A new sign plan aimed at creating uniformity in Herndon’s Worldgate Centre has been put on hold.
At a work session public hearing before the town’s Architectural Review Board last night (Wednesday), town staff indicated that the property owner intends to withdraw the plan because of the town’s efforts to adopt Uniform Sign Standards.
“The applicant’s agent has indicated their intention to withdraw this application given the adoption of the Uniform Sign Standards, however, a formal withdrawal has not been received at this time,” Tamsin Homes, a lead planner with the town, said in a May 3 memo.
The owners of Worldgate Centre submitted an application in March to create additional design criteria with a new master sign plan.
“The applicant proposes to amend the current master sign plan to accurately reflect the location and size of existing tenant spaces within the shopping center and provide updates sign area allocations for each respective tenant in accordance with each tenant space,” the application said.
In a Feb. 22 memo, the applicant stated that the plan allows the center to get revamped and refreshed signage that will “ultimately improve and enhance the quality of this prominent shopping area in the Town of Herndon.”
A formal withdrawal request has not yet been made.
Image via Google Maps
The Town of Herndon is instituting uniform sign standards in an effort to manage consistent design that fits its character and architectural context.
The proposal, which was adopted by the Historic District Review Board yesterday (Wednesday), would also streamline the number of cases that go before that board and the town’s Architectural Review Board.
“These standards give direction on the ways in which signage can serve practical needs while contributing to Town character and appearance,” the new design standards say.
Specific standards laid out for the town’s Historic District Overlay area say signs should typically follow a consistent design palette and ethic. The rules also discourage the use of standardized designs and colors that clash with the overall aesthetic of buildings.
“Creative and artistic designs are encouraged to enhance liveliness and visual interest,” the design standards say.
The guidelines also detail considerations for projecting signs, wall signs, free standing signs, canopy signs and awning signs. Similar standards are considered for the town’s Architectural Control District.
At a previous work session, board members said the design standards were too broad and not restrictive enough.
But in a March 15 memo, Herndon Deputy Director of Community Development Bryce Perry said that the board did not provide additional comments on possible changes.
“Staff is open to suggestions on how to add further specific to the standards,” Perry said, adding that additional specificity is included in other documents like the downtown pattern book.
He said the guidelines are crafted “purposefully to cover broad design considerations that could be applied to all sign cases.”
A new micro-roast coffee shop hopes to beautify an aging office building in the Town of Vienna.
Frame Coffee Roasters recently got the Vienna Board of Architectural Review’s approval to add signage above its future entrance at 302 Maple Avenue West. It will fill a ground-floor space vacated a couple of years ago by Burke & Herbert Bank, which relocated.
The shop will serve cold sandwiches, pastries and madeleines to go with the coffee, which will be made from beans roasted by owner Johnny Lee.
“I want to make this space as a gallery or some kind of art museum,” Lee told FFXnow, explaining the intent behind the shop’s name. “As the customer comes in, they should feel a very cozy and comfortable area and with some big frames for some beautiful art posters, and also good smells from the coffee and some good food with the coffee.”
This will be Lee’s first business, but he has experience as a barista and learned how to roast coffee beans in his native South Korea.
When he first saw Maple Avenue, he was struck by the abundance of restaurants, delis and other “beautiful shops.” The street’s role as a connector for commuters going to and from D.C. added to its appeal.
“I thought it was the best place for grabbing a coffee in the morning,” Lee said.
After recently obtaining a final needed building permit, Lee anticipates that construction will take about two months, putting Frame Coffee on track for an April opening.
At the Jan. 19 meeting, BAR members lauded the proposal as an aesthetic improvement over the previous tenant, particularly since it’ll remove a navy blue awning that wraps around the front of the building.
“I think this is a good design for this particular building,” BAR Chair Roy Baldwin said. “I like the idea that the awning is removed. This building is verging on historic, because it’s been around for a long time.”
The two-story office building was constructed in 1962, according to Fairfax County land records. Current owner Vienna Property Management LLC acquired the property for $2.4 million on Feb. 1, 2016.
Though it’s not an official historic site, one board member called 302 Maple Avenue a rare example of a “true modern building” in Vienna. Baldwin said the awning had “never looked really right,” commending Frame Coffee for a plan that “respects the building.”
The proposed sign will consist of illuminated channel letters that appear black during the day and white at night, per the BAR staff report.
“I think the signs that change from night to day or day to night are actually pretty elegant,” board member Paul Layer said, adding that the coloring “definitely goes well” with the building’s beige facade.
A representative for Frame Coffee Roasters confirmed the business will repaint and do any necessary repairs on the area that will be newly exposed once the awning is removed.
While Vienna residents often lament the town’s abundance of banks, this is the second former bank set to be converted into an eatery. The BAR approved plans to turn the vacant SunTrust Bank at 501 Maple Avenue West into a Yellow Diner last summer.
(Updated at 11:50 a.m.) The blacktop that passes for a basketball court behind Cedar Lane School in Vienna is up for some refurbishments.
Fairfax County Public Schools went before Vienna’s Board of Architectural Review last Thursday (Aug. 18) to obtain approval for proposed exterior modifications that would improve the 9,842-square-foot facility at 101 Cedar Lane with new basketball hoops, a resurfacing, and added playing lines.
Other planned changes include the addition of a 6-foot-tall, 488-foot-long black vinyl fence with four 6-foot-tall pedestrian gates, which would be located at the corners of the futsal court adjoined to the basketball court, according to a provided layout.
FCPS also intends to paint logos on the courts for itself, Vienna Youth Soccer, and Cedar Lane’s panther mascot.
The application was approved 5-0, according to the BAR clerk.
Though it has a small population of just 60 students, as of June 2021, Cedar Lane serves as one of FCPS’ two high schools for students with emotional, social and behavioral challenges.
Earlier this year, the Vienna Board of Architectural Review approved similar upgrades for the basketball court at nearby Cunningham Park Elementary School.
As if the universe sensed a need for balance, a bank in Vienna is set to turn into a restaurant.
The Vienna Board of Architectural Review gave its approval last month to a team that plans to rework the former SunTrust Bank at 501 Maple Avenue West into the Yellow Diner, which has been described as a modernization of a classic American diner.
“It’s somewhere we can enjoy a good meal and not feel rushed, and you can go at different times of the day,” the project manager said when introducing the proposal to the BAR on March 11. “The new twist to it is we want to probably have more sustainable food, more organic food, but it’s still kind of the same menu we all know and love.”
According to the application materials, much of the bank’s exterior shell will remain, but the existing drive-through facility will be covered and converted into a private dining room. The brick facade will also be painted, and an entrance vestibule will be added.
In addition, the restaurant will have an outdoor dining patio with 12 seats and a pergola. A total of 92 seats are planned, including 24 for the private dining room and five at a bar.
Next to the patio will be a wall mural by an artist that owner Peter Pagonis — who’s behind the Greek restaurant Nostos in Tysons — plans to commission, architect Benjamin Webne told the BAR before its vote on July 21.
“We’ll be replacing all existing windows with more energy-efficient windows,” Webne added.
The board’s approval of the planned exterior modifications came with the conditions that the wall for the future mural be left as bare concrete until it’s painted and that the planters around the outdoor patio be weighed down with gravel so they don’t topple over.
Though the vote means renovation work can start on the building, the restaurant team will need to return to the board in order to get approvals for the mural, signage, and outdoor furnishings before occupancy is permitted.
A new self-storage facility could take the place of an existing warehouse in the Town of Herndon.
Security Public Storage is hoping to get the town’s blessing to demolish a warehouse at 331 Victory Drive to build a self-storage facility.
The existing warehouse was built in 1965 and is currently divided into tenants’ spaces and rough metal edging.
So far, town staff say they’re in favor of the preliminary proposal. In an April 1 report, town staff said the new facility seems to “soften” the current building’s “stark industrial facades further.”
“Efforts seem to have been made to break up and soften the basic industrial design of the building,” the report says.
The application requires more planning approvals because it is part of a zoning map amendment.
The town’s Architectural Review Board will discuss the project at a meeting on Thursday (April 21) at 7:30 p.m. in the Herndon Town Council’s chambers. The board will then provide findings to the town’s Planning Commission for additional discussion.
Hollin Hills could soon get another layer of oversight to preserve the hundreds of stylistic, mid-20th century homes built in the area.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission voted on Wednesday (Feb. 23) to recommend designating Hollin Hills as a Historic Overlay District, which would require approval from the county’s Architectural Review Board for certain projects, such as demolitions and the design of properties.
“The HOD is really critical to protect Hollin Hills, both as a historic resource and as a community,” resident J.G. Harrington said during a public hearing prior to the commission’s vote.
Located near Hybla Valley, Hollin Hills consists of more than 450 homes built between 1946 and 1971. Most went up in the 1950s and 1960s, under the vision of architect-planner Charles Goodman and developer Robert Davenport.
Known for its ceiling-to-floor windows on one-story homes and two-story residences built into the community’s hilly areas, the neighborhood is registered as a historic place nationally and by the county and state. It drew regular tours of curious visitors before the pandemic.
However, many residents fear that developers could ruin the aesthetic of the neighborhood, producing bigger but more architecturally bland homes and making lot sizes smaller.
“Today, buyers come to Hollin Hills because of the midcentury architecture,” said Barbara Ward, a resident of the community since 1989 and chair of the Civic Association of Hollin Hills’ Design Review Committee.
If the historic district designation is approved, the architectural review board could deny demolition permits, but developers would still be able to appeal the matter to the Board of Supervisors. The ARB would also make design recommendations for new buildings and certain projects, such as home additions.
“The guidelines emphasize flexibility and encourage site-specific solutions rather than a one-size-fits-all approach,” a proposed handbook with design guidelines says. “They are guidelines, not requirements. Hollin Hills has evolved since the original development phases of the neighborhood, and will continue to do so.”
The book says the guidelines are not meant to “discourage change or growth” but “preserve, complement, and reinforce the modernist historic character of the district” by encouraging the use of compatible materials, among other principles.
Civic Association of Hollin Hills President Patrick Kelly expressed support for making the neighborhood a Historic Overlay District, recalling how the association began the process in 2017 with conversations and visits with homeowners.
Kelly acknowledged that there are some community members with concerns about having another layer of review, but most residents and homeowners agree on the need to protect the architectural integrity of the community.
Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck conducted a survey last September that found 62% of respondents were in favor of creating a Historic Overlay District.
“Only 30 homes have found to be noncontributing…after almost 75 years,” Kelly said, referring to residences that don’t meet the Historic Overlay District requirements but would still be included in it. “It’s testament to…the desire of our homeowners to renovate and continue to live in homes that meet the aesthetic of the midcentury modern harmony and conformity. And so, it’s not the past that we’re concerned about. It’s the future.”
The Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan amendment required to make the designation official will now go to the Board of Supervisors for a public hearing on March 8.