Town of Herndon ‘Crescent’ Eyes Remaking by 2035

A 4.2-square mile town once blanketed by dairy farms is poised for remaking as the oncoming train approaches next year. And much of that remaking is in the hands of eight property owners whose nine parcels eclipse to create a crescent at the door of the future Metro station on 12530 Sunrise Valley Drive.

So far, the parcels, which have slowly slipped into suburban malaise, are relics of what town officials hope will soon be a bygone era. But if the pace of development thus far is any indication, it’s no surprise that Stanley Martin’s residential project, called Metro Square (625 Herndon Parkway), was the first to break ground. It is now nearing completion and prices for two-to-three bedroom condos start from $519,000.

It wasn’t until earlier this month that the kind of project that planning officials hoped will help remake the town got the necessary approvals to move forward by the county.

A major development came this week: Nearly four years after Penzance first submitted plans, the company is moving forward with redeveloping a stodgy office building into an urban block with retail, a garage, a mid-rise residential building, a high rise residential tower and a high rise office tower. A total of 475 residential units will be built.

Town officials and developers hope the Penzance project will set the stage for an unprecedented volume of high density development. A revised application by Quadrangle, the owners of the land to the east of Metro known as Fairbrook, is also expected in the coming weeks. The low-intensity project would bring a mixed-use center to the greenfield area. Not much of it is developable due to the presence of flood plain and resource protection areas.

Still, even as phase two of the Silver Line opens next year, the development contemplated by the Town of Herndon’s transit-oriented plan will live its full glory on paper for now. Dennis Holste, the town’s economic development manager, says the area slated for major transit-oriented development — the Herndon Transit-Oriented Core (HTOC) — will likely be built out by 2035.

Given the stagnant demand for office space — a woe whisking its way down phase two of the Silver Line — Holste says residential development is likely to go in first. He predicts the office sector will pick up as new tenants enter the market. Big names like Google — which recently announced plans to move into Reston Station — would be major game changers.

Bracing for impact

The slow place of development could mean more time to manage growing pains. Already, congested roads and overcrowded schools are a concern. A major $105 million renovation of Herndon High School is nearing completion.

Most public amenities are planned on the Fairfax County side of the station, which has an entrance between 575 and 593 Herndon Parkway. The other side is privately owned. The Virginia Department of Transportation is leading an effort to redesign Spring Street between Fairfax County Parkway and Herndon Parkway. Planning officials are now looking into buying the right-of-way needed to make the project possible.

Following that project, a redesign of Elden Street is planned. Though off the path of Metro, officials hope pedestrian connections and the reputation of a redeveloped downtown will bring riders to the area. Pull-off areas are also planned along Herndon Parkway near the Metro station to allows cars to pull off from traffic and pick up or drop off commuters.

The town is also working with the Fairfax Connector to add bus routes to “make certain that as many people as possible have access to bus service to Metro.” said Lisa Gilleran, the town’s director of community development.

‘Not another Tysons’

In county meetings, town officials often stress that the Town of Herndon will not be another Tysons or another Reston after the Silver Line weaves itself into the town’s fabric.

So what will the character of the area surrounding Herndon’s Metro station be? Most officials hope the area’s small town vibe will remain preserved.

“Unique in Northern Virginia, Herndon has an historic downtown with an authentic “sense of place” within one mile of the metro station; this complements the higher density alternatives available around our metro station. Factor in other parts of Herndon, such as our vision for the South Elden area, and Herndon is uniquely positioned to offer existing and prospective businesses several options for growth and development,” Holste said.

Much of that character could come from a wide promenade that will greet riders as they exit Metro and extend up to Herndon Parkway. The pedestrian-friendly gateway hasn’t been designed yet. Town officials hope to pay tribute to Herndon’s history by including signs about the area’s significance.

Gilleran also says that much of Herndon’s uniqueness could come from having a mix of developers create an urban block.

“Individual developers will build each of these blocks, whereas in some cases, one developer will own more than 38 acres,” Gilleran said. “We’re trying to weave independent development into a fabric that gives you a sense of wholeness. We’re creating the pallet.”

They also plan to put in a raised cycle track along Herndon Parkway in lieu of putting bike lines in the street.

Much remains up in the air. The town is planning to jumpstart discussions about an area slated for transit-related growth – also known as the TRG – beyond the auspices of Metro. That process, which would set development goals for around 100 acres north of the downtown core, could begin as early as the summer.

Photo via Town of Herndon/Handout

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Fairfax County Police to Host Free Carseat Safety Events in Reston

Installing carseats for babies and children can be a tough task, so the Fairfax County Police Department is hosting a few free sessions in Reston to offer some help.

Trained officers will review car seat instructions and car owner’s manual to insure car seats are being used safely. The first session is tomorrow (April 18) from 5-8 p.m. at the Reston District Station (1801 Cameron Glen Drive). Can’t make it tomorrow? Other sessions are set for May 15, June 13, July 11, Aug. 22, Sept. 19, Oct. 17, Nov. 14 and Dec. 12.

Here’s more from FCPD:

Installing car seats for babies and children can be difficult, but we all want our children to travel safely. That’s why police district stations across the county host free Car Seat Safety and Install events throughout the year! You will learn how you can ensure your car seat is properly installed to keep your child as safe as possible. In preparation for your appointment, you should install the seat in your vehicle using the instructions that came with the car seat.

Events are by appointment only. Attendees should call 703-478-0904 to schedule an appointment.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

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Vantage Hill Condominiums’ Closed Pool and Parking Could House New Townhouses

For seven years, the pool behind Vantage Hill Condominiums (11619 Vantage Hill Road), boxy housing built in the late 1960s, has been closed. Now, discussions are underway to build townhouses on the pool site to save a condominium building that its community association leadership says is on a slow and steady decline.

The assocaition hopes to use revenues generated from the project to help finance around $4.5 million in needed infrastructure upgrades. Rob Schuman, the community association’s president, told the Reston Association’s Design Review Board last night (April 16) that the association has been grappling with major infrastructure needs for years.

The 152-unit development, which has 24 garden-style buildings, was one of Reston’s first projects and offers market-based workforce housing. Prices for a one-bedroom unit start at $140,000 and up to $250,000 for a three-bedroom unit.

Schuman said the association does not have enough money to take on infrastructure improvements on its own. Members pay yearly HOA fees between $420 and $680. Pipes leak every week, the electrical system is 60 years old and doors and windows provide little to no insulation, Schuman said.

The association is considering pooling the one-acre pool site and another acre used for parking to create enough developable space for 38 townhouse units. Parking lost to the development project would be redistributed. Schuman said 70 percent of the association’s members approved of the development proposal. The association’s bylaws require a two-thirds majority from the ownership to proceed with the project.

If approved — a process that could be years away — the townhouse community could become its own cluster with its own community association. So far, association members stressed a formal proposal is forthcoming and discussions are preliminary.

Charlie Hoffman, a DRB member, said he worried that the infill development could hike up the prices of the condo units.

“I would hate to see them get so nice that people can’t afford to live in them anymore,” Hoffman said. Overall, he said the project could bring new energy to the aging building.

Revenue from the project would help fund metered electrical service for each unit, new windows and doors, new entrances, upgraded heating, new plumbing, security upgrades and an expanded playground. Electric vehicle charging stations are also under consideration.

Photos via Reston Association/handout

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Reston Real Estate: Condominium Market

This is a sponsored post from Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate. For a more complete picture of home sales in your neighborhood, contact her on Reston Real Estate.

I’ve been writing about the fast pace of Reston real estate and about the constrained inventory.

It’s true that things are moving fast — although not all segments of the market are moving with the same intensity. More than half of Reston’s current housing inventory is condominiums. Condos also account for slightly less than 50% of the year-to-date property sales.

This segment of the market has its own dynamics.

I’m always writing about the price sensitivity of our markets — this is especially true in the condo market. Because the condo market has a larger supply you must price to drive motivation from the buyers. Presentation is also especially important in the condo market — you have more competition so you need to make your property stand out to the buyers.

Reston has a huge variety of types and prices of condos, from very low density properties like Vantage Hill to much more urban settings like Reston Town Center.

Likewise, prices cover a huge range as well; current condo listing prices go from a low of $189,900 for a garden style in South Reston to $1,750,000 for a penthouse property in Reston Town Center; clearly something for every price point.

For many buyers condominium living has a lot to offer. If you’re a person who can deal with living in closer proximity to your neighbors, then condo living might be a good option.

Many people love being able to just shut the door and go without having to worry about yard work and everything else that comes with single family living.

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Pet of the Week: Ginger

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Ginger, a Hound mix adult available for adoption locally.

Here is what her friends at Boxer Rescue and Adoption Inc have to say about her:

Ginger needs a family to give her attention, love and the time to turn her into their special girl. She has learned a lot while she’s been with us and we’d love to see her get a home that has a fenced yard.

Give her a Jolly Ball and she’ll play with it by herself. Ginger needs someone who can wear her out playing, taking walks, or just plain loving on her.

Ginger is very pretty and is a sweet girl, but needs lessons in how to behave nicely. She plays with our younger rescues, but is way too mouthy, which could cause trouble with dogs that don’t know her.

Are you and Ginger a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Reston Association Board Moves to Fill Seat Vacated by Ganesan

(Update at 2:31 p.m. to include information about the timing of Ganesan’s resignation)

Sridhar Ganesan has resigned from his position as vice president of Reston Association’s Board of Directors roughly one week after the results of this year’s board election were released.

Ganesan was appointed to a one-year, at-large seat in 2017 and served as treasurer. The next year, he was elected to an at-large seat. His term expires in 2021.

After missing several board meetings earlier this year, Ganesan said he realized that it would be difficult to balance his commitment to the board with his business obligations. The Reston resident recently took on two major projects in Frederick, Md. and another abroad, making it challenging to balance both obligations.

Ganesan told Reston Now he did not want to officially announce his resignation during the board’s election process in order to prevent confusion. He had hoped to leave in the beginning of the year so that the new board-appointment member could serve a more complete term.

Mike Leone, Reston Association’s director of communications and community relations, told Reston Now that Ganesan notified the organization of his resignation on Sunday (April 14). In order to make it in time for the latest election, Ganesan would have had to make an official announcement about his intention to resign by the end of November or early December. His new business obligations surfaced earlier this year, he said.

Reston Association released the following statement from Ganesan:

“I very much appreciate the confidence placed in me by the RA membership and the support I received from them, the RA staff and my board colleagues, especially during 2017-2018, when I helped implement new operational policies and procedures, as well as internal controls at RA. I am also happy that during my two years on the RA board, I helped forge and maintain a strong partnership between RA and Coalition for Planned Reston (CPR), which resulted in holding off the Fairfax County from raising the density cap for Reston PRC district.”

The board has issued a call for candidates to fill the seat vacated by Ganesan. Candidates can apply by submitting a statement of candidacy to the assistant secretary by May 16 at 5 p.m. The board will review candidate applications that are certified by staff at a May 23 board meeting.

The term will run through April 2020 and be up for election in 2020. The elected candidate will serve the final year of the term.

Photo by Reston Association

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Baby Season in Full Bloom at Frying Pan Farm Park

Baby critters are eagerly awaiting visitors at Frying Pan Farm Park.

It’s been a busy birthing season this year at the Herndon park. Hokie, the farm’s cow and part-time Virginia Tech mascot, delivered a healthy baby boy last month. Sheep Flufette and Stompey also delivered their lambs in March. Momma pigs Hazel and Puma also delivered their litter of piglets in February.

More news is expected as several sheep and two goats are due this month.

The farm is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors can also catch several programs during spring break, including puppet shows, a Bluegrass concert, and farm skills programs. Admission to the park and farm is free, but most activities and programs have fees. For more information, visit the park’s website.

Photos via Yvonne Johnson

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Cars from Train Near Wiehle-Reston East Detach While Moving — Commuters were appalled Monday night when cars from a train approaching Wiehle-Reston East separated on the track. The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission is now investigating the incident. In a statement, the commission said the first of two cars of a six-car train uncoupled while the train was moving. An investigation is underway.  [Washington Metrorail Safety Commission]

How Reston Became the Place for Tech Expansion — “Sandwiched between major roadways within its close proximity to the nation’s capital, Reston has grown to become a noteworthy technology town in Northern Virginia. Located in an area often dubbed the “Silicon Valley of the East,” Reston continues to see significant growth in the technology sector.” [ICS Blog]

County Responds to Public Record Requests — The volume and complexity of Freedom of Information Act requests continues to increase. Last year, the county received 8,459 FOIA requests, an average of 34 requests per working day. [Fairfax County Government]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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