Tuesday Morning Notes

Hotel coming to Reston Station — “Comstock Holdings Cos. Inc. has closed a franchise agreement with Marriott International Inc. to bring a Renaissance hotel to Reston Station… The hotel building, to be topped by 80 luxury condominium units, is expected to deliver in 2022 on a site bounded by Reston Station Boulevard, Wiehle Avenue and Sunset Hills Road. It is being designed by Nunzio Marc DeSantis Architects.” [Washington Business Journal]

Crash caused lane closures — Commuters heading on Fairfax County Parkway by West Ox Road last night around 6 p.m. may have noticed a multi-car crash that closed two southbound lanes on the parkway for about half of an hour. All of the lanes opened up shortly before 7 p.m. [Fairfax County]

Reston makes “hottest up-and-coming” list — Reston was included in the Northern Virginia Magazine’s annual roundup of neighborhoods to keep an eye on in Northern Virginia. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Make dip dye scarves — Tonight from 7-9 p.m. at ArtSpace Herndon, you can learn how to make dye scarves and some basic Shibori style folding and binding methods. [ArtSpace Herndon]

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Town of Herndon Continues Work with Comstock on Downtown Plans

Comstock’s newest redevelopment plans for downtown Herndon are moving forward.

Town Manager Bill Ashton told the Herndon Town Council at its public session last night (Feb. 26) that the staff has finished reviewing the fourth resubmission of the site plans. The staff began the review at the start of February.

Now, the staff is preparing to send a consolidated list of questions back to Comstock.

“It’s something we’re working on diligently, but it’s deep in the staff weeds right now,” Ashton said.

The next step will involve the Heritage Preservation Review Board, he said.

At the meeting, the Town Council approved a special exemption to increase the number of nonresidents from four to seven in a 24-hour period at a home-based business.

The change affects a hair salon at 767 Monroe Street. The salon’s website says:

The salon is located in an English basement on a private residence. Please park in the driveway.  On the left side of the house you’ll see a fence gate, if it is closed please let yourself in, then follow the concrete sidewalk all the way around back where you’ll find a staircase down to the salon.

“We really want to make it easier for home-based businesses to thrive in Herndon,” Councilmember Cesar del Aguila said, urging locals to share any advice they may have.

The Town Council also approved an amendment to the town’s Comprehensive Plan to create a design concept for improvements on South Elden Street between Sterling Road and Herndon Parkway.

“I know this is the first step, and we need to secure the funding so we can get into the nitty-gritty with trash cans and raised medians,” Mayor Lisa Merkel said. “As the Metro station opens, this does need to be a more walkable and friendly area.”

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Comstock’s Revised Plans for Downtown Herndon Project Under Review

After hitting delays with multiple revisions, Comstock’s newest redevelopment plans for downtown Herndon are now back under review.

Town Manager Bill Ashton told the Herndon Town Council at its public meeting on Tuesday (Feb. 12) that the staff started reviewing the revised site plans on Friday (Feb. 8).

“The fourth revision of the site plan is back in staff hands as of late last week,” Ashton said, adding that the Town of Herndon has “gone back and forth” with Comstock to refine the proposal and site plan.

The proposed project for Herndon’s downtown has stalled several times since the Herndon Town Council and Comstock agreed to the mixed-use development in 2017.

Plans for the redevelopment were withdrawn and then resubmitted last summer after property owners next to the site of the redevelopment effort filed three appeals.

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Comstock Procures JBG Smith’s Commerce Metro Center Properties

Comstock Holding Companies, Inc. announced today (Feb. 6) that it acquired JBG Smith’s Commerce Metro Center Portfolio — a move that will increase the Reston Station area to 4.5 million square feet once fully built.

The portfolio spans nearly 40 acres from the Dulles Toll Road and the surrounding area by the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station. It lies directly across from Comstock’s first phase of the Reston Station neighborhood development.

The portfolio includes three office buildings totaling 408,000 square feet, along with entitlements in place for an additional 1.1 million square feet of mixed-use development for possibly adding more office, residential, retail and a hotel.

Tenants who have signed on for the three existing office buildings include:

  • Applied Information Sciences
  • Kimley Horn and Associates, Inc.
  • CACI NSS Inc.
  • Clarabridge, Inc.
  • BT Americas, Inc.
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Kroll Associates, Inc.

Back in November, JBG Smith said an unnamed buyer agreed to pay$115 million for its three-building Commerce Executive Park complex, which is located by Sunrise Valley Drive and Wiehle Avenue, Globe.St reported.

The acquisition also ups the total assets under management by Comstock Holding Companies, Inc., under its long-term management agreement covering Reston Station, according to the press release.

Comstock Chief Executive Officer Christopher Clemente described the portfolio as “high-quality, value-added properties.”

Photo via Comstock

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Decreasing the chances of opioid addiction — The director of neurosurgery trauma at Reston Hospital Center is using a new technique to reduce the chances of opioid addiction following major surgery.

Nearby: Amazon HQ2 decision coming close — “New York City and Northern Virginia will be the homes for Amazon’s second and third headquarters, according to people familiar with the matter, ending a more than yearlong public contest that started with 238 candidates and ended with a surprise split of its so-called HQ2.” [Wall Street Journal]

An honorable retirement — Old Glory can sometimes get old, tattered and torn. If you need to dispose of an American flag, there are several available locations in the county to do so, including the Reston District Station, the lobby of the government center in Fairfax and the I-66 and I-95 transfer stations. [Fairfax County Government]

The report card is in for Comstock — Comstock Holding Companies reported total revenue of $14.9 million, as compared to $13.8 million around this time last year. [Global Newswire]

Updates about the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department — The annual report for the department, which offers an overview into programs, services, and progress, is out. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]

Photo by Gail Crockett

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CVS Pharmacy to Open in Reston Station

CVS Pharmacy is the latest tenant to sign a lease with Comstock’s massive Reston Station project near the Wiehle-Reston Metro station. 

The healthcare giant will lease 8,451 square feet of plaza-level retail space in Reston Station’s third tower, which is currently under construction. The $95 million tower features 180,000 square feet of office space and completion is slated for January 2020.

The storefront is at the entrance of Metro’s north pedestrian bridge to the station. Christopher Clemente, CEO of Comstock Holding Companies, Inc., said the tenant, which signed a twenty-year lease with three five-year options, will bring “virtually every item one needs for daily living” to residents, tenants, and commuters in the area.

“Bringing CVS to the Reston Station neighborhood is another great step forward for the Reston Station neighborhood,” Clemente wrote in a statement.

The company joins other retailers like Starbucks, Founding Farmers and Sweet Leaf Café on Reston Station’s Metro Plaza.

The new urban neighborhood includes the BLVD, a 447-unit high-rise, a 350,000 square-foot office tower, and Bozzuto’s residential building, Aperture. Additional development is planned and approved in Reston Station.  

Photo via Comstock

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Google eyes Reston Station — Google is considering leasing a block of office space near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station. The Mountain View, a California-based company, is in talks to lease about 100,000 square feet from Comstock Cos. at 1900 Reston Metro Plaza, the building designed by architect Helmut Jahn. [Washington Business Journal]

If you’re coming to the football game — At South Lakes High School’s football game, don’t forget to bring a donation for the school’s food pantry. They’re looking for cereal, toothpaste, deodorant, canned veggies, applesauce, and/or beans. [SLHS Food Pantry via Twitter]

An artful run and a run in the arts — Three runners who also happen to be artists will show off their work beginning today at Reston Community Center. The exhibit ends on Nov. 5. [Reston Community Center]

Photo by Bako Glonti

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Save the Date: Newcomers’ Bus Tour Set for October 13

Newcomers to Reston can take advantage of a free bus tour on October 13. The event is sponsored by Comstock.

RA is offering two bus tours between 10 a.m. and noon and between 1-3 p.m. The guided bus tour will feature stops at Reston’s “most interesting places,” including Walker Nature Center, according to organizers. Bus tours will begin and end at The Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Avenue). Bus tour participants can also enjoy refreshments and tour The Lake House between the bus tours.

In order to participate, residents must have become RA property owners within the last six months. An open house open to all members at The Lake House will run between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Catering is provided by Kalypso’s Sports Tavern.

Registration is required for the tour.

File photo

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Building worlds on display — An art exhibit that mixes scientific fact and fantasy is on display through September 15. Several artists’ work is featured in the gallery at the Greater Reston Arts Center. [Greater Reston Arts Center]

Nearby: Springfield man faces charges after threats against mosque — A 22-year-old man faces nine charges after being arrested at Masjid Noor in Springfield. Police believe Zulqarnain Khan threatened to kill everyone the encountered at the mosque. [Fairfax County Police Department]

The biggest of them all — The Washington Business Journal has listed Reston Station as the second largest ongoing construction project in the Greater D.C. area. Projects are ranked based on their construction cost. The project is expected to cost $690 million. [The Washington Business Journal]

Discussion on book themes tonight — Dive into a discussion about why books matter, why we’re drawn to specific themes and what these themes tell us about ourselves. The event is part of PBS’s The Great American Read. [Reston Regional Library]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill 

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Monday Morning Notes

‘Muscle Up Mondays’ continue today — Crunch Fitness will continue to offer free group fitness classes on Mondays through October 29 at 6:30 p.m. in Reston Town Center. [Facebook]

Delays on Orange, Silver and Blue lines continue –Metro commuters are encouraged to seek other transportation options this week as major construction work continues through August 26. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Ramp and lane closures in effect this week — Several local lanes and ramps will be closed this week as work on phase two of the Silver Line continues. Impacted roads include the Dulles Toll Road, Sunset Hills Road, Sunrise Valley Drive and Herndon Parkway. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Let’s talk finances — Reston Association’s Board of Directors will meet with the organization’s fiscal committee to review the first draft of the operating and capital budgets, as well as the PRC zoning amendment. [Reston Association]

In summary: Downtown Herndon redevelopment — Comstock Partners has officially withdrawn its application for a Certificate of Appropriateness to the Town of Herndon’s Heritage Preservation Review Board for the redevelopment of downtown Herndon. But plans are in the works to resubmit the proposal, which calls for roughly 17,600 square feet of retail, 200+ apartments, and a 761-space parking garage. [Fairfax County Times]

Photo by Beth Allgaier

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Despite Appeals, Residents Voice Strong Support for Downtown Herndon Redevelopment

At a public hearing Tuesday night, local residents voiced strong support for the redevelopment of downtown Herndon as town officials work to address appeals against the project by local property owners.

Three property owners filed appeals against the project, citing concerns related to the development’s impact on traffic and inconsistencies with heritage preservation guidelines, including density increases above standards laid out by the town.

On Tuesday, a majority of Herndon residents testifying about the appeals reaffirmed their support for the project. Speaking on behalf of Neighbors for Downtown Herndon Redevelopment, a group supporting the project that has rapidly grown in the last several weeks, Donielle Scherff said that while the appeals raise “reasonable” concerns, they have put residents’ “dream for this downtown in jeopardy.”

“We stand to lose the vibrant, thriving small town of the future, one that exudes this Herndon exceptionalism that we all love so much,” Scherff said.

In November 2017, Town of Herndon officials entered into an agreement with Comstock to breathe new life into 4.7 acres of in the Historic Downtown District. Plans proposed in June include a parking garage, 274 residential units, an 18,000-square-foot arts center and 17,00 square feet of retail space.

Earlier this year, the town’s Heritage Preservation Board approved the project, despite staff’s recommendations to defer action on the overall project. Filed appeals following the board’s decision rendered the project’s Certificate of Appropriateness void. The town’s council will consider the appeals in the coming weeks. The agreement for the project is unaffected by the voided certificate, which delays the implementation of the project.

File photo

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Comstock, Town Officials Withdraw Application for Redevelopment of Downtown Herndon

Plans for the redevelopment of downtown Herndon were officially withdrawn in late July following the filing of three appeals from property owners next to the site of the redevelopment effort.

The appellants are challenging the June 18 decision of the Heritage Preservation Review Board to approve the redevelopment plan, which is presented through a public-private partnership between the developer, Comstock, and the town, which owns the property.

The appeals allege the HPRB approved the project prematurely and failed to apply the town’s requirements for historical preservation, including whether or not the proposed development, which would require demolition of some buildings, was compatible with buildings in the heritage preservation district. Of particular concern is the demolition of the old Stohlman Subaru building on Elden Street, the preservations status and significance of which was misrepresented to the public and the board, according to the appeals.

One appeal charges that the town exercised “undue influence” on the HPRB and attempted to limit its power by clarifying town officials’ expectations of how the board would handle the redevelopment proposal. The appeal also states the town officials’ presentation of the application to the HPRB was biased.

Discussions are underway between town officials and the developer to determine the next steps. “We continue to work with the town and trust that things will stay on track,” a spokesperson for Comstock told Reston Now.

In a statement, Lisa Merkel, the mayor of the Town of Herndon, said she was disappointed the project was being stalled despite years of planning, outreach and public comment, especially since the demolition of the old Stohlman Subaru building was evident in proposals since the original request for proposals.

I hope this delay doesn’t cost Herndonians the opportunity to have the vibrant, arts-focused, smalltown downtown so many have dreamed of and worked to make happen for decades. I am hopeful, but worried,” Merkel wrote.

Going forward, the town’s zoning administrator must schedule a hearing at the next town council meeting. During the meeting, appellants will discuss their appeals before the council. The town council will decide whether or not it will reverse the HPRB’s decision on the development.

Other concerns raised in the appeals include the impact of the development on traffic, overflow parking needs for residents of nearby apartments, and the high-density nature of the development.

The filed appeals are below:

Heritage Preservation Review Board Appeals by Fatimah Waseem on Scribd

File photo

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Three Property Owners Challenge Downtown Herndon Redevelopment

A public hearing before the Herndon Town Council is planned as three appeals surface against Comstock’s plans to redevelop downtown Herndon.

Three property owners filed appeals last month disputing the Heritage Preservation Review Board’s approval of Comstock’s application for new construction. The property owners, who live near the 4.6-acre site, challenged the construction of the structure and specific features of the site.

The application concerns the demolition of buildings on 770 Elden Street and 750 Center Street, as well as the development’s architecture. At a June 18 HPRB meeting, town officials defended the approvals.

Due to the appeals, the council will hold a public hearing to allow appellants to justify their appeals. The approval under question by the HPRB — known in planning jargon as the Certificate of Appropriateness for New Construction — is rendered void due to the appeals.

The HPRB can reverse or change its decision if evidence is presented that the approval was not correct. Through a public-private partnership with the town, Comstock plans to build 274 residential units, 17,000 square feet of retail and a 761-space garage.

File photo

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Construction on New Office Building in Reston Station Begins

Comstock has begun construction on the next office building in Reston Station, located on the southwest corner of the plaza. The eight-story structure, which has not yet been named, is a Class A office building with 180,000 square feet of office space and 8,300 square feet of retail space on the plaza.

The building is designed by HKS Architects with steel and glass structures. The company’s portfolio includes the design of Urumqi International Airport in Xinjiang, China and the King Hussein Cancer Center in Amman, Jordan.

Office space will be restricted to six floors, which sit atop an eight-story, above-grave concrete parking deck. It will also include a private patio with a sky garden and gym.

Construction prompted Comstock to close four of eight kiosks on the plaza. According to Maggie Parker, vice president of communications and community outreach for Comstock, the kiosks were intentionally designed to be temporary. Some vendors will relocate into vacant kiosks.

“They’ve given many budding entrepreneurs an opportunity to test their business models and have added a lot of vitality to our emerging development,” Comstock wrote in a statement.

Photo via Comstock

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Fairfax County Commits $1.2 Million for Downtown Herndon Redevelopment

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted today (Tuesday) to contribute $1.2 million for the redevelopment of downtown Herndon — an effort being led by Comstock and the Town of Herndon.

The funding commitment is the largest dollar contribution for economic development to date. Funds are drawn from a funding category designed for one-time, seed money for projects that provide direct economic benefits for Fairfax County. Roughly a quarter of $5 million in available funding has been committed to downtown Herndon.

County officials hope to recoup their investment within the first two years after the project is complete. Estimates suggest the redevelopment will generate $800,000 annually in new property and sales taxes for the county, according to an independent analysis commissioned by the town.

The 4.67-acre property, which is owned by the town, is currently tax-exempt. The new town center would pay real estate taxes and generate additional sales tax from retail elements.

The project includes an 18,000-square-foot arts center, which will serve as the centerpiece of the downtown area. Overall, downtown Herndon will include around 281 apartments, 17,600 square feet of ground floor retail and a 761-space parking garage.

Fairfax County will release its funds only when the Town of Herndon contributes $1.2 million of its own funding. The town plans to pitch in $3.6 million for the public-private partnership.

In prepared statements, local elected officials reacted to the funding commitment:

“I am pleased that funding from the County’s Economic Development Support Fund will help make the Herndon Arts Center a reality,” said Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, who chairs the Fairfax County Economic Advisory Commission. “Activities around the arts create thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity in Fairfax County. The Herndon Arts Center will also contribute to the success of a redevelopment project that will significantly increase the tax base of the town and the county. Projects like the Herndon Arts Center also contribute to the county’s economic success by creating a community that will attract a 21st century workforce.”

“Allocation of this grant funding to the town is a tangible, impactful demonstration of Fairfax County’s commitment to economic development in Herndon,” said Mayor Lisa Merkel. “Redevelopment of Herndon’s downtown creates a new and exciting destination at the county’s western edge, and we greatly appreciate the spirit of partnership symbolized by this grant.”

Photo via Comstock

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