After Appeal, Heritage Preservation Review Board OKs Downtown Herndon Redevelopment

In a flashback to its hurried approval of the downtown Herndon redevelopment project last year, the town’s Heritage Preservation Review Board unanimously approved Comstock’s application to demolish several buildings to make way for the mixed-use project last night (Wednesday).

The board granted Comstock, which is leading the public-private partnership, Certificates of Appropriateness that allow the developer to proceed with the project. The HPRB’s approval last June prompted several property owners neighboring the project to file an appeal on the grounds the project was approved prematurely.

Last year, the HPRB approved the certificates to demolish buildings at 770 Elden Street and 750 Center Street, as well as the exterior architecture of the development, despite staff’s recommendations to defer the decision to a later date.

Mike McFarlane, who was the lone dissenting vote on the board last year, voted in favor of the project last night. After discussions with staff, McFarlane said the reasons why he initially opposed the project — the size, mass and scale of the building — were not within the purview of the board.

“There was more than gentle arm twisting from some elements in the town that I resented,” he added.

Residents who testified at last night’s hearing overwhelming supported razing the buildings, including the site of the former Stohlman Subaru, which one resident said had a roof that was “flapping in the wind.” Supporters urged the HPRB to approve the project, which they said would give the town a sense of place and has been anticipated for years.

Noah Klein, Comstock’s legal representative, noted that the properties under question were not historic landmarks and did not contribute significantly to heritage preservation. He said Comstock would continue to work with residents to incorporate some elements of the to-be-demolished buildings.

“The concept is to present a new and vibrant design but also connect it to the historic heritage,” Klein said.

John Vassello Jr., one of the appellants who challenged the HPRB’s decision last year, said he was still dissatisfied with the project. Although he noted he does not oppose the development, Vassello said he was vexed about the lack of public involvement and questioned whether the HPRB’s vote was influenced by town officials, who have a vested interest in the project.

The town’s attorney cut off Vassello’s remarks after he reached the maximum allotted time of three minutes. A resident who supported the project read Vassello’s remaining testimony.

The meeting concluded with applause from the audience. The vote was unanimous.

Photo via handout/Town of Herndon

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Raytheon-owned Company Leases Monument II Building in Worldgate Centre

Forcepoint Federal, a company owned by defense contractor Raytheon and private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, has signed a lease for the Monument II building on Worldgate Drive in Herndon.

The global security company will lease more than 46,000 square feet.

EDGE Commercial Real Estate, a commercial real estate firm, represented the landlord, Washington REIT, in the transaction. In a release, the company issued the following statement about the lease:

“The extremely large concentration of high-quality businesses contained within the Herndon, Dulles, Reston, Chantilly and Sterling sub-markets, each of which is accessed via a modern transportation network, makes this building the perfect choice for Forcepoint,” explained Scott Rabin of EDGE Commercial Real Estate. “This location is also convenient for the company’s many clients associated with the Federal Government, with offices throughout the greater metropolitan Washington, D.C. region. Monument II is an extremely high-profile building that matches the integrity and professionalism of Forcepoint.”

Monument II is located in Worldgate Centre, which is located at 13025 Worldgate Drive.

Map via Google Maps

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Verizon Seeks New Lease for Fox Mill Fire Station’s Parking Lot

Verizon Wireless hopes to continue using a portion of Fox Mill Fire Station’s parking lot for a telecommunications facility.

The five-year lease, which could be extended for up to 25 years, would bring $30,000 to the county’s coffers in the lease’s first year. Annual payments would increase by 2.5 percent each year.

County officials do not expect that the company’s use of the parking lot will impact the station’s operations. The parking lot already has a monopole that was built by Cox Cable in the early 1980s.

The company built a fenced compound to store equipment needed to serve cable television subscribers and facilitate a relay station in the first responders’ emergency network.

In 1998, Verizon expanded Cox Cable’s compound by adding an additional 264 square feet. That lease ended last September.

Revenues collected from the lease would go to the county’s general fund.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the matter on Tuesday, May 21.

Map via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Demolition of Reston Fire Station To Begin in the Fall

The demolition of Reston Fire and Rescue Station 25 is set for the fall, bringing an end to the building that was built in the early 1970s.

Construction on the new fire station — Reston Fire and Rescue Station 25 (1820 Wiehle Avenue) — will begin later this year. The new facility is more than double the size of the current department, which officials said has long outlived its use.

Major redevelopment is planned around the fire station, which will have two levels and four drive-through bays with the capacity for adding more units in the future.

The county plans to work with the developer of Isaac Newtown Square, which is behind the fire station, to make sure the redevelopment project does not interfere with work planned at the fire station.

While the new station is under construction, fire and rescue personnel will be relocated to a temporary station at 1800 Cameron Glen Drive near the North County Government Center.

Site work and construction of the temporary facility, which consists of trailers and a large tent, is in progress, a spokesperson for the county’s fire department told Reston Now.

The project is expected to cost $14.8 million.

Photo via Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department

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Del. Ken Plum: Bold and Swift Changes for Our Environment

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Advocates on behalf of cleaning up our environment got further strong evidence of the need for “bold, swift action on behalf of our environment,” a phrase used by many who have recently written letters to me. A 1,500-page report based on thousands of scientific studies by hundreds of international experts has concluded that “humans are transforming earth’s natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plants and animal species are now at risk of extinction posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival.”

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services that produced the report for the United Nations found that “piecemeal efforts to protect individual species or to set up wildlife refuges will no longer be sufficient.” Instead, they call for ‘transformative changes’ that include curbing wasteful consumption, slimming down agricultures and cracking down on illegal logging and fishing.” The writers of the assessment are hoping that policy makers will see the importance of nature to the health of people and local economies and will able “to strike a more careful balance between economic development and conservation.”

As Virginia advocates point out in their plea, “it will now be up to the 2020 Virginia General Assembly to stand up for our health and the environment, for clean energy, and to protect Virginians from the ravages of climate change of which we are already feeling the effects.” The most recent session of the General Assembly demonstrated that the legislators in charge can make all the difference. In a strictly partisan vote, the Republican majority had language inserted in the budget that restricts the Commonwealth’s ability to participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) that will be a critical avenue for reducing carbon emissions in the state and addressing the negative effects of climate change on the health and safety of the people.

While the language by the Republicans was not subject to a line item veto by the Governor because of past court decisions, the Governor nonetheless has pledged to move forward with new regulations much the same as would be part of RGGI to make significant reductions in carbon pollution from fossil fuel fired power plants. The Governor has made it clear that the budget he prepares next year will delete the Republican language. With the probable change of control of the House of Delegates and State Senate this year the language will not be carried forward in future budgets.

It is unfortunate that the actions of the Governor on this and other items in the budget have been sharply criticized because of a misunderstanding on the part of many that the Governor’s line item veto power is not unlimited — supported by court decisions but still controversial. The good news is that the Governor has indicated in many other actions that he recognizes the need for bold and swift action to protect our environment. I look forward to working with him in greatly enhancing Virginia’s protection of the environment.

File photo

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Thursday Morning Notes

Painting Stolen from Reston Community Center — RCC became a target when a painting was stolen from an exhibition. Detectives embarked on “Operation Picasso” and were able to successfully recover the artwork. [Reston Patch]

Elden Street Robbery Under Investigation — A suspect attempted to rob a business on the 400 block of Elden Street on May 8. The suspect fled when confronted by a police officer. No money was taken and no weapon was shown. [Herndon Police Department]

Exercise on the Water with Reston Association’s Fitness Class — Try a new and fun way to exercise on water in this series of classes that begins on June 2 and runs through August 30. Participants must be proficient swimmers and be comfortable in deep water. [Reston Association]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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