As Phase II of the Reston Master Plan continues to wend its way through
multiple tracked-version changes in Microsoft Word the public hearing process, county officials are holding the second of its community meetings on Saturday. The draft, or "strawman," as the kids development wonks like to say, language that would guide redevelopment of the existing village centers is here. While county planners are careful to say they're focused primarily on the shopping centers and not existing neighborhoods, they did add this weasel wording codicil:
From time to time, circumstances may arise that merit consideration of the redevelopment of an existing apartment community. Under such circumstances, the Board of Supervisors may consider proposals to amend the Comprehensive Plan and/or past zoning actions in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan to allow for the redevelopment of an apartment community if the criteria specified above are met and the additional criteria below are met.We're already starting to see what this might look like.
The strawman text attempts to connect the vision for future development with the original plans for the village centers:
The village centers were conceived of as the places that would draw people together, with a public plaza for gatherings of all types, formal and informal, as well as a grocery store, churches or other community uses, restaurants and local services (e.g. dry cleaners, day care providers, etc.). Lake Anne and Hunters Woods Village Centers developed according to this model. However, over time retail trends changed and later village centers were designed in a more typical suburban fashion, with an emphasis on retail uses and restaurants, without community uses and the stores surrounding a large surface parking lot. This form reduced the ability of the later village centers to function as the community gathering places they were intended to be. In the future, the village centers should be encouraged to transform to include a central gathering space, preferably a plaza, a horizontal mix of uses, anchored by civic uses and ground floor retail, and some traditional main street elements such as wide sidewalks and shade trees.These central places, the draft says, should be "neighborhood-scale gathering places," not like the Town Center or the "civic plaza" at the Wiehle Avenue Metro Station. In other words, don't expect to see a giant fountain topped with a statue of a Greek god in the middle of Tall Oaks' crumbling parking lot.
But the parking lots themselves should change as well, county officials say.
Use the parking area, either surface parking lots or parking structures, as a multi-use space for public events, recreation, and gathering through the inclusion of green roofs, temporary, creative paving materials, pavement markings and access control strategies."Access control strategies?" Hopefully they don't mean this:
Other recommendations include "access and visibility from the roadway to the central space or commercial core" cough cough Tall Oaks and including "commercial, civic uses, and a variety of residential uses (single family attached and multifamily at medium to high densities)." Which, of course, is all part of the plan. But never fear, as developers will be encouraged to "utilize shifts in scale and massing to transition from existing uses to new higher density and intensity uses" and "create opportunities through the spatial arrangement of uses for users to interact and linger between the different uses." We can't wait for random people to "linger" in the spatial arrangement between our carport and our front door, particularly late at night.
There's other stuff about transportation and whatnot, but we know how well that's worked out so far.
Actually, the broad strokes of this make sense -- at this point, we wish the owners of Tall Oaks would just get on with developing something in the place of the increasingly empty stucco wasteland. But, as we like to say, the devil is in the details, or lack thereof, and we won't know those until specific proposals start wending their way through the pipeline.
The meeting will be at 8:45am at South Lakes High School.