Reston, VA

The Reston National Golf Course has launched a new study group to help understand the property’s past and current conditions and future plans for the neighborhood’s natural environment.

Funded by Virginia Investment Partners LLC, which owns the 168-acre golf course, the Reston National Neighborhood Study Group is focusing on six primary categories: open space, amenities, tree canopies, safety, housing costs, and water quality.

The group hosted its first community meeting on May 13 with the Hunters Green community, and at least additional conversations are planned, according to study group leader Greg Hamm.

As founder and president of the real estate planning firm New City Enterprises, Hamm represents the developers Weller Development Cos. and War Horse Cities, which purchased the golf course in 2019.

Hamm says the community conversations are intended to provide transparency for the study group’s work and opportunities for public engagement, particularly with adjacent neighbors like the Hunters Green Cluster, which shares almost six miles of property with the golf course.

“This is a very important piece of property, and it’s a very important topic and issue to many people,” Hamm said. “…It’s a big responsibility on us to really listen, engage and be creative and thoughtful in how we are stewards of this property and this important piece of the community. So, there are going to be lots of ideas, lots of opinions, lots of very important concerns that we have to address.”

The conversations will touch on shared property lines, trees, and the vegetative state of the surrounding property, including how to address invasive plant species, along with other challenges identified by the study group and neighbors.

Other topics include understanding the trail network and engaging in conversation about permanent open spaces, a recurring concern in Reston when it comes to golf courses.

While an effort to update Reston’s comprehensive plan is ongoing, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn has maintained that he would not support amending the plan to allow for development on the area’s two golf courses, though a proposal to build townhomes near the Hidden Creek Country Club course is currently working its way through Fairfax County’s planning process.

Hamm says the Neighborhood Study Group will be guided by the seven founding principles laid out by Reston founder Robert E. Simon.

“We think that keeping in the spirit of Reston and master planning, and community building, there’s some ways we could go about possibly addressing some of these things that could be very positive,” Hamm said.

Hamm added that these conversations will not result in an overnight transformation, but he hopes to encourage an open dialogue so the study group can work with surrounding community members and learn about their concerns or ideas.

“We want to make sure we genuinely thought through and understand the major underpinning issues the community has about our future and their future,” Hamm said. “Part of that is enabling them to understand what’s happening already.”

Photo via Reston National Golf Course/Facebook

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Another capital improvement project is moving closer to completion in the Town of Herndon.

The Herndon Town Council unanimously voted in favor of awarding a contract to Fort Myer Construction Corporation for improvements at the Elden and Center streets intersection during its public session on May 11.

Fort Myer submitted a bid of $863,000, the lowest of five bids that the town received for the project.

The project will reconstruct and realign the existing intersection “to incorporate additional turn lanes as well as a new fully operational traffic signal,” Herndon Deputy Director of Public Works John Irish says.

According to the project description, the lane and signal changes will be installed in conjunction with improvements to the existing storm drain system and enhancements to pedestrian facilities located at the intersection, including the addition of brick sidewalks.

The project description states that these enhancements “will assist with the existing and future mixed-use residential development on Center Street which places greater traffic volumes in this project area.”

The project is expected to be completed by 2023.

Up to 50% of the construction contract will be covered by reimbursement funds through a revenue-sharing agreement between Herndon and the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Irish told the council during a work session on May 4 that the cost fell below the $930,000 that had been budgeted for the project.

He added that the plan to make up the half of the costs not supported by revenue-sharing funds is to use local funds collected from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. The NVTA funds come from the 30% local distribution revenue given to localities for transportation projects through House Bill 2313, which was passed in 2013.

The Elden-Center Street project is one of 48 capital projects included in Herndon’s FY 2021 – FY 2026 Capital Improvement Program that was adopted June 9, 2020. Irish says this is the first of several capital improvement projects that will be brought before the town council in the next few months.

Image via Town of Herndon

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The potential expansion of Tall Oaks Assisted Living Facility’s parking lot has taken another step.

After earning conceptual approval from the Reston Association Design Review Board on April 20, the facility’s proposed parking lot expansion on North Shore Drive has now gotten a recommendation from Fairfax County’s planning department.

Released on May 5, the staff report includes some conditions but supports the overall expansion plan.

“The applicant has satisfactorily demonstrated to staff that the proposed parking will sufficiently meet the parking needs of the facility and has minimized impact to the surrounding area,” the staff report said.

The staff conditions include providing three secure bicycle racks within 200 yards of the building’s front entrance and pre-wiring 2% of the proposed parking spaces for electric vehicle charging stations.

Tall Oaks Assisted Living currently has 44 parking spaces, which matched the requirements of a facility of its size when it was constructed in 1988. However, with 152 beds and 48 employees, it does not meet the county’s current zoning requirement of one parking space for every three beds and one space per employee.

The county’s current regulations require 99 parking spaces for a facility of this size, so Tall Oaks has applied for a waiver to reduce that number to 73 spaces.

The plan for the expanded lot includes five tandem spaces, 12 spaces at the front of the building, 54 spaces along the southern and western edges of the site, and seven spaces at the rear of the building.

“In staff’s opinion, the 99 required parking spaces could create unwanted environmental impacts and would encroach on existing conservation easements,” the staff report said.

The proposal’s environmental impact was a primary concern of RA’s Design Review Board. Tall Oaks estimates it would need to remove 66 trees and 95 shrubs, while only proposing to plant 17 new trees.

The staff report, however, states that the proposed parking layout “will not impact the existing trees.” It further details that a mix of canopy and understory trees, as well as shrubs, are proposed to screen and buffer the site.

“The design now includes one row of parking and a 12-foot wide buffer area between the building and parking area to mitigate noise and light impacts on adjacent units,” the staff report said. “Additionally, the applicant is proposing a mix of deciduous understory and canopy trees that, in combination with the natural topography of the site, will reduce the light impact to the adjacent townhouse community.”

The Fairfax County Planning Commission is slated to host a public hearing and vote on the expansion of Tall Oaks’ parking lot expansion on May 19.

Photo via Google Maps

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Reston is now home to an expansion of PuroClean, a national business that specializes in cleaning, restoration, and commercial services.

PuroClean announced on Wednesday (May 5) that entrepreneur and Army veteran Joseph Ortiz is opening the company’s latest franchise, which will primarily provide service in Reston, Herndon, Great Falls, Tysons, and Shady Oaks.

Founded in 2001, PuroClean has more than 325 franchise offices throughout the United States and Canada. The company’s focus is providing a range of cleaning services, including water damage restoration, mold removal, fire and smoke damage restoration, and biohazard and virus cleanup.

The business also offers inspections, demolition, debris removal, and cleaning for carpet, upholstery, air ducts, vents, and tile and grout, along with commercial property restoration services for property owners who suffer large-scale damage.

“We’re happy to announce the expansion of the PuroClean network in Virginia with the opening of PuroClean of Reston.  This team is certified and equipped to serve local property owners during their times of need,” PuroClean President and COO Steve White said in a press release.

The Reston franchise brings PuroClean up to five franchises in Northern Virginia. The company also has offices in McLean, Alexandria, Springfield, and Sterling.

“By growing and supporting franchise owners like Joseph across North America, we can help small business owners begin their entrepreneurial journey and serve their local communities,” he added.

Before starting his PuroClean franchise, Ortiz served in the U.S. Army and subsequently worked multiple positions within the aerospace industry. He is also president of the aircraft maintenance company DCJets Services LLC, which he opened in Sterling in 2016.

“As a military veteran, it was a natural transition for me to become a franchise owner at PuroClean, who provides services to people during their times of need throughout Fairfax county,” Ortiz said. “Amid the pandemic, our homes and workplaces are our most personal spaces and if I can help someone save their property, then I’ve completed my duty.”

Photo courtesy PuroClean

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved subleasing the Ellmore Farmhouse in Herndon to the nonprofit ServiceSource on May 4.

The sublease will last 29 years as part of Fairfax County’s Resident Curator Program, which aims “to preserve historic properties by offering long-term leases to qualified tenants who agree to rehabilitate and maintain these historic resources in accordance with established preservation standards,” according to the county.

The decision followed an advertised public hearing on the motion that did not draw any comments from the community.

In accordance with the terms of the resident curator program, ServiceSource will rehabilitate the two-story, 3,300 square-foot house at 2739 West Ox Road while maintaining time-appropriate aspects of the property that was built in 1891.

“During the 29-year term of the sublease, ServiceSource will rehabilitate the building by making ADA compliant improvements, and incorporating green building designs in a manner that respects that late 19th-early 20th century heritage of the structure,” Fairfax County Facilities Management Department Assistant Director Mike Lambert said, reading a staff report to the board.

ServiceSource provides housing, employment, and other support services to people with disabilities and their families. The nonprofit has been in line to take over the Ellmore Farmhouse since 2019.

ServiceSource plans to use the historic property as a “Community Integration Center” that will offer employment for up to 15 adults through an on-site café and handicrafts specialty store.

“This is a really nice property, historic property. This is, I think, another good example and good use of the resident curator program,” Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said. “[I’m] very pleased this is going forward. I would note I think the resident curator program is still very much a work in progress, but very happy this particular site is working out that way.”

Originally built in 1891, the farmhouse sits on four-and-a-half acres within Frying Pan Farm Park. It is one of six properties in the resident curator program, which is managed by the Fairfax County Park Authority.

Three of the other properties are under rehabilitation — the Hannah P. Clark House in Lorton, the Stempson House in Lorton, and the Turner Farmhouse in Great Falls. The other two RCP properties to be re-advertised are the Ash Grove House and Lahey Lost Valley, which are both located in Vienna.

Photo via Fairfax County Government

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September seems like a lifetime away now, but the Reston Community Center has its fingers crossed that the world will be in the mood for a celebration.

RCC announced last week that it is now accepting applications for performing arts groups interested in participating in the 21st annual Reston Multicultural Festival, which is being planned for Sept. 25 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Reston’s Lake Anne Plaza.

“Multicultural Festival applications are being accepted with the sincere hope that we will be able to return to normal operations and come together as a community on September 25 to celebrate the diverse cultures found in and around Reston,” RCC said in a press release.

RCC Community Events Director Kevin Danaher says organizers are taking a “two prong approach” to this year’s festival, essentially planning for two scenarios: one where the event can be held as usual and one where masks, social distancing, and other public health guidelines are still required.

Last year’s festival was canceled due to concerns about the health and safety of vendors, performers, staff, volunteers, and the community in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Reston Multicultural Festival may be socially distanced this year,” Danaher said. “It will depend on the status of Virginia’s mandates.”

Free and open to all ages, the Reston Multicultural Festival features music, dress, food, and entertainment from different cultures.

Performers can be groups or individuals of all ages and cultures. Performance styles have a religious orientation but “should not be used to proselytize or overtly promote any faith or religion,” RCC says.

Interested individuals and groups can apply through RCC’s website. All applications should include recent video or audio examples of the group’s work.

The festival’s entertainment committee will evaluate the submissions based on artistic merit, production values, evidence of authentic traditions and forms of specific cultures, and general merit, according to the RCC press release.

RCC is also accepting applications for arts and crafts vendors, community organizations and food vendors.

The deadline for all applications is June 18, and selected applicants will be notified by July 16.

Photo courtesy Reston Community Center

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Andria McClellan, a Democratic candidate for Virginia lieutenant governor, released a plan on Thursday (April 29) outlining her policy platform to support small businesses coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In conjunction with the plan’s launch, McClellan visited the Town of Herndon to talk to Mayor Sheila Olem and community members about the state of local small businesses. The Herndon visit was a part of an ongoing tour of Northern Virginia and the state as early voting in the Democratic primary gets underway.

While visiting various town businesses, including Green Lizard Cycling and Great Harvest Bread Co., McClellan acknowledged the challenges many small businesses have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, while praising the sense of community fostered by both town officials and residents.

“It’s great to see a community like Herndon where the community members came together and supported the local businesses and did the GoFundMe pages and things like that,” McClellan said. “Hearing from Mayor Olem about how their economic department was helped by folks from parks and rec calling all the small businesses and doing that reach out, it just makes me feel really good about the community.”

Currently a member of the Norfolk City Council, McClellan says her small business plan was shaped by her 30-plus years of experience volunteering, fundraising, and pursuing various business endeavors, including work with nonprofits and public sector work as well as two start-up ventures.

“What happens with small businesses that are independently owned, when they make money, they put it right back into the community where they’re working and where their people are working,” McClellan said. “So, supporting those businesses and those jobs also supports the greater community.”

Her plan focuses on reducing red tape to clarify and simplify certification processes while providing government support to communities requiring the help. She also wants to foster “local and regional small business ecosystems” by connecting small business owners to one another and resources.

McClellan’s plan also calls for more opportunities for new businesses that work with renewable energy sources and water quality and more state funding to expand access to capital for small businesses through microloans, mid-range capital, and seed funding.

She believes the state’s economy and tax revenues are in better shape than anticipated given the impact of the pandemic, but she emphasized that she remains concerned about what will happen to people “who have suffered greatly” when the federal eviction moratorium comes to a close.

“It’s great to see this thriving community here, but I think underlying in all of our communities, there are a lot of people who are still hurting,” McClellan said. “We’re going to see that in much greater detail the second half of this year and we’ve got to be prepared for it.”

McClellan faces Del. Hala Ayala, Del. Mark Levine, Sean Perryman, Del. Sam Rasoul, and Xavier Warren for the Democratic nomination to replace Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who is running for governor. Voting for the Democratic primary concludes June 8.

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Grab a blanket or chairs, and prepare to settle in for some Movies in the Park, courtesy of Reston Association.

RA kicks off its 2021 Movies in the Park series on Saturday, May 8, with a 8:15 p.m. showing of “Lego: Batman” at Hunters Woods Park.

There are five additional movies planned throughout the year, with the last showing coming on Sept. 10. The location of the screenings will also rotate around the area. The remaining movies are:

Doors to each event will open 45 minutes before the start of the movie.

Available to both RA members and non-members via RA’s website, tickets for each movie cost $8 for adult RA members and $5 for children, 3 years old and up, for RA members. For non-members, adult tickets are $10 each and kids are $6. Entry is free for children under 3.

Screenings will be cancelled in the event of rain or the threat of rain. If RA cancels an event, it will issue refunds. If a ticket holder wishes to cancel, they must cancel 72 hours in advance to receive a refund.

COVID-19 precautions will be in place at the events. A limited number of participants will be allowed to attend each movie. A six-foot distancing rule will be in place, and face masks are required when moving about the site.

Concessions will be available for purchase on site.

Image via Reston Association

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A potential review of the Town of Herndon’s zoning ordinance for accessory dwelling units is gaining momentum.

Planning Commission chairman Michael Romeo penned a letter to the town council recommending a full review of the town’s zoning ordinance to potentially update its rules for accessory dwelling units, which are smaller, independent residential units located on the same property as a primary residence.

If the council approves a review, the planning commission would compose a draft ordinance amendment for the council’s consideration.

“We’re not taking a position on any of these different areas of the ordinance,” Romeo said during the planning commission’s work session yesterday (Monday). “It’s really just a matter of saying these are items that we’d like to take a look at, and if the town council feels appropriate, they’ll institute [an amendment] when it’s up to them.”

The move to update the ordinance falls in line with similar moves by local jurisdictions, including Fairfax, Loudoun, and Arlington counties as well as the City of Alexandria.

Fairfax County’s zoning code update sparked debates over whether to relax regulations for ADUs, with proponents arguing that it would provide a housing option for people who might otherwise not be able to afford to live in the county and opponents worrying about the possible impact on single-family residential neighborhoods.

The county’s board of supervisors ultimately approved a new code that lifted existing age and disability requirements and enables property owners to apply for an administrative permit instead of having to go through a special review process.

Herndon’s current ADU ordinance has not been updated since it was adopted in 1983.

Herndon Director of Community Development Lisa Gilleran described the proposal for an amendment as an opportunity to “create diversity of housing types [and] give people more options” while creating more affordable units.

The ordinance sections that Romeo specifically cites in his letter as areas that should be reviewed and potentially revised include:

  • Requirement for a special exception;
  • Size of the accessory dwelling units;
  • Removal of accessory dwelling unit improvements if the occupancy standards are no longer met as well as the evaluation of the appropriateness of the occupancy standards;
  • Inclusion of accessory dwelling units in single-family detached and/or single-family attached dwelling units;
  • Amount of parking required for an accessory dwelling unit and if a more nuanced approach to parking that accounts for proximity to transit or on-street parking in the historic district should be considered; and
  • Possible review of affordability or financing provisions in conjunction with accessory dwelling units.

“I think this letter is just to get a response from the town council to direct us to do something,” Planning Commissioner Kevin Moses said. “Looking into the details at this point, I think, is a little ahead of itself until the town council says, ‘yes, we’re going to do this’ or ‘no, we’re not going to do it.'”

Photo via BeyondDC/Flickr

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Concerns about the maintenance of trails and other bicycle and pedestrian facilities took center stage at the Fairfax County Department of Transportation’s ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan community conversation for the Hunter Mill District on Monday (April 19).

The virtual meeting was part of the initial public comment phase of the county’s efforts to develop the ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan, which will establish a vision and goals for supporting non-motorized or self-propelled travel.

Examples of active transportation include walking, riding a bike or horse, running, hiking, and the use of rolling devices such as wheelchairs, scooters, and strollers.

Nicole Wynands, the ActiveFairfax project manager, hosted the Hunter Mill District conversation, one of 11 public meetings that have been scheduled this month.

Attendees of the Hunter Mill District meeting identified the maintenance of pedestrian and bicycle facilities as well as hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails as a primary concern, requesting more clarity around where community members should go to report maintenance issues.

Maintenance is a shared responsibility between various agencies, including the county and the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Maintenance issues of concern included debris cluttering paths and bike lanes, encroaching landscaping or trees encroaching the paths, and snow being plowed onto pathways. Suggestions to improve these issues included the county encouraging VDOT to dedicate funds for bicycle facility maintenance.

Wynands clarified that tree or shrub trimming is complaint-based, but added that the ActiveFairfax plan “will make recommendations in regards to maintenance.”

Commenters also called for more efforts to educate the public on varying crosswalk functions and ways that mountain bike or equestrian trail users can prevent the trails from being damaged, such as not utilizing them following inclement weather.

Wynands described the new ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan as a necessary measure to mitigate inconsistencies between the county’s various existing pedestrian and bicycle plans and to meet national standards and best practices for facility and design plans.

“In order for us to effectively implement the vision for the biking and walking network, we will need to create one recommendation that is consistent, particularly with the region-wide plan and the area plans,” Wynands said.

Wynands added that Phase One of the ActiveFairfax plan — which began in July 2020 — will run through July. Public engagement will continue through May 15, with a public review of the plan expected by the end of May. A final version will then be presented to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

The community survey is still available online, along with interactive maps for community members to identify key destinations and barriers and suggest locations for new trails, bikeways, and street enhancements.

The second phase of the plan will be implemented immediately following the conclusion of the first, and it’s expected to take a year or year and a half, according to Wynands.

Priorities in the second phase include creating a facility selection toolkit, providing network and program recommendations, implementing guidance, prioritizing funding, and working on a comprehensive plan amendment.

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A Reston man was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Wednesday (April 21) for selling fentanyl to an individual who later succumbed to a fatal overdose on the drug.

Peter Andrew Romm, 36, regularly traveled to Baltimore to purchase heroin and fentanyl, which he sold in Northern Virginia, according to federal court documents.

Court documents identified one of Romm’s customers as “N.G.,” the individual who suffered the fatal overdose after consuming fentanyl purchased through a middleman, Tyler Huston, 28, on Oct. 7, 2019. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that N.G. died by acute fentanyl poisoning.

“The defendant’s fentanyl trafficking significantly endangered our communities and caused victim N.G. to suffer a tragic overdose,” Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Raj Parekh said in a press release.

“While no prosecution can bring victim N.G. back to his family and loved ones, we hope that this case has brought some measure of peace and closure to them, all of whom deserve justice and healing for their devastating loss.”

Romm was arrested on Feb. 11, 2020 upon returning from Baltimore while in possession of approximately 75 capsules of fentanyl. Romm admitted to selling fentanyl in Northern Virginia, including to N.G. through a middleman, during a post-arrest interview with law enforcement.

Romm was arrested again eight days later, along with his girlfriend and co-conspirator Donnetta Ferguson. They were again returning from Baltimore, and 72 capsules of fentanyl were discovered in Romm’s vehicle, according to the press release.

Romm pleaded guilty on Nov. 4 to one count of conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin and 400 grams or more of fentanyl, as well as one count of distribution of fentanyl. He accepted a plea agreement that required a minimum of 10 years in prison. He also admitted to distributing the fentanyl that caused N.G.’s death, as a part of the plea agreement.

Huston and Ferguson also pleaded guilty to charges related to their roles in the conspiracy. Huston was sentenced on Dec. 16 to 28 months in prison for brokering the deal that resulted in N.G.’s fatal overdose on fentanyl.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine E. Rumbaugh and former Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Karolina Klyuchnikova prosecuted the case. U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga sentenced Romm.

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The Town of Herndon is edging closer to allowing Peppertree Montessori School to open at 400 Herndon Parkway.

The town council held a public hearing during its work session on Monday (April 19) to hear out an special exception application that would pave the way for the private school and daycare to move into the Sugarland West Business Center.

David Stromberg, a zoning administrator for the town, provided council members details on the application that was approved 7-0 by the Herndon Planning Commission in March.

The school’s proposal would utilize 4,951 square feet of the 19,547 square-foot building. There would be 10 designated parking spaces for pick-ups and drop-offs directly in the building.

Stromberg assured the town council that 10 parking spaces would be sufficient based on talks with the applicant, who said there would be “short turnover times” for drop-offs and pick-ups.

“The number of classes and start times, and various days that they offer, they said that 10 spaces accommodates all of their needs, and that they have staff that comes out, especially now, to escort the children in with the parents,” Stromberg said. “Anything more than the 10 spaces may start to use up some of the available parking on site.”

The proposed application also dictates the school will cap its enrollment at 50 children at one time and would be open for infants and children up to eight years old. The school’s open concept design would house eight classes and eight teachers on site.

The school’s proposal also includes a 1,554 square-foot outdoor, fenced play area behind the building.

An additional public hearing is set for April 27 during the Town Council’s 7 p.m. public session.

“Daycares are always welcome,” Mayor Sheila Olem said. “I know that’s one of the most stressful times when families start their family and you need good quality daycare. Look forward to seeing them succeed in the town.”

Images via Town of Herndon

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The Herndon Town Council has deferred action on an ordinance that would prohibit firearms on town property.

Mayor Sheila Olem announced Tuesday (April 13) at the council’s meeting that it will hold off on any action with the firearm ordinance until Town Manager Bill Ashton can come back with additional information on the subject.

Olem added the council would also like to hold an advertised public hearing on the matter so it “can gather input from our residents.”

“Following last week’s work session discussion on the item, the council’s consensus was that we should give the town manager time to analyze the budgetary impacts of this,” Olem said.

Ashton will return to the council on May 6 to present his findings during a strategic planning session.

The proposed ordinance follows initial discussions the council had in September after Virginia adopted legislation allowing localities to institute ordinances to prohibit firearms on their public property.

Herndon’s proposed ordinance falls in line with similar ordinances that have been adopted in Fairfax, Loudoun and Arlington counties, as well as in cities including Falls Church and Alexandria.

The ordinance, if passed, would prohibit the “possession, carrying, or transportation of any firearms, ammunition, or components or combination thereof” on town property.

The town property listed in Herndon’s proposed ordinance includes any building used or owned by the town, or any authority or local government entity controlled by the town for governmental purposes. The ordinance extends to public parks and recreation or community centers owned or operated by the town.

The ordinance would not to apply military personnel when acting within their official capacity, sworn or retired law enforcement officers, on duty private security hired by the town, and for educational programs or historical reenactments conducted or permitted by the town and wherein the firearms used are not loaded.

A violation of this ordinance would constitute a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Photo via Thomas Def/Unsplash

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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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A new neighborhood is coming to Herndon this summer.

Reston-based homebuilder Stanley Martin will open the Liberty Park neighborhood in Herndon in July. It will feature 155 two-over-two condo and townhome options.

The townhomes will start in the $700,000 range, while condos start in the mid-$500,000 range. The housing will include options for two to four bedrooms, two to four baths, and up to 2,700 square feet of space.

Both townhomes and condos will have private garages, balconies, and rooftop terraces.

Neighborhood features include garden parks, playgrounds, electric vehicle charging stations, and dog stations. The site also has active recreation areas that include a playing field and basketball court.

MRP Realty originally acquired the property at 13605 Dulles Technology Drive in 2016 as a part of a reported $97 million purchase from Liberty Property Trust, according to the Washington Business Journal.

The purchased Liberty Park portfolio encompassed the entire 32-acre business park with eight buildings and 532,041 square feet, according to MRP Realty’s website.

MPR Realty says that it plans to bring “Class A amenities” to the buildings at Liberty Park, including a “community tenant lounge and conference facility, a fitness center, and outdoor experiences to set them apart from other properties in the market.”

The new residential neighborhood is part of a larger effort by MPR Realty to transform the Liberty Park office complex into a mixed-use development to take advantage of the area’s proximity to the upcoming Innovation Center Metro station.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission approved the developer’s application to rezone the site for mixed-use development on Nov. 8, 2018. According to a final development plan published in March 2019, MPR Realty ultimately hopes to bring up to 530 residential units and up to 6,000 square feet of retail space to Liberty Park.

Image via Fairfax County

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