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.
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
‘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
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.
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:
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.
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
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
Due to a 2017 agreement with Comstock, the property that housed the festival carnival will be under construction beginning late 2018 or early 2019. As a result of limited space, an alternative site was found. Other areas of downtown Herndon are expected to also undergo construction.
It is unclear if the festival will ever return to the downtown area.
“Once the redevelopment project is complete, town staff will assess what new events or activities will be appropriate and attractive to the community. The Herndon Festival, as we know it today, likely will not return to the downtown area, due to the loss of the open space to host the carnival and considerable number of vendor, sponsor and volunteer booths required,” according to a statement by town officials.
Sans the charm of downtown buildings as a backdrop and grassy spaces for concert seating, county officials expect next year’s festival will feature different programming that will keep the event “fresh and interesting” for the audience.
County officials will not consider removing the carnival from the festival in order to keep the event in downtown Herndon because the carnival generates 45 percent of total revenues from the festival.
“Without a carnival the event would have to be curtailed in enough ways that it would not resemble what we now know as the Herndon Festival,” according to town officials.
Photo by Mikey Tate
A cast bronze sculpture inspired by the power of Mother Nature was installed at Reston Station Plaza this month.
The piece, “The Force of Nature,” is by artist Lorenzo Quinn and is located on the north side of Wiehle-Reston East Station.
A statement from the artist is below:
“We humans think of ourselves as supreme beings, above all others and in absolute control of our destiny and our surroundings. We live with a false sense of security only to be awakened by Mother Nature’s fury, almost as if she needs to remind us of her presence and our responsibility towards her child (The Earth).
After having seen the ravaged coast of Thailand and the Hurricane that affected the Southern States I decided to create a sculpture dedicated to Mother Nature. This would be reminiscent of the early statues made as peace offerings to the Gods in the hope of quenching their anger.
In essence, people are not very different today from the people who lived thousands of years ago. We still devote ourselves to symbols in order to escape our destiny.”
Photos via Public Art Reston
Some Metro users say the Wiehle-Reston East garage is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate. Limited spaces are available during weekday morning hours as construction continues in the area.
Beginning at 9 a.m., few non-reserved parking spots are available in the 2,300-space garage, Metro users said. The garage (11389 Reston Station Boulevard) includes reserved spaces, which open up to the public at 10 a.m. if they are unused.
Garage users said some drivers park their cars in reserved spots not assigned to them due to the challenge of finding space. Jude J. said police often issue tickets to those individuals ten minutes before the parking space opens up to the public.
“You’re lucky if when you enter the ‘lot full’ light is on, otherwise you’re stuck in a dangerous situation with cars going every direction trying to find a spot,” said Jude. She has been commuting for past year and a half from Leesburg to Washington D.C..
County and transit officials pointed to several possible explanations for the scramble for space. County data indicate the average paid utilization rate in March was 88 percent. The rate for reserved parking is $65 a month and $4.95 on weekdays, except Thursday when the rate is $3.
Robin Geiger, head of communications for the Fairfax County Department of Communications said temporary construction in the garage may explain why spaces are limited. Construction is expected to end next month, Geiger said.
In response to space constraints, the county is promoting other alternatives like the Reston South Park and Ride, as well as Fairfax Connector Routes 553, 557, 559 or 585 to Wiehle.
Comstock, the developer behind Reston Station which sits above the garage, built the garage through a public-private partnership with Fairfax County. The county retains garage ownership while the Washington Metropolitan Area Authority operates the facility.
Maggie Parker, a spokesperson for Comstock, said space may also be limited due to “increased activity” with events like the cherry blossoms in the District. WMATA indicated they have seen an increase in parking demand as a result.
Signs in the garage are programmed to display “lot full” when 15 spaces or less are available.
Parker also said it is possible that people are not driving down far enough into the garage, especially three levels down in the ParkX parking area.
The situation has some hoping for other parking alternatives, especially as summer swings in and the recent opening of restaurants like Founding Farmers and Sweet Leaf attracts more customers.
Major redevelopment is underway as Comstock Partners continue to complete the massive Reston Station development on the northe side of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.
On Tuesday (April 11), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an expanded version of the project, which calls for a further 1.7 million square feet of development, including a mix of residential units, a hotel and office towers.
The project is part of a public-private partnership with the county, which owns seven acres of the roughly 12-acre development. Changes include the addition of 362,450 square feet of development for the buildings on the Reston Station Plaza, increases in the heights of building, and the addition of a hotel to respond to “industry feedback,” said Cooley LLP’s Mark Looney.
The Promenade, an extension of Reston Station, would redevelop a Bank of America, medical buildings and 30 office condominiums on the corner of Sunset Hills Road and Wiehle Avenue into high rise buildings with up to 540 units, a 14-story office and a 23-story, 280-room hotel with 80 private residences.
Under amended plans, the county’s 1.3-acre portion of the project, previously designated for Reston Station, will be included in The Promenade in order to better unify the block.
Around 17 percent of the units will be affordable at levels of affordability ranging from 70 to 100 percent of the area median income. Comstock also plans to provide $1.9 million to the county’s affordable housing trust fund.
Comstock’s plans also include a woonerf, a shared street system that is used by pedestrians, bicyclists and cars, but does not contain sidewalks, curbs and traffic lights.
The county’s land use plan for the area north of the station includes 2.4 million square feet of development and roughly 1,900 housing units.
“Lots of trees gave up their lives for this application,” said Sharon Bulova, chairwoman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
Comstock plans to begin construction on its next office building at 1906 Reston Metro Plaza this spring. Plans for another 180,000-square-foot office are under county review.
Photos via Comstock
Expanded plans for Comstock’s massive Reston Station development were approved by the Fairfax County Planning Commission Thursday night.
The latest plans add an additional 362,450 square feet to the mixed used development, bringing the total to 1.7 million square feet and adding 155 additional residential units.
Reston Station (1866 Metro Center Drive) includes a mix of residential buildings, retail, restaurants and hotels. The project is located on the south side of Reston Station boulevard, west of Wiehle Avenue.
The commission also approved plans to increase the height of building four from 205 to 225 feet and building seven from 140 to 280 feet. A hotel option was added to building seven.
The amended plans head to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday (April 10) for final consideration.
A map of the buildings is below.
Rendering via Comstock
Man wanted for abduction — Police are searching for Osman Osman, a Herndon resident who police believe assaulted and abducted his wife and child in Chantilly. [Fairfax County Police Department]
Comstock shifts gears — The development company is shifting its business strategy from for-sale homebuilding to commercial development, asset management and real estate. [Nasdaq]
Breathe in, breathe out — Join a longtime meditator for an adults-only meditation workshop today from 2-3:30 p.m. [Reston Regional Library]
The price tag for Sheraton Reston Hotel — Remember the planned renovation we covered? The hotel was bought by Wurzak Hotel Group for $27 million. [Commercial Real Estate Direct]
Open for (more) business — Reston Farm Market has new hours from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. [Reston Farm Market]
Flickr pool photo by vantagehill
Construction on office tower in Reston Station to begin — Comstock will begin building a new $95 million office tower this spring. The tower is the third office building that is part of its Reston Station development. [The Washington Business Journal]
A tax(ing) season — Need some tax relief? The county is hosting two tax relief workshops for older adults and people with disabilities in Reston next month. [The Connection]
Police seek suspects in a string of Northern Virginia robberies — “Police are searching for the suspects they believe are responsible for more than a dozen robberies in Northern Virginia over the last few months. Two men have been involved in five commercial robberies in Fairfax and Loudoun counties since Monday.” [WTOP]
Reston Station thinks big — Comstock wants to make its massive redevelopment project more robust. A new hotel and taller buildings could be added to its development plan. [Reston Planning and Zoning Committee]
Local dance company goes to Atlas — Gin Dance Company will perform at the Atlas Festival this year. We hope they’ll break a leg! [The Connection]
Photo by Fatimah Waseem