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JBG Purchases Reston's Charter Oak Apartments

Will aging Lake Anne-area complex be next on the list for redevelopment?

JBG Companies has purchased Reston's  Charter Oak apartments.

Charter Oak is a 262-unit complex off of North Shore Road near Lake Anne.

JBG, which also owns the Reston Heights mixed-use development and nearby Fairway Apartments in Reston, says the complex's location near Reston Town Center and Metro's upcoming Silver Line, presents a "terrific opportunity."

A JBG spokeswoman also said that there are "no redevelopment plans at this time."

However, Charter Oak, a garden-apartment complex built in 1970, is smack in the middle of affordable housing developments slated for redevelopment.

Fairway, after several years and many changes to its proposed redesign, was finally approved for redevelopment by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in April. The plan will turn the 18 garden-style buildings and 346 1970s-era units into four multifamily buildings and 131 townhouses.

County officials are reviewing a request for proposals from area developers who have an interest in Crescent Apartments.

The county, which purchased Crescent in 2006, opened the RFP in February 2012. Crescent is a 16-acre, 181-unit development also built in the early 1970s.

A developer is expected to be chosen in mid-2013, but redevelopment could be years away.

Also nearby, three buildings at Parc Reston were recently demolished to make way for two 14-story towers at the corner of Reston Parkway and Temporay Road.

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Diane Blust December 19, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Karen - Do you happen to know if Charter Oaks parcel is also zoned high density?
Kathy December 19, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Diane, On the 1989 Reston Master Plan map, Charter Oaks is zoned high density: "60 people per gross residential acre." It can be redeveloped "by right" under current zoning by JBG with approval by the DRB. The DRB approved Fairway Apartment redevelopment, I think up to 840 units, give or take. Both parcels are in the old "sinew" from the original master plan drawn up by Whittlesey and Conklin for Bob Simon. Kathy Kaplan
Karen Goff December 19, 2012 at 03:28 PM
offhand, no. But since it has been mid-rise apts all these years and is NOT right at the metro, I would say probably not. For now.
Karen Goff December 19, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Thanks, Kathy. I stand corrected, Diane.
Terry Maynard December 19, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Although JBG says they have no plans to re-develop Charter Oaks, I expect they are working on them. When they think the market is ripe, they will step forward. We are unlikely to know about them until they are ready to present their plan to the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee. Like Fairway Apartments, they have the opportunity to make much greater profits by increasing the number of units three-fold or so through re-development. And also like Fairway Apartments, the increased number of units will add to the substantial traffic problems that already exist on North Shore Drive and could contribute to school crowding as well. A key issue that JBG will need to address in proposing re-development of Charter Oaks is providing sufficient affordable housing. Diversity in housing is a key planning principle for Reston in its original master plan and has been endorsed by the Reston Task Force in the new planning principles. Still, it has generally been ignored by developers unless the County brings heavy political pressure to bear. I suspect the situation will play out the same this time. I would note that the Reston Task Force has also agreed to preserve stable neighborhoods throughout Reston as part of its approved planning principles. Any re-development of Charter Oaks should also consider whether there is sufficient cause for re-development.
John Farrell December 19, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Given the run-down state of these apartments as reported by tenants on various blog sites, it is not credible that JBG doesn't plan to either massively renovate the complex or, more likely, knock them down and build something else. JBG's lack of candor in this regard is disappointing, especially for a landowner of so many projects in our city.
John Farrell December 19, 2012 at 07:43 PM
60 people per acre is a garden apartment density. It's not a high-rise elevator apartment density as the 15 story multi-family that is being built now next to Town Square in Town Center. A one acre single family detached house (SFD) density would be 3-4 people pre-acre. So it's high compared to most suburban subdivisions but not high compared to Town Center apartment high rises.
Laura Ramon December 19, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Yes because being candid at this early point would work out well for JBG don't you think-- give everyone a good long time to rattle their pitch forks and light up the torches. If I was JBG I'd do what was required by the law and nothing more. The Charter Oak Apt are roach infested, crappy light construction, noisy, crumby housing. The best thing about them is that they are in Reston. The school and traffic issues can all be resolved, I say tear them down, add affordable and market rate housing that is beautiful and desirable and let the surrounding values go up.
John Farrell December 19, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Pitch forks and torches?! Where? Where? Oh, that was a scene in the Frankenstein movies. Restonians are not benighted country luddites unable to deal with potential for change. Nor is JBG a mad scientist's monster assembled from parts of several cadavers. Candor might have recommended a statement that, "Yes, change at Charter Oak is coming and it's form will be disclosed in the near future." No investor/developer takes on that sized asset without a specific plan for the future of that asset.
Kathy December 19, 2012 at 11:50 PM
I was at a P&Z or a DRB hearing regarding Fairway Apts a few years ago. A staff member of JBG stated that the company needed to redevelop 3 units for every 1 unit currently built to make a profit. I am sure that's the increase in density needed for the Charter Oaks parcel, too, 3 to 1. Let's see the plans. I hope they hire a good architect and leave lots of trees and open space. One solution discussed a while back to manage increased student numbers in the Lake Anne district was to put new classrooms in high-rises to be built on the current parking lot at Lake Anne. The kids would be bused to local parks for PE. Kathy Kaplan
Diane Blust December 20, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Thanks, Kathy. I was afraid of that.
Diane Blust December 20, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Terry - "Preservation of stable neighborhoods" (in the current Comp Plan) was pretty much ignored when Fairways redevelopment was approved. I strongly doubt anyone in a position of authority will use it as a reason to deny developer plans to redevelop to the maximum density. I guess Reston become more and more walkable - if only because cars will be at a standstill in gridlock...
Karen Goff December 20, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Kathy, was that ever a serious discussion? or was someone kidding? I would imagine FCPS is not up for satellite schools, so that cannot have been a serious discussion.
Stuart Rakoff December 20, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Kathy - that school plan will not work because there will be no parks -- the developers are buying up all the park land to build more high rise condos.
Kathy December 20, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Karen, The above-mentioned solution was included in a paper produced by the RA Transportation Advisory Committee at the time the Lake Anne Comprehensive Plan Amendment was being voted on. It was sent to me by Dave Edwards, a member of that committee, and it was a very serious discussion. All the additional people the county wants to add here are not likely to be sterile. Even though the county planners have suggested they will be when asked about how they will deal with added school enrollment. The increase in our population, a figure anticipated to be 100,000 as I was told by a task force member, will necessitate adding 4 to 5 elementary schools, two or three middle schools and one or two high schools. 100,000 is a large American city. Where to put those schools in Reston which is completely built-out is a very serious issue. One would hope the task force would turn their attention to this before they finalize Phase I and begin Phase II--rezoning of the residential part of Reston. Human beings usually live in pairs and more often than not, they reproduce. An enlarged Terraset can't hold all the anticipated students that will come from the redevelopment of Reston. We should also talk about the other issue--what will happen when all the affordable housing in Reston has been torn down and replaced with more expensive housing. Another serious issue. Kathy Kaplan
Karen Goff December 20, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Yes, disappearance of affordable housing is definitely an ongoing topic for discussion. Also wanted to add - part of the discussion is also that the vast majority of new housing planned for Reston will be high-rise apartments and condos. I don't think anyone has formally studied this (anyone from Reston 2020 want to chime in?) but most of those households will probably NOT have school-age children. And if there is a sudden influx of children, that is part of the reason that Terraset's planned expansion will eye a capacity of nearly 1,000 - pretty much double what the school can hold now. In any case,offsite FCPS locations sounds like it was an idea from an RA advisory and not a legit plan.
John Farrell December 20, 2012 at 02:15 PM
An additional 100,000 people in Reston - haven't seen that anywhere. The Comprehensive Plan cap on Reston, last time I check, was 85,000. We're at 58,000 now. An additional 27,000 is easily generated by high rises around Metro but high rises produce almost no school kids. Broken Arrow, OK has 100,000 people. So do Davenport, IA and South Bend, IN. Nobody is calling those places "large cities." Reston is already a city of townhouses in a forest. A small city. That's not going to change.
Kathy December 20, 2012 at 03:21 PM
The number of additional 100,000 people and the numbers of schools needed to support them comes from John Carter. He is a task force member and lives in Reston. He is also head of planning for Montgomery County. He was speaking at an RCA Reston 2020 work group meeting when I was co-chair--Residential, Urban Design and Livability, also known as RUDL. It was an open public meeting advertized with the county as we had several task force members present. I hope, Mr. Farrell, Reston remains a small city of townhouses in a forest. From what I have heard from county planners, that it not what the county intends for Reston. Karen, it may not have been a "legit" plan, but it was part of a "legit" discussion to solve a very difficult problem. The county has figures on how many children live in high-rises. It is less than single family homes, less than townhouses. In Falls Church where high-density developments were added, families did move in and added many students that were not planned for to the local schools. If all our affordable apartment complexes are bulldozed and people need to remain in Reston for their jobs, families may very well move into high-rises. Kathy Kaplan
John Farrell December 20, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Kathy Being a city of townhouses in a forest means that it is extraordinarily difficult to assemble clusters to redevelop. I've done assemblages. They are almost exclusively single-family neighborhoods on lots of an acre or more. The developer has to negotiate a seperate contract with each homeowner. It takes forever and one holdout can stop the whole enterprise. Yes, we are seeing the redevelopment on the apartments because JBG and others only have to deal with one owner and one contract. I have no doubt we will see other apartments redevelop as the buildings reach the end of their practical life cycle, i.e., the point where repairs cost more than the income stream can justify. The challenge then is how to preserve the affordable housing and avoid neglected blighted areas without a government take over of every apartment complex in Reston. I don't have an easy answer. I've not heard on one either. But massive up-density redevelopment of even multi-family condominiums is not very likely in our lifetimes. Expending a lot of energy fighting that specter is inefficient use of all of our very limited time.
Kathy December 20, 2012 at 04:36 PM
If the county ends up bringing several hundred children from the redeveloped neighborhoods on North Shore Drive down to Terraset, I may get to have my childhood dream of being the pilot of a blimp. Think of it: a blimp school bus. What fun. That's the only way school buses will move north and south across the Dulles Toll Road once the Spectrum and other currently approved projects are built. Reston Parkway and Wiehle will be gridlocked. Oh, and my recollection, dim after all these years, is that the comment about busing kids to parks for PE came out of a county document, not the RA advisory board committee document. Again, part of a "legit" discussion. Kathy Kaplan
Kathy December 21, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Mr. Farrell, It's my time and my effort and I don't think it's an inefficient use of that time if it is used to alert Restonians to the changes the county intends here while there is still time to do something about it. Phase 2 of the revision of the Reston Master Plan is going to start soon and people who live in Reston need to pay attention now because it's not just my lifetime or yours, Mr. Farrell, but the lifetime of my grandkids who will inherit a very different Reston than they grew up in if the county prevails. Kathy Kaplan
Michael December 27, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Stuart, what parkland has been bought by developers? Certainly not Baron Cameron, Brown's Chapel, South Lakes Drive, or any other RA/FCPA property that I can think of.
Michael December 27, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Maybe not benighted country luddites... but Reston certainly has a large share of people who want it to remain frozen in time, and a strong knee-jerk reaction against any and all growth is evident in many threads on Patch. Obviously there was a little hyperbole in Laura's post!
Michael December 27, 2012 at 03:47 PM
John, I'm not sure and would appreciate a little clarity... when you say the cap on Reston is 85,000, does that include RTC and the corridor between Sunrise Valley and Sunset Hills? These areas are sometimes included in definitions of Reston, and sometimes not. If they are not included in the area capped at 85,000, then a total of over 100,000 would be easy to reach. (As I read it, the total figure is anticipated to be 100,000 - not an increase OF that amount, but an increase TO that amount, which I've heard several times before.)
Michael December 27, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Kathy, In the US, only 48% of all households are husband-wife. 27% of all households are childless singles, and this rises above 40% in many cities. Given the type of development envisioned it's not at all unreasonable to think there will be a low percentage of children in the mix for at least the first few years.

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