Blog :: 04-2014

Visit the Merchants of Lake Anne Plaza, Reston

Lake Anne Plaza, Reston Enjoy some of the finest bluegrass jamming around at Reston's Used Book Shop at Lake Anne Plaza, Reston! (Photo courtesy of the RUBS Facebook page.)

Enjoy some of the finest bluegrass jamming around at Reston's Used Book Shop at Lake Anne Plaza, Reston! (Photo courtesy of the RUBS Facebook page.)

Lake Anne Plaza is home to some of Reston's funkiest mom-and-pop shops. Lake Anne has always welcomed small businesses--in fact, you won't find any chain stores here. Instead, you'll find small business owners that bring a little something special to our community. It's always worth a trip to the plaza to see visit the shops. Next time you're at Lake Anne Plaza for the farmer's market (which starts in a few weeks), dinner on the lake, or a summer concert, visit one of these shops--you never know what you'll find...

Reston's Used Book Shop

Reston's Used Book Shop is the place "Where Books and People Meet." With thousands of gently used books lining the shelves, you are guaranteed to find a great read. In fact, a few generations of young Restonians have gained a life long love of reading by perusing the vast children's selection. Once a month, you can also attend a great bluegrass jam too.

small change consignments

small change consignments has been a warm nurturing place to buy and sell children's clothes, toys and equipment since 1981. This friendly neighborhood shop is a gathering place for parents and grandparents looking for brand name and imported clothes, shoes, dancewear, cleats, toys, videos, strollers, cribs, high chairs, exersaucers and joggers -- most at well under half the original price. For people with growing families, a visit to small change is a must.

New Family Naturals

If you're in the mood for a great fresh juice or some of the best kale chips you've ever tasted, pop into New Family Naturals ~ Holistic Healing Center & Juice Bar. Their inventory is small, but always interesting. You can find some of the best natural/organic snacks, soaps, and other items on the shelves. And did we mention the kale chips and juice? You will feel yourself getting healthier just walking into the shop.

Lake Anne Florist, Virginia Wine and Gourmet

Whether for a large celebration or an intimate personal observance, you can find fresh floral arrangements and unique gift baskets to help make the occasion memorable. When flowers aren't enough, you can find Virginia's Finest(TM) specialty food items made locally and throughout the state of Virginia. And then there is the local wine selection. Virginia has some very fine wines, and it's fun to taste them and try something new (yes, they have frequent wine tastings).

Chesapeake Chocolates

Nestled in the same space as the Lake Anne Florist you'll find some of the finest chocolates in the DC area. The word chocolate says it all, really. Milk, dark, semi-sweet, with nuts, without nuts, truffles--you name it, you can find it at Chesapeake Chocolates. Their signature item is a solid chocolate crab in your choice of dark, milk, or white chocolate. Unlike the real thing, these chocolate crustaceans are available year round. A chocolate treat is a great balance for that healthy juice you get at New Family Naturals!

These are just a few of the shops you'll discover down at Lake Anne Plaza. Visit today and see what else this historic shopping district in Reston has to offer!

Woodcrest Cluster, North Reston

Perfect for singles or young families, Woodcrest Cluster is a neighborhood of quaint colonial style townhomes located in North Reston. This small development  of 63 townhouses is walking distance to North Point Shopping Center (grocery store, restaurants, and more) and Lake Newport pool, and surrounded by Reston's walking paths.

These adorable two or three levels townhomes have an average of 1,000 sq feet of living space, two bedrooms, and 1 ½ or 2 baths. Several of the homes feature fireplaces. Many of the homes have fenced-in back yards--perfect for letting the dog out! Surrounded by wooded areas, they afford privacy and are light and bright.

The proximity to Reston Parkway, Fairfax County Parkway, and Route 7--and Dulles Airport for those who travel--make commuting a breeze from this location. Armstrong Elementary School is walking distance, and Herndon Middle School & Herndon High School are a short ride away.

Submitting an Application to the DRB

Working with Reston Association's Design Review Board (DRB) can be intimidating to new home owners, but the process is really very easy--and you are responsible for having your project reviewed and approved. RA's staff and the DRB are more than willing to work with you and your contractor, though. In fact, many contractors that work in Reston are fantastic resources for navigating the design review process--and for designing improvements that the DRB will approve. Ultimately, though, you are responsible for ensuring your property complies with the Design Covenants and Guidelines.

I shared the basic process of working with the DRB in January. This month, I'll take you through submitting your design review application.

One of the biggest reasons an application gets rejected is because the homeowner hasn't provided all of the required information. It may take a while to pull this information together, but it will save time in the long run. If you are confused about any of it, your RA Covenants Advisor is a great resource--call RA (703-435-6530) to connect with your advisor. All of the forms can be found on the RA website.

What the application must include

As a reminder, if you are a member of Reston Association, you need to submit an application to the DRB if you want to make a change to the exterior of your home. If you're renovating your kitchen or bathroom, you don't need to go through this process. However, if it's happening on the outside of your home, here is what the DRB wants to see (taken from the RA website):

  1. A detailed written description of the proposed exterior modification or addition
  2. Scale drawings
  3. A site plan showing size and location of project
  4. Photographs of the existing condition
  5. A brochure, detail sheet, or catalog photo of materials
  6. Estimated project completion date(s) (projects must be started within six (6) months of the date of approval and completed within eighteen (18) months of the date of approval)
  7. The signatures of at least three different property owners adjacent to or within view of the applicant's alteration or improvement.
  8. In addition, if your property is located within a Cluster Association at least one of the signatures must be that of a Cluster Officer.  Please note, the neighbors' acknowledgment is neither an approval nor disapproval of your application.
  9. At the discretion of the DRB, applications that the DRB determines to have a wider impact on the community may be required to provide additional notice beyond the signatory requirements of this provision.

When you're done collecting all of this information, you can drop your application off in person, fax it to 703-673-2040, email it to your Covenants Advisor as an attachment, or mail it to Reston Association:

Reston Association Covenants Administration 12001 Sunrise Valley Drive Reston, VA 20191-3404

After RA receives your application, staff and/or members of the DRB may visit your property, and possibly photograph it, for reference.

That's it for the application. To learn more about the entire application process, visit the RA website.

Chestnut Grove Condominiums, North Reston

chestnut grove

Andrea participating in a community dig out after a blizzard...digging out together somehow makes it more fun!

When Andrea Abrams moved to Reston several years ago, she wanted a spacious condominium close to her work and where she could become part of a vibrant community. She found the perfect spot in Chestnut Grove Condominiums in North Reston, located off Wiehle Avenue between Sunrise Valley and North Shore Drive.

"I love the fact that there are people here that have lived in the neighborhood since the beginning--that says a lot about our little enclave," said Andrea.

She also loves the fact that it's quiet and serene, and that it's hidden in the trees (when they have leaves). But her absolute favorite thing about Chestnut Grove is that she's steps away from the W&OD Trail--making running and biking easy.

Completed in 1972, Chestnut Grove Condominiums has  226 units ranging from 1 to 4 bedroom (although the majority have 2 bedrooms). Although it is a large complex, it does feel private being nestled in the woods. In fact, the complex backs up to Lake Fairfax Park.

Chestnut Grove

Chestnut Grove Condos in North Reston...in the early Spring. Photo courtesy of the Chestnut Grove Facebook page.

Other features include designated parking, an on-site pool, and playground. It is about ½ mile from the Reston Metro stop, making commuting via metro a breeze. It's also close to Reston Town Center, Lake Anne Village center, and all of the recreation facilities Reston has to offer.

If you are looking for a large, comfortable condo in a welcoming and tight community, Chestnut Grove is worth a look.

The Walking Trails of Reston

walking trails of Reston

I love the walk from Tall Oaks into Lake Fairfax park. It's hard to believe you're so close to civilization here.

Yes, I know it's April Fools Day, but really this is no joke--spring is finally coming to Reston. After the snow storm we had last Tuesday, though, I was beginning to wonder. But the weather people say winter is over, and I choose to believe them. I feel so confident, that today I'm going to tell you all about the walking trails of Reston.

Reston Association maintains 55 miles of foot paths that cover every neighborhood in Reston, and they are wonderful. (And, just in case Mother Nature decides to grace us with more snow, RA does a fantastic job of plowing the paths so you can still use them.) Fairfax County has a wonderful interactive map of all the paths so that you can plan your route before you head out. Wandering the RA paths is one of the best ways to get to know both North and South Reston. I thought I'd share a few of my favorite walks about town--but don't stop with these.

  • Town Center to Lake Anne, North Reston. This walk is just shy of 1.5 miles and winds through a few of North Reston's original neighborhoods--Coleson Cluster and Hickory Woods. It's fun to have brunch at Town Center than wander down to Lake Anne to shop at the Farmer's Market (starting in early May and going through November).
  • Lake Thoreau Loop, South Reston. This loop is just over 2 miles and circles around charming Lake Thoreau (where I guarantee you'll decide you want to live) and past the Reston Regional Golf Course. Begin and end your loop at South Lakes Village with a coffee or delicious lunch.
  • Walker Nature Education Center and Glade, South Reston. There are many options for a walk from here. From the Center, follow the trailhead and see where it takes you! There is a short loop (probably ½ mile), or you can venture off on the RA path that follows Glade. Whatever you choose, you will feel like you are miles from civilization. It's a wonderful place to recharge.
  • North Point Loop, North Reston. This is a 4 mile loop for those who want a little more exercise. This trail is great because it really gives you a sense of the North Point community. I recommend starting at Lake Newport pool. These trails take you through several charming neighborhoods, and you'll notice an abundance of RA pools and tennis courts (in fact, if you do this in the summer, pop into one of the pools for a refreshing dip). After your brisk walk, cross the street over to North Point Village for coffee, ice cream, or a hearty lunch!
  • Tall Oaks to Lake Fairfax Park, North Reston. I'm not entirely sure how long this walk is, but the park loop takes about ½ hour--longer if you're with a dog who needs to investigate all the great smells. Park at Tall Oaks Village Center, cross under the underpass and head toward the wooden bridge. When you hit a dirt trailhead, take a left and follow the trail into Lake Fairfax Park. You'll cross a little creek and then the path opens to what is a large loop. Go left or right and just follow it around. It's a gorgeous walk in the woods! Just be careful--mountain bikers train here. They're very courteous, but they're also usually going pretty fast!

The trails of Reston are, in my opinion, one of the greatest features of our community. You really can get anywhere you need or want to go on foot, and it's always fun to discover a new trail and see where it takes you. I'm most often on the trails around Lake Anne--wave if you see me!