thinking that residential density would go at the site of the parking lot. "One thing I pride myself on is preventing 130 owners from having an appraisal to see what the parking lot is worth," said Simon.

Bridget Hill of the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development said one of the key components of revitalization is to identify the interests of the community and conceptualize guidelines and designs. What is needed for a successful revitalization effort is "vision beyond what's here now," said Hill.

President of the RCRC board, Kurt Pronske, said he was encouraged that, effective July 1, Fairfax County will implement the new Department of Revitalization. "It shows that the idea of revitalization has been elevated in importance," he said.

Simon added to that notion. "In my experiences I haven't seen the county so dedicated to getting something done as it is now," said Simon.

Pronske also alluded to public-private partnerships at Thursday's meeting. He said that melding of public moneys and private moneys could bring landowners and future developers together.

Tobey said the public hearings on the Lake Anne comprehensive plan amendment are likely to be held in May and June.