Wednesday, June 14, 2023
Streetsense completed the fifth and final segment of Phase 1 for its Lake Anne study, represented by facilitators Angela McGarvey, managing director of creative strategy at Streetsense and Bruce Leonard, managing principal. On June 8, Streetsense held its second vision presentation at the Reston Community Center Lake Anne. The facilitators shared that Lake Anne Reston’s appeal and plan could be a hybrid of two of its three concepts regarding historic, waterfront, and destination — Lake Anne, Reston is a historic destination.
McGarvey and Leonard explained to the roughly 40-person audience how Streetsense tapped into the idea of Lake Anne being more than a local draw. "How do we shine a light on that and communicate that to the marketplace and say this is a place that is like nowhere else on earth?" inquired McGarvey. "You must come; you must experience it; you must visit it; you must see the best view in the world. It's supremely special, and it's supremely one of acclaim," McGarvey said.
Streetsense considered the months of "great ideas" from community members and explored how to best position Lake Anne Reston in "a category of one." The challenge, Streetsense said, was that Reston's Lake Anne offered three competing appeals, its waterfront, historical significance, and a stand-alone destination. But which could elevate Lake Anne's distinct natural setting, close-knit atmosphere, and confidently quirky character? What about an appeal overpowering small Lake Anne?
"It's not just about the architecture. It's about the incredible sculpture, the fountain, and, I think, a focus on art in terms of merchandising, but from the Van Gogh Bridge to the Pyramid ... and beyond," McGarvey explained. "This artfulness... is inherent to this community and to what we want to communicate to the marketplace moving forward... This idea of (being) outside the mainstream is really here: an iconic mixed-use place that marches to a different beat... you can't get anywhere else." McGarvey tapped into diversity at the core and ethos of Lake Anne, something "really, really powerful now more than ever... This is a place where you can have an experience that is exactly like nothing else. … So what do we really aspire to be for our audience, Reston’s cultural and historical epicenter at a watershed moment, reframed, reinvigorated, and refocused."
The facilitators discussed aspirational examples from the region's larger landscape, where they could learn certain things but not compete head-to-head: Washington Harbor, Georgetown, Old Town Alexandria, and the Village at Shirlington. Based on the conversations from the May 18 Vision Presentation, McGarvey said they had an idea that "was a bit more ambitious, a bit more regionally oriented, a bit more externally focused." Leonard brought to greater light Lake Anne’s degree of being a destination, "That sweet spot of attracting people from a broader area but not overpowering it."
Considerations for Phase 2
Looking ahead to the next phase and potential solutions, Leonard said that everyone agreed that signage needed to be enhanced. "It’s confusing for a lot of people, especially new people coming here. The co-founder and co-owner of Lake Anne Brew House, Melissa Romano, agreed, saying, "I cannot tell you how many times, as a business owner here, somebody has stumbled into my business and said, ‘Oh my God, I've been coming to the farmers market for years, and I never knew Lake Anne was here."
According to Leonard, parking was a focal study point that could evolve.
What would be the location of the cultural anchor? Some people preferred it at the entrance; others preferred it closer to the merchant businesses to draw customers into the plaza and make them feel more integrated.
The idea of a permanent farmers market structure and its location received mixed reviews. "Some people are adamant that the farmers market stays in the parking lot. Others were more open to (saying), "Hey, that would be cool; you know, to have a different structure, (thereby) freeing up more parking for residents and customers," Leonard said.
John Lovaas, Reston Farmers Market manager, questioned the term "structure."
"When you mentioned structure for the farmers market, the only thing we've ever really sort of talked about is just a cover... more of a year-round building, right?"
"At this point, everything is on the table," Leonard replied.
Other issues raised by community members included the need for a secondary entrance to the plaza, increased visibility from Baron Cameron Avenue, and a safer way for seniors living at the new Lake Anne House to cross over to the plaza, possibly via a tunnel or bridge, as one community member suggested. "I've seen two or three times (seniors) almost getting killed walking across the street. Very dangerous," he said.
Eve Thompson, a former at-large member of the Reston Association Board of Directors who lives at Lake Anne, mentioned green technologies. "Green roofs, electric vehicles, charging stations—all of those things," she said.
Questions arose regarding the Crescent Redevelopment located adjacent to Lake Anne in Reston and replacing its affordable units on a one-for-one basis. Elizabeth Hagg, Fairfax County's section director of development, planning, and development, said the development would be mixed-income, with the same number of affordable units, one-to-one replacements, and additional market-rate units of 1,000 or so.
A mention of 140 affordable units was made at the meeting. According to research provided by a spokesperson for the Office of Supervisor Alcorn on Monday, June 12, “Crescent Redevelopment (Hunter Mill District): $1,299,000 is available to facilitate the redevelopment of the county-owned Crescent Apartments site and the properties within the Lake Anne Village Center. The Crescent Apartments, a 181-unit apartment complex acquired by the County in FY 2006, is located adjacent to Lake Anne in Reston, near the new Metro Silver Line and the Reston Town Center. The property is managed by the FCRHA on behalf of the Board of Supervisors. A physical needs assessment study was completed to identify improvements that are needed to ensure the property’s continued sustainability in its current form.”
Leonard announced they’d plan for the interim phase, Phase 2, and have the schedule on the website as soon as possible. Visit https://www.fcrevite.org/lake-anne/economic-visioning-study for information, Video Recording | Final Vision Presentation.