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American Flag (Photo via Jon Sailer/Unsplash)

Monday, June 28

Tuesday, June 29

  • Hummingbirds In the Morning  (6-9 a.m.) — Get up early, grab your camera and head to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna for a golden light photography workshop. Snap photos of hummingbirds, butterflies, or anything else that catches your camera’s attention.

Wednesday, June 30

  • Skate Your Heart Out (11 a.m.-10 p.m.) — Take a spin on the newly-opened Mosaic Skateland. This outdoor roller rink just opened earlier this month and will be so until mid-September. So, grab those roller skates (or rent a pair) and roll your way into some fun.

Thursday, July 1 

  • Fifty Years of Wolf Trap (8 p.m.) — Celebrate five decades of Wolf Trap, the historic outdoor performance arts venue, with opening night performances from Grammy Award winner Cynthia Erivo and internationally-acclaimed soprano Christine Goerke. All of this will be accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra.
  • Footloose (7:30 p.m.) — Put on those dancing shoes and go to Strawberry Park in the Mosaic District for an outdoor showing of the 1984 movie Footloose. Every Thursday night through Labor Day, a classic, family-friendly movie will be played outside in the park.

Friday, July 2

  • Darn Good Country (4 p.m.) — Music festivals are back after a year off, and Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville is hosting a “Darn Good Country Weekend.” Headliners include Chase Rice, Dustin Lynch, and more.

Saturday, July 3

  • City of Fairfax’s Independence Day Celebration (10 a.m.) — After missing out last year, many local jurisdictions are back to in-person July 4 celebrations this year. The City of Fairfax will commemorate the holiday on both July 3 and July 4 this year with a parade and marching bands on Saturday and fireworks on Sunday.

Sunday, July 4

  • Great Falls July 4th (8 a.m.) — Spend all of the Fourth in Great Falls for their celebration. There will be a blood drive, a kids parade, a main parade, a festival, and fireworks at night.
  • Firecracker 5k (8 a.m.) — Before chowing down, get some exercise on the Fourth with a 5k at Reston Town Center.
  • Herndon Fireworks (9:30 p.m.) — Look to the sky at Bready Park for a firework celebration hosted by the Town of Herndon. Free admission and parking, though there will be no concessions or other entertainment this year.

via Jon Sailer/Unsplash

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Station House, a new infill development on Jefferson Street in Downtown Herndon, is finally nearing completion.

The applicant, Doll Homes, is proposing to construct the final two single-family homes on the property. The first home, which is roughly 4,500 square feet, will be located on 647 Jefferson Street, and the second home, which is 5,1010 square feet, is located at 649 Jefferson Street.

Homes in the new development start in the mid-$800,000s.

The Town of Herndon’s Historic District Review Board will consider the application at a meeting tonight. The town’s staff formally withheld a recommendation on the final approval of the property due to pending information needed from the applicant, including whether the homes are intended to follow a bungalow-type house.

“Staff is withholding its recommendation at this time given the additional information that is necessary,” according to a Jan. 6 memo.

In an Oct. 1 letter to the town, the developer wrote that the design of the development is intended to match with the area.

“Overall, we are confident that the design and superior products used to construct this home will accomplish our efforts to provide a new home that not only complements the surrounding structures but helps to preserve the predominant architectural character of the Downtown Heritage Preservation District,” the company wrote.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Photo via Doll Homes

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The Town of Herndon has officially closed on its transfer of 4.7 acres of town-owned land to Comstock Holding Companies, a move that sets the redevelopment of downtown Herndon into motion.

The public-private partnership between the town of Comstock will create “the centerpiece of Herndon’s revitalization plan for its historic downtown,” according to a recent press release.

“We are excited to have completed this important part of the process and look forward to redeveloping this key piece of downtown Herndon into a vibrant mixed-use development,” said Christopher Clemente, CEO of Comstock.

The mixed-use project was officially approved by the Herndon Historic District Review Board but had been delayed by nearly a year to a number of issues, including ongoing negotiations between the town and the real estate development company.

Once completed, the new mixed-use development, which is next to Herndon’s Old Town Hall, will include 273 residential apartments, 17,300 square feet of retail and cafe space, a new arts center, three public plazas, and a 726-space parking garage.

Herndon Mayor Lisa Merkel, who is ending her eight-year term this month, noted that the closing was the “culmination of years of careful planning.”

“Dynamic living spaces, retail, restaurants, the arts – all will come alive in downtown Herndon as a result of our collaboration with Comstock,” she said.

The town will pitch in $3.6 million over the course of the project while the company will be able to take advantage of $2.5 million in tax breaks through a recently established ordinance. The land was transferred at no-cost but under rules governed by a comprehensive agreement signed by both parties. The town will receive public amenities and infrastructure as part of the project. 

Photo via Town of Herndon

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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

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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

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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

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The redevelopment of downtown Herndon into a mixed-use project by real estate developer Comstock and the Town of Herndon is set to transform a portion of the downtown area.

But as some buildings long vacated by property owners sit in suburban malaise, the Town of Herndon is considering more ways to further revitalize the area.

At a meeting Tuesday night, the Herndon Town Council discussed a plan to create tax incentives for specific areas in downtown Herndon by creating a new zoning term — art-focused redevelopment — that would entitle some developers and property owners to economic incentives like tax rebates for up to a decade and reduced water availability fees.

In order to qualify as an arts-focused redevelopment project, the project must be located in the town’s Planned Development Traditional Downtown zoning district, which is depicted in the map below.

In response to questions about the financial implications of the policy, town manager Bill Ashton clarified that the incentive program creates an additional tool for the town’s toolbox to encourage economic development.

“We will end up no worse than where we are,” Ashton told the council last night.

He says that new property owners in the area have expressed interest in redevelopment but need additional incentives to proceed with new projects.

“It is difficult to activate them because the incentives aren’t there for redevelopment,” Ashton said.

In some cases, properties in the area have long sat vacant. The Ice House Cafe and Bar in downtown Herndon has been closed since late 2018, for example.

Councilmember Cesar del Aguila pressed staff for more clarity on how the policy would secure the town’s financial position.

Town Attorney Lisa Yeatts noted that the policy would result in “long-term gain” for the town.

Ashton added that it is difficult to determine the extent of the payoff because the answer depends on interest in the program as well as the type of projects suggested.

The Herndon Town Council is expected to vote on the proposal at a meeting next week.

Image via handout/Town of Herndon

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The Herndon Town Council is considering a move to create new incentives for art-focused redevelopment projects.

The language of the proposal applies to projects in downtown Herndon, but a town spokesperson did not indicate how the plan applies to the stalled redevelopment of downtown Herndon, which is a joint effort between the town and Reston-based company Comstock.

Economic incentives include:

  • A 50-percent reduction in fees for water, sewer and building permits in the initial establishment of the project
  • An annual rebate of up to 100 percent of real property taxes linked to the total. Redevelopment project for taxes due to the town for up to a decade.
  • Exceptions that allow a reduced number of parking spaces required for multi-family residential use
  • Deferral of developer contribution for recreational amenities

“These amendments create additional opportunities to expand the type, quantity and quality of. Art offerings to town residents and increase the town’s presence as a destination for art activities,” according to an Oct. 20 staff report.

It’s unclear how the incentives will be applied to the redevelopment project in downtown Herndon. A town spokesperson did not provide comment by the publication deadline.

The $85 million redevelopment project, which includes a new arts center, would transform nearly 4.7 acres of land in downtown Herndon into a vibrant mixed-use district.

A meeting on the matter is set to take place today (Tuesday) at 7 p.m.

 Image via handout/Comstock

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In July last year, the Town of Herndon announced potential plans to begin the redevelopment of downtown Herndon with real estate company and partner Comstock later that year.

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

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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

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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

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As the Silver Line extension project continues through the COVID-19 pandemic, the Town of Herndon’s Economic Development Manager Dennis Holste, reflected on the state of other local transportation projects and changes to the town at the public Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce metro meeting last night (May 18). 

By 2021, he said that the Reston Town Center, Herndon and Innovation Station stops should be complete, but the plans for the new update bus routes for the Fairfax Connector are up in the air. 

There are currently 30 routes being proposed for the Herndon community but these cannot be finalized until public forums are held, according to Holste.

“They were supposed to hold community meetings in late March and early April,” he said. “But obviously due to COVID they were postponed.”

Though no new dates have been set for these meetings, Holste said they will likely be hosted in late summer or fall.

Currently, a survey is circulating online allowing people to view the proposed bus routes and submit feedback on their thoughts.

Also brought up in the meeting, the new environmental remediation work in Downtown Herndon, which has been completed according to Holste.

“The next step would be demolition of the building,” he said. “I don’t have an exact date but it should be shortly.”

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Construction to kick off the delayed development of downtown Herndon is expected to begin soon.

Contractors will be on the site of the former Subaru dealership on 770 Elden Street next week to begin preparing the site for demolition, according to a town statement.

Crews will work to remove asbestos and complete additional environmental remediation efforts through state grant awarded to the town in 2017, according to town spokeswoman Anne Curtis.

After that, demolition is expected to begin in order to prepare the site for redevelopment.  Comstock, the developer of Reston Station, was selected by the town three years ago to redevelop the property into a mixed-use project.

The $85 million redevelopment project includes 273 apartments, 17,000 square feet of retail, a new arts center, public space and a new parking garage for public and private use.

Image via Google Maps

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Developer Comstock and the Town of Herndon have yet to announce when construction will begin on long-anticipated redevelopment of downtown Herndon into a mixed-use center.

As the opening of the Herndon Metro Station is pushed deep into 2021, the town’s attorney says the project is still “advancing and is within the time periods” stipulated in an agreement signed by both parties in 2017.

“At this point, the majority of the ‘to do’ items are on the Comstock side and they are working through them with assistance from town staff as necessary,” according to a statement issued by the town attorney’s office.

A spokesperson for the town declined to comment on what remaining items must be worked out.

The project was expected to break ground last year.

So far, the only estimate of anticipated groundbreaking is early 2020.

The project, which includes a $3.6 million contribution from the town, would create a cultural arts district in the town and a multi-family development with around 273 apartments, 17,000 square feet of retail, an arts center, an arts plaza, and a 787-space parking garage.

The project, which includes a $3.6 million contribution from the town, would create a cultural arts district in the town and a multi-family development with around 273 apartments, 17,000 square feet of retail, an arts center, an arts plaza, and a 787-space parking garage.

Photo via Town of Herndon/handout

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Comstock Partners will not break ground on the public-private redevelopment of downtown Herndon until early 2020 –sometime after the previously anticipated groundbreaking this year.

The project, which includes a $3.6 million contribution from the town, would create a cultural arts district in the town and a multi-family development with around 273 apartments, 17,000 square feet of retail, an arts center, an arts plaza, and a 787-space parking garage.

At a recent Herndon Town Council meeting, staff indicated that the developer and the town were working through legal agreements on the approved project.

A spokesperson for the town declined to comment on why the groundbreaking was pushed back. A spokesperson for Comstock Partners did not provide comments on the record.

The town’s website states the following as of Monday night:

The following actions are anticipated prior to closing on sale of the 4.675 acres of town-owned land to Comstock, at a date yet to be determined: 1) further agreement to protect town financial interests, as outlined in the Comprehensive Agreement and requiring Town Council approval; 2) application by Comstock to the town’s building official for building permits; and 3) completion by Comstock of its internal processes, in preparation for construction on the project

The 4.7-acre site on which the development would take place is north of Elden Street, east of Center Street, west of Station Street and south of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.

Photo via handout/Town of Herndon

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