Fairfax chooses Republic Land Development to redevelop Reston’s Crescent apartments

The Lake Anne Village Center, featuring the Heron House condominiums and the Washington Plaza shopping center, as seen from Lake Anne. With business dropping, Fairfax County is trying to redevelop the surrounding area. (Fairfax County) The Lake Anne Village Center, featuring the Heron House condominiums (left) and the Washington Plaza shopping center, as seen from Lake Anne. With business dropping, Fairfax County is trying to redevelop the surrounding area. (Fairfax County)

The process to start redeveloping the area around Reston’s Lake Anne Village Center, including the existing 181-unit Crescent apartments overlooking the center, is ramping up with the selection Wednesday of Republic Land Development LLC to build on both the Crescent property and on the main parking lot property of the shopping center.

The area has attracted concern from those who favor maintaining affordable housing in Northern Virginia because the Crescent has low rents and residents who do not work in high-paying jobs. Fairfax County bought the apartment complex in 2006 specifically to preserve affordable housing, but last year put the Crescent on the block as part of a larger plan to rehabilitate the area around Lake Anne. The county’s plan is to build 935 residential units where the Crescent currently stands.

The interim agreement proposed by Fairfax County would require Republic, or its Lake Anne Development Partners subsidiary, to devise a relocation plan for the current residents and “the provision of at least 181 replacement affordable units must be part of the first phase of development.”

Stephen Smith-Cobbs, the pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, is part of Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement, which has been helping the residents of the Crescent monitor the process. “We look forward to working with Republic Land Development, and their partner, Community Preservation Development Corporation, as they go forward with the redevelopment plan and we hope that current residents will qualify for the criteria set for the future affordable apartments,” Smith-Cobbs said.

County board documents indicate that eight companies submitted proposals to redevelop some of the areas around Lake Anne. An interim development agreement does not specify whether Republic is buying or leasing any the land from the county, all of which would be subject to a master development agreement. It does indicate that in addition to the Crescent, Republic also would be developing “Land Unit A,” which includes the main parking lot of the Village Center, the Association of School Business Officials building and the 24-7 convenience market, as well as the gas station across the street.

Republic is responsible for acquiring the land in “Land Unit A” from its various owners or the deal is void, the interim agreement states. The developer’s design plans must pass review by the county’s plans and zoning department and also from the Reston Association’s Design Review Board. And if you know anything about Reston’s Design Review Board, THAT should be interesting.

Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) said in a press release that the county wanted an experienced developer who would assemble additional properties within the Lake Anne area, not just the Crescent, for a consolidated redevelopment of the area. “I am excited with the prospect of a renovated Crescent Apartments and a revitalized Lake Anne,” Hudgins said. “It’s a win-win for the entire community.”

Republic’s president, David Peter, is also the manager of Lake Anne Development Partners. He said in an e-mail, “We are proud to have been selected by the county to work on this important redevelopment of the neighborhood that was the heart of Reston when it first came to be. Although we have a starting vision of what it will ultimately look like, we are certainly not presumptuous about that, and would note that there are many steps in the approval process that will all be taken into account in shaping the final development plan.

Republic currently is involved in a similar redevelopment in Gaithersburg, renovating the Townes Crest area. It also built Washington Harbour and Georgetown Park in D.C., as well as the Potomac Mills shopping center in Woodbridge, which its website calls “the most popular tourist attraction in Virginia.” Who knew?

The Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday on whether to have a public hearing on July 30 on the interim development agreement. The county’s background on the agreement starts here on page 7, and the agreement itself is on page 11.

Tom Jackman is a native of Northern Virginia and has been covering the region for The Post since 1998.

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Tom Jackman · July 8, 2013