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New developments at Reston Town Center North are closer to breaking ground

Plans are underway for redeveloping the library and homeless shelter that sit on the 50-acre plot north of Reston Town Center. These sites are the first part of a project that aims to build a new street grid with a central park, mixed-use buildings with housing, and a rec center.


The Reston Regional Library will soon get a makeover. Photo from the Reston Association.

To refresh your memory, the boundaries of the fifty-acre area are Reston Hospital on Town Center Parkway to the west, Fountain Drive to the east, Baron Cameron Avenue to the north, and New Dominion Parkway to the south.

The current area will be divided into nine blocks, with a central park of more than two acres. The county will handle redeveloping six of the segments and Inova will develop blocks 2, 4 and 6 separately, which currently has an assisted living facility and a freestanding emergency room.

The only proposed plans to date are the ones from the county for its lots.

The first phase (blocks 7 and 8) will affect the Reston Regional Library and the Embry Rucker Shelter. The Public-Private Partnerships Branch of the Fairfax's Department of Public Works and Environmental Services rolled out a general use plan for the blocks at a meeting last week. The estimated (and optimistic) timeline is to complete the project by 2023.


Rendering from Fairfax County.

Reston Regional Library will be bigger

The proposed replacement library will be 9,000 square feet larger than the existing one, making it one of the largest in the region's library system. In September, residents voiced concerns that the library would get smaller.

The mixed-use building, which will house the library on the ground floor (and perhaps a second level if needed), is expected to have underground parking and also 4,000 square feet for "village model" services such as meeting rooms and space for nonprofit organizations. Additional library redesign suggestions include: enclosed tutoring spaces, separate child and teen areas, a computer lab and flex-use space.


Brainstorming session from the November 4th community meeting. Photo by the author.

The area's homeless shelter will reach more people

The proposed replacement shelter will increase capacity from 70 beds to 90, and will include a new hypothermia center. Per the county meeting handout, "an additional 28,000 square feet [of space] is being considered for use by nonprofits or other entities that are under contract to provide County services."

Residents at the November community meeting recommended making the facility a 24-hour shelter with new daytime and youth programming. One idea I liked was the addition of an onsite thrift shop. Attendees of one breakout group pointed out that shelter residents would need transportation to and from the Reston Metro station.

Some residents thought it might better to locate the new shelter in the other blocks of the redevelopment. This would provide a better co-location with other social services in the area to assist individuals and families improve their quality of living through the Fairfax County Human Services Department and North County Health Center.

The project will include housing, some of it below market rate

The redevelopment will also include retail, office space, and housing. Right now, it looks like there will be between 360 and 420 market-rate housing units, around 50 affordable units, and about 30 supportive housing units, which will transition people out of the shelter..

The amount of office space will likely range from 270,000 to 340,000 square feet depending on the final design plan.

The affordable housing units will be split between residents who make 50% of the area median income (33%) and 65% of the AMI (67%). While the number of apartments might not seem huge, it is a good first step in an area of Reston where new condos can start at $2,040.

Here are some details on the next phase

While it wasn't the main focus of the November community meeting, Fairfax County solicited residents for ideas for the overall development.

A common theme among the four breakout groups of attendees was the need better and safer way to get around by walking. One attendee even recommended that vehicle traffic be put underground. Another wanted to add an underpass to connect the complex to Trader Joe's on the other side of the busy Baron Cameron Avenue.

Other suggestions included a performing arts center, flex space for startups, and rooftop decks. Attendees said they don't want skyscrapers on the property.

Part of Phase 2 will be a 90,000 square foot RECenter developed by the Fairfax County Park Authority; however, there is currently no timeline for this project. Andrew Miller, Project Coordinator from the Public-Private Partnerships Branch of the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, said the county hopes to be in the final design phase of the project by 2018. Rezoning, the RFP process and development agreements will proceed the design and permit process. Once into construction, the county estimates a 36- to 42-month timeframe.

You can submit questions via email to restontowncenternorth@fairfaxcounty.gov, and you can follow this development at fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/restontowncenternorth.

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