Blog :: 04-2017

Urban Pop Brings Spark to Reston Station

urban popDrudgery is a good way to describe the afternoon commute. That is unless you have something fun to look forward to at the end of your metro ride.

For those who are using the Silver Line to commute these days, there is something to look forward to when you get off the train at Reston Station — Urban Pop. This is a brilliant concept. Urban pop is a collection of tiny shops on the plaza. By tiny, I mean maybe 100 square feet. They’re only open during the afternoon commute and they offer high-quality gifts for people who may not have time to go shopping for a bottle of wine for dinner, a good book to read, a chocolate treat or a nice, calming tea.

The Urban Pop website describes this fun concept as “a fresh retail revolution packed with talent, innovation and attitude that puts creativity and energy where it belongs — in the neighborhood, on the plaza, and accessible to everyone. A unique mix of food, fashion, lifestyle and entertainment.”

These shops are great. I also love that these small retailers have an opportunity to test their concept without committing to a big lease in a retail center. Really, everyone benefits. And the shops are adorable. I know people who shop at them even when they’re not riding the metro. If you find yourself by Reston Station in the afternoon, drop by. And in the summer, there is live entertainment and family movie nights. It’s a fun and festive place.

Urban Pop Retailers

urban pop shopsOPEN: Monday-Friday 3-8 PM

Lakeside Cluster, Lake Anne, Reston

lakeside cluster townhomeI’m partial to Lake Anne neighborhoods. I can’t help it; it’s my neighborhood and I think these little communities are beautiful. They’re also convenient to all the amenities Reston has to offer — including the restaurants at Lake Anne. Lakeside Cluster is one of these gorgeous communities.

Most of the attention around Lake Anne focuses on the famous Waterview Cluster. As a result, Lakeside Cluster doesn’t get as much attention. The community is okay with that. This is a friendly, quiet, unassuming neighborhood.

Lakeside Cluster has the same amenities all of the neighborhoods that border Reston’s Lake Anne share — access to the lake, a quick walk to Lake Anne Village Center, well-designed homes (many of which are direct lakefront).

These townhomes were built between 1965 and 1969. The 90 units are two and three levels with two to four bedrooms. They also have garages (which makes them different than most of their Lake Anne neighbors). All homes have lake access via a trail to the cluster dock, even if they are not direct lakefront property.

The Cluster couldn’t be positioned better. It is located on Greenbriar Road and Orchard Lane off Fairway Drive, which is the south shore of Lake Anne. Fairway Drive provides easy access to both North Shore Drive and Wiehle Avenue.

lakeside cluster dockFor families with children, the cluster is an easy walk to Lake Anne Elementary. Children also attend Langston Hughes Middle and South Lakes High School. For the parents, Lake Side Cluster is only 1.5 miles to the Reston Station Metro, and a short hop to Reston Town Center and the Toll Road. And, of course, a five minute walk to Lake Anne Village Center — home of the Lake Anne Brew House, Lake Anne Coffee House and Wine Bar, Reston Farmer’s Market and several other awesome mom-and-pop restaurants.

Photos from the Lakeside Cluster website: https://www.lakesidecluster.org/

Getting Your Exterior Project Approved: the DRB

If you’re living in Reston, chances are you are a member of Reston Association. That means if you want to make a change to the exterior of your home, you’ll need the approval of the Reston Association Design Review Board (DRB). A few weeks ago I posted on blog on how to get your exterior project approved.  

The process really isn’t hard, but it still seems to fill people with dread. I’m not sure why. I find working the DRB very easy. I’m not just saying that because I’m on the RA board. For years I have helped my clients (and friends and neighbors) get the changes to their homes approved. I have discovered three simple tips for making the whole process smooth sailing.

1. Don’t assume that what your neighbor did is ok

It is not fun to get a letter from RA saying you’re in violation of design standards, even though your neighbor has the same deck or new windows. In most cases, had the homeowner shown the plans to the DRB, the plans would have been approved with just a minor adjustment — saving the homeowner a lot of money and time in the long run.

The moral is: don't assume because your neighbor has done something that it is okay. If you want to build an addition or make an alteration, contact RA and go through the design review process. The time you spend upfront will save you time and money later.

2. Follow the Process

My second piece of advice for homeowners is to simply follow the process. It can feel slow, but it’s the surest way to get your project approved. The Reston Association website provides very detailed information about what the DRB covers, how to fill out the application, and who to talk to if you have questions. (Hint, it’s your covenants advisor. Call 703-435-6530 to find yours.)

3. Take advantage of the Covenants Advisors

The biggest asset you have in the DRB process is your covenants advisor. They know your neighborhood and what the DRB is looking for. They are a tremendous resource when it comes to planning your alteration/addition. Work with them from the beginning. Some of the things they’ll do for you include:

  • Sending you the guidelines or cluster standards that relate to your project
  • Advising you about the information you will need to provide with your application
  • Explaining how the review process works and what level of review and application will be necessary
  • Giving you an estimate of how long the review process might take for your project

The DRB plays an important role in upholding the design standards that make Reston so unique. I think you’ll find that within the design standards, there is still room for creativity. So enjoy the process — and enjoy the changes to your home!

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The Trails of Reston

trails of restonWhat are you doing this Sunday (April 9)? May I suggest grabbing a cup of coffee and heading down to cheer on the people running in the Runner’s Marathon of Reston? It’s a hard and hilly course (so I’m told), and the runners love the boost from the crowd. Here is a link to the map.

Maybe spending some time along the Reston trails will inspire you to run or walk on them. To me, the 55 miles of footpaths that Reston Association maintains are one of the defining features of Reston.

The trails cover every neighborhood in Reston, and walking, running or biking them is a great way to get to know the community. RA has maps on their website, or you can use the wonderful interactive map Fairfax County has of all the paths. I like this tool because it lets you plan your route before you head out. Here are 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 start at Lake Anne, grabbing breakfast at the Lake Anne Coffee House and shopping at the Farmer’s Market (starting in early May and going through November), then walking up to Town Center for lunch.
  • Lake Thoreau Loop, South Reston. This loop is just over 2 miles and circles around charming Lake Thoreau and past the Reston Regional Golf Course. Begin and end your loop at South Lakes Village with a coffee or delicious lunch at Red’s Table or Café Sano.
  • 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 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.
  • 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!

What you’ll soon find is you can have any type of walk or run you want in Reston — relaxing and easy, or very challenging. And you can get anywhere you need or want to go on foot. It’s always fun to discover a new trail and see where it takes you.