Herndon’s business community expressed overall levels of satisfaction with the town in a recent survey, but some say they want the town to focus more on expanding support for businesses.
Presented at a Herndon Town Council work session on Tuesday (Sept. 19), the results were gathered from a business survey by Priority Metrics Group (PMG), which included 155 respondents, the average of which has been in the town for 17 years.
At the work session, council members emphasized the need for the town to more actively support businesses and expand town events that draw customers — two themes of improvement from the survey.
“They want a more business-friendly government,” Councilmember Donielle Scherff said. “We’ve talked a bit about customer service-centric leadership and staff, and this just sort of buttresses into that.”
Most respondents say they chose Herndon because of its location.
“They like being here. There are amenities and attributes that are here that they like,” said John Barrett, owner of PMG.
Overall, sentiments about the town’s general business environment dipped only slightly since the last survey was conducted in 2018.
Business owners said they were drawn by the access to airports — which expanded last year with the opening of Metro’s Silver Line extension — as well as the overall quality of life and the image of the town. Top concerns included licensing, taxation, regulations, crime rates, traffic and the quality of new development.
Many business owners said they wanted to see more special events in the town — a move that Councilmember Cesar del Aguila said emphasizes the need for the council to focus extra attention on event development.
“What I’m hearing here solidifies my personal belief that we’re on the right track,” del Aguila said, noting a need to focus on branding for the town. He said it was “painful” to hear that some business owners did not feel noticed by the local government.
So far, use of the Mason Enterprise Center — a business accelerator program from George Mason University that launched earlier this year — appears limited, according to the survey. A little over 80% of respondents said they had not heard about the center.
Most respondents — 77% of businesses — said the Metro Silver Line has had no impact or a neutral impact on their businesses.
PMG also recently completed a survey of town residents, who flagged traffic as a top concern.
Photo via Google Maps
Shoppers at the Route 29-adjacent Costco might notice some major changes soon.
The wholesale company is seeking a special exception from Fairfax County to increase the size of its existing retail warehouse at 4725 West Ox Road by around 8,500 square feet and enhance some of the store’s departments.
The new addition would be located to the eastern side of the building.
“The additional space proposed for the existing warehouse building would be utilized for upgrading and expanding the delicatessen and rotisserie area, increasing the size of the refrigerated meat storage space, constructing a new produce cooler, and expanding sales aisles,” the application said. “There will be slight increase in [floor area ratio].”
The application says Costco’s Fairfax area location is a popular one, with around 5,000 customers per day. The expansion is estimated to bring in another approximately 300 customers.
The company also anticipates hiring another 16 employees if the addition is approved, bringing its total workforce for that location to approximately 286 people.
The expansion is expected to result in dozens more vehicle trips to the already heavily frequented site, according to the application:
- 26 AM peak hour trips (14 in/12 out)
- 37 PM peak hour trips (18 in/19 out)
- 63 Saturday peak hour trips (31 in/32 out)
- 417 weekday average daily trips (7,453 Weekday average trips total)
- 753 Saturday average daily trips (8,218 Saturday trips total)
“The proposed expansion of the retail warehouse building will provide a significant improvement to the operation of the facility for Costco’s members,” the application said. “The proposed amendment conforms to the spirit of the Zoning Ordinance and the recommendations of the Comprehensive Plan. Therefore, for the reasons set forth herein, the Applicant respectfully requests approval of this Special Exception Amendment application.”
The county accepted the application for review on Sept. 6, but no hearings have been scheduled yet.
The proposal comes after Costco got the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ approval in March to expand the gas station at its West Ox location from 16 to 30 fuel pumps.
Image via Google Maps
The fastest-growing company in Fairfax County is a Tysons-based cybersecurity firm whose stated goal is to “fundamentally change” how organizations get technical expertise.
MOXFIVE claimed the 39th spot overall and the top spot for the security industry on the latest Inc. 5000, an annual ranking of the country’s most successful privately owned companies based on their revenue growth.
This is Moxfive’s first time on the prestigious list, and among the 120 Fairfax County companies that got included this year, it has the highest ranking, according to the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.
“Our overall and security industry rankings on the Inc. 5000 list are an acknowledgement of our team’s determination and success in maintaining an unwavering commitment to changing an industry by obsessing over delivering a superior customer experience,” MOXFIVE CEO and founder Mike Wager said in a press release. “Appearing on the Inc. 5000 list is also validation that our Platform…is the future of the industry.”
Founded in 2019, Moxfive describes itself as a specialized technical advisory firm that assists other businesses with responding to cyberattacks and bolstering their information technology capabilities.
Headquartered in The Plaza at Tysons Corner Center (1751 Pinnacle Drive, Suite 600), the company has seen its revenue grow 9,622% over the past three years, according to the 2023 Inc. 5000. It was also included on Inc.’s 2022 Best Workplaces list.
In a comment to the FCEDA, Wager lauded Fairfax County as “a fantastic area” to raise a family and start a business.
“We have been fortunate to achieve a great deal of success and I attribute much of that to the business environment in Fairfax County, which includes a tremendous amount of cybersecurity talent,” he said. “This has allowed us to find the people we need more easily and scale more quickly.”
Per the economic development authority, Fairfax County had 15 companies in the top 500 of this year’s Inc. 5000 and accounted for 44% of the 274 Virginia companies to make an appearance. The top 500 companies were featured in Inc. Magazine’s September issue, which hit newsstands on Aug. 23.
The storage functions offered by Self Storage Plus in Tysons weren’t meant to extend to the parking lot, the Fairfax County Department of Code Compliance (DCC) says.
The self-storage facility at 1764 Old Meadow Lane faces potentially hundreds of dollars in fines for keeping mobile storage units and other commercial vehicles in its parking lot, according to a notice of violation issued by a code compliance investigator for the county on July 26.
Self Storage Plus is seeking to fight or at least postpone the notice, stating that it opened the facility in 2020 “in good faith” under the assumption that commercial vehicle parking was permitted on the site.
“They were unaware that the storage of exterior storage units and the commercial parking of vehicles and trailers on the parking lot of the Subject Property was not in conformance with the approved proffers that govern the site,” Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh partner Lynne Strobel wrote in an Aug. 23 appeal statement on behalf of Self Storage Plus.
According to the county’s notice, investigator Matthew Stengel found during a July 19 inspection that “exterior storage units, vehicles, and trailers [were] being stored in the parking lot” in violation of the site’s development conditions, which were approved in 2016.
The county’s Zoning Evaluation Division issued a letter on Jan. 24, 2018 confirming that the plan requires “that loading areas be fully enclosed…with no outward signs of storage bay doors, storage items or lighted hallways.”
“The use limitations further state there shall be amble [sic] circulation and parking on-site and that there must be no incidental parking and storage of trucks, trailers and/or moving vans,” the letter said.
Self Storage Plus was hit with a notice of violation for the same issue on Feb. 18, 2022. The county imposes a $200 fine for a first zoning proffer violation and $500 for each subsequent violation.
The notice directs the company to remove the vehicles from the parking lot or amend its development plan to allow the “incidental parking,” which requires the approval of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
Noting that the property was previously used for self-storage by CubeSmart, Strobel says Self Storage Plus believed, based on feedback from industry consultants, that a portion could be used for off-street commercial parking, and the portable storage units were allowed as an accessory use, since they support the main storage establishment.
“Therefore, the Owners reasonably believed it was lawfully permitted to park commercial vehicles and trailers…as well as maintain exterior storage units,” Strobel wrote, arguing that the company would be unable to “effectively operate” its facility without the vehicles.
According to the appeal statement, the 2022 violation was also appealed and later voided by the Virginia Supreme Court’s strikedown of the county’s updated zoning ordinance, which got re-approved by the Board of Supervisors without significant changes on May 9.
The new appeal is intended to protect Self Storage Plus’ rights and stop any enforcement of the violation while the company conducts “additional research, investigation, and discussions with County staff.”
The company also plans to “explore possible legislative land use solutions,” such as an amendment, to legally allow the commercial vehicle and storage unit parking.
If accepted for review by the county, the appeal will go to the Board of Zoning Appeals, followed by the Board of Supervisors.
Image via Google Maps
More than two dozen local businesses were honored last month for their commitment to “green commuting.”
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn honored the 29 businesses for taking part in this year’s Bike to Work Day employer challenge, which rewarded companies that encouraged their employees to commute via bicycle.
Alcorn said the new Silver Line stations from Reston to Ashburn mean more employees than ever have the option for cycling to and from a bus or train stop.
“Employers who encourage a healthy and green commute, and employees who enjoy our scenic trails on the way to work all contribute to Fairfax County’s sustainability efforts and quality of life,” Alcorn said.
The challenge by the Dulles Area Transport Association (DATA) recognizes local medium and large companies with five or more employees for participating in Bike to Work Day. DATA is a nonprofit public-private partnership between businesses, government, and the community in the greater Dulles area.
The July 28 ceremony also recognized participating small businesses with two or more employees.
A list of this year’s participants is below.
Created by subdividing the 260,000-square-foot department store, which closed in January 2019, the new wing is “effectively 100% leased” and has helped expand the mall’s offerings, particularly when it comes to home decor and entertainment, according to owner and developer Brookfield Properties.
“I think the Macy’s redevelopment is a great example of what Brookfield does,” Joe Hope, Brookfield’s senior vice president of leasing, said. “We took a 30-plus-year-old department store and reimagined that into a collection of categories and uses that we felt would be an additive to our merchandizing mix.”
Over the past couple of years, Tysons Galleria has doubled down on the high-end retailers that have cemented its reputation as the upscale cousin to its neighbor across Route 123, Tysons Corner Center.
Recent additions have ranged from fashion brands like Dior and Balenciaga to a slew of furniture stores, including Arhaus and a combined Crate & Barrel and CB2. The renovated wing also hosts Bowlero, the dine-in movie theater CMX CinéBistro and the restaurants, Yard House and Jiwa Singapura.
Though Brookfield didn’t provide specific numbers, Hope says that, so far, the sales performance of those newcomers “has exceeded our and their expectations,” noting that some tenants like Crate & Barrel had relocated from other sites in the area.
“A number of those brands existed in the trade area and just repositioned from prior locations to Tysons Galleria,” he told FFXnow. “Those stores, they’ve reported to us are generating significantly higher sales. So, it really proves the mix of the environment that we created in that wing is working for them.”
Far from being an obstacle, Tysons Galleria’s commitment to luxury retail buoyed it through the economic turmoil spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Hope and Brookfield Senior Director of Leasing Elizabeth Ryan.
In general, luxury brands have been relatively insulated from the impacts of inflation and other financial challenges, with research indicating customer demand across income levels, Retail Dive reported in February.
Whether that continues remains to be seen, as some companies reported slowing sales in late 2022, and a survey by the consulting firm PwC found that 53% of consumers plan to reduce spending on premium and designer products.
Like other malls in urban metro areas, Tysons Galleria took some hits when businesses shut down and office workers shifted to their homes early in the pandemic, but there hasn’t been any “sustained negative impact,” Hope says. Read More
Updated at 5:50 p.m. on 7/5/2023 — Walgreens has extended its one-hour delivery promotion through July, citing a positive response to the D.C. area pilot in June.
“We know summer is a busy time for our customers and that they’re looking for easy, quick and convenient solutions,” the company said.
Walgreens said it plans to continue its delivery program, but no determination has been made yet on whether the offer of $10 in rewards credits will be extended after this month.
Earlier: Tomorrow (Friday) will be the last chance Fairfax County residents have to take advantage of Walgreens’ experiment with one-hour home deliveries.
At the beginning of June, the pharmacy company launched a pilot program exclusively in the D.C. region that guarantees deliveries to customers within an hour. They can get $10 towards the Walgreens rewards program to use in the future “if it’s even a minute late,” according to a press release.
Running from June 1-30, the pilot included 22 stores in Fairfax County and over 160 stores across Virginia.
“The stores in the northern Virginia/DC area, part of the broader Mid-Atlantic region, were chosen to test the 1-hour Delivery offering because the region contains a large number of storefronts, and serves a mix of population sizes (urban, suburban, rural), allowing us to test our delivery guarantee in a variety of environments,” a Walgreens representative said by email.
More than 27,000 items are eligible for the service, including over-the-counter medicines, but alcohol and prescription medicine deliveries are exempted.
As previously reported by FFXnow’s sister site, ARLnow, Walgreens does tack on a fee for deliveries that varies depending on the products in the order and the distance traveled.
Walgreens introduced same-day deliveries in December, a service that’s available 24 hours a day and includes prescription medications. It also offers 30-minute pickups for orders of $10 or more.
Like many other retailers, Walgreens has been building up its delivery services over the past few years, partnering with companies like Instacart, DoorDash and Postmates.
Nationwide, demand for contactless delivery and curbside pickup services surged early in the pandemic, providing a lifeline to restaurants and other businesses that had to close their doors. At the same time, the third-party apps that proliferated have faced scrutiny for their high commissions and labor practices, while service fees have increased — even for Amazon, which helped set expectations of free, fast shipping.
A full list of the Fairfax County stores participating in the Walgreens pilot is below: Read More
Businesses along Whittier Avenue in McLean will soon get some relief from the trucks, trailers and other vehicles hoarding parking spots on the downtown street.
At the request of the business owners, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors agreed unanimously at its meeting on Tuesday (May 9) to restrict overnight, on-street parking on two blocks between Old Dominion Drive and Laughlin Avenue.
Under the restrictions, all commercial vehicles, recreational vehicles and trailers will be prohibited from parking on Whittier from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on all seven days of the week, according to county staff, who recommended approval of the measure.
Over the past year, there has been a “significant” increase in commercial vehicles using the two-lane road as overnight parking or a “24/7 parking lot,” said Dr. Andrew Hinkle, who has a dentistry practice in one of the office buildings on Whittier.
“It has caused an extreme limited visibility of our businesses. People being able to see our businesses from the street is paramount to our success,” Hinkle told the board in video testimony. “Additionally, we’ve had limited parking due to the number of spots these large and long vehicles are taking up on Whittier Avenue. Prior to their parking there, those spots were constantly filled every day. Now, our patients and our clients are having difficulty finding parking spots.”
Hinkle said the parking issue has also raised safety concerns, making it difficult for drivers to see oncoming traffic when exiting the parking lot for his office’s building at 6711 Whittier Avenue.
One time, a woman pulling out of the lot got “t-boned” by a driver on the street, he recalled. He has also witnessed or heard about “several” near-collisions.
“Clearly, this is not the intention of what the parking on that street should be. I highly encourage you to pass the parking restrictions so that we can get back to a more safe and business-friendly environment,” Hinkle said before the board’s vote.
Hinkle Dentistry wasn’t the only business to contact the Dranesville District office about a parking restriction on Whittier, though the dentist was the only person to submit testimony at Tuesday’s public hearing.
A review of the affected blocks over a 30-day period by the Fairfax County Department of Transportation confirmed the complaints from the businesses, county transportation planner Henri Stein McCartney said.
“Long-term parking of commercial vehicles is occurring, thereby diminishing the capacity of on-street parking for other uses,” staff said in the board agenda.
Commercial vehicles, as defined by the county’s code, include waste collection vehicles, tractor-trailers, limousines, vehicles carrying food and beverages, vehicles with lawn care or construction equipment, and any vehicle that exceeds 21 feet in length, 8 feet in height, 102 inches in width or 12,000 pounds.
Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust thanked Hinkle for testifying and working with the county “to address a serious safety issue and a convenience issue in downtown McLean.”
Photo via Google Maps
An information technology company has officially opened its doors in the heart of downtown Herndon.
Probity, a small business that offers content analytics, cross-domain solutions and software and engineering services, opened at 754 Elden Street in Suite 201 earlier this year.
The company, which was founded in 2011, employs more than 100 individuals. It’s located at the Herndon Commerce Center, a three-story building that was built in 2006 and is in the historic district.
The town’s Heritage District Review Board is considering an application for signage identifying the business at a meeting tomorrow (Wednesday).
A spokesperson for the business told FFXnow that the company has been operating elsewhere in Herndon for more than 10 years. Probity recently signed a lease at the Herndon Commerce Center.
The owners were not immediately available for a request for comment.
Photo 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.”