Slide from presentation about redeveloping the Transit-Related Growth Area in Herndon (via Town of Herndon)

(Updated 7/19/21) The Town of Herndon and developers eyeing land near the soon-to-be opened Metro station agree that the area could be better prepared for the transit system’s arrival, but funding for an effort to determine what that future should look like remains a question.

The Herndon Town Council dipped a toe into that debate during a work session on Tuesday (July 6) with a discussion about redeveloping what’s known as the Transit-Related Growth Area (TRG).

That’s the area located between Herndon Parkway and the Dulles Toll Road. Just north of the immediate Herndon Transit-Oriented Core (HTOC), it sits within a walkable distance of a quarter to half mile away from the Herndon Metro station.

Currently, the area is made up of aging office flex space with lower density. There’s no mixed-use or residential development, and it’s all car-dependent.

“The uses there don’t match the arrival and benefits of mass transit,” Herndon Director of Community Development Lisa Gilleran said.

Recently, the town council was approached by the property owners seeking to assist in redeveloping this area into something more transit-oriented.

“They want to see what they can or can’t do,” Town Manager Bill Ashton said. “Property owners are hungry to know what they can see happen there.”

This could include the introduction of higher-density, mixed-use development as well as more housing and a greater focus on transit. Redevelopment would generate more revenue for Herndon, help cut dependence on fossil fuels, and make it more equitable for people without cars.

According to the town, the first step in the process is to conduct a TRG small area plan study to determine the best and most practical use of the area. The study will factor in current constraints (like the single-family homes that abut one side of the TRG), what traffic would look like, how it would impact infrastructure, and equity needs.

Consultants would need to be hired due to the town’s lack of capacity and staff to conduct such a study.

This could cost a “significant investment” of between $450,000 to $550,000, according to town staff.

There are a number of ways that this study could be paid for: out of the town’s reserves, by the property owners in a “blind system,” or a hybrid of both.

The “blind system” would have the property owners and developers pay for the study, while enabling the town to select and direct the consultant. This would give the town some say in the process, but allow the developers to stop payment if development doesn’t happen on an agreed-upon timeline.

“[The developers’] limitation is tied to the timeline. It’s not ‘oh, we don’t like what the design is,'” said Gilleran.

Both Alexandria and Arlington have used this system with success, according to town officials.

Ashton admits that this process should have started “two years ago,” but other priorities, like planning and improvement efforts on South Elden Street, and the pandemic got in the way.

The town council didn’t make any decisions Tuesday night, but members asked for more information about how neighboring jurisdictions used the “blind system” and ways to ensure that whatever development happens remains in the best interest of Herndon.

The council seemed to lean towards supporting a blind system and having the property owners pay for the consultant.

As of the moment, the plan is to proceed incrementally, start developing a request for proposals for consultants, and circle back on the discussion (and a decision) on how to cover the costs when the council meets in August.

The Herndon Metro station and the rest of Silver Line Phase 2 was initially supposed to open in 2018, before eventually getting pushed to early 2022. Now, even that opening date could be delayed again.

Screenshot via Town of Herndon

Updated the story to reflect it was Lisa Gilleran, Herndon’s director of Community Development, who spoke. 

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The Town of Herndon is considering plans to reconfigure a new traffic signal along Herndon Parkway at Sunset Park Drive in order to access Sunset Business Park.

In the town’s proposed capital improvement program for fiscal years 2022 through 2027, the town is considering realigning the current intersection to include new street lighting, signals for bikes and pedestrians, crosswalks, and cycle tracks.

The changes are expected to improve the safety of the area and traffic circulation between Herndon Parkway and Sunset Business Park.

So far, roughly 75,000 in funding from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority has been allocated for preliminary engineering and administrative tasks. The project is expected to cost at least 700,000.

Future funding will likely be received through the Virginia Department of Transportation’s revenue sharing program. Construction is expected to be completed in fiscal year 2025.

Because of limited funding due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the town has preliminary identified four priority projects for funding, including minor sidewalks, trails and bicycle facility improvements, the replacement of a fuel tank in the town shop, and the expansion of a police service room.

The town’s Planning Commission is set to review the proposal at a meeting on Feb. 22. 

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The Town of Herndon’s plans for major upgrades to an 0.5-mile stretch from Old Spring Street to Herndon Parkway along Van Buren Street have been delayed.

The project, which would add curb-and-gutter, widen travel lanes to 11 feet, and add bike lanes in each direction, was originally set to be complete by the winter of this year. Now, the timeline is being revised.

Utility relocation, which was originally set to be completed by the end of 2020, will likely take place by March, according to Richard Smith, the town’s engineer on the project. The town is currently working on creating a revising project schedule for all contractors, he said, noting that utility relocation contractors have been delayed for ‘various reasons.

‘This is all contingent on the private contractors completing the relocation and the subsequent authorization by VDOT to allow the town to bid the project for construction,’ Smith told Reston Now in a statement.

Once completed, the project will also relocate overhead utility poles, add crosswalks and signals at Alabama Drive, upgrade stormwater management facilities, and add five-foot-wide sidewalks.

During the construction phase of the project, the town expects the asphalt pedestrian trail along Van Buren Street to be closed to pedestrian and bicycle traffic from Spring Street Park to Aspen Drive.

Originally, the town estimated construction would begin in the fall of 2019 or early winter of 2020.

Photo via handout/Town of Herndon

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Stanley Martin is proposing to redevelop four office buildings on 1145 Herndon Parkway into a mix of townhouses and two-over-twos.

The development would include two buildings — a three-story townhouse community and a four-story two-over-two condominium building. Two open space areas are planned on the east edge of the site along Herndon Parkway along with a centralized park.

So far, the company has submitted a zoning map amendment to the Town of Herndon. But before town’s Planning Commission can review the proposal, the company’s plans for architecture and open space will go before the Architectural Review Board.

The ARB will evaluate the plan after conducting a work session today (Wednesday). The report will be used to guide the commission’s review of the proposed application.

If the commission approves the plan, the Herndon Town Council will take a vote. After this process, a final site plan review is conducted by the ARB.

In May 29 memo, town staff noted that it needs more information to provide a comprehensive review of the application.

Still, staff noted that the architecture of the proposed buildings is “superficial and suburban in nature.” Overall, the townhouses are “typical of a 1980’s and 1990’s suburban residential design and less representative of modern-day urban design solutions.”

Staff also noted that the proposed design utilizes starkly different materials that does not create a “legible rhythm” with the rest of the site.

An ARB work session is planned for today (Wednesday) at 7:30 p.m. Information on how to view the online meeting is available online.

Photo via handout/Town of Herndon

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Friday Morning Notes

Victim Assaulted by Four Suspects — A man was assaulted by four individuals as he was walking alone along the 1200 block of Herndon Parkway on Oct. 23. The incident is under investigation. [Herndon Police Department]

Reston District Station Collects Drugs for Take Back Day — The station collected 13 bags and 145 pounds of drugs during the 18th annual drug take back day on Saturday, Oct. 26. Franconia collected the most pounds of drugs, with Reston ranking fourth in the number of donations. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Photo via Flickr/vantagehill

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Land acquisition is underway to make way for major improvements to Van Buren Street from Spring Street to Herndon Parkway. But permission from five property owners for necessary easements and land acquisition is pending to allow the $4.6 million project to proceed.

Planned improvements are envisioned as a critical link between downtown Herndon and the Herndon Metro Station ahead of its expected opening in July next year.

The Herndon Town Council plans to vote on plans to seize the properties through eminent domain. So far, property owners have rejected the town’s proposals to buy easements based on the unit price of the real estate:

Town planners attempted to use existing right-of-way as much as possible in order to minimize land acquisition needs.

Planning for the project began in December 2011. If land acquisition and utility relocation is completed by the end of this year, construction is expected to begin in spring 2020.

Construction, which is expected to cost $3.7 million of the overall $4.6 million price tag — would be complete by fall next year.

The project includes 11-foot wide travel lanes, on-road bike lanes in each direction from Spring Street to Senate Court, an off-road cycle track in both directions from Senate Court to Herndon Parkway, five-foot-wide sidewalks, and a new traffic signal at the Alabama Drive intersection.

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Monday Morning Notes

South Lakes High School to Begin Distributing Laptops — Distribution of laptops provided by the school system begins this Wednesday (August 7). Students must be present to receive the laptop, which is part of a recent initiative by the school system to give laptops to students across the county. [South Lakes High School]

Police Search for Missing Great Falls Man — Local police are looking for William “Billy Brener, an 83-year-old Great Falls Man who went missing over the weekend. Brener is roughly 150 pounds and has gray hair and brown eyes. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Silver Line Construction Prompts Closures — Access to several lanes and ramps will be limited this week due to ongoing construction, including Sunrise Valley Drive, Sunset Hills Road, and Herndon Parkway. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Photo by Caroline Causey/Flickr

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A major project to widen Elden Street from four to six lanes between Herndon Parkway and Fairfax County Parkway will likely break ground in early 2023.

The project is expected to cost roughly $51 million, including $6 million for preliminary engineering, $20 million for right of way acquisition and utility relocation, and nearly $25 million for construction.

A spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Transportation said that the state is currently in the process of right of way acquisition. Construction could begin sooner if additional funding becomes available.

The project area — which is around one mile — would bring bike lanes from Monroe Street to Herndon Parkway. It also includes cycle tracks from Herndon Parkway to Fairfax County Parkway — which combine the infrastructure of a separated path and on-street infrastructure with a conventional bike lane.

Culverts over Sugarland Run will be replaced, along with a new bridge to improve stream flow and reduce potential flooding. So far, the project is on track.

Map via VDOT/website

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