Reston, VA

Walmart Labs is expanding its presence in the Reston area.  The announcement comes as a growing number of technologies — including Microsoft — expand their footprint in the community.

The company’s technology arm has signed to lease establish a new technology center at 2245 Monroe Street, according to the Washington Business Journal.

WBJ also reports that the company will take up roughly 162,300 square-feet of a building owned by an affiliate of Barings Real Estate.

The building, which is located near the Herndon Metro Station, was recently renovated. The company already leases spaces at 10780 Parkridge in Reston.

The move would bring more than 100 jobs to Reston.

Photo courtesy Transwestern

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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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More delays are expected before the 11-mile extension of the Silver Line, which includes stations in Reston Town Center, Herndon, and Innovation Center.

According to a report by NBC 4, officials say its possible trails will not be rolling until 2021.

Service was expected to begin over the summer, but due to delays with electronic testing and deficiencies in concrete panels and other structural components, opening day was pushed to December 2020.

Metro has not yet indicated when it plans to accept the project from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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As Lisa Merkel wraps up her final term as the Town of Herndon’s mayor, she took a moment to reflect and talk to Reston Now about her experiences in office.

Merkel made town history as the first woman elected into the position in 2012 after serving as Herndon’s vice mayor during the 2010-2012 term.

According to Merkel, her decision to not seek re-election wasn’t based on any specific motive, besides a wish to spend time with her family and dedicate more time to volunteering around the community.

“I still plan on being involved in the town,” she told Reston Now.

Merkel told Reston Now her accomplishments include implementation of the Metrorail Expansion Project, the ongoing development of downtown Herndon and the establishment of the Economic Development Department.

“I’m really proud we’ve embraced the business community,” Merkel said, adding that — due to her efforts — the tax rate is now split evenly between residential and commercial incomes.

Many of the local businesses even give back to the community by acting as sponsors for official events like the annual holiday parade, which Merkel said is the largest event of the year.

In a press release, Merkel said her other key achievements include marking June as LGBTQ Pride Month, adding Circulator buses to Herndon Station, providing online and on-demand Town Council meeting access and approving construction plans for a new fire station.

“Sometimes it’s really the smaller things that get attention,” Merkel told Reston Now, adding that small projects make a huge difference in the town and help to develop a sense of place.

She gave examples of adding tables and umbrellas to the Town Square, lights on the W&OD Trail and gateway signs to announce entry into the town. The tables and umbrellas, especially, gave people a fun and welcoming place to gather, she said.

Merkel has faced some roadblocks, though, during her time in office.

She said she had trouble communicating with the public that development projects in the town won’t threaten the small community feel, which she said is at the heart of Herndon’s identity.

“There was a fear that if we started building like that at the Metro station, it would trickle into downtown,” Merkel said. “We had to reassure people that Herndon won’t be a bunch of highrises.”

During her final months in office, Merkel said she hopes to oversee the groundbreaking on the downtown Herndon project and continue to work on installing underground utilities around town.

Going forward, Merkel said she won’t endorse any particular candidate for the upcoming election. But she hopes the next mayor will be an effective listener, willing to consider other perspectives on topics and won’t be afraid to seek counsel on issues they aren’t familiar with.

She encourages anyone passionate about their community to run, regardless of their political experience.

“Don’t mix national policy issues with town issues because we don’t have jurisdiction over those things,” Merkel said. “You don’t want to alienate any of your constituents with issues that don’t relate to the job. That’s been my philosophy.”

Photo via Lisa Merkel

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It’s official: the Herndon Metro Station is nearly complete.

This week, a sign marking the station was installed by Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority officials.

Town of Herndon Mayor Lisa Merkel met with WMATA officials on Monday, August 5 as part of a Silver Line bus tour.

The station is expected to open in July next year.

The town is working with the county to determine new bus routes with the Fairfax Connector once Metro trains are up and running.

Photo via Town of Herndon/Facebook

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a plan Tuesday (July 16) to scale back residential development at Woodland Park Crossing.

The mixed-use development, which has been proposed by NVR, Inc., is located near the future Herndon Metro Station. The developer sought to break up a previously approved 148-unit residential building into four condominiums.

The multi-family building, which had been approved for 210,715 square feet of development, would be divvied up into four, five-story condominiums with 185,000 square feet.

The county board first approved the project in March 2017. The site borders the Dulles Toll Road to the north and Monroe Street to the east. It is owned by Tishman Speyer.

Woodland Park Crossing is currently under construction.

Photo via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Todd Hitt, the CEO of Kiddar Capital, a Falls Church asset management firm, will serve a 6 1/2 year prison sentence for securities fraud.

His family will pay $20 million to investors Hitt defrauded, including $17 million he secured from investors to purchase a five-story office building next to the future Herndon Metro Station.

Earlier this year, Hitt admitted that he lied to friends and investors to secure investments for his firm and other Northern Virginia real estate projects.

Here’s more from the office of U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger:

The investments included Hitt’s solicitation of approximately $17 million from investors in order to purchase a five-story office building adjacent to a planned future stop on the Silver Line in Herndon. Hitt made false statements and material omissions to investors by failing to disclose that a significant portion of the monies raised were commingled with other unrelated investment projects, used for personal spending to support an extravagant lifestyle and new investor’s funds used to pay off old investors in a Ponzi-like scheme. Hitt’s fraudulent conduct resulted in investor losses of approximately $20 million.

According to the Washington Post, Hitt acknowledged that he used money from new investors to pay off earlier ones while “buying himself jewelry, sports tickets and vacations on private jets.” He donated money to charities in “hopes of boosting his image as a developer,” the report stated.

Hitt has forfeited his Arlington home as part of his plea deal.

Photo via Kiddar Capital

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It’s official: Herndon’s Metro Square development at 23 Silver Drive next to the planned Herndon Metro Station is now complete.

All units in the project, which includes four buildings with 64 total condo units, are move-in ready, according to Soledad Portilla, Stanley Martin Homes’ land acquisition manager.

Portilla told Reston Now that the company expects to be completely sold out next month.

The developer still needs to complete infrastructure improvements like installing a final layer of pavement on the roads, some pavers, final touches on pocket parts, and some sidewalks, Portilla said.

Photos via Stanley Martin Homes

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A 4.2-square mile town once blanketed by dairy farms is poised for remaking as the oncoming train approaches next year. And much of that remaking is in the hands of eight property owners whose nine parcels eclipse to create a crescent at the door of the future Metro station on 12530 Sunrise Valley Drive.

So far, the parcels, which have slowly slipped into suburban malaise, are relics of what town officials hope will soon be a bygone era. But if the pace of development thus far is any indication, it’s no surprise that Stanley Martin’s residential project, called Metro Square (625 Herndon Parkway), was the first to break ground. It is now nearing completion and prices for two-to-three bedroom condos start from $519,000.

It wasn’t until earlier this month that the kind of project that planning officials hoped will help remake the town got the necessary approvals to move forward by the county.

A major development came this week: Nearly four years after Penzance first submitted plans, the company is moving forward with redeveloping a stodgy office building into an urban block with retail, a garage, a mid-rise residential building, a high rise residential tower and a high rise office tower. A total of 475 residential units will be built.

Town officials and developers hope the Penzance project will set the stage for an unprecedented volume of high density development. A revised application by Quadrangle, the owners of the land to the east of Metro known as Fairbrook, is also expected in the coming weeks. The low-intensity project would bring a mixed-use center to the greenfield area. Not much of it is developable due to the presence of flood plain and resource protection areas.

Still, even as phase two of the Silver Line opens next year, the development contemplated by the Town of Herndon’s transit-oriented plan will live its full glory on paper for now. Dennis Holste, the town’s economic development manager, says the area slated for major transit-oriented development — the Herndon Transit-Oriented Core (HTOC) — will likely be built out by 2035.

Given the stagnant demand for office space — a woe whisking its way down phase two of the Silver Line — Holste says residential development is likely to go in first. He predicts the office sector will pick up as new tenants enter the market. Big names like Google — which recently announced plans to move into Reston Station — would be major game changers.

Bracing for impact

The slow place of development could mean more time to manage growing pains. Already, congested roads and overcrowded schools are a concern. A major $105 million renovation of Herndon High School is nearing completion.

Most public amenities are planned on the Fairfax County side of the station, which has an entrance between 575 and 593 Herndon Parkway. The other side is privately owned. The Virginia Department of Transportation is leading an effort to redesign Spring Street between Fairfax County Parkway and Herndon Parkway. Planning officials are now looking into buying the right-of-way needed to make the project possible.

Following that project, a redesign of Elden Street is planned. Though off the path of Metro, officials hope pedestrian connections and the reputation of a redeveloped downtown will bring riders to the area. Pull-off areas are also planned along Herndon Parkway near the Metro station to allows cars to pull off from traffic and pick up or drop off commuters.

The town is also working with the Fairfax Connector to add bus routes to “make certain that as many people as possible have access to bus service to Metro.” said Lisa Gilleran, the town’s director of community development.

‘Not another Tysons’

In county meetings, town officials often stress that the Town of Herndon will not be another Tysons or another Reston after the Silver Line weaves itself into the town’s fabric.

So what will the character of the area surrounding Herndon’s Metro station be? Most officials hope the area’s small town vibe will remain preserved.

“Unique in Northern Virginia, Herndon has an historic downtown with an authentic “sense of place” within one mile of the metro station; this complements the higher density alternatives available around our metro station. Factor in other parts of Herndon, such as our vision for the South Elden area, and Herndon is uniquely positioned to offer existing and prospective businesses several options for growth and development,” Holste said.

Much of that character could come from a wide promenade that will greet riders as they exit Metro and extend up to Herndon Parkway. The pedestrian-friendly gateway hasn’t been designed yet. Town officials hope to pay tribute to Herndon’s history by including signs about the area’s significance.

Gilleran also says that much of Herndon’s uniqueness could come from having a mix of developers create an urban block.

“Individual developers will build each of these blocks, whereas in some cases, one developer will own more than 38 acres,” Gilleran said. “We’re trying to weave independent development into a fabric that gives you a sense of wholeness. We’re creating the pallet.”

They also plan to put in a raised cycle track along Herndon Parkway in lieu of putting bike lines in the street.

Much remains up in the air. The town is planning to jumpstart discussions about an area slated for transit-related growth – also known as the TRG – beyond the auspices of Metro. That process, which would set development goals for around 100 acres north of the downtown core, could begin as early as the summer.

Photo via Town of Herndon/Handout

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Thursday Morning Notes

Reston Association Volunteer Service Awards Next Week — “Two individuals were named as Volunteers of the Year. Doug Britt, who has been instrumental in collecting environmental data, and Cindy Metcalf, who coordinates and leads class instruction on how to start a garden, both won the top honor.” [Reston Association]

Penzance’s Plans for 555 Herndon Parkway — The District-based developer is out with new renderings for its planned development just one tenth of a mile away from the entrance of Herndon Metro Station. [Town of Herndon Government]

Community Emergency Response Guide — The new guide offers tips on how community partners and neighbors should collaborate during an emergency.  [Fairfax County Government]

Photo by Joe Heflin

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Drivers will have their Herndon-Monroe parking relocated to the new garage starting next week as work continues in preparation for the new Herndon Metro station.

The existing parking garage will close next Monday (April 8) for a few months as it undergoes changes. Parking will get relocated to the first, second and third levels of the new garage, which is almost done with construction, according to Fairfax County.

Ridesharing pickup and drop-off will also get moved to the first level of the new garage.

Access to eastbound Dulles Toll Road from the parking facility is scheduled to resume in late April after toll booth renovation is done.

Until then, drivers will need to take a detour onto Sunrise Valley Drive via the Fairfax County Parkway.

Photos via Fairfax County

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A residential project at the Reston Arboretum could break ground by the end of this year.

Pulte Homes’ plans are currently going through the final process with Fairfax County to obtain platted lots and grading permits, Julie Pulliam, a spokeswoman for Pulte, told Reston Now.

Pulte expects that process to be completed by the end of this year, which will then mark the start of the land development process, Pulliam said.

The project now calls for 40 townhomes instead of the originally planned 44 single-family attached residential units and a parking garage, Pulliam said. Model units are expected to open in late 2020. Pricing for the townhomes has not been finalized yet, Pulliam added.

The four-story office building currently there will remain on the property at 12700 Sunrise Valley Drive, which is less than half of mile away from the future Herndon Metro station.

The project does not have an estimated completion date yet, Pulliam said.

Image via Google Maps

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Woodland Park Crossing in Herndon may be facing some current turnover, but change is certainly nothing new for the area.

Fairfax County’s Historic Imagery Viewer shows aerial photography of the county dating back to 1937, and photography over the Woodland Park area shows the very familiar story of the area’s residential, then commercial, expansion over the last thirty years.

Even through the 1980s, there was very little new development in the Woodland Park area. Most of the area, aside from one residential development to the west, remained open fields. But by the 1990s, new residential development near the Stratton Woods Park began to grow further west.

By the early 2000s, residential developments had begun to completely fill the area south of Sunrise Valley Drive, accelerated by the growth of the McNair Farms community to the southwest. Throughout the 2000s, the new residential development spurred the creation of new retail and industrial spaces north of Sunrise Valley Drive.

And more changes are still ahead for the Woodland Park area, with the Herndon Silver Line Metro station under construction just to the northeast of the site, spurring new planned mixed-use development for an area that thirty years ago was mostly open fields.

For more Reston Then and Now stories, check out our coverage of:

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New townhomes are popping up in Herndon’s Metro Square development at 23 Silver Driveway next to the planned Herndon Metro Station.

Construction is currently underway on Stanley Martin’s two-over-two townhouse development. The project includes four buildings with 64 total condo units, according to the Town of Herndon.

Metro Square offers two different floor plans: a 2,550-square-foot, upper-level condo with three bedrooms or a 1,524-square-foot, lower-level condo with two bedrooms. Both types feature two levels of living space, private garages, kitchens, suites with large walk-in closets, bedroom-level stacked laundry and attached decks.

The Preston at 625 Herndon Pkwy is “move-in-ready,” according to Stanley Martin’s website. Its 2,550-square-foot condos cost $619,990.

Metro Square is across the street from Haley M. Smith Park.

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Potential receiver to handle Kiddar Capital assets — “The Securities and Exchange Commission has asked the judge in the civil case against real estate developer Todd Hitt to appoint Richmond attorney Bruce Matson as receiver for Hitt’s development and investment operations, according to a new motion filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.” [Washington Business Journal]

Are you listening — The third listening session with Reston Association’s Board of Directors is on for tonight. Caren Anton, the director of the Dogwood and Hunters Woods district, will listen to your questions and concerns. [Reston Association]

And Metro is too — bus passengers are encouraged to take part in a survey that will help determine funding allocations for different jurisdictions. [Washington Metropolitan Area Authority]

Photo by Caroline Rapking

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