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The annual Herndon Festival will return in full for 2023 (via Herndon Festival/Instagram)

The Herndon Festival will return this year in the summer, bringing back a tradition that was scaled back to a carnival last year.

The festival is set to take place from June 1-4 at the Northwest Federal Credit Union campus (200 Spring Street). The credit union is the title sponsor for the free event.

The town announced the coming of the festival yesterday (Thursday), unveiling a new logo and media package.

But a town spokesperson said it was too early to share details on the planned scope of the festival.

“We are finalizing the scope of the festival in the coming weeks and will be able to announce more information soon,” Reid Okoniewski, a spokesperson for the town’s parks and recreation department told FFXnow in a statement.

Last year, the town organized an alternative to the annual festival — a carnival — at the same venue. The format of event to help the town transition back to hosting large-scale events following the height of the pandemic, FFXnow previously reported.

Photo via Herndon Festival/Instagram

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The cafe opened its Fairfax location on Jan. 18 (courtesy Milk & Honey Cafe)

A regional restaurant brand is opening another location in Virginia.

Milk & Honey Cafe, a Maryland-based company that was founded in 2016, opened on Jan. 18 at 9518 Main Street in Fairfax City.

The brunch-style restaurant has a total of 38 seats, a spokesperson for the company told FFXnow in a statement.

The cafe describes itself as a “New Orleans themed” Southern brunch restaurant. It’s part of Thompson Hospitality, a restaurant group whose other brands include Big Buns Damn Good Burgers, Matchbox Pizza and Makers Union in Reston.

Items on the menu include shrimp grits, deep-fried salmon hash, a crab cake sandwich, Belgian waffles, strawberry shortcake biscuits, and bread pudding.

The Fairfax location is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The business has other locations in Ashburn, Belle Haven, Maryland and D.C.

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COO Larry Butler will retire in the summer after more than 40 years with Reston Association (courtesy RA)

Reston Association‘s COO Larry Butler is officially retiring after more than 40 years with the organization.

His retirement comes after a lengthy career with RA that began when he took a position as a seasonal employee in the spring of 1982.

“Most memorable for me are the life-long friends I have made with the staff and many in the community with whom I have worked,” Butler said.  “For the next chapter of my life, I look forward to many adventures including hiking, biking, fishing and spending more time with my family and friends — preferably in the woods somewhere.”

In a press release, RA said Butler was instrumental in starting RA’s lakes and watershed management programs. He also spent several years on the North American Lake Management Society’s board of directors and served as the organization’s president.

Although he left Reston Association in the mid-1990s to work for the Ashburn Village Community Association, he returned to serve as RA’s director of parks and recreation.

He also helped with fundraising efforts for the Nature House, converted the Southgate Pool into a county-operated community center, and helped with the installation of the Browns Chapel Little League Field.

Butler’s colleagues lauded him for his contributions to the organization.

“He has truly been Mr. RA. The familiar face of the organization for decades bringing continuity and stability even during some rocky times,” RA President Sarah Selvaraj-D’Souza said. “The RA Board is forever grateful to Larry for his leadership, historical knowledge, and most of all his service and commitment to Reston and all Restonians. He will truly be missed.”

RA CEO Mike Cummins called Butler’s impact on the community “profound.”

“He has served in nearly every capacity in our organization and has led our operations and various services in leadership capacities throughout his career here,” Cummins said. “The community owes him much, and the staff is blessed to have had a chance to work with him.”

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Roer’s Zoofari, a popular zoo and safari in Reston, is under new ownership and will reopen as Nova Wild in early March. 

Nova Wild says it plans to revitalize the local treasure and create a non-profit, community-focused zoo for children of all ages. 

“Our intent is to revitalize a beloved Reston Gem,” Joshua Reid, the spokesperson for the company, said. “Nova Wild is proudly under new ownership, and everything is changing.”

A drive-through safari is expected to open in early February before the full zoo opens in early March.

The change in ownership took place on Dec. 30. Vanessa and Jacob Roer were the previous owners. Reid describes the new owner — Tara Campbell Lussieras a former Reston resident and longtime friend. Lussier is a real estate agent and serial entrepreneur. 

Next month, the new owners will launch a light show called “The Great Migration,” which will allow participants to explore 10 animal habitats and learn about wildlife from around the world, along with the trails that run through the property. It’ll feature more than 800,000 LED lights.

The show is slated to take place on Feb. 17 through April 9 from 4:30-8:30 p.m. 

Nova Wild plans a three-pronged approach to the zoo: animal welfare, education and conservation. It described itself as an accredited facility on its website. 

We have secured the highest levels of accreditation, above and beyond federal, state, and local requirements. We are proudly accredited by the Zoological Association of America and certified by American Humane,” the website says.

Reid says the company plans to “expand on animals, offerings, ethics, and family-friendly adventure,” but declined to comment further.

“The architectural renderings planned improvements are still under production. A family-friendly atmosphere will always remain,” he said.

This isn’t the first time the zoo has changed hands. Vanessa and Jacob Roer took ownership of the facility in 2016, when it was called Reston Zoo. 

The zoo was shaken by tragedy in 2021 when a fire killed two giraffes: Waffles — a giraffe described as the heart of the zoo — and his new companion, Belgian. 

The fire originated from a heater that was being used in the area. A petition called for the zoo to be shut down for “inhumane treatment of animals,” though other than the fire, all of the incidents cited occurred under previous owners.

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The Atrium at Worldgate office building in Herndon (via Google Maps)

A new economic development hub is officially open in the Town of Herndon.

The George Mason Enterprise Center has opened in Office Evolution, a shared office space, at 205 Van Buren Street to support small and emerging businesses in an effort to support Herndon’s economic growth.

A ribbon cutting is slated for March 16, though the center has already begun providing services, a spokesperson for the center told FFXnow.

The town is the fifth locality to partner with the George Mason University center, which offers services like business advisory sessions, educational workshops, and training on other federal and state programs.

“We are thrilled to continue the success of the Mason Enterprise Centers with this expansion by bringing Mason assets directly into the Herndon business community,” said Paula Sorrell, Mason’s associate vice president of innovation and economic development.

The center will also grow its services, including providing access to health insurance, payroll support and other business-related services. Patrons will have access to Mason classroom and research projects, as well as capstone students and interns.

“We are delighted to partner with the Mason Enterprise Center and Office Evolution in creating this space for businesses to grow and prosper,” Herndon Mayor Sheila Olem said. “We look forward to welcoming many new enterprises to the town as a result of this collaboration.”

GMU’s other enterprise centers are in Leesburg, Fairfax, Warrenton, and Springfield.

Photo via Google Maps

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Reston Town Center’s main public spaces have gotten a facelift. 

A visual look shows that much of the work on the public spaces is completed or underway, bringing new life to areas that have been untouched for more than 30 years.

Upgrades to the pavilion include two fire pits next to Market Street, large fans, a wooden deck, the renovation of the lower base area, expanded seating, tiered landscaping, and more outdoor seating areas on artificial turf.

Sasaki Associates led the design work on the project.

The construction of the Fountain Square Pavilion was completed in October as part of a makeover of other common areas. The ice rink also opened in November. 

Boston Properties says work on the fountain area is slated to be completed in early February.

“We will be turning on the fountain in the spring as we normally do,” Sapna Yathiraj, a spokesperson for the company, told FFXnow.

The upgrades come as several tenants aim to open at the town center. Tatte Bakery plans to open at at 11910 Market Street.

Dallas-based wine restaurant Sixty Vines will take space formerly occupied by Clydes at Reston, and Piso y Nazca Ceviche Gastrobar will open in space formerly occupied by Vapiano. 

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Crumbl Cookies staff mix cookie dough in the Reston location’s open kitchen (courtesy of Crumbl Cookies)

Another Crumbl Cookies location is coming soon to Fairfax County.

The chain, which serves up a rotating selection of fresh cookies, is set to open at 5810 Kingstowne Center sometime in the spring or summer, a company spokesperson tells FFXnow.

“The store you are referring to is still under construction with an opening date not yet solidified.” said Cassidy Salibury, a spokesperson for the company.

The timeline is contingent on construction and permitting.

In the last two years, the company has opened several locations in Virginia. There are already locations in Reston, Vienna, Chantilly and Ashburn.

It was founded by two cousins in 2017. Customers can place delivery, carry-out or in-store orders. Each week, the company selects six flavors. This week’s selections are milk chocolate chip, lemon cupcake, classic peanut butter, French silk pie, caramel cake, and classic pink sugar.

Locations at Fair Lakes Shopping Center and Alexandria’s Bradlee Shopping Center are also in the works.

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Reston Town Center Station (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

Reston’s Comprehensive Plan — which is currently undergoing a major overhaul — could see an expanded framework.

At a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday (Tuesday), Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn introduced a motion formally expanding the review’s scope to incorporate elements like equity, community health, and land use issues related to Reston’s village centers.

The review comes after Alcorn’s 31-member task force created a draft of the amended plan. The draft plan was the product of 58 full task force meetings from May 2020 through August 2022. County staff are preparing recommendations for updating the comprehensive plan.

“In order for the range of recommendations to be considered, the goal s to now formally expand the scope fo the plan amendment to include these topic areas for consideration as part of the proposed comprehensive plan amendment,” the board matter said.

Alcorn’s fellow supervisors voiced some concerns about the plan, similar to issues expressed last year about its scope.

“I know this is a pretty Herculean lift,” Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk said.

Sully Supervisor Kathy Smith said she was very concerned about the incorporation of equity and community health into the policy plan — which could conflict with the county’s future policy plans.

“I think that succinctness and putting things in the right place is important in the comprehensive plan and so, redundancies of policies into the area plans could be difficult,” she said.

Others said Alcorn’s expanded list should not be viewed as an appropriate template for other comprehensive plans.

Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross said that the “devil is in the details.” 

“I’m also very concerned that I would not want to see this particular list as a template for doing comprehensive plans in other parts of the county, because I think it will strangle opportunity and I think it will give our staff just an overload of work,” Gross said.

In addition to the topics discussed above, the plan will include discussion of land uses for 1810, 1825 and 1950 Samuel Morse Drive and 11111 Sunset Hill Road. The plan would also establish the appropriate land use mix for the Roland Clarke Place residential mixed-use section near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.

The two land use additions largely originated from the county’s Site-Specific Plan Amendment process. So far, they could be addressed through the comprehensive study or part of the SSPA process.

A staff report on the revised plan is expected mid-February. The Fairfax County Planning Commission will take a look at it on April 26, following by an anticipated vote by the board on May 9 or 23.

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The arts center could be located on Block J in Reston Town Center (via Fairfax County)

The location of Reston’s future arts center is officially inching closer to realization.

At a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ meeting today (Tuesday), Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn introduced a board matter selecting Block J — near the intersection of Sunset Hills Road and Town Center Parkway — as the location for nearly 60,000-square-foot future arts center.

So far, the county has determined that the block is the most appropriate location for the arts center. It’s part of proffers in Boston Properties’ development plans. The land could have been used as a park or a ball field.

The cost of the project is expected to be hefty — hovering between $58 million in current dollars and $81 million accounting for inflation. 

“This process clearly established that the arts center option is not only feasible, but it is clearly superior to the alternatives offered in the proffer,” Alcorn said in the board matter.

The center would be located across the street from the Reston Town Center Metro Station, fulfilling land use and transportation goals, according to the board matter.

A survey in 2019 found that 68% of residents supported the idea of a larger performing center in Reston. While Reston Community Center has advocated for the venue, no determination has been made yet on who will operate it.

RCC hosted a series of meetings on the issue and conducted a feasibility study on the possibility of the center.

Alcorn noted that the board matter doesn’t address financing and other details of the plan, but RCC has indicated that Reston’s small tax district will not be used to pay for the project. A bond referendum would likely be used to pay for the project.

The board approved the measure to accept Block J as the location for a community arts center.

“Accepting this land is accepting it under the provision that it become an arts center, should financing be worked out,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said. “If for some reason that changes, there are other avenues we could pursue in the future.”

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The Barton Hill Recreation Area in Reston is slated for upgrades (via Google Maps)

Reston Association is poised to share updated plans for the renovation of Barton Hill tennis courts earlier this year.

Staff are prepared to host an early spring meeting to share the update plans to upgrade the tennis courts following a legal disagreement with a county that prompted RA to remove lighting upgrades from the plan.

The proposal to host a meeting in early spring will go before RA’s Board of Directors at a meeting on Thursday (Jan. 26).

Last year, county zoning staff said that RA needed to develop a Planned Residential Community plan to install court lighting. Despite an appeal by RA, the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals reaffirmed that county’s zoning administrator’s decision.

Instead of pursuing additional legal action, RA chose to drop court lighting from the renovations.

“Reston Association staff ire pared to host a meeting in early spring to share the update conceptual plans of the project,” according to draft meeting materials.

The renovation includes the installation new pickle ball courts and the refurbishment of court surfaces.

The tennis courts were developed as a PRC zoning district in 1985. Four unlit tennis courts with a single water fountain and a nine-space parking area are located on the site. A neighboring parking lot has 19 parking spaces.

Photo via Google Maps

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