Herndon’s Planning Commission Continues Probing Mixed-Use Project

by Catherine Douglas Moran January 29, 2019 at 11:45 am 1 Comment

The Herndon Planning Commission held its first public hearing on the Metro area last night (Jan. 28), continuing discussion on concerns surrounding an unprecedented mixed-use project.

Penzance Properties’ redevelopment project, which would add three buildings in three phases at 555 Herndon Parkway, has hit several design snags and a zoning issue.

The Planning Commission and Architectural Review Board previously provided dozens of suggestions and areas that needed improvement for the project, which is the first of its kind for Herndon.

At the meeting last night, a Planning Commission staffer said that more information and materials are needed to evaluate the development plan. Some of the concerns include:

  • lack of open space
  • unclear about how it will “reinforce an identity unique to Herndon”
  • air flow issues
  • concerns with the Herndon Parkway curb cut and entrance designs

The staffer noted that integrating artwork and redesigning the facades will help soften the stark image in the plans. The Planning Commission continued its request for more refined designs, a revised color palette that creates warmth and texture and a new architectural scale that makes the ground floors more visually interesting.

Kenneth Wire, the land use attorney for the project, told the commission that more color will get added to the site to address concerns about the project appearing stark.

Wire noted that some of the project’s struggles have resulted from its novelty as a new urban portion moving into a suburban community.

“One of the questions that we had with the Town is, ‘When you say unique to Herndon, Herndon doesn’t have any 200-foot-tall buildings,'” Wire said. “So how do we take the rich fabric of the DNA and the materials and pedestrian scopes and bicycle network and fold it into this project?”

Wire said about 40 people attended the community meeting on Jan. 23, asking questions about the scope and the scale of the project.

Richard Downer, a Herndon resident, praised the commission for taking time with the project to address concerns. “You all don’t have that much experience — I believe — with these mega projects, and I think it’s very good that there appears to be a lot of cooperation all the way around.”

Downer said that he has concerns about transportation and accessibility to downtown Herndon as the Herndon Parkway project and Comstock development bring more people into the town.

The Planning Commission decided to continue discussion on the development plan at its public hearing set for Feb. 25.

The Architectural Review Board will take up the application on Feb. 6.

Image via Planning Commission

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