After decades of discussion, proposals and delays, the town of Herndon has approved a final amendment to its comprehensive agreement with Comstock Holding Companies, Inc. to redevelop downtown.
On Tuesday night, the town council unanimously approved a resolution to amend the existing comprehensive agreement it entered into with Comstock in 2017.
“We are taking a leap of faith that this will inject into the downtown a needed sort of vibrancy that we all hope it is,” council member Cesar del Aguila said.
“But let’s be clear, there are no guarantees here. But I think we’ve done all the right things. The ballroom is rented, the orchestra is playing, now it’s time to see if we can dance.”
Elements of the initial agreement still include redeveloping town-owned land into a mixed-use project with 273 apartments and approximately 17,00 square feet of retail space. It also includes a 16,265-square-foot arts center and a parking garage with 726 spaces.
The amendment – which was presented to the council during a work session on Nov. 10 – establishes a variety of matters. Those items include a sunset date of Dec. 15 by which time the town and Comstock must close on Comstock’s purchase of the 4.675-acre property.
The amended agreement adjusts the date by which Comstock must have the project under construction to Dec. 31, 2021. However, Comstock does retain the right to pause the start of construction up to two years due to market conditions and other complications, including issues arising from COVID-19.
Also included in the amendment is an increase in the parent corporate guarantee by $5 million to $10 million to cover the arts center and the parking.
“The parent guarantee refers to Comstock’s parent corporation putting forth the guarantee of $10 million to cover this project were Comstock Herndon LLC to default,” town attorney Lesa Yeattes told the council.
“So, this is a key component of the amendment and gives the town much more safety than it had previously in the additional $5 million guarantee.”
The amendment also provides licenses to the town to continue utilizing the property following Comstock’s purchase for the existing art space and public shared parking.
It also provides priority recordation of a parking easement on the site that will act as insurance for 162 parking spaces for the town regardless of the loan on the property.
A final part of the amendment permits Herndon to refund a portion of property taxes for the area used for arts purposes. The amendment includes a 10-year tax refund to the arts district that is estimated at $1.9 million over that time, wherein the estimated tax return above refund would be $1,165,000.
“The town receives no tax benefit on this site currently,” town manager Bill Ashton said.
“And the town will not receive any benefit as long as the town owns the property. Only when it is redeveloped will the town ever see any of this tax benefit.”
As a part of the amendment, the town council will vote to appropriate funds required prior to closing during its December public session.
“Bringing this project to fruition has been a priority for me and for the town council,” Mayor Lisa Merkel said in a press release.
“This adopted amendment establishes specific parameters by which we are moving forward. We greatly appreciate Comstock’s collaborative spirit as well as the many town citizens and business owners who continue to advocate for this transformative, energizing redevelopment project. Herndon’s bright future is now!”
Image via Comstock
The Herndon Town Council met Tuesday night in a work session to discuss downtown redevelopment.
The council discussed a proposed amendment to the existing comprehensive agreement with Comstock Herndon Venture, LC, from 2017.
The redevelopment was first proposed in the 1980s and a handful of proposals over the years were heard for the project, but none materialized.
In the Nov. 10 work session, town manager Bill Ashton and town attorney Lesa Yeatts laid out issues that have delayed the redevelopment project and detailed proposed amendments to the comprehensive agreement the town has with Comstock.
When finished, Comstock will develop the area into a mixed-use neighborhood. It will include 273 apartments, a 787-space parking garage, 18,000-square-foot arts center and 17,000 square feet of retail space.
Ashton pointed to a variety of issues that have caused delays because of economic pressures. Among those, he specified rising commodity and labor prices as a result of a thriving construction market in Metro DC since 2017. He also cited COVID-19 economic pressures that included commodity issues when mills were closed down.
He also recognized a reenergized interest from the community and its “palpable frustration” that was shared by the council about the delays in the redevelopment.
“They were certainly well founded, but it was out of the fact that we couldn’t just rush into development when we had these economic pressures sitting out there,” Ashton said.
Yeatts presented to the council members a variety of amendments to the comprehensive agreement with Comstock to address issues and other concerns.
The existing agreement has the town contributing land with an assessed value of roughly $10 million, and $3.6 million cash that is broken into two categories, according to Ashton. The first category for the cash value is $2.2 million to be utilized for the project.
The remaining $1.4 million is to be used in a series of allowances that will allow the town to take care of its obligations prior to releasing the property. Those obligations include environmental remediation, transitional downtown parking, transitional art space relocation and box culvert repair for the storm water management feature.
According to a presentation from Yeatts and Ashton, the changes to the existing agreement include:
- Establishing the closing date on the property on or before Dec. 15, 2020.
- Permitting the satisfaction of certain conditions precedent subsequent to the conveyance.
- Requiring town appropriation prior to closing.
- Adjusting the outside satisfaction date by which Comstock must have the project under construction to Dec. 31, 2021.
- Extending certain rights of Comstock to pause the commencement of construction (up to 24 months) due to market conditions and other matters, including delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Increasing the parent guarantee by an additional 5 million to 10 million to cover the arts center and the parking.
- Priority recordation of a parking easement on the site for a minimum of 162 spaces.
“These financial economic stresses led us, both parties, to feel that negotiation of an amendment to the existing agreement between us would really improve our situation,” Yeatts said.
She highlighted the priority recordation of a parking easement as a significant “concession on the part of our partner in this agreement.” This amendment will ensure that Herndon will receive 162 parking spaces regardless of the loan on the property.
Ashton detailed potential economic development incentives to “help at least close the gap on some of the elements cost that have gone up on our components.” Those incentives amount to a total fee reduction of $2.35 million for water, sewer and building permits.
He also listed a 10-year tax refund to the arts district with an estimated value of $1.9 million over that time, wherein the estimated tax return above refund would be $1,165,000. At this time, the town does not receive tax benefit on the site and will not as long as the town owns the property, Ashton explained.
Ashton also broke down the town’s return on its investment of the project. He totaled Herndon’s investment at $15,950,000 while looking at a return of $16,637,000. The public parking to be returned will be worth an estimated $9,537,000, the arts center shell $2.25 million, and public improvements worth $3.5 million. Comstock will also take care of the town’s responsibility for temporary parking, temporary arts center and the environmental cleanup that combines for an estimated $1.35 million.
To keep on schedule, Ashton told the council that it would be looking for an adoption of this amendment in November to allow for appropriation of funds in December.
“I think this amendment, if anything, has enhanced the deal,” Ashton said.
The town council will vote on this amendment at a public session on Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. Mayor Lisa Merkel has asked the council and Yeatts for public comment on this project to be the first item discussed during the meeting.
Image via Comstock
The Town of Herndon and Comstock Companies are set to close on the redevelopment of downtown Herndon on Dec. 15, bringing a long-anticipated project mired by nearly a year of delays to fruition.
In a memo to the Herndon Town Council, which will discuss the matter on a Nov. 10 work session, staff attributed delays to a “significant rise in labor and material costs” in the DC construction market since 2016, an issue that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This week is a lesson in patience for Americans…. and for Herndon patience is paying off,” said Mayor Lisa Merkel, whose eight-year time as mayor has revolved around the redevelopment project.
The Town of Herndon will sell 4.7 acres of town-owned land for $10 million to Comstock, which will develop the area into a mixed-use neighborhood with 273 apartments, a 787-space parking garage, an 18,000-square-foot arts center, and 17,000 square feet of retail space. The town purchased the land for $5.8 million and will pitch an additional $3.6 million for the project to cover the following:
- Environmental remediation: $500,000
- Transitional public parking: $500,000
- Arts center relocation: $250,000
- Culvert repair: $100,000
The Herndon Town Council will consider the matter at a work session on Nov. 10.
To close, both parties negotiated a new comprehensive agreement that was finalized after months of deliberation and few answers on why the project was stalled. The previous agreement was signed by the town in 2017. The council will vote on the proposed agreement.
“In the interest of the continued forward movement of the project the Town and Comstock now desire to amend the Comprehensive Agreement in order to better address the changes in the market, unforeseen effects of COVID-19 and to provide both parties maximum advantage,” the memo states.
Per the agreement, Comstock must begin construction of the project by Dec. 31 of 2021 after a closing date of Dec. 15. The company will also pitch in $10 million instead of $5 million to cover costs associated with the arts center and parking. Among other changes, appropriation for the project will be required before closing and Comstock will be allowed to pause construction due to market conditions and other delays caused by the pandemic.
Additionally, Comstock will receive several tax breaks, which were recently established by the Herndon Town Council.
The company will have to pay $2.5 million less in fees for water, sewer, and building permits than typically allowed. At the time, the town declined to indicate if the recently-passed tax rebates were designed for the redevelopment project in downtown Herndon.
So far, the town says that it’s very confident the agreement will result in a big return for the town.
“All together the financial investment plus development incentives for the project are approximately $16 million and the town anticipates the value of its capital return on the project to be over $16.6 million,” according to a memo by town manager Bill Ashton and town attorney Lesa Yeatts.
Image via Comstock
Comstock Companies has long-term plans to redevelop Commerce Metro Center (1900 Centennial Park Drive) into a transit-oriented neighborhood called the Commerce District at Reston Station.
Now, through a lease-back transaction, the company has acquired United Bank’s branch building and a one-acre parcel located at the site. The lease-back allows Comstock to ensure United Bank remains on the site as the company finalizes plans to redevelop the office park.
United Bank’s property is located at the intersection of Centennial Park Drive and Sunrise Valley Drive near the entrance of Comstock’s Commerce District. The acquisition would allow Comstock to ensure that the front entrance of the transit-oriented development is pedestrian-friendly and accommodates transit, according to a news release.
“This strategic acquisition affords us the opportunity to focus on the project’s entry experience as we finalize our placemaking plans to remake this 1990’s vintage office park into an exciting place to live, work, and promote health and wellness,” said Timothy Steffan, EVP of Asset Management, Leasing & Development of Comstock.
Comstock plans to redevelop 22 acres to the south entrance of the Wiehe-Reston East Metro Station into the Commerce District. Preliminary plans include upgrades to existing office buildings, new. Office, hotel and residential buildings, and new retail.
In Feb. 2019, Comstock acquired JBG Smith’s Commerce Metro Center Portfolio in Feb. 2019 — a move that will increase the Reston Station area to 4.5 million square feet once fully built.
The company is currently finalizing plans for additional development “while exploring options for enhancing open spaces and connectivity to Metro for the surrounding community,” according to the release.
Comstock’s Metro District station, which is near the north entrance of the station, is well underway. Most of the office space in that district — which includes three office towers — has already been leased to big companies like Google, ICF Global, and Rolls Royce North America.
Image via Google Maps
But more than a year later, residents and local elected officials are still awaiting the long-anticipated groundbreaking of the $85 million redevelopment project, which would transform nearly 4.7 acres of land in downtown Herndon into a vibrant mixed-use district.
Both parties have not yet closed on a deal to begin the project. In recent public statements, details explaining reasons for the delays have been scant.
“It is incredibly frustrating to not be able to share information,” wrote Town of Herndon Mayor Lisa Merkel on social media. “To maintain the town’s negotiation power and protect our taxpayers’ interest, we must remain silent until the deal is closed.”
Merkel said she feels “very confident” in the success of the project.
Town officials noted that a formal groundbreaking date has been anticipated but was never formally scheduled.
“We on Town Council all wish we could say more but we can’t,” wrote Signe Friedrichs in a social media statement.
At a town council meeting on Oct. 13, Town of Herndon resident Donielle Scherff expressed strong support for the project. Scherff manages a Facebook group with more than 500 members dedicated to the redevelopment project.
“There is more than a little frustration that our public/private partnership has yet to break ground,” Scherff said. “And I will echo the previous speaker that we crave more information.”
Residents saw some activity in the area when signage offering a peek into the project went up on a fence in front of the former Subaru dealership on 770 Elden Street in May.
The project includes 273 residential units, a new arts center, public space, an eight-level parking garage, and 18,000 square feet of boutique, restaurant, and retail space.
Photo via handout/Comstock
Officials from the Town of Herndon and Comstock have declined to disclose information on why the development of downtown Herndon has been delayed from its expected groundbreaking late last year.
In a statement posted on social media yesterday (Monday), Town of Herndon Mayor Lisa Merkel offered some insights on what has led to delays. She pointed to market conditions and COVID-19 as reasons that have led to delays.
Comstock and the Town of Herndon have not yet closed on the project. The town’s manager, the town’s attorney and Merkel met with Comstock’s senior staff, including its CEO Chris Clemente late last week to “address a number of outstanding items required prior to closing,” Merkel said.
Both parties are working on strategies to address the pending issues, Merkel said.
She also added that Clemente and his staff stressed their commitment to “expeditiously” move forward with the redevelopment project.
“Both Comstock and the Town are committed to this project and my personal goal as your major is to see these actions completed during this calendar year,” Merkel said.
A promotional website and banner offer a tease regarding what’s to come on the site, which will include 273 apartments, 17,00 square feet of retail, and arts center, and a 787-space parking garage. The $85 million project is a joint venture between the town and Comstock.
More information is expected next month.
Photo via Comstock
Weather-related Road Closures — Although no roads are closed in Reston, a number of areas throughout the county remain impacted by yesterday’s storm. [Fairfax County Police Department]
Reston Association Board Meets Tonight — The Board of Directors will meet virtually today at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will take place via Zoom. [Reston Association]
Founding Farmers, Comstock to Deliver Food to Shelter — “Comstock Companies and Founding Farmers are partnering to provide breakfast and boxed lunches to the the Embry Rucker Shelter over the next month. Embry Rucker, which is located at 11975 Bowman Towne Drive, is a 70-bed residential shelter that provides housing for individuals and families in Reston.” [Reston Patch]
Photo via Marjorie Copson
Reston officially has a new Tesla supercharging station.
Comstock, the developer of Reston Station, announced the opening of the station today (Wednesday).
The new station will be located next to the kiss and ride facility inside Reston Station (11389 Reston Station Boulevard).
“We recognize that the quality of Reston Station’s architecture and tenant mix require us to bring the best local, national and global brands to our project,” said Tim Steffan, EVP/Asset Management, Development and Leasing for Comstock. “Tesla’s pioneering sustainability initiatives and brand platform are a great complement to our long-term vision to deliver best in class amenities to our market.”
Here’s more from Comstock on the announcement:
Designed and built by Tesla and capable of charging a Tesla battery in minutes rather than hours, Tesla V3 Supercharger Station will accommodate the simultaneous charging of 8 Tesla vehicles, including Model S, Model X and Model 3. Tesla’s third generation Supercharger is substantially more powerful than any other charging technology currently available, ultimately reducing the amount of time customers spend charging by an average of 50%.
Photos via Comstock
For months, the Town of Herndon and Comstock have remained silent on why the long-anticipated redevelopment of downtown Herndon has been delayed.
Both parties have declined to offer any comment on pending paperwork to close on the sale of the 4.7-acre parcel of town-owned land to Comstock. What’s known is that “further agreement” to protect “town financial interests” is needed to begin preparing construction at 770 Elden Street.
Comstock says it is making progress. The company plans to go through the bidding process this summer, according to a spokesperson for the Reston-based company. A spokesperson for the Town of Herndon said the town had nothing to add.
A promotional website and banner offer a tease for what’s to come on the site, which will include 273 apartments, 17,00 square feet of retail, and arts center, and a 787-space parking garage. The $85 million project is a joint venture between the town and Comstock.
The site itself is ready for construction to begin.
In May, the former car dealership buildings on the site were demolished to prepare for development. Earlier this year, contractors also removed asbestos and other environmental for through a state grant awarded to the Town of Herndon.
Now, the Town and Comstock must work out pending legal issues. Comstock will then apply for building permits and complete its “internal processes” for construction.
Officials originally estimated groundbreaking would begin in late 2019.
Photo via Comstock
Comstock Secures New Loan for BLVD — “Comstock Holding Companies’ capital markets group secured a $73 million loan with Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) for the BLVD I luxury apartment tower, which is located at 1908 Reston Metro Plaza. The new 10-year loan replaces a maturing construction loan provided by Citizens Bank.” [Reston Patch]
Herndon Police Department Closed Today — The department’s office will be closed tomorrow in observance of Juneteenth. Officers and dispatchers will remain on duty to serve the community. [Herndon Police Department]
School Board Considers New Religious Holidays for Calendar — “The Fairfax County School Board is considering a 2021-22 Standard School Year Calendar that was developed with a focus on instruction and learning for students and includes four religious observance holidays. Two options for the 2021-22 school year were presented to the Board at its business meeting on June 18.” [Fairfax County School Board]
Photo by Ray Copson
Sharon Fitzgerald, a former Tishman Speyer executive, has joined Comstock Companies as a managing director of commercial property management.
Fitzgerald previously worked at Tishman Speyer for 14 years as director of property management. She will now oversee the Reston-based companies properties, including several mixed-use projects in Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties.
“I am excited that Ms. Fitzgerald has joined the Comstock team and I am confident that our commercial customer base will benefit from Ms. Fitzgerald’s leadership position within our commercial management group” said Christopher Clemente, Chief Executive Officer of Comstock. “Sharon’s reputation as a skilled manager and her prior experience managing high-quality real estate directly supports Comstock’s best-in-class approach to managing a growing portfolio of stabilized assets and supports our growth plans for the Commercial Property Management Division.”
Here’s more from Comstock on her appointment:
Ms. Fitzgerald has extensive experience with management of large-scale portfolios of high-quality, mixed-use properties throughout the Washington, DC market. Prior to joining Comstock, she spent 14 years as Director of Property Management at Tishman Speyer where she was responsible for day-to-day property operations, financial reporting and customer service for properties on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC as well Rosslyn, Tysons and Reston. At Tishman Speyer, Ms. Fitzgerald was responsible for implementing a new tenant services platform that leveraged health and well-being principles to promote work-life balance, which included a collection of services, experiences, and rewards program discounts. Ms. Fitzgerald began her career at The Evans Company, a Washington, DC area development firm, where she was responsible for transitioning newly constructed commercial properties from development to full occupancy. Ms. Fitzgerald graduated with a BS from Virginia Tech and holds the designations of a Certified Property Manager (CPM) and Real Property Administrator (RPA).
Comstock also noted that Fitzgerald will help implement “stringent environmental security protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Photo via Comstock
Reston Station, a sprawling mixed-use development near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, is positioned to help make that change happen, according to an investor presentation released earlier this week.
The development, which includes several districts that are planned or already in construction, is expected to achieve comparable rents to Reston Town Center. New buildings, parking, amenities, and the Metro station have attracted corporate relocations from RTC, according to Comstock.
Currently, RTC commands a higher rent premium over other micro-markets within Reston. Overall, vacancy rates for Class A office space in Reston and Tysons are slightly lower than the region-wide average of around 18 percent, according to the company.
Once completed, Reston Station will include four districts: Metro Plaza, Commerce, West, and Reston Row. Major companies have signed leases at the project, including Google, Neustar, and ICF International.
Photo via Comstock
Although the groundbreaking of the Town of Herndon’s downtown redevelopment project has not been formally announced, Comstock Companies is offering a peek at what the new $85 million Historic Herndon District will look like.
A fence in front of the former Subaru dealership on 770 Elden Street now bears promotional signage about the project, which has been delayed by several months.
“The revision of Herndon’s historic downtown will bring heart, life, and opportunity back to the neighborhood,” according to a recently released sales brochure.
The project, which is financed through a public-private partnership with the town, features 273 residential units, a new arts center, public space, and new retail options. An eight-level parking garage and 18,000 square feet of boutique, restaurant, and cafe space are also planned.
Comstock says that its apartments — which include studio, one, and two-bedroom apartments — “marry classical elegance with a bohemian twist.” The company also described the community as a “lifestyle destination that appeals to everyone, from foodie to dog walkers.” Promotional material states the Herndon Metro Station will open in 2020, although it is likely the new station will open next year.
Officials for the Town of Herndon and Comstock have declined to provide specific reasons for why the project has been delayed.
Environmental remediation on the site is currently underway in order to prepare the site for redevelopment. Although a development agreement between the town and Comstock has been signed, the stakeholders have not yet closed on the property.
Images via Comstock
Megaphone, a podcasting hosting and advertising technology provider, has signed a lease at Comstock’s Reston Station.
The company will take up roughly 10,000 square feet in the first office building at the mixed-use development, the tower designed by architect Helmut Jahn at 1900 Reston Metro Plaza.
With 165,000 square feet of leased space, Google is the anchor tenant of the building. Other tenants include Rolls-Royce North America (18,000 square feet) and infrastructure management firm Solar Winds (16,349 square feet) and digital identify firm Certipath (7,500 square feet).
Tim Steffan, executive vice president of assets management, leasing and development for Comstock, said Reston Station now has a diverse mix of technology firms.
“The addition of Megaphone compliments the impressive lineup of national and global tech players that have chosen Reston Station,” he wrote in a statement.
The company is. currently headquartered in DC.
ICF Global, a global consulting firm, will occupy the third office building currently being developed by Comstock. That building, which is located at 1902 Reston Metro Plaza, is set to be complete in 2022.
Neustar, a global information services company, is the anchor tenant for another office tower located at 1906 Reston Metro Plaza. The company plans to relocate its headquarters from Sterling to Reston Station later this year.
Photo by Bako Glonti
Plans are in the works to secure more land to expand Reston Station.
Comstock Companies had purchased a six-story building in Commerce Metro Center, which is located at the south entrance of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, for $35.9 million.
The developer purchased two other buildings in the same park last year as it eyes the development of Commerce District, a new development district at Reston Station.
The company has already announced plans to build a new office building by world-renown architect Helmet Jahn as a companion to the current building he designed at the Wiehe-Reston East Metro Station.
Here’s more from Comstock on the purchase:
The Company currently has two additional Trophy-Class office towers currently under construction on Reston Metro Plaza, 1906 Reston Metro Plaza, 203,000 square foot building scheduled to deliver later this year, which is approximately 55%% pre-leased to Neustar, and 1902 Reston Metro Plaza, an approximately 225,000 square foot building that is scheduled to deliver in 2021 and is 100% pre-leased to ICF Global.
“This acquisition is consistent with our focus on select high-growth urban and transitioning “sub-urban” markets. The Reston Station neighborhood is at the forefront of the transformation taking place in the Dulles Corridor as a result of the arrival of Metro’s Silver Line” said Mr. Clemente. “Our objective in Reston is to create a world-class mixed-use and transit-oriented neighborhood that is consistent with Fairfax County’s Comprehensive Plan and that is a valued addition to the Reston community.”
So far, Reston Station’s first phase includes the BLVD Reston Station apartments and 1900 Reston Metro, the building designed by Jahn and anchored by Google Inc.