The Herndon Town Council is moving forward with a planned makeover for an area of South Elden Street that currently has aging shopping centers and a mix of retail, residential and office space.
The area set for revitalization runs along Elden Street from Worldgate Drive to Sterling Road. Currently, the area includes the Dulles Park Shopping Center, Parkway Shopping Center and Elden Street Marketplace Shopping Center.
The Town Council has been working since 2017 to create a plan for the area, which will serve as a guide for future land use decisions.
The plan is broken into five tiers.
The first tier, which is above Dulles Park Court, and the third tier, which includes the area surrounding Alabama Drive — excluding the Dulles Park Shopping Center, would have similar zoning.
The second tier, southwest of Herndon Parkway and above the Kohl’s, would transform from office space to two-over-twos and townhouses.
Meanwhile, tier four, which includes the Parkway Shopping Center and area east of Elden Street and south of Herndon Parkway, and the last tier — the Elden Street Marketplace Shopping Center — would keep some of the commercial space, with tier five adding up to 45 multifamily units per acre.
Ultimately, the Herndon Town Council wants the area to have greater connectivity to the Metro, add more residential units, provide a diversity of housing and incorporate sustainable design.
Councilmember Jennifer Baker said the plan “has been a long time coming.” Baker stressed that this plan will set up an outline of what the Town of Herndon wants from businesses and developers.
The Town Council adopted the plan as a Comprehensive Plan amendment at its public hearing on Tuesday (Feb. 12).
Noe Flores, Jr, a Herndon resident and vice president of the Four Season Homeowners Association, told the council that he wants some clarification about the “super exciting” proposal.
Flores said during the public hearing that the two-over-twos should have a capped height stated and that more information is needed to get “an idea of what makes the land use more sustainable now under the proposed plan in the presentation than it currently it is.”
Jay Hadlock, a Herndon resident, said the plan needs to make sure that it balances retail and residential or “or you’re going to have one business after another fail and you’ll have empty storefronts.”
Councilmember Pradip Dhakal added that mixed-use developments can help lessen the impact of any future economic downturns. Still, Dhakal said the Town of Herndon is grappling with how to grow and build without losing what makes it unique.
“We are in a situation where we have to balance two things right now,” Dhakal said. “We are proud of having Herndon as a small town so we are in a continual pressure to maintain the small town presence. We have to be ready for increasing demand of people moving in with residential need and business need.”
Councilmember Cesar del Aguila reminded everyone at the public hearing that the plan is still a skeleton of a draft. With more work left to go, del Aguila urged residents to keep submitting comments and suggestions.
“The worst thing we can do is make decisions within an echo chamber, within a bubble,” he said.
Future steps include adopting zoning map amendments and holding Architectural Review Board hearings.
Construction could begin as soon as late 2020.
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