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RCA White Paper

Reston Town Center North

By Hank Schonzeit

September 8, 2015

RCA Note on RTC North Redevelopment. For more information on RCA: Page 1 of 11

Executive Summary................................................................................2
Suggested Approach ..............................................................................10

Executive Summary
At a community meeting on July 29th, Fairfax County presented the idea of a proposed redevelopment
of Reston Town Center North (RTC North), focusing on Blocks 7 and 8.The redevelopment was framed
as a public-private partnership, and was expected to include new housing and commercial space. The
Library and Embry Rucker Community Shelter may be rebuilt on the site. Residents were allowed
brief comments and questions. A follow-up meeting was announced for September 19 th.
Attendees were told that the county would defer redevelopment of the remainder of the Countyowned area (Blocks 1, 3, and 5) until an unspecified future date because it was too much to work on
at the same time. Many attendees were disappointed to hear of this delay in planning the muchanticipated County-funded Recreation Center and Performing Arts Center.
People who live and work in Reston are passionate about their community. They are especially
passionate about our library and Restons commitment to social action. Many of the attendees
expressed concerns about the future of the library and the Embry Rucker Community Shelter, and the
possibility that services would be compromised if these facilities were moved to temporary locations
or their redevelopment was delayed until the development of further blocks. Other concerns
included the lack of any community oversight and uncertainty regarding the developers adherence
to Restons Master Plan guidelines.
Reston Citizens Association (RCA) reviewed the presentation and met with representatives of the
Fairfax County Public Library and Cornerstones (the organization managing the Embry Rucker
Community Shelter) as well as some members of the community to understand their perspectives on
the proposed redevelopment and what outcomes they would each respectively like to see at the end
of it. Following that and our own analysis, we have developed an initial list of goals, concerns and
questions along with a proposed approach to the redevelopment of Blocks 7 and 8.
We recognize the perceived challenges in placing a homeless shelter in the midst of market priced
housing. We are proposing an approach that may serve to address this challenge as well as many of
the communitys concerns. We suggest that the county renovate the vacant Cameron Glen facility
and move the Embry Rucker Community Shelter into this space. We recommend that the County
build a new and larger library on the former Embry Rucker Community Shelter site using the
approved $10 million bond as a starting point. This approach not only addresses the stated concerns,
but provides other advantages as well, as outlined in the discussion below.
RCA Note on RTC North Redevelopment. For more information on RCA: Page 2 of 11

The Reston Community
Reston is a unique community that provides its residents with a range of housing, a lively and varied
community, the ability to live and work in the same community with individual dignity, commercial,
cultural and recreational facilities, high-quality open spaces and a focus on structural and natural
beauty. It has also provided an advantageous business environment for local, national and
international companies.1
Consequently, the residents of Reston enjoy a high quality of life, commercial and residential
properties command a premium and Fairfax County is enriched with increased tax revenues.
Reston has grown to over 60,000 residents; nearly 100,000 people work here. By 2030, the RestonHerndon corridor area is expected grow 114% due in part to Restons success, the new Silver Line and
the accompanying aggressive residential and commercial development plans 2. The County, with input
from Reston Association, RCA, Reston 2020 and other organizations, has updated the Master Planning
documents to help manage this growth and ensure that the fundamental ideals of Reston are
Fairfax County Presentation on RTC North Redevelopment
On July 29th, Fairfax County presented the idea of a proposed redevelopment of Reston Town Center
North (RTC North) at a community meeting. The summary documents explain that Fairfax County is
seeking to enter into a public-private partnership to redevelop the area covered by the existing
Embry Rucker Shelter and Reston Regional Library as Phase I of a mixed-use development proposed
for the overall Reston Town Center North area. The mixed-use development will include affordable
housing, public services and private development. The area under review is denoted on the RTC
North block as Blocks 7 and 8. All eight RTC North blocks are subject to the Reston Association
Declaration of Covenants and Governing Documents. A follow-up meeting was announced for
September 19th.
Attendees were told that the county couldnt take on the redevelopment of the remainder of the
area (Blocks 1, 3 and 5) until an unspecified future date because it was too much to work on at the
same time.
Ms. Catherine Hudgins, Supervisor for Hunter Mill District on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors,
introduced the Fairfax County planning staff. Andrew Miller, Project Coordinator, Public-Private
Partnerships Branch, Fairfax County Dept. Public Works and Environmental Services, was the first to
speak (copies of his presentation were not made 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
1 Summarized from the Guiding Principles for Reston, found on the Fairfax County website
2 George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis, Forecasts for the Reston/Dulles Rail Corridor and Route
28 Corridor 2010 to 2050, Prepared for the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning. Lisa Sturtevant,
PhD, Research Assistant Professor, John McClain, AICP, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director. 7/26/2010
RCA Note on RTC North Redevelopment. For more information on RCA: Page 3 of 11

shelter and other services may be part of the redevelopment. He stated that the new
development will be compatible with Restons new Comprehensive Plan. The Floor Area Ratio (FAR)
would be targeted at 0.90 for non-residential uses, which should include office, public,
institutional, medical care, hotel, and retail uses, and housing would include a minimum of 1,000
residential units.3
The county has issued an RFP
that is solely designed to prequalify potential developers.
Inexplicably, this initial
document makes no mention of
the $10 million-bond that the
voters of Fairfax County
approved in 2012 for the
expressed purpose of building a
new regional library in Reston or
renovating the existing facility.
The Development RFP will be
issued after the September open
meeting, during which
community input will be
Mr. Miller also described the
upcoming land swap with INOVA.
Parcels owned by the County,
the parks authority and INOVA
are broken up into odd
(basically unusable) shapes. The
land swap with INOVA will create
contiguous spaces more suitable
for redevelopment. Fairfax
County and park authority land
in Blocks 2 and 4 will be titled over to INOVA. INOVA would turn over Blocks 1 and 3 to Fairfax County,
which would allow for redevelopment, new cross-streets and a long urban central green- in the
middle of RTC North (see map above).
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 influence the decision.
The countys next step will be an evaluation of questions and issues sent to the county at That will be followed by the community meeting (Saturday, September
19, 2015 from 9 AM to 3 PM at the Lake Anne Community Center) to present updates and receive
community input.
3 Reston comprehensive Master Plan,

RCA Note on RTC North Redevelopment. For more information on RCA: Page 4 of 11

Patricia Harrison (representing Fairfaxs human services programs) 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.
Several questions were brought up. One concerned Fairfax Countys commitment to the library after
Mr. Miller and Ms. Harrison both stated that the library and the Embry Rucker Community Shelter
may be included in the redevelopment. Mr. Miller responded by stating that the County is fully
committed to supporting the library.
The Land Swap and Recreation Center
The plans for Blocks 7 and 8 must be considered in the context of the entire Reston Town Center
North area, which will be significantly affected by a planned land swap. (The 47-acre RTC North area
is bounded by Baron Cameron Avenue, Fountain Drive, Town Center Parkway and Bowman Towne
In early April 2015, the Fairfax County Park Authority unanimously voted in favor of a land swap
involving the county, the park authority and INOVA. The Park Authority is giving up a plot of land back
to the Board of Supervisors in consideration for a 2.6-acre urban central green (see map on previous
page). The swap will also allow the Park Authority to plan for a 90,000-square-foot indoor recreation
center, a performing arts center, and other items for consideration that may be advantageous to the
Park Authority mission.
The recreation center will be owned and operated by the Park Authority but it is unclear who would
pay for building construction and what it would cost. Park Authority Chair Bill Bouie has said that
We still dont know the cost and there is no money for the rec center at this point. A study, paid
for by residents within Small Tax District 5, done in the last two years by Reston Community Center 4,
which looked into building a smaller facility at Baron Cameron Park, estimated a $35 million price
tag. The RTC North recreation center cost is likely to be much higher.
Mr. Bouie is hoping to pay through a combination of developer proffers and park bonds. There are
two upcoming bonds to be voted on (an $87.7 million bond to be put to voters in 2016 and an $88
million bond on the ballot in 2020), but it is unclear if these include RTC North recreation center
financing. Regarding the proffers, he added that developer proffers are typically offered at around
$800 per residential unit. The Park Authority expects to have a better idea of costs and schedules
towards the end of the year.
RCA Follow-up Evaluation and Planning
RCA conducted meetings with key library and Cornerstones staff and stakeholders exploring goals,
concerns and potential recommendations regarding an approach for redevelopment planning of
Blocks 7 and 8. The results of those meetings are provided below.

RCA Note on RTC North Redevelopment. For more information on RCA: Page 5 of 11

To a large extent the goals of the community regarding the redevelopment of Blocks 7 and 8 are
described in the new Reston Master Plan and Fairfax Library and Cornerstones public documents. But
it is worthwhile to highlight them here so that they can be specifically addressed. As such, we have
divided the goals into three discussions.
Common Goals
Library Goals
Embry Rucker/Cornerstones Goals
Common Goals
This section describes the goals that we believe are shared by the Library, the Embry Rucker
Community Shelter and the Reston community.

First of all, we believe that the County should host more community meetings during this
process to educate and engage the community for feedback, concerns and questions.
Clearly, all development should satisfy at a minimum the standards outlined within the Reston
Master Plan and the Reston Covenants.
Redeveloped areas should be designed as integral parts of the larger Reston community, not
stand-alone developments.
Disruptions should be minimized during the redevelopment.
If public assets are to be transferred to a private entity, the public should receive a fair value
in return.
Redevelopment should ensure that there is a fair mix of housing opportunities and styles for a
varied Reston community.
Generous green space and walkability should be a central concern and included within the
Traffic disruption/congestion should be minimized during construction and after construction.
There should be some assurance that the new public service buildings (recreation center and
performing arts center) will actually be built in a reasonable timeframe.
The redevelopment should increase Fairfax tax revenues and provide more funding to Restons
social and educational institutions, while maximizing open space.
The solution must work in the short and long term with a focus on population living and
working in Reston and functional design.
The development should be at an appropriate scale for housing and public uses.
The development should take into account surrounding schools and avoid any negative
impacts (i.e. overcrowding and unsafe situations for children)
The redevelopment should support Restons emphasis on inclusivity and a diverse and thriving
Any agreement must ensure that significant proffers are effectively used for the library,
Embry Rucker Community Shelter, schools, open space and local public services.
The county should take active steps to mitigate risks associated with private/public
partnerships while fostering an open, transparent dialogue with the community

RCA Note on RTC North Redevelopment. For more information on RCA: Page 6 of 11

Library Goals
The Reston Regional Library is an integral and vital part of Reston and for many of us it is one of our
most valued local institutions. It is also the busiest library in the Fairfax library system. At the same
time the community recognizes that the Reston Regional Library is currently undersized, underfunded
and understaffed.
The library goals are derived from RCA discussions with library staff, email correspondence, and
independent research. Library staff was not asked to take an official position as they are
employees of the County.

The library management should have oversight and final review of the design of a new library.
The Phase I redevelopment should include a modern, accessible library, with adequate
dedicated free parking.
Given that the Phase I of the RTC North redevelopment does not include Blocks 1, 3 and 5,
the location of a rebuilt library should be within Blocks 7 and 8.
The new library must be sized right, for both Restons current and planned growth - between
60,000 and 80,000 square feet. Virginia Standards for Virginia Public Libraries specify that the
design of state-of-the-art libraries should allow for one square foot per resident. Currently,
Reston has over 60,000 residents. This figure is expected to rise to over 90,000 by 2020 and
over 125,000 by 20305. Calculations using the IFLA/UNESCO Metrics for library size result in
similar size recommendations.
Funding for the increased staff needed for a larger library should be allocated by Fairfax
The design of the library should exceed the Fairfax County Library standards and incorporate
best practices from other communities that may be similar to Reston and surrounding regions.
The redevelopment should eliminate or minimize the time that library is in temporary
Consideration should be given to opportunities for added revenue generation such as the
inclusion of a caf within or adjacent to the library.
The Reston library has consistently been the busiest within the Fairfax system. This flagship
status should be reflected in the allocation of resources to the Reston branch.

Embry Rucker Shelter/Cornerstones Goals

These goals are derived from RCA discussions6 with Cornerstones staff, email correspondence, and
RCA research. and analysis Cornerstones staff was not asked to take an official position on the RTC
North Redevelopment as they are contractors to the County. Embry Rucker Shelter/Cornerstones has
been successful in providing services that address urgent or on-going needs for housing, childcare,
food, job seeking and financial assistance for the areas most needy and the Reston community is
proud of their work.
Listed below are the goals of RCA and the community with regards to Embry Rucker:
5 It is not unlikely that by 2030, 60,000 to 80,000 square feet may be inadequate, and an expansion or a satellite
library may be required to accommodate the larger population.
6 A representative of Paramount condominiums, a high-rise close to the shelter, also attended this meeting.
RCA Note on RTC North Redevelopment. For more information on RCA: Page 7 of 11

Redevelopment should allow for Embry Rucker Community Shelter services to continue and
possibly expand at a local site where shelter residents will have places to congregate, and
possibly work while minimizing any negative consequences of having the homeless shelter
located near the library or housing.
Any new location should be near other social services, cultural and recreational facilities and
public transportation.
Resource materials and infrastructure should be available within the Shelter to help drive a
call to action for employment and assist those actively seeking employment.
A rebuilt Embry Rucker Community Shelter should continue to provide an environment where
community stakeholders embrace differences, understand challenges faced by individuals and
families, and act with intention to reduce those barriers.
The Embry Rucker Community Shelter should be rebuilt using design principles that better
address the needs of the men, women and children who seek temporary shelter and that
stress homelessness prevention, rapid re-housing and services that support housing,
economic, and social stability.
Thirty affordable apartments should be constructed to serve as permanent housing for single
men and women, including the formerly homeless, seniors, veterans and others with special
housing needs.
New space should include at least 20,000 square feet of office, community and training space
for Cornerstones and service partners (public, private, nonprofit).

For several years, the community has been concerned about the future of Reston as it continues to
grow. Concerns regarding traffic, safety, congested schools, and disappearing open space have
caused people to question whether Reston is losing the special quality that makes it so attractive.
The redevelopment of RTC North is a chance to assure Restonians that the County is committed in
maintaining or enhancing Reston as a highly desirable place to live, work, play.
The July 29th presentation made it clear that developers will profit from the redevelopment and
Fairfax County will increase its tax base. These are valid goals, but there was no clear discussion of
what benefits will accrue to Reston from the redevelopment of Blocks 7 and 8. There is the promise
(still unfulfilled) for a new Recreation Center and Performing Arts Center to be situated in the other
blocks, but as the speakers noted, the County has postponed working on this in the short or long
Many Restonians feel that the library is under siege. The library budgets continue to be cut and many
staff positions have been left unfilled. At the same time, other local counties are investing more in
their libraries. For instance, Loudoun County has one library staff person per 1,500 residents, while
Fairfax County has one per 3,000 residents. At the July 29 th meeting both speakers stated only that
the library may be included in the redevelopment.
Given this atmosphere, RCA is concerned that the library will be moved to temporary quarters and
remain there for years, as have the classroom trailers around Reston. (We also want to avoid the fate
of the Pohick Regional Library, recently closed for a projected 18 months for renovations.) We are
RCA Note on RTC North Redevelopment. For more information on RCA: Page 8 of 11

also uneasy that the rebuilt library will be undersized and not designed for long term use. County
guidelines call for one square foot of library space per resident.
And although there may be proffers available to supplement the $10 million in Library bond funds to
build an expanded library, we are concerned that there would be little funding available for building
a new Embry Rucker facility.
The County has also stated that there will be no community task force involved. How can we be
certain that Restons needs will be met during RFP development, negotiations, design selection,
development, acceptance and overall oversight?

These are the most salient of the communitys questions.
1. What are the benefits to the Reston community in the redevelopment of Blocks 7 and 8?
2. Why is it too much work for the County to come up with a proposal to develop all Blocks?
3. How does the County plan for redevelopment of Blocks 7 and 8 to fit in with plans for
redevelopment of the rest of RTC North?
4. After the redevelopment is completed, which parties would own what portions of Blocks 7 and
5. If the project proceeds as expected, what is the general timeframe for demolishing Embry
Rucker Community Shelter, Demolishing the Library, building a new library, building a new
Embry Rucker Community Shelter and building new commercial/residential units?
6. Although the Fairfax County, Virginia - Fiscal Years 2016 2020 Advertised Capital
Improvement Program dated February 17, 2015 lists $12 million in the 2016 Bond
referendum items for rebuilding Embry Rucker Community Shelter, in another portion, it
includes the rebuilding of the Embry Rucker Community Shelter in the Beyond 5-Year
Period: projects. What would happen to Embry Rucker Community Shelter between the time
the existing structure is removed and a new one built after 2020?
7. Has the County explored best and proven practices from other communities about the design
of the new library and Embry Rucker shelter?
8. Are the designers for the library and Embry Rucker shelter to be chosen through the RFP
9. Will the County include the Fairfax County library General Design Criteria as part of the
10. How much of an expansion of the library is projected? Both the Master plan and the Virginia
Library standards call for additional library space (i.e. 20,000 50,000 more).
11. Will funding for library operations be appropriately increased for the new facility?
12. If the library is not rebuilt on Blocks 7 and 8, where and when will it be rebuilt?
13. What rights would the library have if it became a tenant under private ownership? What
limitations would there be? Would the rent be capped? How would private ownership of the
land/building affect the library budget?

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14. Will the $10 million in bond funds approved for the library be utilized as the Bond stated and
be adequate for current and future needs? To put this in context, in February 2013 Loudoun
County built their new Gum Springs 40,000 square-feet library at a cost of $10.5 million. Costs
can only rise.
15. Where will the funds come from for the rebuilding of the Embry Rucker shelter? Proffers may
not be enough.
16. What design guidelines will the County use for the Embry Rucker shelter replacement?
17. Is the proposed percent of workforce housing in line with the Reston Master Plan?
18. What is the projected rental per square feet for workforce and non-workforce housing?
19. How many new residential units are expected?
20. What steps will be taken to mitigate the increased traffic?
21. What standards would be used to evaluate projected traffic congestion?
22. How will this first phase affect the timing and configuration of the rest of RTC North
23. Who is on the RFP planning, development, and pitch team at the County level?
24. Will the county commit to a timetable for submitting a bond referendum for the proposed
Recreation Center, Performing Arts Center and other new facilities within the rest of RTC
25. How will the county address the risks associated with public-private partnerships (i.e. conflict
of interests, control, oversight, etc.)?
26.Will there be an independent appraisal of Blocks 7 and 8 prior to distributing the RFP?

Suggested Approach
It is incumbent upon the County to plan for a smooth transition to an expanded library and homeless
shelter in RTC North. With input from library and Cornerstones staff we have developed a suggested
approach that addresses the major issues regarding the redevelopment of Blocks 7 and 8.
We recognize the potential conflict between successful market-priced housing and an adjacent
homeless shelter. Our proposal addresses this challenge, as well as many of the communitys
concerns while providing the additional benefit of a cost effective solution. RCA proposes a sevenstep course of action:
1. Renovate the vacant Cameron Glen facility to accommodate Embry Rucker Community Shelter
services and staff on an interim basis while a more permanent facility is built, in the process
providing more than twice the space of the current shelter. (Note that Cameron Glen already
includes an institutional kitchen, sleeping areas, and access control. It is also in a near-ideal
2. Relocate the Embry Rucker Community Shelter and Cornerstones staff to Cameron Glen.
3. Dismantle the Embry Rucker Community Shelter building.

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4. Build a new 60,000 80,0007 square foot flagship library on the former Embry Rucker
Community Shelter land (plus adjacent land) using the available bond funds and proffers from
the contract awardee.
5. Relocate the library to the new building.
6. Build new housing and commercial space on the old library site.
7. Develop a new home for the Embry Rucker Community Shelter within Blocks 1, 3 or 5.
This approach satisfies the major requirements for RTC North redevelopment, Phase I. It allows for
uninterrupted operation of the library and the Embry Rucker Community Shelter; provides additional
space for both (currently undersized) facilities; and addresses the challenge of placing market-price
housing near a homeless shelter.
It is likely that details will need to be worked out regarding the status and any remodeling of
Cameron Glen. But given the benefits of this approach, we feel that any effort spent on resolving
these issues would be well worth it.
For questions, comments and clarifications on this note, please contact RCA Board member, Hank
Schonzeit at or RCA President, Sridhar Ganesan at
or +1-202-409-2722.


The Reston Citizens Association (RCA) is a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation, founded in 1967. RCAs
mission is to promote Restons vision and planning principles, to sustain and enhance its quality of life now and
in the future, by serving as a non-partisan, action-oriented organization for all Restonians. Its goal is to
educate and engage the community on issues affecting Reston and its future and to facilitate the voice of the
citizens by representing the community at local, county and state level meetings and forums.

7 Fairfax county standards call for one square foot of library space per resident. Reston currently has 60,000
residents and projections call for over 80,000 by 2020.
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