It wasn't supposed to be this way. When county officials first announced they were seeking bids to redevelop the county-owned Crescent Apartments property near Lake Anne, the plan was to announce a developer by early July, with bollardly goodness and maybe, just maybe, some spillover foot traffic to Lake Anne Village Center soon to follow.
Flash forward to earlier this week, when county officials held a meeting to say… not a whole lot, beyond the fact that construction on something just might begin as soon as 2016. A few Lake Anne residents had what seems like a completely appropriate response:
"I have been to 10 or 12 meetings," said Linda Fuller, owner of Lake Anne Florist and Virginia Wine & Gourmet. "Why are we doing this again? Are we going to sit here at Lake Anne while Reston Station, Fairway, and Parc Reston are redeveloped? How does Lake Anne Village Center take advantage of Reston Station if we have nothing to offer? I have been on the plaza for 38 years. I am not gonna sit here again and listen to something I have heard before."Chalk it up to charette PTSD.
With that, Fuller left the room. She was soon joined by another neighbor.
"I am wondering why you called this meeting," the woman said. "We have told you 15 times what we want for Lake Anne. This is [expletive]."
What's telling is that there was no mention of the fancy 1,330-unit proposal to redevelop Crescent ostensibly submitted by Hines, the developer of the fancy CityCenterDC project downtown, back in late spring.
Maybe Hines is still interested; apparently "several" developers are. But reading between the lines, it sounds like county planners may be holding out for a broader redevelopment plan that includes other parcels around Lake Anne, including the plaza's current parking lot.
With consolidation, up to 935 units could be developed, said John Payne, Fairfax County's Deputy Director for Real Estate and Development said at the original RFP meeting. If only Crescent is redeveloped, it will be for a maximum of 750 units.Both of those figures are considerably smaller than the number of units Hines initially proposed for the Crescent property alone. Which may be appropriate, given traffic and other considerations, but may also be a sticking point for developers. A completely integrated mega-proposal that encompasses all of Lake Anne could also be waiting in the wings. But given the fact that we're seeing other redevelopment projects preparing to break ground right now, the delays aren't exactly encouraging.
In case you're keeping score at home, the county now expects to select a proposal sometime next fall. Add the requisite zoning/DRB approval fun, and you get that 2016 start date for any construction. The bright side? Maybe there's still time for us to submit a proposal for a fun floating rollerdrome in the center of the lake.