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by Dave Emke — May 15, 2017 at 4:00 pm 14 Comments

As a going-out-of-business sale continues at Kmart in Herndon (494 Elden St.), the town’s mayor says there are big plans in the site’s future.

In a comment on Reston Now’s Facebook page, Mayor Lisa Merkel says the Kmart’s closing has been “coming for a while,” but that she has been in recent contact with the building’s owners and is optimistic about its future.

“They are going to upgrade the facade significantly and subdivide the very large space into several new businesses,” Merkel wrote. “I was mostly pleased with what they shared and gave some specific feedback that we are looking to elevate the status of that end of the center.”

Merkel said she could not share specifics about the new businesses coming in, as leases are still being negotiated.

Howard Riefs, director of corporate communications for Kmart owner Sears Holdings Corporation, said the store will remain open for customers into late July. He called the decision to close the store “difficult, but necessary.”

“We have been strategically and aggressively evaluating our store space and productivity, and have accelerated the closing of unprofitable stores as previously announced. We often hear from our members who are disappointed when we close a store, but our Shop Your Way membership platform, websites and mobile apps allow us to maintain these valued relationships long after a store closes its doors. As a result, we hope to retain a portion of the sales previously associated with this store by maintaining our relationships with the members who shopped this location.”

Kiefs also said customers can continue to shop at the company’s other area locations, and that employees who are eligible will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at those stores. The nearest remaining Kmarts will be in Springfield and Annandale, while Sears has stores at Dulles Town Center and Fair Oaks Mall.

The 84,000-square foot store was purchased in August by Florida-based real estate-investment firm Sterling Organization at a cost of $7 million. At the time, the firm’s CEO said “the real estate fundamentals of — and the demographics surrounding — this property are nothing short of exceptional.”

The rest of the shopping plaza, known as Herndon Centre, is owned by A.J. Dwoskin & Associates Inc.

by Dave Emke — May 15, 2017 at 2:45 pm 5 Comments

Metro’s Art in Transit Program is recommending the vision of a Colorado-based artist to become the motif of the future Reston Town Center Metro station.

Last week, the program unveiled the proposal of Joshua Wiener as its pick for the public art installation at the station’s walkways over the Dulles Toll Road. Wiener’s designs, which are shown on his personal website, consist of powder-coated aluminum sculptures of a bassist, a horn player and a drummer, as well as flowing red and teal ribbon designs down the corridors.

Wiener’s proposal was chosen over two other finalists. The program received 45 total submissions for the project. The Art Review Panel included the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, the Arts Council of Fairfax County, Public Art Reston and other Virginia-based visual art professionals.

According to the Art in Transit Program, the public art initiative benefits Metro as a whole by:

  • Creating attractive transit facilities
  • Building livable communities by creating public spaces that reflect the artistic, cultural and historic environment
  • Creating economic opportunities for artists, engineers, fabricators and other professionals

WMATA’s Customer Service Operations and Security Committee approved the proposal at its Thursday meeting. The full WMATA board will vote on it this summer. Upon board approval, WMATA will enter into contract with Wiener to develop, fabricate and install the artwork.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is overseeing construction of Phase II of the Silver Line, is funding the public art effort. The project’s funding is capped at $250,000.

by Dave Emke — May 15, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

Up in Minnesota, the Macalester College Scots are heading to their first NCAA Division III baseball championship tournament, thanks in large part to a local player.

The Scots are going to the tournament after winning the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship Saturday. Jared Abelson, a 2015 graduate of South Lakes High School, started the title game with a leadoff single and scored on a hit by the next batter, setting the pace in a 13-5 win over Bethel University. Abelson ended the game 2-for-5 with an RBI, and he ended the three-game playoff tournament with a .500 batting average.

The sophomore’s playoff performance was no fluke. Abelson, who plays center field and catcher, finished the MIAC season sixth in the conference in batting average (.371), hits (53), runs scored (35) and on-base percentage (.451).

In 2014, Abelson told the South Lakes Sentinel why he loves playing baseball.

“It’s all about overcoming obstacles. The beauty in baseball is that you don’t have to be 6’5″ to be the best player. Anyone can be great; you just have to be the hardest working guy, especially in the offseason.”

According to his profile on the Macalester College Athletics website, Abelson is 5 foot 9.

Abelson and the Scots start the 56-team tournament Thursday night in Whitewater, Wisconsin, with a game against Concordia University Chicago.

Photo via Macalester College Athletics

by RestonNow.com — May 15, 2017 at 11:30 am 4 Comments

Thousands of area commuters will ride to work Friday during Bike to Work Day, and those in Reston are invited to a “pit stop” to get refreshments, gear and more.

The event is open to all area commuters, who are encouraged to meet up with neighbors and co-workers at one of 85 pit stops across the region, including 13 in Fairfax CountyFree registration is required for the pit stops, which enters attendees into local and regional raffles and guarantees a Bike to Work Day T-shirt.

Reston’s pit stop will be located on the plaza level at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station. More than 500 local bike commuters are expected to participate at the local stop, according to the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

The regional event is organized by Commuter Connections, a program of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments that promotes bicycling to work, ridesharing and other alternatives to driving. More than 17,500 bicyclists are expected to register across the D.C. area.

“Each year, Bike to Work Day attracts commuters who choose to bike to work for the very first time, and after the event, 10 percent of them continue to bike to work an average of 1.4 days per week,” said Nicholas Ramfos, director of Commuter Connections, in a statement. “That’s an impressive conversion rate and it’s why we are committed to making every Bike to Work Day bigger and better than the one before it.”

File photo courtesy Fairfax County

by Dave Emke — May 15, 2017 at 10:15 am 88 Comments

Proposed redevelopment of Reston Town Center North will be the topic of a community meeting hosted by the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services along with Supervisor Cathy Hudgins later this month.

The upcoming meeting will be held in the cafeteria at Lake Anne Elementary School (11510 North Shore Drive) from 7-9 p.m. Wednesday, May 31. DPWES is scheduled to provide a brief presentation about the Town Center North-Mixed Use Area, including the Request for Proposal process for the Reston Regional Library and Embry Rucker Shelter.

According to the DPWES:

“Located midway between Tysons and Dulles International Airport, future Reston Town Center North is part of a quickly urbanizing area in northwestern Fairfax County. The Board of Supervisors envisions redeveloping the property from a collection of irregularly-shaped parcels, which are incompatible with Reston Town Center and surrounding development, into a vibrant urban, mixed-use environment that complements Reston Town Center and surrounding development.”

DPWES says the redevelopment would allow for the creation of a central green space open for public use; mixed-use development compatible with adjacent Reston Town Center; a walkable community connected to surrounding communities, Reston Town Center and public transportation; an expanded library to serve a growing population; upgraded delivery of human services; and affordable housing provided for workforce.

As part of the redevelopment, the area would be realigned into nine parcels, which would then be rezoned. A 2.6-acre public park is proposed for the center of the development. The first two parcels slated for redevelopment are the library and the shelter, which will be fully replaced. The Fairfax County Park Authority also has rights to build a 90,000-square-foot recreation center in the area, and the North County Human Services Center would also be replaced.

Redevelopment of the whole area — bounded by Baron Cameron Avenue, Town Center Parkway, New Dominion Parkway and Fountain Drive — is expected to take more than a decade.

The county last held a community meeting on the proposal in November 2015, shortly after a land swap was completed between the county and Inova, which also included Reston Towne Green, a five-acre parcel, being transferred from the Park Authority. Comments shared by community members during the meeting included suggestions about the locations and amenities of the library and shelter, as well as concerns about parking and open space.

Maps courtesy Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services

by Dave Emke — May 15, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Tenants Unhappy at Cosmopolitan — Residents of the luxury apartment building in Reston Town Center (1855 St. Francis St.) say the property management company is slow to respond to complaints and address safety concerns. They are organizing in the attempt to get the building’s owners to treat them better. [Fairfax County Times]

SLHS Alumnus Named to Virginia High School Hall of Fame — Among the inductees this year is Alan Webb, a 2001 graduate of South Lakes. Webb, who competed in the men’s 1,500-meter competition at the 2004 Summer Olympics, set a new U.S. high school record for the 2,000-meter race while at South Lakes, and was the first high school student to run a sub-4 minute mile in indoor track. In his senior year, he was named High School Athlete of the Year by Track and Field News. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Great Falls Fire Department Marks 75 Years — A product of civil defense in World War II, the volunteer fire department was founded May 5, 1942. There were 29 founding members, mostly farmers and shopkeepers. Great Falls historian Karen Washburn shares more details about its history in a 4-minute video. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

SoccerFest Coming to Lake Fairfax — The tournament, June 24-25, is open to children and adults of all skill levels. Early-bird registration pricing is available through May 26, and registration will close June 16. [Fairfax County Park Authority]

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