Monday Morning Notes

Herndon Planning Commission Meets Tonight — The commission takes another dive into establishing regulations for Airbnb-style rentals and creating new architectural guidelines for the Herndon Transit-Oriented Core. [Town of Herndon]

Tips on How to Sell Your Home — Mark Sierakowski, a realtor with Long and Foster, offers tips on how to sell your home in this free workshop at Reston Regional Library today from 7-8 p.m. [Reston Regional Library]

Kiddar Investors Gain Control of Herndon Office Building The investor group that backed Kiddar Capital’s acquisition of a Herndon office building entangled in a larger securities fraud case has been granted control over the 4.8-acre site.” [Washington Business Journal]

Earth Day with the Walker Nature Center — Celebrate Earth Day by sprucing up the nature center with new plants and fresh woodchopper tails. The event is organized by the Walker Nature Center and Reston Association. [Walker Nature Center]

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National Weather Service: Five-Minute Tornado Classified As ‘Weak’

The tornado that touched down Friday night in Reston was classified by the National Weather Service as weak.

The tornado was rated “EF0,” which is the weakest classification for a tornado. Peak winds reached 70 miles per hour and the tornado’s path was up to 100 yards wide, according to NWS.

Cleanup was underway on Saturday and no injuries were reported.

According to a damage assessment and report released Saturday afternoon, NWS stated that the tornado, which touched down at 9 p.m., lasted five minutes and left a four-mile path of uprooted trees.

It began near Fox Mill Road and Pinecrest Road and made its way down to Center Harbor Road and Wiehle Avenue.

NWS charted the complete path in its assessment:

FIRST EVIDENCE OF DAMAGE WAS NEAR FOX MILL ROAD AND PINECREST ROAD WHERE SEVERAL TREES WERE DOWNED AT APPROXIMATELY 855 PM EDT. ISOLATED TREE DAMAGE FROM THIS POINT TO NEAR THE U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY COMPLEX ON SUNRISE VALLEY DRIVE WAS NOTED, WITH SEVERAL TREES TOPPED ALONG GLADE DRIVE NEAR ROSEDOWN DRIVE.

AFTER PASSING ACROSS THE DULLES TOLL ROAD (ROUTE 267), MINOR TREE DAMAGE WAS NOTED BETWEEN SUNSET HILLS ROAD AND BARON CAMERON AVENUE. THE TORNADO TRACKED ACROSS RESTON HOSPITAL CENTER, WITH NO VISIBLE SIGNS OF DAMAGE, BUT DAMAGE WAS NOTED JUST NORTH OF THE HOSPITAL ON TOWN CENTER DRIVE NEAR TOWN CENTER PARKWAY, WHERE A TREE WAS TOPPED, FENCING BLOWN DOWN, AND SHINGLES BLOWN OFF SEVERAL TOWNHOUSES.

AFTER CROSSING BARON CAMERON AVENUE, THE TORNADO PASSED JUST EAST OF TRADER JOE’S GROCERY STORE DESTROYING AN OUTDOOR SHED THERE. NEARBY, A TALL, TWO-FOOT DIAMETER TREE CRASHED THROUGH THE UPPER FLOOR OF A TOWNHOUSE ON QUIETREE DRIVE IN RESTON, THAT LED LOCAL OFFICIALS TO CONDEMN THE PROPERTY. SEVERAL LARGE TREES WERE EITHER UPROOTED OR TOPPED ALONG BENNINGTON WOODS ROAD BETWEEN CROSSWIND DRIVE AND RESTON PARKWAY.

A LARGE, 100-FOOT TALL TREE FELL AND SMASHED THE FRONT END OF AN UNOCCUPIED VEHICLE PARKED ALONG CENTER HARBOR ROAD, MIDWAY BETWEEN RESTON PARKWAY AND NORTH VILLAGE ROAD. MINOR TREE DAMAGE ALONG A NARROW PATH WAS NOTED IN NEIGHBORHOODS LOCATED BETWEEN NORTH VILLAGE ROAD AND RESTON PARKWAY BETWEEN CENTER HARBOR ROAD AND WIEHLE AVENUE. NO SUBSTANTIAL STORM DAMAGE WAS NOTED NORTH OF WIEHLE AVENUE, WHERE IT APPEARS THE TORNADO WEAKENED AT 900 PM EDT.

Photo by Fatimah Waseem

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Cleanup Underway After Tornado Touches Down in Reston

 

The calm after the storm has descended after a tornado touched down briefly Friday night.

Local fire and rescue personnel spent much of the night clearing a tree that had fallen on a parked pickup truck on Center Harbor Road in Reston. Crews used chainsaws to cut up the tree to open the road. The truck’s owner was not inside the truck at the time.

Scattered downed trees still rested on roads and sidewalks early Saturday morning, including several near Lake Anne Village Center. A house near Quietree and Crosswind Drives was condemned after a tree fell through the roof.

Although the National Weather Service confirmed the tornado touched down, the service has not yet determined the severity of the storm. It will make an announcement after a storm survey during daylight hours today (Saturday).

Restonians reported whistling winds and punctuated bangs that suggest the tornado moved from Bennett Road to the Wiehle Avenue and Lakeport Recreation Area.

Send photos of the damage to [email protected] and tell us how the storm impacted you.

Here’s more from social media a day after the storm:

Photos by Fatimah Waseem. This story will be updated.

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Weather Alert: Tornado Watch In Effect Until Midnight

Adding to expected rain and a flood watch, a tornado watch has been issued from now until midnight.

The National Weather Service issued the alert at 12:49 p.m. today. The watch covers Maryland, the District, ad 34 counties in Virginia, including Fairfax County and Arlington.

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Golf Course Plaza Redevelopment Plan Resurfaces After Deferral

Plans to redevelop Golf Course Plaza, a three-acre parcel on the west edge of Isaac Newtown Square, are back on the books after they were put on hold in 2017.

The latest proposal, which was submitted to the county on April 3, scales back the number of residential units from 413 to 300. The property (11480 Sunset Hills Road) is currently home to a two-story office building built in 1971, surface parking, and resource protection areas on the northeastern edge.

A “modern and sustainable” multifamily building with up to 300 residential units would take up most of the site, according to the development proposal. The building will face Hidden Creek Country Club and open space will act as a buffer between the building and the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.  A commercial component — which was not discussed in detail in the application — will connect the trail and a public plaza to the building. Part of the trail crosses the property’s access drive. The developer said it is working with the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority to address the issue.

A three-level parking garage is also planned and could “assist with the possible future connection” to Hidden Creek Country Club, according to the plan. To date, the owners of Hidden Creek Country Club have not officially filed a redevelopment proposal, although preliminary plans have been discussed in the community.

Just under 0.8 acres of the parcel is planned as public park space. Part of the property is reserved for a future public street — often referred to as the “road to nowhere” — to connect American Dream Way to the west with Wiehle Avenue to the east.

Ben Wales, the applicant’s legal representative, said the proposed development helps the area transition from office and light industrial uses to a “pedestrian-friendly, mixed-used, urban development pattern built around rail transit as envisioned by the comprehensive plan.”

Previous plans submitted in 2016 were deferred by the applicant in September 2017.

Photos via Fairfax County Government/handout

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Friday Morning Notes

Some of the Area’s Largest Veteran-owned Companies are in Reston — With 82 employees and $502.8 million in total revenue last year, ThunderCat Technology (1925 Isaac Newton Square) is the second largest veteran-owned company in the District area. Other Reston companies also topped the list. [Washington Business Journal]

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Candidates’ Forum Set for Tuesday — Reston Citizens Association is hosting a candidate forum from 7-9 p.m. at Lake Anne Community Center (1609-A Washington Plaza N). Dennis Hays, RCA’s president, said the organization is “very excited to resume our long tradition” of hosting a candidate forum. [Reston Citizens Association]

Fox and Kits Get Some Attention — A red fox and her kittens have built a tiny home in Autumnwood area. A video of the mom calling to her babies has generated some attention online. [Walker Nature Center]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Pupatella Pizzeria is Coming to Reston Next Year

Pupatella, an award-winning Neopolitan pizzeria, is coming to Reston in early 2020, according to a company news release.

The 2,700-square-foot restaurant will be located at 1821 Wiehle Avenue. It will also include a patio for outdoor dining.

The news comes as the business eyes major expansion. Another new location will open in Arlington this summer. More openings could be on the way in the District and Montgomery County.

“As a native Restonian, I know all the wonderful things Reston has to offer, but one thing that has been missing is authentic Neapolitan pizza. I couldn’t be more thrilled to bring Pupatella to the neighborhood,” said founding partner and head of real estate and supply chain, Michael Berger.

Enzo and Anastasiya Algarme started Pupatella as a food truck in 2007. The business has been named a top pizzeria, with recognition from The Today Show, The Washington Post, USA Today and the Washingtonian.

The location is currently home to Pizza Hut, which will remain open through the end of its lease, according to Eater.

This story will be updated.

Photo by Pupatella

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Heritage Preservation Review Board Flags Design Concerns about Junction Square

The Town of Herndon’s Heritage Preservation Review Board is taking issue with several design elements of the newly constructed Junction Square neighborhood at 700 Lynn Street.

At an HPRB meeting last night (April 17), no resolution was reached. Andrew Garcia, the Town of Herndon’s deputy zoning administrator, said the developer has not responded to the board’s comments and requests for information. The applicant did not attend the meeting.

Local staff said parts of the building are different from the design previous approved by the town. The commercial building at 700 Lynn Street has different window and door openings, as well as a different downspout configuration, according to staff. The color of windows on the second floor of the same building are tan instead of dark brown. Flood lights have also been above five Elden Street storefronts and the Lynn Street building. The base of two storefronts on Elden Street also do not match HPRB-approved drawings. Awnings along the facade of the commercial building and one Elden Street storefront has not been installed, staff indicated.

The board deferred discussions about the issue to a May 15 public hearing. The seven-member entity issues “Certificates of Appropriateness” for exterior alterations, additions, new construction and demolition of structures in the Heritage Preservation Overlay Districts. Properties in these districts are scrutinized by the town more closely than others in order to preserve the town’s traditional neighborhoods and maintain a community identity apart from the “suburban growth of the urbanizing region,” according to the town’s policies.

But it’s unclear how town officials will ensure the development conforms with heritage preservation guidelines. Garcia said the developer could consider deconstructing part of the building to fix the downspout configuration. Legal action could be an option, but its likely the applicant could challenge that course of action, Garcia said.

“There may not be a reasonable solution at this point,” he said.

Photo via Google Maps

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Local Muslims Set Sights on New Mosque Near RTC

A group of Muslims who live and work in Reston hope to open a permanent prayer space before Ramadan, the month of fasting, begins in early May. It will be located on the second floor of an existing building.

Organizers behind the Reston Islamic Center said the mosque serves a critical need: the closest mosque in the area is roughly 20 minutes away. For several years, the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation (1441 Wiehle Avenue) has served as a satellite location for Friday prayers. The site is one of several set up by the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (46903 Sugarland Road) in Sterling — which will continue operating and is a separate initiative from the new mosque. Currently, there is no dedicated space in the area to offer the five daily prayers that are central to the religion.

The new location is opposite Reston Town Center at 11701 Bowman Green Drive, which is also home to a church on the ground floor, according to organizers. They hope the center will make offering prayer easy for RTC-goers and local Muslims.

In Northern Virginia, we have seen the Muslim community grow and the [mosques] grow with it. For Reston, however, we have yet to reach that point,” an organizer told Reston Now. Due to the busy nature of this area… we want to form a space for families, children, and individuals to be able to get a break from that lifestyle and get back to learning the [religion],”

Paperwork and permitting is underway. The group set up a LaunchGood campaign to raise $10,000. So far, $6,419 has been raised to finance the effort. The group hopes that donations from mosque-goers will sustain the mosque over the next couple of years. 

Photo via Reston Islamic Center

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Thursday Morning Notes

Herndon’s Farmers Market Opens Today — The market kicks off the 2019 season today. As usual, it will be held on Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Lynn Street from April to November. [Town of Herndon]

Reston Association Volunteer Service Awards Reception Set for Tonight — “Two individuals were named as Volunteers of the Year. Doug Britt, who has been instrumental in collecting environmental data, and Cindy Metcalf, who coordinates and leads class instruction on how to start a garden, both won the top honor.”  [Reston Association]

Evelyn Mo Returns to CenterStage Tonight — In this “Meet the Artists” event, the Harvard junior and pianist returns to CenterStage. The event starts at 2:15 p.m. and is open to all ages. [Reston Community Center]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Town of Herndon ‘Crescent’ Eyes Remaking by 2035

A 4.2-square mile town once blanketed by dairy farms is poised for remaking as the oncoming train approaches next year. And much of that remaking is in the hands of eight property owners whose nine parcels eclipse to create a crescent at the door of the future Metro station on 12530 Sunrise Valley Drive.

So far, the parcels, which have slowly slipped into suburban malaise, are relics of what town officials hope will soon be a bygone era. But if the pace of development thus far is any indication, it’s no surprise that Stanley Martin’s residential project, called Metro Square (625 Herndon Parkway), was the first to break ground. It is now nearing completion and prices for two-to-three bedroom condos start from $519,000.

It wasn’t until earlier this month that the kind of project that planning officials hoped will help remake the town got the necessary approvals to move forward by the county.

A major development came this week: Nearly four years after Penzance first submitted plans, the company is moving forward with redeveloping a stodgy office building into an urban block with retail, a garage, a mid-rise residential building, a high rise residential tower and a high rise office tower. A total of 475 residential units will be built.

Town officials and developers hope the Penzance project will set the stage for an unprecedented volume of high density development. A revised application by Quadrangle, the owners of the land to the east of Metro known as Fairbrook, is also expected in the coming weeks. The low-intensity project would bring a mixed-use center to the greenfield area. Not much of it is developable due to the presence of flood plain and resource protection areas.

Still, even as phase two of the Silver Line opens next year, the development contemplated by the Town of Herndon’s transit-oriented plan will live its full glory on paper for now. Dennis Holste, the town’s economic development manager, says the area slated for major transit-oriented development — the Herndon Transit-Oriented Core (HTOC) — will likely be built out by 2035.

Given the stagnant demand for office space — a woe whisking its way down phase two of the Silver Line — Holste says residential development is likely to go in first. He predicts the office sector will pick up as new tenants enter the market. Big names like Google — which recently announced plans to move into Reston Station — would be major game changers.

Bracing for impact

The slow place of development could mean more time to manage growing pains. Already, congested roads and overcrowded schools are a concern. A major $105 million renovation of Herndon High School is nearing completion.

Most public amenities are planned on the Fairfax County side of the station, which has an entrance between 575 and 593 Herndon Parkway. The other side is privately owned. The Virginia Department of Transportation is leading an effort to redesign Spring Street between Fairfax County Parkway and Herndon Parkway. Planning officials are now looking into buying the right-of-way needed to make the project possible.

Following that project, a redesign of Elden Street is planned. Though off the path of Metro, officials hope pedestrian connections and the reputation of a redeveloped downtown will bring riders to the area. Pull-off areas are also planned along Herndon Parkway near the Metro station to allows cars to pull off from traffic and pick up or drop off commuters.

The town is also working with the Fairfax Connector to add bus routes to “make certain that as many people as possible have access to bus service to Metro.” said Lisa Gilleran, the town’s director of community development.

‘Not another Tysons’

In county meetings, town officials often stress that the Town of Herndon will not be another Tysons or another Reston after the Silver Line weaves itself into the town’s fabric.

So what will the character of the area surrounding Herndon’s Metro station be? Most officials hope the area’s small town vibe will remain preserved.

“Unique in Northern Virginia, Herndon has an historic downtown with an authentic “sense of place” within one mile of the metro station; this complements the higher density alternatives available around our metro station. Factor in other parts of Herndon, such as our vision for the South Elden area, and Herndon is uniquely positioned to offer existing and prospective businesses several options for growth and development,” Holste said.

Much of that character could come from a wide promenade that will greet riders as they exit Metro and extend up to Herndon Parkway. The pedestrian-friendly gateway hasn’t been designed yet. Town officials hope to pay tribute to Herndon’s history by including signs about the area’s significance.

Gilleran also says that much of Herndon’s uniqueness could come from having a mix of developers create an urban block.

“Individual developers will build each of these blocks, whereas in some cases, one developer will own more than 38 acres,” Gilleran said. “We’re trying to weave independent development into a fabric that gives you a sense of wholeness. We’re creating the pallet.”

They also plan to put in a raised cycle track along Herndon Parkway in lieu of putting bike lines in the street.

Much remains up in the air. The town is planning to jumpstart discussions about an area slated for transit-related growth – also known as the TRG – beyond the auspices of Metro. That process, which would set development goals for around 100 acres north of the downtown core, could begin as early as the summer.

Photo via Town of Herndon/Handout

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Fairfax County Police to Host Free Carseat Safety Events in Reston

Installing carseats for babies and children can be a tough task, so the Fairfax County Police Department is hosting a few free sessions in Reston to offer some help.

Trained officers will review car seat instructions and car owner’s manual to insure car seats are being used safely. The first session is tomorrow (April 18) from 5-8 p.m. at the Reston District Station (1801 Cameron Glen Drive). Can’t make it tomorrow? Other sessions are set for May 15, June 13, July 11, Aug. 22, Sept. 19, Oct. 17, Nov. 14 and Dec. 12.

Here’s more from FCPD:

Installing car seats for babies and children can be difficult, but we all want our children to travel safely. That’s why police district stations across the county host free Car Seat Safety and Install events throughout the year! You will learn how you can ensure your car seat is properly installed to keep your child as safe as possible. In preparation for your appointment, you should install the seat in your vehicle using the instructions that came with the car seat.

Events are by appointment only. Attendees should call 703-478-0904 to schedule an appointment.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

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Vantage Hill Condominiums’ Closed Pool and Parking Could House New Townhouses

For seven years, the pool behind Vantage Hill Condominiums (11619 Vantage Hill Road), boxy housing built in the late 1960s, has been closed. Now, discussions are underway to build townhouses on the pool site to save a condominium building that its community association leadership says is on a slow and steady decline.

The assocaition hopes to use revenues generated from the project to help finance around $4.5 million in needed infrastructure upgrades. Rob Schuman, the community association’s president, told the Reston Association’s Design Review Board last night (April 16) that the association has been grappling with major infrastructure needs for years.

The 152-unit development, which has 24 garden-style buildings, was one of Reston’s first projects and offers market-based workforce housing. Prices for a one-bedroom unit start at $140,000 and up to $250,000 for a three-bedroom unit.

Schuman said the association does not have enough money to take on infrastructure improvements on its own. Members pay yearly HOA fees between $420 and $680. Pipes leak every week, the electrical system is 60 years old and doors and windows provide little to no insulation, Schuman said.

The association is considering pooling the one-acre pool site and another acre used for parking to create enough developable space for 38 townhouse units. Parking lost to the development project would be redistributed. Schuman said 70 percent of the association’s members approved of the development proposal. The association’s bylaws require a two-thirds majority from the ownership to proceed with the project.

If approved — a process that could be years away — the townhouse community could become its own cluster with its own community association. So far, association members stressed a formal proposal is forthcoming and discussions are preliminary.

Charlie Hoffman, a DRB member, said he worried that the infill development could hike up the prices of the condo units.

“I would hate to see them get so nice that people can’t afford to live in them anymore,” Hoffman said. Overall, he said the project could bring new energy to the aging building.

Revenue from the project would help fund metered electrical service for each unit, new windows and doors, new entrances, upgraded heating, new plumbing, security upgrades and an expanded playground. Electric vehicle charging stations are also under consideration.

Photos via Reston Association/handout

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Reston Association Board Moves to Fill Seat Vacated by Ganesan

(Update at 2:31 p.m. to include information about the timing of Ganesan’s resignation)

Sridhar Ganesan has resigned from his position as vice president of Reston Association’s Board of Directors roughly one week after the results of this year’s board election were released.

Ganesan was appointed to a one-year, at-large seat in 2017 and served as treasurer. The next year, he was elected to an at-large seat. His term expires in 2021.

After missing several board meetings earlier this year, Ganesan said he realized that it would be difficult to balance his commitment to the board with his business obligations. The Reston resident recently took on two major projects in Frederick, Md. and another abroad, making it challenging to balance both obligations.

Ganesan told Reston Now he did not want to officially announce his resignation during the board’s election process in order to prevent confusion. He had hoped to leave in the beginning of the year so that the new board-appointment member could serve a more complete term.

Mike Leone, Reston Association’s director of communications and community relations, told Reston Now that Ganesan notified the organization of his resignation on Sunday (April 14). In order to make it in time for the latest election, Ganesan would have had to make an official announcement about his intention to resign by the end of November or early December. His new business obligations surfaced earlier this year, he said.

Reston Association released the following statement from Ganesan:

“I very much appreciate the confidence placed in me by the RA membership and the support I received from them, the RA staff and my board colleagues, especially during 2017-2018, when I helped implement new operational policies and procedures, as well as internal controls at RA. I am also happy that during my two years on the RA board, I helped forge and maintain a strong partnership between RA and Coalition for Planned Reston (CPR), which resulted in holding off the Fairfax County from raising the density cap for Reston PRC district.”

The board has issued a call for candidates to fill the seat vacated by Ganesan. Candidates can apply by submitting a statement of candidacy to the assistant secretary by May 16 at 5 p.m. The board will review candidate applications that are certified by staff at a May 23 board meeting.

The term will run through April 2020 and be up for election in 2020. The elected candidate will serve the final year of the term.

Photo by Reston Association

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Cars from Train Near Wiehle-Reston East Detach While Moving — Commuters were appalled Monday night when cars from a train approaching Wiehle-Reston East separated on the track. The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission is now investigating the incident. In a statement, the commission said the first of two cars of a six-car train uncoupled while the train was moving. An investigation is underway.  [Washington Metrorail Safety Commission]

How Reston Became the Place for Tech Expansion — “Sandwiched between major roadways within its close proximity to the nation’s capital, Reston has grown to become a noteworthy technology town in Northern Virginia. Located in an area often dubbed the “Silicon Valley of the East,” Reston continues to see significant growth in the technology sector.” [ICS Blog]

County Responds to Public Record Requests — The volume and complexity of Freedom of Information Act requests continues to increase. Last year, the county received 8,459 FOIA requests, an average of 34 requests per working day. [Fairfax County Government]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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