Lack of “destination” retail at future Herndon Metro development worries town council

The area immediately surrounding the Herndon Metro Station could soon be activated.

At a meeting last Tuesday (Dec. 6), the council reviewed developer Penzance’s scaled-back plan for a nearly 4.3-acre area at 555 Herndon Parkway.

The proposed development would have a one-tower building and a mid-rise building with a mix of residential, office and retail space. An urban block is planned with private streets wrapped around the exterior and an internal loop and plaza area.

Some council members expressed concerns about the lack of placemaking retail in the development.

Councilmember Sean Regan said the development has a “woeful” lack of attractive retail.

“Why would someone at a different Metro stop want to go here? To go to a Sbarro?” Regan said, noting that the amount of square footage will not attract a tenant who can make the commercial space a “destination.”

The current plan reduces office space by roughly 125,000 square feet and ups the amount of residential space by a little over 10,000 square feet. That would make the majority of the site — roughly 488,000 square feet — residential, along with 10,000 square feet of retail and 200,000 square feet of total office space.

The project includes just two buildings that could be subdivided into parcels and built in two phases, according to town staff.

At the meeting, staff noted that the scaled-back application is moving forward at the applicant’s request.

“They wanted to get going on construction faster than what the existing approved plan supported,” staff said.

The project is set for a public hearing tomorrow (Tuesday), allowing further opportunities for feedback and changes.

Councilmember Cesar del Aguila encouraged the town to push for more changes, adding that he too was concerned about the reduction of office space and its relation to the Metro station.

“I think we can certainly ask for some stuff,” del Aguila said.

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