A block of office buildings in Herndon previously known as the Spring Park Technology Center is getting rebranded as “Marker 20” as part of a revitalization that will emphasize the development’s proximity to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.
Pedestrians already cut through bushes along the perimeter of the business complex at 450-485 Springpark Place to access the trail, so property owner Penzance is looking to formalize that connection with the new name.
During its public hearing at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday), the Town of Herndon’s Architectural Review Board will consider applications for building and site renovations as well as new signage to replace the Spring Park branding still posted at the front entrance of the complex.
“Penzance has been planning a rebranding to revitalize the park and enhance its connection to the W&OD Trail,” the developer says in a presentatation for the board. “The plan encompasses enhancement to four of the seven buildings, owned by Penzance, utilizing similar materials and levels of finish to create and maintain uniformity across the park.”
Penzance bought the Spring Park Technology Center for $71.5 million in September 2019 under the name Springpark Place LLC.
With the Herndon Planning Commission’s approval, the developer divided the property into eight separate parcels for potential sales last year. The parcel at 460 Springpark Place was sold to LDI Propco 2 LLC for $20.4 million in February, according to a Fairfax County property database.
According to the website and a video for the project, Penzance’s plans for Marker 20 include a 9,000 square-foot amenity center in 485 Springpark Place with a tenant lounge, conference facilities, a fitness center, bicycle lockers, and an outdoor patio.
To serve tenants and W&OD Trail users, the developer is seeking a brewery, distillery, or restaurant to occupy Suite 100 — a 18,688 square-foot space — in 450 Springpark Place, according to a site plan brochure.
Proposed outdoor amenities include a bicycle lane that connects to the W&OD Trail, a bicycle repair station, a hammock grove, a linear park with fitness stations, a bocce court, a golf putting green, and additional seating and landscaping.
With the applications submitted to the Town of Herndon, Penzance is seeking to add synthetic wood patios or decks and a garage door with a metal awning at Building 450 as well as a bi-folding door, a new floor-to-ceiling glass storefront, and a common area with a fire pit at Building 485, among other changes.
Town staff has recommended that the architectural review board approve the upgrades and new signage after previously raising concerns.
In an Aug. 4 staff report, town staff withheld its stance on the signage rebranding, citing a need for additional information.
Currently, signage at the business park is “indirectly lit” with ground-mounted spotlights, but proposed internal illumination of the new Marker 20 logo is something usually associated with shopping centers and other commercial uses along business corridors, according to the town.
Staff also recommended indirect illumination or a halo effect to reduce lighting impacts on the single-family townhouse development located on the other side of Spring Street.
Penzance’s revised application now calls for signage that satisfies town requirements, where the Marker 20 logo would be in metal letters highlighted by halo-lot light-emitting diodes, according to a memo that Herndon Deputy Director of Community Development Bryce Perry sent the board on Aug. 12.
“The applicant has submitted new information and revised drawings that address the issues raised by staff in the report,” Perry said in the memo. “A site plan was submitted that confirms all sign placement comply with the applicable zoning ordinance regulations.”
The architectural board is returning to in-person meetings after meeting online for the pandemic. It held an in-person work session on Aug. 4, but this will be the board’s first in-person public hearing since February 2020.
Photo via Google Maps
A new look is being considered for a Herndon Parkway development that has been in the works for more than half a decade.
The Herndon Town Council heard proposals from Penzance Properties to alter the development plan for 555 Herndon Parkway on Tuesday (April 6). Plans for the property have been years in the making after being first submitted in 2015.
Herndon Director of Community Development Lisa Gilleran told the council that Penzance met with town staff “several weeks ago…to discuss the possibility of changing the approved development plan for the property.”
“These changes would require a revision plan to the development plan be filed. That would require public hearing,” Gilleran said.
Approved on April 4, 2019, the current development plan for the site encompasses three buildings: two that have been planned as residential with ground floor retail, and a third planned as an office building. An entry court open space and driveway have also been approved.
The existing plan caps the development’s density at 475,000 square feet for residential uses split between a 12-story low-rise building and a 23-story tower. It allows a maximum of 8,000 square feet of retail and 325,000 square feet of office space in a 24-story building.
The minimum density range is 275,000 square feet for residential, 200,000 square feet for office, and 8,000 square feet for retail. The low-rise residential building must be at least six stories tall, while the tower must be at least 10 stories. The office building has a minimum height of 12 stories.
Penzance’s proposal to the council on Tuesday suggests reducing the height of the tower to be similar to the low-rise residential building.
“Really, what this means is you would be going from a concrete and steel structure down to a wood construction over concrete podium, similar to what’s allowed for [the lower residential building],” Gilleran said.
However, it could result in a potential 10% increase in the number of residential units due to “a rearrangement of the footprint,” according to Gilleran. That would give the development around 500 available units.
Additional changes proposed by Penzance include a rearrangement of the buildings and open space, though the office space would still be planned to meet or exceed the approved minimum.
No changes to the proffers have been proposed.
“I will say, this is really being driven in large part by market forces and some of the issues that the market is posing at this time when it comes to high-rise construction,” Gilleran said.
She stated that the cost of steel and concrete is “one of the driving forces” behind the proposal, but when questioned by Councilmember Signe Friedrichs about a potential change in quality, Gilleran responded that Penzance’s intent is not “to come in with, in some way, a cheaper, less quality product.”
Gilleran could not speak to whether the expanded footprint of the buildings under the proposal would result in less green space.
The council collectively signaled it would hear out the proposals as more details of the development plan are introduced in the future.
Town Manager Bill Ashton also clarified for the council that Penzance has “been made aware” of the council’s desire to create additional workforce housing going forward.
Image via Town of Herndon
The Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission unanimously approved a request by a DC-based real estate firm to splinter the ownership of an office park located at Springpark Place.
Penzance is seeking the town’s permission to subdivide the property from four parcels with eight buildings to eight lots, each one building of its own.
No changes to the density and the overall revitalization plan, which is under review by the town, are proposed.
At a meeting last night (Monday), commission members unanimously approved the plan after town staff and the developer ironed out details surrounding maintenance, infrastructure, and proffer conditions.
Commissioner Sean Regan expressed some concerns about options for recourse if issues arise due to the presence of multiple owners.
“Who does the town go too for resource?” Regan said.
Town staff said the presence of a new property owners’ association would help mitigate any concerns. Additionally, the rezoning application requires the formulation of proffer conditions and more legal documents that provide the tow with more tools to address any issues.
“We would go after as many as we can,” said David Stromberg, the town’s zoning administrator.
Currently, all parcels and buildings are owned by Penzance, which hopes to sell off some of its buildings.
Photo via Town of Herndon
Penzance, a DC-based real estate firm, is setting itself up to sell off parts of Spring Park, an office park located at Springpark Place.
The developer is seeking the Town of Herndon’s permission to subdivide the property, which currently has eight buildings on four parcels, into eight lots with each lot containing a building and some site improvements.
Currently, all the parcels and buildings are owned by Penzance. The company hopes to sell “some of the buildings” while “some” will remain under control by Penzance, according to a Sept. 14 application by the firm.
“It is unclear at this time how many that is,” according to the application.
The Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the issue today (Monday) at 7 p.m.
At a previous meeting this month, staff said the possibility of multiple owners raised concerns about future maintenance of shared infrastructure as well as the lack of existing and shared parking.
The town is also currently reviewing a plan by Penzance for minor site improvements to the office park.
The office park is located within a mile of the firm’s planned major mixed-use neighborhood near the future Herndon Metro Station.
Photo via handout/Town of Herndon
Penzance, a DC-based real-estate firm, is offering a peek into its revitalization plans for Spring Park, an office park located at 455 and 475 Springpark Place.
The office park is located within a mile of the company’s planned major mixed-use neighborhood near the future Herndon Metro Station. The firm acquired 10 single-story buildings for $75 million nearly one year ago.
In an Aug. 5 presentation to the Town of Herndon’s Architectural Review Board, Penzance indicated it is looking into “revitalizing the whole site” and improving its connection to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.
So far, Penzance has pitched exterior changes to four buildings: 450, 455, 465, 470, and 485. New exterior materials — like terraces with synthetic wood flooring and trimming, buffed cultured stone, and repainted entrances — are planned for several buildings. New signage and wayfinding are also planned, including a new monument sign at the main entrance.
The building that has the most visibility from Spring Street — building 450 — will have the most substantial changes, including a new terrace, metal cladding over parts of the building, a pergola, and new lights.
Building 485, which is located on the southeastern corner of the site, will also include a new terrace, metal awning, and other structural changes. Other modifications to the remaining buildings are minor, according to the application.
Penzance is also moving forward on its new mixed-use project at 555 Herndon Parkway. A suburban-style office building will be transformed into a high-rise office building with a residential tower. Retail space and a garage are also planned.
Photo via Town of Herndon
Within the last five years, more than 500 residential units have been proposed at the door of the future Herndon Metro Station, which is on track to open by the end of 2020 In all three place-making projects that were recently approved by town officials, there are no affordable or workforce housing units.
Comstock’s downtown Herndon redevelopment project — which has 273 apartments — and Penzance’s mixed-use development less than one-tenth of a mile from the future station — which has 455 residential units — will not have any ADU or WDU units. Stanley Martin’s Metro Square project — which has 64 two-over-two condos — also has none. Prices for those units start at $679,990.
Newly elected town council members Cesar del Aguila and Pradip Dhakal are currently mulling ways to create more new affordable and workforce housing. They plan to discuss policy instruments with the county’s Board of Supervisors, the town’s legal staff, and other town and county officials to decide next steps.
“If we do not interfere now and talk to builders, it will be very difficult to manage later. This is the time for the change,” Dhakal said. “We need to work with the county and work independently as a town to see what we can do.”
It’s unclear if the town has enough workforce housing to meet the demands of people who work within or near the town’s borders. The number of residential units in Herndon is expected to increase by 30 percent over the next 25 years, according to county data. Major growth is anticipated in Herndon’s transit station areas.
Unlike Fairfax County, the Town of Herndon does not the statutory authority to mandate the inclusion of workforce or affordable housing units. But now, as the Silver Line trains approach, some local elected officials are pushing for the town to explore ways to include workforce units in new developments at a critical juncture in the town’s history.
Policy options could include seeking state-enabling legislation to create an ADU and WDU program for the town — likely modeled after the county’s program.
Others are looking to dip more into the county’s penny fund — which includes tax dollars from town of Herndon residents and has historically been used to preserve and promote affordable.
But some caution that a WDU and ADU program managed by the town could be too cost-inhibitive.
Melissa Jonas, chairwoman of the Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission, said seeking such a change would likely require a town charter amendment, state-enabling legislation, the creation of a housing office, and other administrative requirements that could result in a “net zero” win for the town.
“It’s not easy and it’s not cheap,” Jonas said.
Jonas, who has worked with the county on numerous affordable housing initiatives, notes that affordable housing is a region-wide challenge that cannot be addressed in isolation of other issues and initiatives.
In the past, the town has leveraged its relationship with the county — which has the administrative and financial resources to maintain and preserve older affordable housings units — to ensure inclusion and housing affordability are a priority in the town. Town officials have also made an effort to educate the town’s planning commissioners about housing affordability issues as new applications cross their desk.
The town’s comparative advantage lies in finding other ways to ensure projects are affordable — including working with places of worship to pursue creative new projects on unused land, increased transparency about development approval timelines, and decreased the cost of doing business in the town.
The county currently provides most of the funding for the town’s housing rehabilitation specialist, who finds ways to preserve and rehabilitate current affordable and workforce housing units. The county also provides administrative support for housing vouchers and other federal programs.
Projects like the units set aside for lower-income households at Herndon Harbor House II are a good start to ensure housing affordable is a central part of community planning. That retirement community was partly financed by the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program.
Dhakal says that’s not enough and Del Aguila says that a town-led ADU or WDU program is “the right thing to do.”
“This initiative will provide several benefits: positively impact the future of many people [and] families by providing an option for home ownership in Northern Virginia, improve the quality of life for people in our town… and create opportunities for financial security for more residents,” he said.
Not everyone on the council is convinced of the need to enable the town to regulate affordable housing, including town councilmember Signe Friedrichs.
Friedrichs says there is a lack of consensus on whether or not there is enough affordable housing in the town and that the county is better positioned to manage housing affordability programs. Instead of managing its own program, the town should work with the county to maintain and improve affordable housing options.
“I moved to Herndon partly because it was affordable, and I hope it can stay that way while also improving its housing stock. But I also hope we can maintain, improve and possibly expand our workforce and affordable housing without also increasing our budget, the cost of which would cause people to move out of town,” Friedrichs said.