Reston, VA

In an attempt to embrace the new normal, Herndon co-working space Office Evolution (205 Van Buren Street Suite) made serious changes around the facility that are intended to keep people safe as they return to an office environment.

Martin Gruszka, the location’s owner, said that he only lost around 5 percent of total revenue because of COVID-19. The remainder of his 120 customers is slowly preparing to return.

To maintain his customer base, while the COVID-19 pandemic shut down many non-essential businesses, Gruszka allowed people to freeze their memberships for three months so they wouldn’t have to pay for space they couldn’t use.

Gruszka said he worked through the last months to institute “’emergency operation” procedures to keep tenants safe.

Changes include:

  • thinning out seats in board rooms
  • getting rid of certain furniture items
  • spreading out desk
  • putting up whiteboards between workspaces that act as dividers
  • creating “sanitation stations” that offer cleaning products and hand sanitizer
  • putting up traffic direction signs
  • UV air sterilization systems

In addition to all the layout changes, Gruszka said that crews are coming in more frequently to dee-clean common areas in the space as well.

Though the co-working space didn’t host many virtual events because Gruszka said people didn’t really find value in them, he also said that the staff at the space work to create a welcoming “family” environment.

“We’ve had some networking groups that have been using our center,” he said.

As a national chain, Office Evolutions has locations around the United States and typically caters to mid-career adults who want a quiet, mature space to work, according to Gruszka.

To help its members, Office Evolution has used social media to promote things like small business loans, safety information, and other ways to help stay afloat during this crisis, Gruszka said.

Photos courtesy Office Evolution

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When Metro stations started shutting down and people grew uncertain about other modes of public transit after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Green Lizard Cycling co-owner Beth Meyer said that people turned to cycling for their transportation needs.

Green Lizard Cycling, a locally owned Herndon-based business that is known for customizable bicycles and an on-site cafe, has been out of family-style and entry-level road bikes for over a month, according to Meyer.

“Instantly out commuter base tripled at least,” she said, adding that this has been the case for almost all locally owned bike stores.

“Everyone all over the country has sold out their bicycles basically,” according to Meyer. “You can still get high-end road bikes and mountain bikes but I don’t think we have a bike under $1,400 right now.”

To make up for the shortage, people have been bringing older, antiquated bikes in for repair, Meyer said, adding the shop also asked suppliers if they’d consider releasing their 2021 models earlier.

She said that the vendors agreed to move up their release dates and people can expect new lines to appear in the store by mid-July.

Because of high demand for service, anyone who brings in a bicycle for repair should expect longer wait times, she said.

As of Sunday (June 14) the average wait time for a typical repair at Green Lizard is about 10 days but Meyer said that she’s heard that some weeks backlogged by seven weeks.

Since many shops around the area are experiencing similar trends, the bicycle shop supports each other whenever possible by trading parts.

Despite the wait, Meyer asked that customers be patient with the shop and mechanics — since they’ve never seen demand like this and are working diligently to fill requests.

People are nervous about the pandemic and uncertain about the future, she said, adding that everyone processes these emotions differently and it can lead to inpatient and agitated customers.

Online reviews have dipped because new customers are frustrated that sometimes the shop has to source parts from across the country to fit niche needs — which takes time, according to Meyer.

“We want to do the work and we want to do it correctly,” she said. “If you’re going down a hill at a high speed, that’s your life in our mechanic’s hands. Our guys take that very seriously.”

Since the shop’s founding seven years ago, Meyer said that most of the shop’s mechanics have worked there since the beginning and are extremely knowledgeable.

One of the techs was once on the Brazilian Olympic Cycling Team and another mechanic worked for the US Paralympics, US Olympic Team and UnitedHealthcare Professional Women’s Cycling Team.

“It’s been such a crazy time for us,” Meyer said. “Don’t get frustrated with your local bike shop. We are trying our best.”

For those hoping to get outdoors and beat the “depression doldrums that 2020 is causing,” cycling is a great option, according to Meyer, who added that there is a great regional community for cyclists in the area.

Photo via Green Lizard Cycling/Facebook

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Friday Morning Notes

Car Rally in Herndon Yesterday Evening — Local residents gathered in the Town of Herndon for a car rally in support of the black community and justice. The event was titled, “Justice for Black Lives” and was organized by local community organizers. Close t0 200 cars took part. [Ibrahim Samirah]

What’s Next in the COVID-19 Response — The county’s epidemiology and population health director says residents needs to continue practicing “protective behaviors which includes social distancing, wearing face coverings and good hand hygiene.” [Fairfax County Government]

Herndon Girl Scouts Bake Friendship Bread — “While many Fairfax County students have been stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic trying to keep themselves from being bored, a troop of Herndon Girl Scouts have been busy doing something positive for the community. The eight girls of Cadette Troop 1105 are participating in what they call the “Cinnamon Bread Project,” baking loaves of cinnamon bread for LINK, which provides emergency food and financial assistance for people in need.” [Reston Patch]

Reston Community Center Issues Statement on Racism — “During these troubled and troubling times, Reston Community Center recommits our leadership, staff and resources to work that is antiracist, equity-driven, accessible and meaningful in the pursuit of our mission and vision. We pledge ourselves to learning from and listening to the voices of black people and all minorities experiencing racism.” [Reston Community Center]

Photo via Deborah Smith Reilly/Facebook

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As Northern Virginia enters phase one of the reopening plan, Town of Herndon restaurants are starting to reopen with social distance guidelines.

Per Gov. Ralph Northam’s order, people must be at least six feet apart and restaurants can allow dining at 50 percent of their indoor capacity.

Unlike the rest of the county, local businesses had to apply for permits to allow temporary outdoor dining. Many businesses received approval from the town to expand outdoor seating over the weekend.

Taste of the World, which serves a variety of Phillipino, Indian, Thai and other cuisines, is open from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Saturdays, according to the Facebook page.

Russia House Restaurant announced on its Facebook page that it also reopened for outdoor dining. The location offers covered seating for guests and will continue to serve traditional Russian fare according to the eatery’s website.

It is open on Mondays from 5:30 to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. until 10 p.m., Saturdays from 5:30 p.m. and Sundays from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m., the Facebook page said.

Other restaurants and brewhouses that are approved by Town of Herndon to open up for outdoor seating include:
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After Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon lost income from visitors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a fundraiser is working to provide care for the animals.

The park, known around the community as a public, livestock-friendly facility, offers classes and camps for kids, has an on-site equestrian center and hosts field trips and similar events, according to Fairfax County.

But since the annual Farm Day, which was scheduled to take place (May 2), was canceled, people are rallying to make up for this significant source of income, according to the fundraiser page.

Roughly 100 animals live on the property, according to Yvonne Johnson, the manager of Frying Pan Farm Park.

Community members have donated $27,062 of the $30,000 that is required yearly to feed the animals living on the property, the page said, adding that the budget to feed the animals doesn’t come from Fairfax County. Friends of Frying Pan Farm Park is hosting the fundraiser.

“The Friends of Frying Pan Farm Park own the farm animals and contribute significantly to the cost of their feed and care,” the fundraising page said. “The Park Authority operates and staffs Frying Pan Farm Park.”

The $30,000 includes things like vet bills, equipment to grow food and other necessities, according to Johnson.

Despite the revenue loss, the animals are still well cared for and “having babies left and right,” Johnson said, but added that the animals and the staff are missing the typical interaction from guests.

Since Northern Virginia started the first reopening phase that is easing COVID-19 restrictions, Johnson said that the parking lots and trails are open for visitors who want to view the animals from the “peripheral fields.”

On the donation page, one contributor commented: “Visited there many times when my son was growing up. It is a part of our community. Love the 4-H Fair and the concerts.” A kids’ book has even been written about the center and its relation to the area’s history.

As of today, 322 people have contributed to the fundraiser. It will run for another 30 days in case anyone would still like to donate.

Photo via Friends of Frying Pan Park/Facebook

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Updated at 12:15 p.m. on May 28 —  Though no one was injured, three people were displaced by the fire. 

Fire crews brought a townhouse fire under control yesterday afternoon in Herndon, according to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.

Units that first arrived on scene reported signs of fire from the two-story building at 13300 Schwenger Place.

Crews worked to extinguish the fire. No injuries were reported.

Photo via Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Twitter

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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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Fairfax County police are investigating a shooting that they say took place in front of a 7-Eleven in Herndon early Thursday (May 7) morning.

After receiving a report for possible gunshots, police said that they found out that a man was being treated for a non-serious gunshot wound at a local hospital.

“Further investigation determined the shooting took place in front of [13190 Parcher Avenue],” police said, adding that the front of the 7-Eleven at that address was damaged.

Police also said that they found several shell casings in the area.

The case is currently an active investigation, according to police. Anyone who has information can contact the police department at 703-246-7800

File photo

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A new elementary school in Herndon that will open in August officially has a new name.

The Fairfax County School Board voted last week to name the new elementary school on the existing McNair Elementary School campus.

The new building, which will serve students from third to sixth grade, will be called McNair Upper Elementary School. The existing building,  which will serve students from pre-K through second grade, will be called McNair Elementary School.

The school system reached out to the community earlier this year to seek comment on possible names for the new school.

Here’s more from FCPS on the process:

In accordance with FCPS Regulation 8170.8, a one-month period of public comment was held beginning January 29, and a community meeting was held on February 19 to solicit name suggestions from the community. Community members also had the opportunity to submit recommendations and feedback via an email link. A public hearing was held on February 20 and, after compiling feedback from stakeholders, Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand recommended on March 5 that the School Board name the new facility McNair Upper Elementary School, the most frequently suggested name by stakeholders. The recommended name aligns with other FCPS paired schools, such as Fort Belvoir Upper and Bailey’s Upper.

Enrollment at the current elementary school has increased steadily from 897 in 2001 to 1,342 in 2016. The new school is intended to relieve current overcrowding at McNair Elementary School.

Image via Google Maps

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Fitness studios in Reston and Herndon are among the locally-owned businesses struggling with the loss of revenue after they were forced to shut down because of the pandemic.

Several studio owners told Reston Now that they saw a dramatic decrease in revenue after they decided to offer a membership service payment freeze — even though they also began offering classes that can be streamed from someone’s living room.

For example, take New Trail Cycling Studio owned by Liz Kamp. Opening in late 2018, the studio is a somewhat recent addition to the Reston area.

One of her biggest challenges so far has been managing to keep her staffers on payroll so she can reopen when this is all over, she said.

“The revenue isn’t there,” Kamp said, adding that larger companies like Peloton are taking away their business by offering free classes.

Though she said she understands the benefit of the free classes, especially for people who have been laid off or had pay cuts, she admitted it is detrimental to her business in the long-run.

For preexisting New Trail Cycling members, Kamp said the studio froze in-person memberships or packages until non-essential businesses are able to reopen.

New Trail Cycling does offer a few free classes on Zoom as well as a new paid digital membership, but Kamp said she will never be able to compete with companies like Peloton when it comes to the production value of the videos.

For $15 per week, people can sign up online for unlimited classes through Zoom. The studio also offers a digital nutritional coaching session for $10, which is led by medical professionals. People can rent equipment from the studio depending on the circumstances, the website said.

“I have to hold onto the hope that the community values what we do here and understand that their support now is what will help me open my doors again,” Kamp said.

She said she understands it will be a difficult path forward, hearing from her members and receiving positive feedback on the new digital classes keeps her afloat personally.

“Right now it’s about trying to keep people connected and supporting our participants however we can from a distance,” Kamp said. “We are all missing the in-person connection and community.”

New Trail Fitness decided to start a Facebook group for members who missed seeing each other at the studio, according to Kamp. The group features daily challenges that include things like meditation and self-care tips.

Meanwhile, Homegrown Power Yoga in Herndon is yet another small fitness studio affected by the pandemic.

Owner Alison Adams told Reston Now in an email that the yoga studio was quick to adapt after the mandate to close non-essential businesses. Within 12 hours, they were able to offer online Zoom yoga classes, she said.

“As incredibly hard as it has been to close our doors, and work with the unpredictability of the sustainability of our business,” she said. “This is nothing compared to what each person who is working the frontline is contributing during this crisis.”

The studio is also offering free classes to medical workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Adams.

Photo courtesy Liz Kamp/Charlotte Geary Photography

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Despite social distancing measures, the Herndon community still came together yesterday (April 13) to celebrate the 90th birthday of local resident Muriel Turner.

A neighborhood resident since 1986, Turner is beloved by many of her neighbors who threw an event so people could celebrate her while still staying safe. Not only did they decorate her house and put a large celebratory sign in her yard, but the neighbors also coordinated a walk-by so people could wave and say hello, according to a press release.

Turner is a nationally renowned flower designer and also a spritely woman who refuses to stop helping her community, according to Paul Sullivan, one of the neighbors in charge of coordinating the celebration.

“I like to call her a renaissance woman. She is interested in a plethora of things,” Sullivan said, adding that while not in self-isolation, she can often be found swimming laps at the local community center, volunteering at Saint Timothy’s Episcopal Church, feeding the homeless and serving as an officer in her garden club.

“Her neighbors on Lake Shore Drive in Herndon wanted to make sure that despite COVID-19, this milestone birthday was celebrated in style,” a Hunter Mill District spokesperson said.

Throughout the day, Turner had visitors “almost non-stop,” according to Sullivan, who added that many people left gifts and cards for her. “She was on the phone or answering her door from 8:30 a.m. on,” he said.

Over the course of the day, Sullivan said he was pleased with the outcome of the event and added that more than 100 people, including Hunter Mill Supervisor Walter Alcorn, came to share well-wishes for Turner’s big day.

Around 11 p.m. Sullivan received a call from Turner, which he said frightened him because she is usually in bed by that time. Luckily, it turns out that she was simply thrilled to see herself on TV after a local news station ran a feature on her, and she felt the need to share her joy with Sullivan.

“We would all live a great life if we mirrored how she lives hers,” Sullivan said.

Photo courtesy Walter Alcorn Staff

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A mini-satellite by a Herndon startup is getting special attention from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

HawkEye360, a data-analytics company that launched in 2015, will partner with the museum in an upcoming exhibit. The company uses satellites to gather data from across the world, the company’s chief operating officer Rob Rainhart told Reston Now.

The group was approached by the Smithsonian representatives after learning about the HawkEye360’s new Pathfinder satellite, which Rainhart said is leading the industry when it comes to small satellite data collection. Pathfinder was officially launched in December 2018 and uses geo-location to collect data.

HawkEye360 has already built the lifesize model and handed it off to the Smithsonian, Rainhart said, adding that he is excited for the company’s work to be included at a permanent exhibition at the museum.

Patrons will be able to visit the exhibit which includes the “microwaved size” model, sometime starting in 2025, according to the press release.

HawyEye360 was partially chosen to be included in the Smithsonian’s new exhibit because of the company’s effort to be a leader in refining the”space 2.0″ revolution, Rainhart said. Currently, the company has three satellites orbiting the earth — all pulling the data that served roughly several dozen customers in both the private and public sectors.

Scientists and engineers at the company use a unique class of radio frequency data to learn about the world, a press release said. Rainhart added that this is what helps to set the company apart from competitors — along with the new data sets that the company brings to the market.

“It’s a really innovative, high-tech startup that’s growing really fast,” Rainhart said. He says that the company also helps to monitor things like illegal fishing or maritime activity, as well as things like providing a visual view of an area after natural disasters.

Going forward, the company wants to launch 18 satellites and are on track to launch three more in September.

With roughly 60 employees, Rainhart said that the company hopes to grow and continue working with clients across the globe.

Photo courtesy HawkEye360

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Next month in Herndon, fans can check out a production of “Noises Off” at the NextStop Theatre Com pany.

The production is a play within a play and allows viewers to “witness all the behind-the-scenes antics as an eccentric group of actors try to survive rehearsals, performances and each other,” a press release said.

Tickets range in price from $35 to $50 and showtimes will run from April 2- 26 at 269 Sunset Park Drive.

This comedy was written by Michael Frayn and will be directed by Evan Hoffmann, according to the event page.

Tickets can be purchased at the door but event organizers suggest patrons buy them ahead of time.

Photo courtesy NextStop

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Homeowners in the Herndon area looking to install new hardwood floors will have another retail option with the grand opening of District Floor Depot.

The showroom (1051 Elden Street) is expected to open in April, according to a customer representative.

The shop will offer customers six different hardwood floor styles including traditional, distressed, luxury resilience, renewable, reclaimed and exotic, according to the website.

The varieties vary in cost, and prices can be found online.

Other District Floor Depot locations include two in D.C. at 1600 Rhode Island Ave NE and 1306 Good Hope Road SE, the website said.

Photo via District Floor Depot/Facebook

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New stores and businesses are preparing to open at Herndon’s latest retail development.

The Elden Corner Center development (902 Alabama Drive) includes space for eight commercial relators, a spokesperson for Capital Realty Advisors said, adding that all of the storefronts — except for one — are already rented out.

According to the spokesperson, tenants will include:

  • Bodega El Paisa, a grocery and market
  • Paraiso Latino Restaurant and Bakery
  • an apparel store
  • Serenity Spa, a body massage business
  • Boost Mobile
  • Madina Pollo Rico

Boost Mobile will be the first business to open in the shopping center, the spokesperson said, adding that it is expected to open by the end of the month.

The last spot available for lease “has been built out for [a] hair salon use,” according to the representative, but can also be used for other retail use.

“Some of the stores are almost ready to open up, while others are just beginning to do their custom build-outs, but everything should be open by the end of this year,” landlord and owner Sanjay Bajaj said in a press release.

Photo courtesy Elden Corner Center

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