Autumn on Lake Audobon

Autumn on Lake Audobon
Autumn on Lake Audubon, Photo by Alison Kamat

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

County Presentation on Redevelopment Planning for Town Center North, July 29, 2015

Below is a lightly edited version of a summary of the subject meeting prepared by one of the attendees.  Apparently no local newspaper reporters attended the event because we have seen no coverage of the event in any of the Reston or County newspapers, hardcopy or online.  Worse, reporters may have attended the event, but there was too little new information provided to warrant an article.

Here is the summary: 
Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins hosted a meeting on July 29th a meeting at the new Fairfax County facility at 1801 Cameron Glen Drive to discuss the proposed future redevelopment of the Reston Town Center North (RTC North) properties and to allow those present to question the county staff and offer comments. We had a nearly packed house, despite the limited publication of the event.

The focus of the meeting was on the redevelopment of Blocks 7 and 8, of the greyed-in parcel depicted below. Blocks 7 and 8 is Fairfax County owned property where the Reston Regional Library and the Embry Rucker Shelter are currently located, along with the greenspace surrounding the buildings. We were told that the county couldn’t take on the redevelopment of the remainder of the area (Blocks 1,3,5 and 6) until an unspecified future date because it was too much to work on at the same time.

Cathy Hudgins and some of her planning staff were there to present. Andrew Miller, Project Coordinator, Public-Private Partnerships Branch, Fairfax County Dept. Public Works and Environmental Services was the first to present (copies of his presentation were not available). He stated that the redevelopment of blocks 7 and 8 would be a public-private partnership and that the Reston library, the Embry Rucker homeless shelter and other services “may” be part of the redevelopment.  He stated that the new development will be compatible with Reston’s new Comprehensive Plan.

 

Figure 1:  Blocks 7 & 8 are at the south end of Town Center North.

The county has issued an RFP that is solely designed to qualify potential developers. The county will create a Development RFP after the September community meeting on the redevelopment, where community input will be solicited.

Mr. Miller also described the upcoming land swap with INOVA. He showed a diagram of the current ownership map, where the parcels owned by the county, the parks authority and INOVA are broken up into odd (basically unusable) shapes. He showed that the land swap with INOVA would create contiguous spaces and allow the county and INOVA to develop the RTC North properties. Essentially the Fairfax and park authority parcels from block 2 and 4 would be titled over to IVOVA. INOVA would turn over their portion of blocks 1 and 3.  Blocks 1 and 3 would become contiguous Fairfax County land and allow for redevelopment, new cross-streets and a long greenspace in the middle of RTC North.

Andrew Miller made it clear that the selection of a developer and the design itself will be solely the decision of Fairfax County staff who will solicit comments from the public. No local organizations or Task Force will be formed to approve or be empowered to influence the decision. 

The next step will be a community meeting on Saturday September 19, 2015 - 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Lake Anne Community Center to present and listen to community input. Rob Stalzer, Deputy County executive, said that a community comment page will be set up on a Fairfax county Web site. In the meanwhile, comments and questions could be sent to him at Rob.Stalzer@fairfaxcounty.gov.

Patricia Harrison (representative for Fairfax Human Services System) then discussed the Community Visioning Plan – North County. In summary, her goal was to identify the type, quality and location of human services needed; and prioritize and recommend current and future facility needs. See the attached copy of her presentation.

Several questions were brought up. The most significant was asking about Fairfax County’s commitment to the library after both Mr. Miller and Ms. Harrison both stated that the library “may” be included in the redevelopment. Mr. Miller responded by stating that the County is fully committed to supporting the library.

Comments:

I was disappointed that the development of Blocks 1 and 3 has been postponed, because that is where the proposed new recreation center, arts center, and other facilities are supposed to be located. Also, there was no explanation of how the redevelopment of Blocks 7 and 8 will benefit Reston. Clearly, this redevelopment helps the County, with private developers partially, or fully paying for the redevelopment and putting County property on the tax role.
I’m also wary of the county’s commitment to our library. Both speakers stated that the library “may” be included in the development.  Finally, I don’t see how the Embry Rucker center could be rebuilt on the site, since prospective tenants of and new development would be reluctant to move next to a homeless center.

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