Residence Inn plans progress as planning commission approves amendment to density limit

Residence Inn at 315 Elden Street in Herndon is the subject of redevelopment plans for a multi-family project. (via Google Maps)

The potential redevelopment of the Residence Inn at 315 Elden Street in Herndon for a multi-family project is now one step closer toward fruition.

The Herndon Planning Commission voted on Monday (June 28) to adopt a motion to amend the town’s zoning ordinance following a public hearing on the matter.

If subsequently approved by the Herndon Town Council, the motion will increase the maximum density allowed in the town’s planned development urban residential district for projects that adapt an existing building for residential use.

The amendment would allow 28 dwelling units per acre for such projects, up from 20 dwelling units per acre. It would also add language defining “adaptive reuse” and requiring the projects to demonstrate no negative impact on water and sewer lines, include by affordable dwelling units, compared to the existing use.

The current proposal to redevelop the Residence Inn is not allowed under the existing zoning districts. The property sits on approximately 6.5 acres with 168 hotel rooms, which would amount to about 26 dwelling units per acre.

“There really aren’t any others out there that have this land-use designation and would be a building with a different use that could be adaptively reused,” zoning administrator David Stromberg told the planning commission.

“A big part of what the commission’s work is going to be over the next one to two years would be, when the comprehensive plan is updated, identifying areas that should get that adaptive area residential designation.”

This amendment is the second of three required legislative steps that have to be taken for the proposed redevelopment to take place. The first step was changing the site’s land-use designation in the town comprehensive plan, a hurdle that was cleared on Nov. 17.

The final step will be a legislative application by the applicant that will provide details about the proffers that the applicant will include in its plans for the project.

Stromberg added that this text amendment is “fairly specific” to this site, but depending on how this project works out, the land-use designation could be used in other parts of the town.

“This ordinance isn’t an affordable dwelling unit ordinance,” Stromberg said. “So, it was crafted a little bit narrowly because we have an applicant who’s indicated that they want to go in and redevelop a property, or reuse existing buildings on a property, and part of that will include affordable housing.”

He noted that the town won’t know how much affordable housing the developer plans to include until the proffers are submitted.

“Potentially, it’s something that could allow the town to get more affordable housing units if this model works,” he said.

The town council will hold another public hearing on the subject before making a determination on the proposed zoning ordinance amendment.

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