Reston, VA

A new look is being considered for a Herndon Parkway development that has been in the works for more than half a decade.

The Herndon Town Council heard proposals from Penzance Properties to alter the development plan for 555 Herndon Parkway on Tuesday (April 6). Plans for the property have been years in the making after being first submitted in 2015.

Herndon Director of Community Development Lisa Gilleran told the council that Penzance met with town staff “several weeks ago…to discuss the possibility of changing the approved development plan for the property.”

“These changes would require a revision plan to the development plan be filed. That would require public hearing,” Gilleran said.

Approved on April 4, 2019, the current development plan for the site encompasses three buildings: two that have been planned as residential with ground floor retail, and a third planned as an office building. An entry court open space and driveway have also been approved.

The existing plan caps the development’s density at 475,000 square feet for residential uses split between a 12-story low-rise building and a 23-story tower. It allows a maximum of 8,000 square feet of retail and 325,000 square feet of office space in a 24-story building.

The minimum density range is 275,000 square feet for residential, 200,000 square feet for office, and 8,000 square feet for retail. The low-rise residential building must be at least six stories tall, while the tower must be at least 10 stories. The office building has a minimum height of 12 stories.

Penzance’s proposal to the council on Tuesday suggests reducing the height of the tower to be similar to the low-rise residential building.

“Really, what this means is you would be going from a concrete and steel structure down to a wood construction over concrete podium, similar to what’s allowed for [the lower residential building],” Gilleran said.

However, it could result in a potential 10% increase in the number of residential units due to “a rearrangement of the footprint,” according to Gilleran. That would give the development around 500 available units.

Additional changes proposed by Penzance include a rearrangement of the buildings and open space, though the office space would still be planned to meet or exceed the approved minimum.

No changes to the proffers have been proposed.

“I will say, this is really being driven in large part by market forces and some of the issues that the market is posing at this time when it comes to high-rise construction,” Gilleran said.

She stated that the cost of steel and concrete is “one of the driving forces” behind the proposal, but when questioned by Councilmember Signe Friedrichs about a potential change in quality, Gilleran responded that Penzance’s intent is not “to come in with, in some way, a cheaper, less quality product.”

Gilleran could not speak to whether the expanded footprint of the buildings under the proposal would result in less green space.

The council collectively signaled it would hear out the proposals as more details of the development plan are introduced in the future.

Town Manager Bill Ashton also clarified for the council that Penzance has “been made aware” of the council’s desire to create additional workforce housing going forward.

Image via Town of Herndon

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