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.
All units in the project, which includes four buildings with 64 total condo units, are move-in ready, according to Soledad Portilla, Stanley Martin Homes’ land acquisition manager.
Portilla told Reston Now that the company expects to be completely sold out next month.
The developer still needs to complete infrastructure improvements like installing a final layer of pavement on the roads, some pavers, final touches on pocket parts, and some sidewalks, Portilla said.
Photos via Stanley Martin Homes
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
Construction is currently underway on Stanley Martin’s two-over-two townhouse development. The project includes four buildings with 64 total condo units, according to the Town of Herndon.
Metro Square offers two different floor plans: a 2,550-square-foot, upper-level condo with three bedrooms or a 1,524-square-foot, lower-level condo with two bedrooms. Both types feature two levels of living space, private garages, kitchens, suites with large walk-in closets, bedroom-level stacked laundry and attached decks.
The Preston at 625 Herndon Pkwy is “move-in-ready,” according to Stanley Martin’s website. Its 2,550-square-foot condos cost $619,990.
Metro Square is across the street from Haley M. Smith Park.
Tips for your winter wardrobe — If you find dressing for the cold challenging, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue has a handy infographic about how to layer up appropriately. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]
Wine and wooden sign stenciling — Learn how to make a wooden sign, starting with a precut piece of pine wood, while sipping wine. The class at ArtSpace Herndon (750 Center Street) runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. tonight. [ArtSpace Herndon]
JAG sells residential part of Tall Oaks Village Center — Jefferson Apartment Group announced on Friday that it closed on the sale of the residential portion of the planned redevelopment of the center to Stanley Martin Homes. Back in October demolition began on a portion of the property, and construction of the residential project is slated to begin this summer. [Bisnow]
Town of Herndon deems a house concert series is in violation — The host of The Crib house concerts received a violation notice taped to his front door from the town for the Nov. 17 concert in his home, saying that the activity was “an indoor entertainment use” not permitted on the property. The owner has appealed the violation decision. [Herndon Connection]
Winter coat closet — With the winter weather here to stay, now’s the time to donate any unwanted coats, hats, gloves, mittens and scarves to the Hunter Mill District Winter Coat Closet, which is run jointly by Cornerstones and the Hunter Mill District Supervisor’s Office. Locals can drop off items at 1801 Cameron Glen Drive on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. [Cornerstones]
Photo by Marjorie Copson
Construction is slated to finish next month on the Elden Corner Center in Herndon.
Construction is currently underway on the commercial retail building at 900 Alabama Drive.
Sanjay Bajaj, the project’s applicant, told Reston Now that construction will be done by February. The more than 10,000-square-foot retail center will have eight stores and roughly 54 parking spaces, Bajaj said.
“Currently, the center is about 62 percent leased out,” he wrote in an email.
Three spots in the center are still available to lease from the CoStar Group. Plans from Capital Realty Advisors, LLC indicate that a hair salon, bakery, Boost Mobile and Peruvian Chicken have already leased the other spaces.
Elden Corner Center is just one of several projects currently under construction in Herndon.
Stanley Martin is building a two-over-two stacked townhouse development with 64 units between Herndon Pkwy and Van Buren Street. The Metro Square development is across the street from Haley M. Smith Park and will be next to the Herndon Metro Station.
More homes are on the way. The Residences at the Station will offer several single-family homes with “historic styling” featuring front porches and detached garages.
Across the street from the Pines Shopping Center (650 Elden Street), the development by Doll Homes will include an improved streetscape, off-street parking and paver driveways, according to Herndon’s development site.
Virginia Tire and Auto, which is taking the spot at 199 Elden Street that was vacated by a Cardinal Bank branch, faces construction. Demolition is underway of the existing bank building, along with construction of an 11-bay service station, according to Herndon’s development site.
The vehicle service center aims to open next summer, an employee previously told Reston Now.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission approved Thursday night (Nov. 29) parking and access adjustments for the Tall Oaks Village Center redevelopment.
Stanley Martin’s redevelopment would transform the Tall Oaks Village Center (12022 North Shore Drive) into a mostly residential neighborhood.
The redevelopment will create 156 residential units, which include 42 two-over-two multi-family units, 44 single units and 70 multi-family units in two residential buildings. It also plans to add nearly 8,500 square feet of retail and 5,800 square feet of office space.
The commission approved:
- a 200-square foot privacy yard requirement for single-family units
- tandem parking for the two-over-two dwelling units to count towards the off-street parking requirement for multi-family dwelling units
- a modification for the required number of loading spaces
- a modification for the transitional screening and barrier requirements
Ellen Hurley, who represents the Braddock District, abstained from the vote.
The shopping center, which was anchored by a Giant grocery store until it closed in 2007, has struggled without a stable grocer. Roughly 86 percent of the shopping center was vacant in 2016, according to the application.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved in July 2016 the owner’s plan to redevelop the retail center into a mixed-use project.
The development has been held up several times this year. Reston’s Design Review Board delayed voting on several aspects of the plan for several months. The garage size requirements stalled the redevelopment.
Another issue was the bus pad and bus service for the site. At the time of the approval, the county was planning to continue Fairfax Connector bus service through the development. The Fairfax Connector has since decided to no longer provide bus service through the development.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider the project on Tuesday (Dec. 4).
Rendering via Fairfax County Planning Commission
Scattered pieces of the skeleton of Tall Oaks Village Center (12022 North Shore Drive) remain as the redevelopment of the property officially begins.
Demolition of the property, which will be redeveloped into a mixed-use project with 156 residential units, 8,500 square feet of retail and 6,000 square feet of office space, is nearly complete.
Construction of the new homes is expected to begin in October and be completed by the end of 2021, according to estimates provided to Reston Now by the development team in September. The development team, which includes Stanley Martin, the contract purchaser of the property, did not return requests for comment from Reston Now.
Stanley Martin’s plan transforms the village center from a predominantly retail-heavy site to a small residential neighborhood with a strip of retail. The center has long struggled with a lack of visibility from the main street and the vacancies left by Giant Foods’ departure in 2007. The plan calls for 44 townhouses, 42 two-over-two townhouses and 70 multi-family units in two buildings.
Recently, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is considering plans to reduce garage size requirements necessary to make the development team’s current plan work.
Tall Oaks’ longtime challenges have been a location on a dead end and lack of visibility from the main street. Its longtime anchor tenant, Giant Foods, moved out in 2007 and vacancies have been mounting since.
Photos by Fatimah Waseem
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the owner’s plan to redevelop the retail center into a mixed-use project with 156 residential units, community space, 8,500 square feet of retail and 6,000 square feet of office space. Jefferson Apartment Group purchased Tall Oaks Village Center in December 2014 for $14 million. A mix of townhouses, two-over-two townhouses, and multifamily buildings are approved for the 7.5-acre site.
Site development is expected to begin in March next year. Home construction will likely begin in October next year and be completed by the end of 2021.
In an Aug. 21 proposal submitted to the county, Stanley Martin, the contract purchaser of the property, says the county’s requirements for the size of garages, which are included in original entitlements, are too generous and create a “design challenge that is inconsistent with the planned site layout.” The county requires personal garages to have a minimum width of 11.5 feet for single-car garages and 20 feet for two-car garages.
Truett Young, vice president of land for Stanley Martin Homes, told Reston Now the following:
“There was an error in the original entitlements that created a requirement that the garages have an interior dimension that could not be achieved with the size of homes that were planned for the community. The county has standards regarding the size of parking spaces and the revised proffer language is consistent with those standards as well as the commitments that have been made on more recent projects of this type.”
Instead, the developer wants to remove the size requirement and add a commitment advising future purchasers of units to review the unit’s garage space. Covenants would also restrict the use of garages for parking, storing trash and other uses. Stanley Martin says it has received approval for garages as narrow as 10 feet in width at the Dulles Technology Center site. If the county approves the change, the development would “finally come to fruition,” wrote Mark Looney, the applicant’s representative, in a statement.
The Planning Commission will review the requested amendment on Nov. 15, followed by a public hearing before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Dec. 4.
In 2007, Giant Foods, the center’s longtime anchor, closed, slowly pushing the center to slip into suburban malaise. The center’s location on a dead end and with a lack of visibility from a main street has also long remained a challenge.
Rendering via Jefferson Apartment Group