Modern Design in Historic Fredericksburg
DESIGN BRIEF | June 2018
MV+A is pleased to be working with Liberty Place Partners, LLC to design a significant new project on the edge of the Historic District in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The project occupies an entire city block along William Street, the primary access road to the downtown area. The project will extend the urban streetscape with a three-story retail and office building positioned on the southern half of the block. Broad building canopies enliven the wide sidewalk area with seating for two planned restaurants. Retail continues along Winchester Street, flanking the primary office entrance.
The mass of the building is broken into two complementary pieces, with a different treatment of red brick on each facade. Facing Winchester Street, the third floor of the building is set back slightly, highlighting bold brick cornices and detailing reminiscent of the late 19th and early 20th century commercial buildings within the district. The William Street facade treatment is more modern in character, evoking a vertical mid-20th century factory aesthetic, wrapping around onto Douglas Street.
The northern half of the block contains a 5-story independent parking garage, providing public parking to facilitate the development of the western end of the commercial district. The pre-cast structure will be clad in red brick with cast stone trim. Each facade is detailed to respond to the character of the specific street that it fronts. Facing Amelia Street, a low stone retaining wall and raised garden creates a park-like setting for local residents and passersby.
Liberty Place brings 21st century planning and design to Fredericksburg, while fitting comfortably into the city’s Historic District. The largest project to be built in the downtown business district, it will continue the organization of ground floor retail with offices located above, traditionally found in Historic Fredericksburg.
MV+A TEAM FEATURE
Lynn Murphy has worked with MV+A for over twelve years, moving with the office from Bethesda to DC in 2013. Lynn is easily considered one of the “originals” at the firm and is an easy go-to person when it comes to MV+A policies, procedures, and funny anecdotes. Lynn is also MV+A’s resident pool shark, she plays on two teams in the Amateur Pool Association.
ON POOL AND ARCHITECTURE
“There are a lot of similarities between pool and architecture, especially the precise nature of both. Of course, there is the geometry of it, using angles to get the balls in the pockets, but there is also the team environment – being able to ask your friends/co-workers for their opinion.”
ON WORK AT MV+A
Throughout the years, my proudest work on a project would have to be Rodin Square. The project looks great but was very tough since there were so many things to consider, especially the CA part of it. I helped with the Whole Foods Market as well, and I had never worked on a project of that size before.”
NEWS | JUNE 19, 2018
Wegmans is furthering its planned D.C.-area expansion with an urban-format store at Brookfield Properties’ massive Reston development, new documents confirm. Brookfield filed plans with the Fairfax County Planning Commission for its 4.16M SF Reston Crescent on a 36-acre site near the future Reston Town Center Metro Station, with Wegmans anchoring the first new building, the Washington Business Journal reports. The proposed Wegmans would be another urban-format store, sitting on the ground level of a 380-unit apartment building. The retailer has increasingly signed on to mixed-use developments, rather than its traditional suburban format, as it increases its D.C.-area presence. The Reston Crescent site, located just south of the Dulles Toll Road-Reston Parkway intersection, is currently occupied by two six-story office buildings. Brookfield plans to keep those buildings, constructed in the last 20 years, and build another 1.5M SF of office, 1,721 residential units, 380K SF of retail and a 280-room hotel. County planning staff recommended denial of the submittal, citing insufficient transportation improvements, but a Brookfield spokesperson told the WBJ he expects the issues to be sorted out soon. The latest proposal differs slightly from the plans Brookfield originally filed in 2016. The planning commission is scheduled to consider the proposal at its June 28 meeting. On the other side of the Dulles Toll Road near Reston Town Center, Boston Properties and JBG Smith are both planning major mixed-use developments that could bring another 5M SF to the area around the future Silver Line station, expected to open in 2020. Wegmans has rapidly ramped up its D.C.-area growth. The Rochester, New York-based retailer earlier this month opened a store in Chantilly, and it has another one under construction in McLean. The grocer also has signed on for locations in Northwest D.C., Alexandria, Rockville and southern Loudoun County.
NEWS | JUNE 18, 2018
Brookfield Properties’ 4 million-square-foot redevelopment of the 36-acre Reston Crescent site, a short walk to the future Reston Town Center Metro station, is expected to house the community’s first Wegmans.
Now we know what that building will look like.
Brookfield has submitted two applications to Fairfax County. One is a conceptual development plan for the entire site, and the other is a final development plan for the first new building there, featuring the urban-format Wegmans topped by 380 apartments. That building, to include a screened garage with more than 1,000 parking spaces, will front Reston Parkway, just south of the Dulles Toll Road. The architects are MV&A and Alexandria-based LandDesign.
As currently envisioned, Reston Crescent will total 4.16 million square feet of mixed-use, including the two six-story office buildings there now. Those two buildings, constructed in 2000 and 2007, will remain.
The property’s existing surface parking and open space will be developed over time with about 3.77 million square feet of new construction, to include up to 1,721 residential units, 1.5 million square feet of office, 380,000 square feet of retail and a 200-key hotel. The overall project will offer at least a half dozen park spaces — a dog park, fitness area, neighborhood park, Gateway Plaza and others.
The Wegmans building is slated for the second phase of Reston Crescent, though the first phase is simply the addition of an interim surface parking lot. The Metro station is scheduled to open in 2020.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission is scheduled to review the project on June 28. A staff report released on Thursday finds that Brookfield “has worked diligently with staff to create a mixed-use development that is envisioned in the Comprehensive Plan and supports ridership to and from Metro.” However, it recommends denial because Brookfield had not, as of the report’s publication, met the county’s demand to financially support transportation improvements in the area.
That issue is expected to be worked out as soon as this week.
“We take seriously and appreciate the County’s diligence in waiting until they have received all of the relevant feedback and necessary information before recommending approval,” Andrew Brent, Brookfield spokesman, said in a statement. “We have worked extensively with County planning staff and independent consultants to ensure the project has a positive impact on the Reston community, and we look forward to the County’s subsequent review, which we anticipate will happen very soon.”
Brookfield has agreed to expand Reston Parkway along the Reston Crescentfrontage to three lanes southbound, largely to mitigate the anticipated Wegmans traffic.
NEWS | JUNE 7, 2018
Developers of Towson Row say they hope to complete the hotel and student housing components of the project by fall 2020.
The new timeline was announced Thursday at a construction kickoff event for the 5-acre site on York Road. Plans for Towson Row stalled after they were first announced in 2013, but county officials and developers say the project is now ready to move forward.
Shamin Hotels will develop two Hilton brand hotels at Towson Row, and Gilbane Development Company will build the student housing. Both the hotels and student housing will also include retail components.
Greenberg Gibbons, an Owings Mills-based developer, is now leading the project in a joint venture with the initial developer, Caves Valley Partners in Towson. They announced Thursday that the historic Towson Armory on Washington Avenue will be part of the development.
Plans for the armory, posted on the Greenberg Gibbons website, call for a restaurant with outdoor seating, offices and a coffee shop.
A statement from the firm said it would share more updates over the coming months, while “making improvements to surrounding roads, sidewalks and other infrastructure.”
In December, a divided County Council approved a controversial $43 million public financing package for the developers, who said they need the aid to move forward with the project.
NEWS | JUNE 7, 2018
Bolstered by a controversial $43 million public financing package, developers of Towson Row on York Road plan to gather with Baltimore County officials on Thursday to celebrate the revival of the long-delayed project.
First announced in 2013 by Towson-based Caves Valley Partners — and touted by then-County Executive Kevin Kamenetz as a “transformational” development for the county seat — Towson Row stalled after crews demolished buildings in 2015. Today, the 5-acre site is an empty lot of cracked concrete and weeds.
Plans for the $350 million project call for a hotel, shops and restaurants, offices, 250 residential units and 300 student housing units. County Executive Don Mohler, County Council Chairman Julian Jones and Towson University President Kim Schatzel are scheduled to participate in the event, billed as a construction kickoff.
Nancy Hafford, executive director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce, said having an empty site in a prime area has been “very challenging, but we’ve been very optimistic.”
“We knew that it would eventually happen,” she said.
Construction at the site — bounded by York Road, Towsontown Boulevard, and Chesapeake and Washington avenues — was supposed to start in 2015, but never did. Caves Valley officials said they found solid rock under the surface that made a proposed parking garage cost-prohibitive, and they would have to reconfigure their plans.
Owings Mills-based Greenberg Gibbons joined as a partner last year and is now leading the relaunch. Whole Foods was announced as an anchor, but the developers have since said that hasn’t been finalized.
A construction timeline has not been announced. A spokeswoman for Greenberg Gibbons said details would be announced Thursday.
The County Council approved the $42.9 million assistance package in December. It’s to be paid to the developers over five years. The developers are to pay back $26.5 million over the next decade by forgoing lucrative tax credits. The remaining $16.4 million is a grant.
Critics called the deal, proposed by the Kamenetz administration, a “bailout” and “developer welfare,” and said it was rushed through the council. The vote was split along party lines: The council’s four Democrats supported it; the three Republicans opposed it.
Greenberg Gibbons said it needed the aid to secure financing that would re-start the project.
County Councilman David Marks, a Republican who represents Towson, said he doesn’t plan to attend Thursday’s celebration.
“I’m very pleased that the construction seems to be getting underway,” Marks said. “But I disagreed with the taxpayer subsidy, and for that reason I don’t think it’s appropriate that I attend the groundbreaking.”
Hafford said several new restaurants have opened in the area in anticipation of increased foot traffic from Towson Row.
“They couldn’t be happier that this is finally happening,” she said.
She said the project’s hotel component is crucial because the Marriott Conference Hotel, which brought many guests to downtown Towson, is being converted into dorms for Towson University.
University officials support Towson Row. The school launched an effort this year called “Towson Together” to emphasize the university’s connection with the larger community.
Redeveloping Towson was a major part of Kamenetz’s agenda. The Democrat died suddenly last month.
Mohler called Towson Row “the centerpiece of County Executive Kamenetz’s vision for what downtown Towson can be.”
“With more than $1 billion in recent private investment in downtown Towson, more people are living here, more people are visiting here, and more students are learning here,” Mohler said in a statement.
The public financing for Towson Row has been raised in the Democratic primary for county executive. State Sen. Jim Brochin, one of three leading candidates in the race, criticized the financing deal. He said in a radio ad last month that he “stands up to big developers” and “said no” to the $43 million.
Councilwoman Vicki Almond, another candidate for county executive, supported the financing. She said the project was important to Towson’s economy and she trusted Greenberg Gibbons to follow through on the development.
Candidate Johnny Olszewski Jr. opposed the terms of the package, a campaign spokesman said, particularly because it could lead other developers to expect similar financial help.
Republican candidates Del. Patrick L. McDonough and state Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer Jr. also have been critical of the deal.