RA DRB OKs Concept for Reston Heights Plan

Developers plan mixed-use development with urban look that fits into natural setting.

Reston Association's Design Review Board unanimously approved in concept the plans for more mixed-use development at Reston Heights.

Plans to add retail, residential, office and parking to the parcel near the Reston International Center have been in the works for years. The first part of the plan - which included the Westin Reston Heights, the Mercer Condominium and office buildings - was completed in the last several years.

The next phase will include 145,000 square feet of above-grade retail, 100,00 square feet of below-grade retail,  428,225 square feet of office and 498 residential units.

The new phase will potentially have a new grocery and neighborhood retail space and will be a pedestrian friendly, urban-type streetscape with mid-rise residential above, say JBG Companies, the project developers.

The revised application will go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission April 4. It then needs to go to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for final approval.

Some of the highlights of the design proposal from Cunningham Quill Architects and Olin, a landscape architecture firm, were presented to the DRB Tuesday:

* A design that "engages with the landscape,"  particularly in its site across from open space at Reston National Golf Course.

* Connection with the Wiehle Reston-East Metro Station (opening in late 2013) and the future Reston Parkway Metro Station through a bike/foot path. Reston Heights is about one mile from the Wiehle Station.

* Larger buildings closer to the tallest building - the Reston International Center -  with step-down appearance farther away from that building.

* Several six-story buildings and a retail plaza.  

* Public art type screening elements on parking garage facades.

* Thought and attention put into all facades, so the "back" of the development, visible on Reston Parkway, still has visual appeal.

* Buildings that are harmonious to the surrounding landscape with areas for social interaction. Ideas for that include open space with smaller, intimate seating areas and outdoor seating on a safe promenade.

"The landscape is the unifying element," Olin representatives said. "We want this to be a social element. The landscape and the buildings need to work together seamlessly. 

"This is not an isolated island. This is a model for development that is coming in relation to the Metro.  It could be a showcase for future development."

* Four features -  primary space retail plaza with restaurants, outdoor seating and a water feature;  a walkable development and balance of cars to people; the ability ability to the control plaza in way that shows a lot of flexibility in being able to block off and activate social element of space; and private residential plazas with a variety of areas and experiences.

* Lots of trees planted in an urban pattern, with soil embedded in interesting screening or other features.

* Entrances off of Sunrise Valley Drive, as well as Reston Parkway.

Also, the existing Popeye's restuarant will stay, according to the current plan.



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John Farrell February 22, 2013 at 12:36 PM
Missed the lede again: POPEYE'S STAYS!
Karen Goff February 22, 2013 at 12:54 PM
Ha! I am going to get to what is staying and leaving at a later date - because if we are gonna mention Popeyes we also need to talk about Chilis, etc.
Joseph V. Morris February 22, 2013 at 02:06 PM
Well, I was about to ask if there was a citation from which we could take a look at the proposed plan, but I see it's behind the graphic accompanying the article. (Doh!, followed by face palm. But, is there some particular reason that the ability to download the plan is disabled (for those like me with nothing better to do in their lives)?
Joseph V. Morris February 22, 2013 at 02:17 PM
Oops, posted a bit too soon. . . . Can you provide a citation for a LEGIBLE copy of the proposed plan? I can't read the one attached to the article at all.
Karen Goff February 22, 2013 at 02:26 PM
Hi Joseph - sorry about the pdf. It IS hard to read as it did not reproduce well. Actually, I posted the whole package in error. Was just trying to post the first page graphic. In any case, I will see if there is a link from the developer. There might not be just yet.
Arielle Masters February 22, 2013 at 06:29 PM
Agreed - that center DOES need a bit of spiffing up, but I hope road improvements are made first. Not sure about bringing residential in, for a variety of reasons. Traffic: afternoon rush hour there already means those headed from Soapstone toward Reston Parkway are backed up most of the way to the International Center and often have to wait several light cycles to get to Colts Neck to turn left there or to turn either way onto (or to cross) Reston Parkway.
Arielle Masters February 22, 2013 at 06:31 PM
Can I suggest a wild-and-crazy idea? Do as the Kennedy Center is planning: make a pedestrian/bike area above Reston Parkway, with connections both from the International Center and from whatever's on the other side of Reston Parkway from it. A path up & over, with open space with benches and a garden area for reading/picnics, would have great views and would be a nice shortcut for those not driving.
Karen Goff February 22, 2013 at 06:40 PM
Arielle- That was actually talked about at the DRB meeting. How to cross Reston Parkway to get to the metro there is going to be a challenge and a bridge was part of the discussion.
Kathy February 22, 2013 at 08:17 PM
A couple of years ago MWAA said during a task force Town Center sub-committee meeting that they decided not to fund construction of the pedestrian bridge between Reston Heights and the Town Center station area. Too expensive, they said. Not enough revenue to justify expenses for staff required. Perhaps they could be persuaded to change their minds. Crossing Reston Pkwy is hazardous now and will be worse later. Kathy Kaplan
Connie Hartke February 22, 2013 at 10:14 PM
I sure like highlight #1: "A design that "engages with the landscape," particularly in its site across from open space at Reston National Golf Course."
Laura Noll February 22, 2013 at 10:27 PM
Yes, please! We need more sidewalks and bike paths. Traffic is already getting bad.
Terry Maynard February 22, 2013 at 10:57 PM
To go further with Kathy's remark, this may be the one place where a grade-separated crossing--pedestrian bridge or tunnel--is absolutely essential in the Reston Town Center area. Studies have shown, that about half of residents (a smaller %age of commuting workers) will walk to a Metrorail station if its a 5 min. walk or less. This is the situation at Ridge Heights. OTOH, about 1/5 will walk if they need to waltz down to Sunrise Valley Dr. to cross Reston Parkway and waltz back up to the station; they'll drive instead. If we want Metrorail and transit-oriented development to succeed, this is exactly the kind of rather small investment in pedestrian access we need to make.
Java Master February 23, 2013 at 04:30 AM
Can't wait to see how Popeye's "engages with the landscape"! LOL !
Maurice Sans February 24, 2013 at 03:46 AM
Hi Karen Do you know what is goin to happen with 7eleven and the Kabot restaurant ?


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