Reston, VA

After decades of discussion, proposals and delays, the town of Herndon has approved a final amendment to its comprehensive agreement with Comstock Holding Companies, Inc. to redevelop downtown.

On Tuesday night, the town council unanimously approved a resolution to amend the existing comprehensive agreement it entered into with Comstock in 2017.

“We are taking a leap of faith that this will inject into the downtown a needed sort of vibrancy that we all hope it is,” council member Cesar del Aguila said.

“But let’s be clear, there are no guarantees here. But I think we’ve done all the right things. The ballroom is rented, the orchestra is playing, now it’s time to see if we can dance.”

Elements of the initial agreement still include redeveloping town-owned land into a mixed-use project with 273 apartments and approximately 17,00 square feet of retail space. It also includes a 16,265-square-foot arts center and a parking garage with 726 spaces.

The amendment – which was presented to the council during a work session on Nov. 10 –  establishes a variety of matters. Those items include a sunset date of Dec. 15 by which time the town and Comstock must close on Comstock’s purchase of the 4.675-acre property.

The amended agreement adjusts the date by which Comstock must have the project under construction to Dec. 31, 2021. However, Comstock does retain the right to pause the start of construction up to two years due to market conditions and other complications, including issues arising from COVID-19.

Also included in the amendment is an increase in the parent corporate guarantee by $5 million to $10 million to cover the arts center and the parking.

“The parent guarantee refers to Comstock’s parent corporation putting forth the guarantee of $10 million to cover this project were Comstock Herndon LLC to default,” town attorney Lesa Yeattes told the council.

“So, this is a key component of the amendment and gives the town much more safety than it had previously in the additional $5 million guarantee.”

The amendment also provides licenses to the town to continue utilizing the property following Comstock’s purchase for the existing art space and public shared parking.

It also provides priority recordation of a parking easement on the site that will act as insurance for 162 parking spaces for the town regardless of the loan on the property.

A final part of the amendment permits Herndon to refund a portion of property taxes for the area used for arts purposes. The amendment includes a 10-year tax refund to the arts district that is estimated at $1.9 million over that time, wherein the estimated tax return above refund would be $1,165,000.

“The town receives no tax benefit on this site currently,” town manager Bill Ashton said.

“And the town will not receive any benefit as long as the town owns the property. Only when it is redeveloped will the town ever see any of this tax benefit.”

As a part of the amendment, the town council will vote to appropriate funds required prior to closing during its December public session.

“Bringing this project to fruition has been a priority for me and for the town council,” Mayor Lisa Merkel said in a press release.

“This adopted amendment establishes specific parameters by which we are moving forward. We greatly appreciate Comstock’s collaborative spirit as well as the many town citizens and business owners who continue to advocate for this transformative, energizing redevelopment project. Herndon’s bright future is now!”

Image via Comstock

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The redevelopment of the Lake Anne Fellowship House is finally underway after years in the making.

Enterprise Community Development (ECD) and Fellowship Square Foundation broke ground at the site on Thursday, Oct. 22. The mid-rise development — located at 11444 North Shore Drive — will replace the existing Lake Anne Fellowship House that sits adjacent to the new site.

The eight-story building is part of an $86 million project that will serve low-income senior residents. It will feature 240 affordable apartments for senior residents with incomes at or below 60 percent of the area median income for at least 30 years, according to a press release.

“Many of our residents live on Social Security or Supplemental Security Income alone, and the average annual income across our communities is approximately $12,000 (per) year,” Christy Zeitz, CEO of Fellowship Square, said in a press release.

“The new, modernized Fellowship Square residences will be more space-efficient, energy-efficient, and will provide enhanced amenities — while still assuring that rent is a historic milestone for Fellowship Square, critical investment in the greater Reston community, and an important contribution to housing solutions in our region.”

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the project in Oct. 2018 to replace the buildings that were constructed in 1971 and 1974. The project completion is expected in the summer of 2022.

All units in the new building will meet universal design standards, while 54 units will be compliant with Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards. The original buildings predate the Americans with Disabilities Act, so accessibility has been a challenge for residents, according to the press release.

The new building will feature on-site management, resident services offices and a wellness clinic for visiting medical professionals. It will also include a fitness center, arts and crafts room, a large social hall, sunroom, game room, and an outdoor terrace.

Funding for the project largely comes from $46.5 million in tax-exempt bond financing from Virginia Housing and $21.5 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits through Enterprise Housing Credit Investments by Capital One.

Additional funding comes through the Virginia Housing Trust Fund, the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority, Virginia Community Capital and bridge financing from Enterprise Community Loan Fund as well as equity from ECD and Fellowship Square Foundation.

“The new Lake Anne House is a great example of how housing partners can work together, united by a shared purpose, to move an important project like this forward,” Susan Dewey, CEO of Virginia Housing, said in a press release.

Residents will remain in the current buildings during the two-year construction of the new building and will move to the new building upon its completion.

Following the construction of the building, the existing buildings will be demolished and sold for a future 36-unit multi-family townhome community.

“It is very exciting to see this important project become a reality for our community,” Walter Alcorn, Supervisor at Fairfax County’s Hunter Mill District, wrote in a press release.

“The Fellowship House has been home for many low-income seniors over the past five decades, allowing them to age in place near the cultural and historical center of our Reston community — and often near family. The new Lake Anne House will continue that tradition with essential upgrades in accessibility features and available programs and services that enable residents to take full advantage of the benefits and opportunities life in Fairfax County affords.”

Photo courtesy Fellowship Square Foundation

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A year after breaking ground for Halley Rise, Brookfield Properties is still on schedule to finish the $1.4 billion project.

The 36-acre redevelopment project is set to open the first phase of its residential units in early 2022, and a Wegmans grocery store is expected to open before the end of 2022. Delivery of the first phase of offices for the project is expected in mid-2023, to align with market demand.

The mixed-use district in Reston is expected to be complete by 2026. Halley Rise will feature 1,500 residential units, 1.5 million square feet of office space, 250,000 square feet of retail, five acres of public open space and new public streets and infrastructure.

“At Halley Rise, we are creating a dynamic new destination for people to live and work in Reston,” Richard Fernicola, Brookfield Properties Senior Vice President, Development, wrote in an email.

“The new housing, jobs, retail and open space, activated with year-round arts and events and adjacent to the new Silver Line station, will provide significant benefits to the area for many years to come. It is an important project for Brookfield Properties, and we are excited to move it forward and play a role in Reston’s long-term development.”

According to Brookfield Properties, the company has been able to avoid any construction delays during the pandemic by tracking potential material disruptions on a daily basis. In the case of a procurement, fabrication or delivery risk, the company has secured alternate sources to avoid delays to the schedule.

The project at 12010 Sunrise Valley Drive will be located at the Reston Town Center stop on the Silver Line following the completion of the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority’s Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

Halley Rise will feature a movie theater and a variety of restaurants. It will also have year-round art installations and Art Brookfield will curate concerts in the park.

Photos via Fairfax County and Halley Rise/website

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In what’s become a familiar theme in Reston, the owner of a three-story office building on Old Reston Avenue wants to redevelop the 1980s structure into two three-story office buildings and a “campus-style’ setting.

The redevelopment project, which is located at 1856 Old Reston Avenue, is guided by the principles of “strength, dedication and permanence,” according to an application by the developer. The 5.2-acre site is also home to the historic A. Smith Bowman Manor House, which was built in 1899 and is listed on the Fairfax County Inventory of Historic Sites.

The proposal by AP Reston Campus LLC, a subsidiary of the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association, is in its early stages. The county accepted the application for review earlier this month.  AAFMAA bought the property in 2009 and has occupied it since 2010.

AAFMA said renovating the existing office buildings requires major capital investment, which is not feasible.

“Rather than continuing to invest in a 30 year old building, AAFMA anticipates a greater return on its investment by meeting market demand for modern, iconic, campus-oriented office buildings in close proximity to Reston Town Center,” according to the Feb. 19 application.

The company will preserve the manor house, a gazebo, pond and wall along Old Reston Avenue. A new landscaped garden is proposed behind the manor house.

A 45,000-square-foot office building is proposed on the north end of the property and a 94,000-square-foot office is proposing on the southern end. Both structures will be connected by an underground parking garage and shared conference facility. A 6,600-square-foot rooftop terrace will also run between the two buildings.

AAFMA said it is working with DBI Architects, Inc. to create a “innovative, sustainable, cutting -edge architectural statement along Old Reston Avenue,” according to the application. It hopes the new campus setting is an attractive backdrop to the Manor House.

The latest plan departs from the previously approved Boxwoods project, which would have brought 60 residential units to the site and converted the Manor House into a six-room hotel. The developer dropped those plans in 2009 to continue using existing office space on the site.

The Reston Planning and Zoning Committee will review the project tonight.

A legal representative for AAFMAA did not return a request for comment. A map of the proposed location is below.

Photo via Google Maps

 

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