The Herndon Town Council is considering proposed exceptions for a mixed-use development at Fairbrook Park, which were presented to the council earlier this week.
The company is planning four buildings with 1.5 million square feet of development on the nearly 28-acre site. The planning consists of two office buildings east of Herndon Parkway, north of the Dulles Toll Road and south of Fairbrook Drive. A third building meant for mixed-use abuts Herndon Parkway north of Fairbrook Drive. The final building will be primarily residential, with a parking structure incorporated into it.
The council heard a pair of proposals from Zoning Administrator David Stromberg that would allow for exceptions at the site. The first proposal allows for an encroachment on the 100-foot buffer of the Resource Protection Area (RPA) component of the Chesapeake Bay Protection Area, and the other allows for development in the floodplain overlay.
Stromberg detailed in his presentation two primary boundaries in the flood zone that will be affected by the exception to the floodplain overlay (FPO). The proposal calls for installing two box culverts underneath a private road that would connect Fairbrook Drive to the office buildings. The second change calls for Fairbrook Drive to be built up slightly and grading going down into the flood zone.
The FPO exceptions will require substantial conformance with development plans, and allow for minor changes with final engineering. However, conditions will require Quadrangle to resubmit a flood zone study again for approval if there are changes with the final engineering.
Further conditions on the proposal include the dedication of a floodplain easement and accommodating design requirements of a sanitary sewer metering station, according to Stromberg. Another condition requires Quadrangle to perform hydraulic and hydrodynamic studies that conform to the most current FEMA maps.
The second request into the buffer of the RPA proposes an exception for 0.77 acres (33,552 square feet), with 0.42 acres (18,315 square feet) for new impervious surfaces that water cannot pass through. The area will consist of the private drive that connects Fairbrook Drive to the two office buildings, the private frontage of the mixed-use building, and the private frontage and turnaround area for the residential building.
The encroachment at the mixed-use building will mostly be on the north side of Fairbrook Drive and in front of the new building. It will take up 4,179 square feet with 3,149 square feet being impervious. The encroachment at the residential building will also be on the north side of Fairbrook Drive. It will consist of 9,786 square feet of encroachment with 7,390 square feet being impervious.
New encroachment at the two office buildings is being requested because of a new reoriented private drive. It will include the private drive and the two box culverts that are being called for in the first exception request.
Some on-site mitigation and potential off-site mitigation will be required with this exception. On-site will include new native plantings as well as stream restoration to stabilize the banks and slow down the water.
In response to council member Signe Friedrichs’ questions about potential damage to Sugarland Run with the introduction of the culverts, Stromberg assured the council that considerations had been made to preserve or improve the stream’s condition.
“That’s why you have this RPA exception process; it requires developers to go through this extra level of review to make sure they’re proposing a plan that will result in pollutant removal that’s either the same as existing conditions or better,” Stromberg said.
“Based on the plans [Quadrangle] submitted, it will result in better conditions than what’s currently out there now.”
The council will consider both proposals at its Nov. 17 public session.
Images via Town of Herndon
The company plans to build four buildings with 1.5 million square feet of development. Two high-rise office buildings are planned east of Herndon Parkway, north of the Dulles Toll Road and south of Fairbrook Drive. A third residential building abutting Herndon Parkway north of Fairbrook Drive will include ground-floor retail next to a public gateway plaza. The fourth building is also intended primarily for residential use. A parking structure will be incorporated into the building.
The Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission will consider the plan following a review by the Architectural Review Board. The plan then heads to the Herndon Town Council for consideration.
Staff noted that the project will be “a representative symbol or icon of Herndon to regional traffic” due to its high visibility from the Dulles Toll Road. In an Aug. 5 memo, staff encouraged the developer to consider changing up the materials and design motifs, the design of which currently is “monotonous.”
Quadrangle also plans to extend Fairbrook Drive from where it ends in order to connect with Spring Street. The company also plans to retain a natural resource protection area south of Fairbrook Drive. A trail network is planned with fitness and art installations.
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