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A Thousand Stories, a new bookstore, is located in the Arts Herndon building (courtesy Michelle Ratto)

While on vacation over the summer, Michelle Ratto became aware of the lack of independent bookstores in Herndon and realized she wanted to fill that void.

Ratto and her business partner Beth Luke — who describe themselves as avid leaders — made that dream come true last month by opening A Thousand Stories, a bookstore with more than 1,000 titles.

The store’s name is inspired by the mission of the business.

“One of the things we love most about bookstores is the magical feeling of being surrounded by so many stories. We decided to name our store…as a way of describing that sense of possibility,” Ratto said.

The bookstore is located in a room at Arts Herndon (750 Center Street), a nonprofit organization that seeks to advance the arts in the town. The idea came from Jo Ormesher, the organization’s president.

While focused on kids and young adults, the store has books for readers of all ages and is happy to fulfill special orders.

The owners are just getting started with hosting community events. Preschool story time started yesterday (Wednesday), and more book clubs and author readings are also planned in January.

The bookstore is open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to. 7 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. The store is closed on Sundays.

“We want everyone to feel comfortable here and to meet new friends and neighbors while finding the perfect book,” Ratto said.

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Deli Italiano will open a restaurant in the Town of Herndon (courtesy Deli Italiano)

Deli Italiano is planning to open its location in the Town of Herndon in early- to mid-December.

The pizza shop — which originally was slated to open in early September — was hit by staffing shortages and ongoing renovation work. It will be located at 700 Elden Street.

“To keep our vision for what the Herndon community needed we delayed the opening,” Bianca Moskaitis, a spokesperson for the company, told FFXnow. “Between staffing shortages which is being felt across many sectors in the local workforce and making sure our renovations of the space were conducive to our business future potential, we were not able to keep our original timeline.”

A ribbon cutting ceremony and opening day offers are planned once the opening date is determined.

Meanwhile, the Reston location is still undergoing renovations. Located at 1631 Washington Plaza, that spot plans to open at Lake Anne Plaza in early 2023.

Deli Italiano serves a variety of salads, sandwiches, pizzas, subs, pastas, and calzones. The menu is available online.

The restaurant has other locations in Leesburg, Sterling, Great Falls, Arlington and Burke.

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The Herndon Town Council could allow the consumption of alcohol in select areas of downtown Herndon (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The possession and consumption of alcoholic drinks could be allowed in some public areas in the Town of Herndon.

The Herndon Town Council is considering legislation that would allow the town to create Designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas (DORAs) in the Downtown Herndon Arts District. Businesses will need licenses for outdoor refreshment areas from the ABC.

Town staff met with Downtown Herndon restaurants in July to explore the idea, according to Dennis Holste, the town’s economic development manager.

So far, the fiscal impact of the project is unclear, Holste wrote.

“These resource commitments will include such budget categories as labor, most likely overtime or contractor support, vehicles and equipment used for road closures, and increases to insurance premiums. A non-profit taking over as the DORA sponsor would help to reduce the town’s fiscal commitment,” he wrote.

Any alcohol within the area must be purchased from an ABC-licensed vendor within the designated DORA.

Each licensee is limited to certain conditions. For example, businesses cannot have more than 16 events where alcohol beverages are sold in the DORA area. Each event also cannot exceed three consequence days.

If the proposal is approved, the town would install signage along public sidewalks near the DORAs. Each sign will delineate where alcohol consumption is not allowed or restricted between midnight and 10 a.m.

Any private property owner within the DORA could prohibit the consumption of alcohol on their property. People also won’t be allowed to consume alcohol within town-owned buildings or facilities — unless otherwise approved — or on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.

The Herndon Police Department plans to patrol the DORAs to monitor compliance and ensure enough security is present for special events within those areas.

If passed, the legislation won’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2023. The state recently enacted legislation allowing localities to establish DORAs.

The council plans to discuss the matter a meeting tonight (Tuesday).

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The anticipated groundbreaking has been pushed back several times (via Comstock)

Market conditions remain unfavorable for the redevelopment of Downtown Herndon, a public-private partnership that is led by developer Comstock and the town.

At a Herndon Town Council meeting earlier this month, Town Manager Bill Ashton II said Comstock remains committed to pausing the development for up to two years. Currently, Comstock is unable to approve financing for the project and conditions remain economically unfavorable for the project to proceed.

The redevelopment seeks to transform five acres of land into a mixed-use project. The cost of the $101 million project increased by $25 million due to materials, labor, and workforce restrictions caused by the pandemic. It’s unclear what the current estimate is.

Comstock announced the project pause in mid-July.

“They want to be ready to go the moment they think the economy is right for them to move,” Ashton said at the Oct. 11 meeting.

He said Comstock stands to lose money on the deal if they proceed as is. Ashton also emphasized that town officials meet biweekly with Comstock for status updates on the project.

Ashton noted that the redevelopment project is governed under the Virginia Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002, bringing different conditions and requirements from a typical design-build contract.

The town’s comprehensive agreement with Comstock was amended in 2020. Ashton II said the agreement contains protections that would kick in if the project does not proceed.

“If nothing is happening within two years, the deal could unwind,” Ashton said.

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The anticipated groundbreaking is officially on pause (via Comstock)

The redevelopment of downtown Herndon by Reston-based developer Comstock has been officially been put on pause.

But Fairfax County’s commitment to provide $6.2 million remains unchanged, according to the county.

The plan would redevelop nearly 5 acres of land into a mixed-use project with 273 apartments and roughly 17,000 square feet of retail. An arts center and a 726-space parking garage are also part of the project.

“The market pause has delayed when those payments are expected to be made between the County and the Town due to the construction delays pushing out the previously mentioned payment triggers. The overall obligation remains in place for the County to provide those payments to the Town when those phases are met,” said Scott Sizer, catalytic development division manager of the Fairfax County Department of Economic initiatives.

The county offered two pledges for the public-private partnership. The first agreement of $1.2 million — approved in 2018 — kicks in when Comstock and the Town of Herndon have contributed at least $1.2 million in value for the construction work.

Sizer says that’s expected to happen after building construction begins.

The second agreement states that the county’s contribution of $5 million will happen after the first residential structure gets its first occupant. The payment — which will likely take place at the end of site construction and the beginning of operations of the apartments — will include annual payments over five years, Sizer said.

A spokesperson for Comstock told FFXnow that no timeline is currently available for when the project might begin.

The project, which was expected to break ground nearly two years ago, could be on pause for up to two years, the town stated in July.

The cost of the $101 million project increased by $25 million due to issues related to materials, labor, and workforce restrictions caused by the pandemic, according to town officials.

In addition to support from the county, Comstock will receive $2.5 million in fee reductions and $1.9 million in real estate tax breaks through an ordinance that was established after the town approved the project.

The project has been marred by delays since its inception. Groundbreaking was originally planned for December 2019.

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The anticipated groundbreaking on Herndon’s downtown redevelopment project has been pushed back several times (via Comstock)

The redevelopment of Downtown Herndon through a partnership between the Town of Herndon and Reston-based developer Comstock is temporarily on pause.

The project, which was expected to break ground nearly two years ago, could be on pause for up to two years, according to a statement in the town’s business community newsletter, published Wednesday afternoon (July 13). The town says the pause was the result of “increases in construction costs for the project.”

“Comstock continues working to ensure that they can quickly commence the project as soon as economic conditions allow,” the newsletter said.

That means the latest construction would begin is in April 2024. Town spokesperson Anne Curtis said no other information on the topic was available.

The plan would redevelop nearly five acres of land into a mixed-use project with 273 apartments and roughly 17,000-square-feet of retail. An arts center and a 726-space parking garage are also planned as part of the project.

The news comes after months of little to no information about the project being disclosed to the public. In May, town staff said they were working with Comstock to negotiate a new construction schedule and financing package.

The cost of the $101 million project increased by $25 million due to issues related to materials, labor, and workforce restrictions caused by the pandemic. It’s unclear what the current estimate is.

Comstock’s agreement with the town, which was passed in November of 2020, allows the developer to pause construction due to market conditions and other issues.

“The town will continue working with Comstock to move the project forward and will provide an update project schedule once available,” the newsletter said.

For now, the development site will continue being used as a site for shared parking.

A spokesperson for Comstock did not immediately return a request for comment.

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Morning Notes

McLean Central Park gazebo (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Recent Gun Violence Leaves D.C. Area on Edge — “In the D.C. area in recent days, two shootings in crowded public spaces — at the festival on U Street and at a Fairfax County mall — reinforced that no one is immune from violence. As a result, some area residents have begun to pull back. People have started to think twice before going to concerts and the mall.” [The Washington Post]

Tysons Software Company Lays Off 54 Workers — “ID.me Inc. has laid off dozens of employees following a period of rapid growth and just months after the Internal Revenue Service halted use of ID.me’s facial recognition technology…The company had expanded rapidly during the pandemic to keep up with growing demand at the time” [Washington Business Journal]

Man Charged in Fairfax City Assault — “A Maryland man was charged in connection with an assault that took place Saturday afternoon on Main Street, Fairfax City police said in a news release. Ronaldo Thomas, 41, of Capital Heights, Maryland, was charged with one count each of strangulation and assault and battery in connection with the choking of a woman outside the Main Street Marketplace, police said.” [Patch]

Annandale Dollar Tree to Reopen — Construction appears to be underway to repair the entrance to the Dollar Tree in the Bradlick Shopping Center. The store has been closed since a car crashed through the glass doors in October, but signs posted on the new doors indicate the shop will reopen “soon” and is now hiring. [Annandale Today]

Still Crickets on Downtown Herndon Project — “It appears unlikely, virtually impossible, that Comstock could break ground on the Herndon Redevelopment Project before summer starts. A groundbreaking date was first anticipated in late 2019 with project completion possibly in 2021.” [The Connection]

Fairfax City Welcomes New Nail Salon — “Sure, it’s easy to find a nail salon in nearly every city. But one look inside Raizun Nail Spa in Fairfax City lets customers know this spacious and upscale business is different from the rest. ‘Their salon is absolutely gorgeous,’ said Danette Nguyen, the City’s assistant economic development director.” [The Connection]

Tropical Storm Ida Relief Still Available — “The Washington Metropolitan Area District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) reminds eligible business owners in Fairfax…to apply for working capital loans before the July 18 deadline. This disaster loan program is available to small businesses…and most private nonprofit organizations that were affected by the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida that occurred from Aug. 31 through Sept 4, 2021.” [Fairfax County Emergency Information]

Benches Dedicated to Former County Leaders — “Former Board Chairman and Braddock District Supervisor Sharon Bulova and former Braddock District Supervisor John Cook had benches dedicated in their honor at the Braddock District Office, which is also home to the Kings Park Library.” [Patch]

It’s Thursday — Rain in the morning and afternoon. High of 75 and low of 63. Sunrise at 5:46 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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The anticipated groundbreaking for the downtown Herndon redevelopment has been pushed back several times (via Comstock)

A groundbreaking date for downtown Herndon’s pending redevelopment has been as elusive as the regional transportation that’s intended to help activate it: the opening of phase two of the Silver Line.

Developer Comstock Companies is working with the town to transform 4.7 acres of land into a mixed-use town center with 273 residential apartments, 17,000 square feet of retail space, an arts center and a 726-space parking garage.

Comstock has submitted a new schedule for the project, which was expected to break ground this spring after being pushed further out from last year.

At a Herndon Town Council meeting on Tuesday (May 10), town manager Bill Ashton II said attorneys for Comstock and the town are negotiating the schedule and financing package.

“They are on the cusp of going to lending but there are some things they need to iron out before they can get there,” Ashton II said at the meeting.

The town is actively working on this issues, which were not publicly discussed. Comstock has also required some changes to a building permit based on site plan revisions that will be submitted to the town.

Comstock told FFXnow in a statement that no updates were available to share.

Ashton provided the update at a meeting following questions from Vice Mayor Cesar del Aguila.

“There’s a lot of rumor mill and conspiracies out there,” del Aguila said.

The cost of the $101 million project increased by $25 million due to issues related to materials, labor, and workforce restrictions caused by the pandemic.

When asked about the project, a spokesperson for the town deferred to the discussion at the meeting.

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