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Herndon Council Strikes Deal with Comstock for Downtown Development Project

by Fatimah Waseem October 26, 2017 at 2:45 pm 11 Comments

The redevelopment of Herndon’s historic center moved forward Tuesday as local lawmakers passed an agreement that would transform nearly 4.7 acres of town-owned land into a mixed use development.

The seven-member Herndon Town Council unanimously approved a comprehensive agreement with Comstock Partners that lays out responsibilities of both parties. Comstock plans to bring 281 residential apartments, 17,600 square feet of retail space, an arts plaza and walkways, an 18,000-square-foot arts center and a 761-space parking garage to the center.

The public-private redevelopment deal states the town will pitch in $3.6 million to help with the redevelopment effort, including $500,000 for environmental remediation, $500,000 for transitional public parking, $250,000 for the relocation of the arts center, $100,000 for culvert repairs and up to $100,000 for any off-site easements. The town will also contribute land purchased for $5.8 million

In return, the developer will provide 339 public parking spaces in the garage, the arts center, an arts work and recreation proffer and $505,000 in proffer funds for town recreational services. The total value of the contributions is roughly $12 million, according to the town.

Construction, which is set to begin in early 2019, is expected to be complete by early 2021. With the green light from the council, the developer must begin designing the project. Once the design is complete, Comstock will submit a site plan to the town for approval and seek design approval from the town’s Heritage Preservation Committee — a process that could take one year.

The site on which the development would take place is north of Elden Street, east of Center Street, west of Station Street and south of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. The space in question includes municipal parking lots and the home of ArtSpace, as well as the former Stohlman Subaru building on Elden Street.

As the development moves forward, the town plans to work with Comstock on a transitional parking plan. ArtSpace will be relocated off-site during construction of the project. The future of the Herndon Festival is unclear as the festival’s committee will evaluate options for relocation. During construction, parking will either continue to be located on-site or be transitioned to other locations in downtown Herndon. The town will work with Comstock on the transitional parking plan.

In a release, Mayor Lisa Merkel applauded the council’s decision as a major step forward in the redevelopment effort.

“After decades of discussion, vision and planning, the town is thrilled to be moving forward on a project that will revitalize our downtown and solidify Herndon’s position as a 21st century town where history and heritage are integrated into a thoroughly contemporary setting. We are grateful to the citizens, business owners and others with a stake in Herndon’s future who have dedicated so much time and energy to get us to this point, and we look forward to working with Comstock in bringing the town’s vision to reality.”

County officials project the purchase of the property will bring in roughly $300,000 per year from taxes and fees for licenses. The site is currently exempt from property taxes.

For more information about the plans, visit the town’s website.

Image courtesy of Anne Curtis

  • Dev

    All this talk about development leads me to believe the economy must be doing really well right now.

    • TheKingJAK

      Except for the obvious vacancies. Then again, since we rely heavily upon government jobs along with some tech ones, there are always fluctuations in the people coming and going. However, many government jobs are currently in the process of leaving our area for greener pastures.

    • Density gamble

      No its not, real estate valuations have been slipping especially the county’s crown jewels – the current and future condo market. All around Reston condo listings are plentiful and prices are dropping. Herndon should be no different, high density developments will likely only produce a short term boom around the metro station. Also, we re at the end of a real estate cycle and my guess condo prices will drop by 30-40% over the next two years.

      County planners were really gambling, assessments will be sharply lower also and their projected tax revenue will come in short. And the infrastructure will have to bear 30% more load at same service levels or less.

      And so, your point was?

  • EliteinReston

    Mayor Merkel and members of the town council: Before you approve Comstock’s site plan, please go over to the Wiehle Ave. subway station and drive into the park and ride there and the kiss and ride. Comstock designed the parking there. The signage and tight turns make it the most dangerous parking design in the Metro system. Talk to Uber and taxi companies who gripe about the parking situation there constantly. Upon entering from Reston Station Blvd. drivers can’t figure out from the signage where the park and ride lot is located and where the kiss and ride is. During their confusion, drivers make sharp turns between lanes when they realize they are heading into the park and ride lot instead of the kiss and ride. Make sure you turn into the kiss and ride lot. It is a dangerous tight turn I call the Geico Turn. In an admission of its danger, there now are two paid parking attendants who must direct traffic into the lot because of the poorly designed turns. In the park and ride lot, there also are tight, dangerous turns on a steep slope. Observe the traffic there during rush hours. It is clear Comstock tried to save money by building the smallest kiss and ride lot possible. Please make sure they don’t do the same thing to Herndon.

    • Maya

      Not to mention the giant shuttle buses for hotels and apartments that enter the Kiss and Ride and then block traffic as they struggle to get out of the garage. Those turns are far too tight for even two SUVs to drive in and out at the same time, and there is only room for about three cars at a time to make it through those short lights, and then once you make it through you have to deal with everyone stopping on the side of the road to be picked up/dropped off because they either can’t find the kiss and ride or because they’d rather not get trapped inside the insanity that is a second story drop off / pick up zone smaller than most apartments.

      • EliteinReston

        You nailed it exactly. The county failed to look out for us when it allowed Comstock to execute this flawed design. I’ve never seen anything like it at a Metro station. Btw, those giant shuttle buses often park along Reston Station Blvd. because they give up on trying to get into the kiss and ride safely. They block one of the two lanes and jam traffic. Comstock has done a lot of good in our community but the county was “had” on this one.

    • restonista

      Kiss and Ride at Wiehle Metro is the WORST. I was told that they (Comstock?) had independent, commercial architects review the plan and their feedback was not implemented, and specifically, that the kiss and ride needed major adjustments.

      • EliteinReston

        That review should be in the file at the government center. You can see in attachment 5-6 in the link below that there were lots of concerns early on about the parking and kiss and ride. Unfortunately there can be no retrofit solution. You can see how Comstock has tried to mitigate the concerns by adding several small, hard to find and read signs and pavement markings entering the station. Drivers easily get confused when trying to find the kiss and ride. The other mitigation is they are paying attendants to direct traffic–an admission people have trouble turning in and out of the kiss and ride lot. The damning thing is that even when other Silver Line stations come on line, Wiehle still will grow more congested because of the planned development in Reston. I realize that the downtown Herndon redevelopment does not include a kiss and ride lot. But it does have a parking garage and I think the elected officials should be warned about Comstock’s failure at Wiehle.
        http://ldsnet.fairfaxcounty.gov/ldsnet/ldsdwf/4315356.PDF

  • I look forward to the redevelopment of downtown Herndon. It’s got a lot of potential and this seems to be a good vision for it.

    • Greg

      At long last. And, Herndon, PLEASE bury ALL of the ugly utility lines. DON’T make the same mistake that Fairfax did by not burying the lines.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    Jimmy’s, Sully’s and the Aslin Annex better hope that Hooter’s doesn`t decide to open a store front restaurant.

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