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Consultant begins imagining possible new mixed-use district near Herndon Metro Station

The potential development area wraps around the Herndon-Monroe Metro Station (via Town of Herndon)

A consultant tasked with studying the possibility of redeveloping 120 acres of mostly disparate parcels near the Herndon Metro station has officially begun visioning for the project.

Consultant Skidmore, Owings, Merrill is working on the Transit Related Growth (TRG) Small Area Plan, as the initiative is known in planning jargon. The consultant discussed its work so far at a Town of Herndon Planning Commission meeting yesterday (Thursday).

All of the land parcels within the TRG are privately owned and within between one-tenth of a mile to nearly 1 mile from the Metro station. Quadrangle Development Corp. already has a plan approved for its site on Fairbrook Park.

The consultant says the area is an “attractive” location for redevelopment, particularly retail, rental townhomes and for-sale housing, because of its size and proximity to the Metro station.

“The TRG has the potential to emerge as a well-segmented and thoughtfully-designed neighborhood of its own, complementing — rather than competing with — others like Historic Downtown Herndon and Reston Town Center,” the preliminary report said.

The project kicked off in April 2022 with the team interviewing stakeholders, neighboring residential property owners, the town council and the public. It will result in a conceptual plan for the possible future redevelopment of 25 parcels into a “well-designed and viable mixed-use district,” said Ahmad Zaki, who leads long-range planning for the town.

“The plan is expected to encourage redevelopment, recognize the probability of disparate development timelines, provide appropriate buffers to abutting neighborhoods, formulate a unique sense of place as well as an identity integral to the Town of Herndon, and establish a pattern and expectation for innovative, sustainable, and excellence in architectural and urban design,” Zaki wrote in a Feb. 16 memo.

The consultant is also actively engaging in an online survey as it kicks off the project’s third phase, where it will develop three different development scenarios and detail their related impacts to infrastructure.

Currently, 17 property owners control 26 parcels of the TRG — three of which are condominiums. The consultant report notes that areas with multiple parcels under single ownership would reduce planning challenges. But redevelopment is possible since half of the parcels within a five to 10-minute walk of the Metro station are owned by four owners, compared to the multiple owners throughout the rest of the site.

According to the report, the area is likely not well-positioned to attract corporate users, and additional retail would have to be planned to complement, not compete, with other retail destinations like Reston Town Center and downtown Herndon.

Sunset Business Park could be enhanced because it currently doesn’t have a “holistic sense of place,” the report says. Additionally, most on-site utilities would have to be replaced to accommodate future development. The area currently also has no circulation network or mobility-connecting parcels.

Any future project would require working with Dominion Energy on an easement that bisects the Metro walk zone in the TRG area.

“Potential for cross-site connectivity and integration within a neighborhood setting should be explored, and precedents for open spaces should be researched,” the report says.

After public outreach and comments from the town council and planning commission, one scenario will be presented at future public hearings for official approval by the town council.

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