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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Plans for the redevelopment of downtown Herndon were officially withdrawn in late July following the filing of three appeals from property owners next to the site of the redevelopment effort.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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New Dessert Lounge Offers Mix of Indian and American Sweets

When Krishna Vooturi, an Ashburn resident originally from India, contemplated ideas for a new dessert business, he knew he wanted to bring a taste of Southeast Asia to Herndon. With the help of his brother-in-law and friend, Vooturi, he opened a new dessert spot on 348 Elden Street on Friday, July 27.

The shop, Dessert Lounge, offers a mix of Thai rolled ice cream, sundaes, crepes, and milkshakes. But the featured item is falooda, a cold dessert popular in India and Pakistan. The light pink dessert includes traditional ice cream, rose syrup, vermicelli, chia seeds and milk.

In contrast to its name, Dessert Lounge will offer hot beverages like coffee, sandwiches, and burgers to remain viable in the winter and for those craving a hot bite, according to Vooturi.

For the falooda and the traditional ice cream, also known as kulfi, he uses a popular brand in India and in the United States called Kwality. Ice cream flavors range from Indian-inspired items like rose petal and lychee to more typical flavors like tiramisu and vanilla.

“I personally am a big fan of falooda and I haven’t seen a lot of specialized places here. It’s a good opportunity to bring unique flavors to this place and have different people try different tastes,” he said.

Photos by Fatimah Waseem

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Friday Morning Notes

Search for missing endangered man — Local police are searching for a 78-year-old missing man who may be driving a black Mercedez Benz with tags WNX-6310. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Sully’s Pour House to reopen — After its roof collapsed at 754 Elden Street, Sully’s Pour House announced it plans to reopen on July 20. [Sully’s Pour House]

Stateside: A clear pipeline — “The Virginia Supreme Court has upheld, for the third time, a hotly debated state law allowing natural gas companies to enter private property without landowner permission to survey possible routes for new pipelines.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

Photo by Keith Hartke

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Revitalization of South Elden Street Area in Herndon Planned

Town of Herndon officials are seeking the public feedback as the town works to revitalize the South Elden Street area, a corridor that runs along Elden Street from Worldgate Drive to Sterling Road.

Officials plan to present what they described as a “moderate scale” redevelopment plan for the area at a meeting today (June 26) at 7 p.m. in the Town of Herndon Council Chambers (765 Lynn Street).

Ideas on how to revitalize the corridor are requested, including whether or not older properties in the area should be redeveloped and the desired mix of retail, residential, office and other uses.

Last year, the town jumpstarted an initiative to create a plan for the commercial corridor between Herndon Parkway and Sterling Road. In 2015, an amendment to the town’s comprehensive plan called for making improvements to South Elden Street. Possible changes include creating a shared use path for bicycles and pedestrians, dedicated turn lanes, a raised median, updated pedestrian signals and the placement of overhead wires underground.

If funding sources are received, the town could begin designing the project in 2024. A conceptual plan of improvements and the preliminary application for improvements has not been made public yet.

A public hearing is set before the Planning Commission on July 2 and August 6.

Photo via Town of Herndon

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Thursday Morning Notes

Local start-up secures funding –– Real Time Cases, an educational technology startup, has raised $3.5 million and plans to move into a new 3,000-square-foot headquarters in 13461 Sunrise Valley Drive. The company offers courses in management, marketing, finance and hospitality. [Washington Business Journal]

Beware of coyotes — A small dog was attacked and killed by a coyote in the Parklawn community. Police advise that coyote and dog confrontations are more likely during coyote mating season, which occurs between January and March, and when coyotes care for their young, which happens between March and August. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Fairfax County Police help with Ellicott City disaster response — After the second major flood in three years hit downtown Ellicott City in Maryland, local police have mobilized to help with recovery. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Dollars and sense tonight — A guest speaker, Mr. Jack Zarinsky of the Society for Financial Awareness (SOFA). Mr. Zarinsky will be discussing investing to support financial goals and strategies for successful retirement at Reston Regional Library. [Reston Regional Library]

Stateside: Budget bills pass — “After months of inaction, Virginia’s General Assembly passed a budget Wednesday that expands Medicaid to around 300,000 low-income Virginians. The House voted 67-31 Wednesday night to send the two-year budget bill to the governor, and 68-30 to send the “caboose” bill to the governor that the Senate approved earlier in the day.” [WTOP]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Friday Morning Notes

The jobs forecast — Unemployment remains below three percent in Fairfax County. [Fairfax County Government]

Thoroughly Modern Millie — Dive into the height of the jazz age in New York City with “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” Reston Community Players’ next play. The performance, based on the 1967 award-winning film, will run from April 20 through May 12 at Reston Community Center’s CenterStage. [Reston Community Center]

Pet sitting galore — Pooch Pros officially celebrating its grand opening yesterday. The business offers pet sitting services in the local area, including in Reston. [Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce]

No kidding — Registration for the 8th annual Reston Kids Triathlon is now open. The event is set for August 5 at 8 a.m.. [Reston Kids Triathlon]

Photo by Gail Crockett

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Tomorrow: Grand Opening for Herndon Pet Sitting Company

A local pet sitting company that offers services for Herndon, Reston, Sterling and Ashburn, will celebrate its grand opening tomorrow (April 17) at 2:30 p.m. in front of Herndon’s Old Town Hall.

Pooch Pros Pet Care Services is owned by Herndon resident Cyndie Anderson.

Anderson, who has lived in Northern Virginia for 21 years, left her corporate job in 2000 to stay at home with her two stepdaughters. She opened her business after becoming an empty nester.

She owns two fur babies: a 14-year-old mixed breed and a nine-year-old Maltese.

The business is licensed, bonded and insured through Business Insurers of the Carolinas and Travelers Insurance, according to its website. A reception will follow the ribbon-cutting ceremony at ArtSpace Herndon (750 Center Street).

Photo via Pooch Pros

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Wednesday Morning Notes

A bedroom community awakens — A look at how younger people are leaving cities and settling in communities like Reston. [U.S. News & World Report]

For job seekers — Reston Association has officially posted a job listing as it continues to search for a new CEO after Cate Fulkerson’s sudden departure from the position this year. [Association Career]

So[lar] awesome — Virginia’s capacity to generate solar electricity is expected to triple over the next year. Can the Commonwealth handle that power? [WTOP]

Going mobile — Joining the rest of the digital world, Metro plans to enable customers to pay for trips by using a mobile device next year. Of course, there isn’t an app for that (yet). [WMATA]

$20 million for Expel — The cybersecurity startup based in Herndon has raised the funds led by a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. Funds will fuel the company’s product development and go-to market efforts.  [Washington Business Journal]

Photo by Lauren Pinkston

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Friday Morning Notes

Metro from the future — Future SmarTrip options may include key fobs and stickers. For now, hang on to those cards. [WTOP]

Cycling on down memory lane — Green Lizard Cycling in downtown Herndon celebrated its fifth anniversary this month. Congrats from your neighbors! [The Connection]

Only going up from here — The population is booming in Northern Virginia but shrinking in many rural localities. You’ll never guess where Reston falls in the mix. [Capital News Service]

Young at art — High school artists explore the theme of “becoming” at the Greater Reston Arts Center’s new exhibition. [Fairfax County Times]

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Town of Herndon Seeks Feedback from Citizens and Businesses

Town of Herndon officials are seeking feedback from residents and business on satisfaction with town services and programs through next month.

The town is working with Priority Metrics Group, a market research and consulting firm based in South Carolina, to seek opinions on the conditions of streets and parks, satisfaction with special events, amenities, and town facilities.

Surveys of businesses will be conducted in the same time frame and will include questions on the town’s commercial sector.

Citizens will be randomly selected for the telephone survey and results will be presented to the HerndonTown Council and on the town’s websiteThe last citizen survey was conducted nearly four years ago.

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Thursday Morning Notes

Public Hearing on Assisted Living Facility on Sunrise Valley Drive Today —  The Fairfax County Planning Commission will hear public testimony on the Kensington Senior Development project on 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive. The plan calls for a 91-unit assisted living facility in a space currently occupied by a child care center. To sign up to testify at the hearing, visit the commission’s website.   [Fairfax County Government]

‘Monster Drawing Rally’ and Fundraiser Begins Saturday — More than 50 artists will transform the Greater Reston Arts Center into a working art station at the center’s “Monster Drawing Rally” on Saturday from 1 – 5:30 p.m. udience members can purchase artwork for $75 per piece as it is created. If there are multiple bids for the same piece, a drawing will be used to select the winner of the piece. [Greater Reston Arts Center]

Reston-based Contractor Faces More Board Departures — According to the Washington Business Journal, four members of STG Group Inc.’s board of directors have resigned. The departures come as creditors took over the subsidiary of the contractor because the company defaulted on a previous credit agreement. [Washington Business Journal]

Herndon Family Medicine Celebrates Larger Facility —  The practice held a ribbon cutting ceremony earlier this week to celebrate the opening of a new, larger facility on 381 Elden Street in Herndon. Mayor Lisa Merkel and the Town Council were also present at the ceremony. [Herndon Family Medicine]

Photo courtesy of Herndon Family Medicine

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Herndon Council Strikes Deal with Comstock for Downtown Development Project

The redevelopment of Herndon’s historic center moved forward Tuesday as local lawmakers passed an agreement that would transform nearly 4.7 acres of town-owned land into a mixed use development.

The seven-member Herndon Town Council unanimously approved a comprehensive agreement with Comstock Partners that lays out responsibilities of both parties. Comstock plans to bring 281 residential apartments, 17,600 square feet of retail space, an arts plaza and walkways, an 18,000-square-foot arts center and a 761-space parking garage to the center.

The public-private redevelopment deal states the town will pitch in $3.6 million to help with the redevelopment effort, including $500,000 for environmental remediation, $500,000 for transitional public parking, $250,000 for the relocation of the arts center, $100,000 for culvert repairs and up to $100,000 for any off-site easements. The town will also contribute land purchased for $5.8 million

In return, the developer will provide 339 public parking spaces in the garage, the arts center, an arts work and recreation proffer and $505,000 in proffer funds for town recreational services. The total value of the contributions is roughly $12 million, according to the town.

Construction, which is set to begin in early 2019, is expected to be complete by early 2021. With the green light from the council, the developer must begin designing the project. Once the design is complete, Comstock will submit a site plan to the town for approval and seek design approval from the town’s Heritage Preservation Committee — a process that could take one year.

The 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. The space in question includes municipal parking lots and the home of ArtSpace, as well as the former Stohlman Subaru building on Elden Street.

As the development moves forward, the town plans to work with Comstock on a transitional parking plan. ArtSpace will be relocated off-site during construction of the project. The future of the Herndon Festival is unclear as the festival’s committee will evaluate options for relocation. During construction, parking will either continue to be located on-site or be transitioned to other locations in downtown Herndon. The town will work with Comstock on the transitional parking plan.

In a release, Mayor Lisa Merkel applauded the council’s decision as a major step forward in the redevelopment effort.

“After decades of discussion, vision and planning, the town is thrilled to be moving forward on a project that will revitalize our downtown and solidify Herndon’s position as a 21st century town where history and heritage are integrated into a thoroughly contemporary setting. We are grateful to the citizens, business owners and others with a stake in Herndon’s future who have dedicated so much time and energy to get us to this point, and we look forward to working with Comstock in bringing the town’s vision to reality.”

County officials project the purchase of the property will bring in roughly $300,000 per year from taxes and fees for licenses. The site is currently exempt from property taxes.

For more information about the plans, visit the town’s website.

Image courtesy of Anne Curtis

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Herndon Center Pitched for Amazon’s Second Headquarters — As other jurisdictions make similar bids, local officials will make a combined offer for Amazon’s headquarters to be located on the 26-acre Center for Innovative Technology in Herndon. [Washington Business Journal]

Reston Man Killed in Plane Crash Remembered by Industry — Steven B. Zaboji, who died Saturday in a plane crash near Front Royal, is being remembered as “one of the most iconic manufacturer sales representatives in the consumer electronics industry.” He was the owner of Balaton Marketing, which represented the Yamaha line of electronics and other well-known brands. [Strata-Gee.com]

RA Seeks Volunteers for Halloween Event — Reston Association is looking for volunteers to help with the “Halloween House & Trick-or-Treat Trail,” the Walker Nature Center’s annual Halloween event. The program runs on Oct. 27-28 from 5-9:30 p.m. [Reston Association]

Public Art Reston to Celebrate 10th Anniversary — The nonprofit organization, which formed in 2007, will celebrate its 10th anniversary Nov. 9 with a fundraising event, which will include live music, refreshments, a live auction and a raffle. Public Art Reston’s mission is to inspire a new commitment to public art in order to support community arts and culture in Reston. [Public Art Reston/Facebook]

Registration for Free Disaster-Preparedness Training Open — The Fairfax Fire and Rescue Department is providing free Community Emergency Response Team training, a program that trains residents on disaster response skills like fire safety, light search and rescue and disaster medical operations. The program takes place on Mondays and Wednesdays from Nov. 6 through Dec. 6, from 7-11 p.m. each night. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

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Aslin Beer Will Stay in Herndon, Open New Tasting Room on Elden Street

Tremendous growth threatened Aslin Beer Company‘s future in Herndon, but it has found a new home that will allow it to stay.

The two-year-old brewery will open a new tasting room and bar at 771 Elden St., the former home of Napa Auto Parts, later this year. The new location will feature about 2,500 square feet of interior tasting room space and another 2,500 square feet of outdoor space — including a rooftop deck and bar, bocce ball court, and covered deck.

Kai Leszkowicz, one of Aslin’s co-founders, said they hope to get the new space opened by December, and plan to be open seven days a week.

“It’s basically a project that we started two years ago and have been following through, and now it’s coming to fruition,” Leszkowicz said.

In December 2016, Aslin said that it would be forced to leave the Town of Herndon due to the limitations of its current space at 257 Sunset Park Drive. That location now only offers beer in a “to-go” format, with a handful of new releases dropping each Thursday and sold by the four-pack. For example, today at 3 p.m. it will be offering sales of its Cortes & His Men IPA, Laser Raptors double IPA, How Now Brown Cow milk stout and There Gose The Diet gose.

Mayor Lisa Merkel said that the need to limit operations at the Sunset Park Drive location was due to a ruling by the county’s fire marshal, which occurred because of Aslin’s “incredible success that has resulted in … outgrowing their current location much more quickly than anticipated.”

“Aslin Beer Company is exactly the kind of business Herndon would like to continue to attract,” Merkel said at the time.

Anne Papa Curtis, communications officer for the Town of Herndon, said Thursday that the Town “is excited to welcome Aslin Beer Company into the downtown, and we are working with them to complete town zoning approval processes.”

In a Facebook post earlier this week, the brewery said the new space on Elden Street will “provide a unique environment that encompasses our brand and represents our team.”

Good afternoon everyone! Aslin Beer Co. and its team has been through a lot through the first half of 2017. We have…

Posted by Aslin Beer Company on Monday, July 24, 2017

Aslin will be holding its second anniversary party Saturday, Sept. 16 in the parking lot of the future tasting room, according to the Facebook post. It plans to keep its current space for production only, it says, while also looking for a new production facility.

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