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Residence Inn could shift into a multi-family housing project (via Town of Herndon)

Herndon will have to wait a little longer to see whether the local Residence Inn will be redeveloped into residential units.

At a Herndon Town Council meeting on Tuesday (May 24), the council deferred a decision on the project, which converts the aging facility into a 170-unit project with at least half of the units set aside as workforce housing.

The applicant’s representative, Ken Wire, said the deferral was necessary because the applicant was not able to sufficiently gather formal feedback from neighboring residents and stakeholders. Wire said some notices about the project were not sent out in time.

The issue was caused by a planning fluke, Wire told the council.

The council has been working with the applicant to sort through a number of details, including beefed-up proffers, for the project. The plan includes 72 new bicycle spaces, a new cycle station facility, and improvements like ADA-friendly crosswalks and $10,000 for bus stop improvements.

Wire said the applicant first came to the Town of Herndon with this project in 2019 to redevelop an asset that was built 32 years ago and “doesn’t fit its purpose.”

“The good news about this sister is that it does lay out quite well for housing units,” Wire said.

Roughly half of the units will be available to residents who earn up to 80% of the median area income.

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The Reston Pride festival returns this year to Lake Anne Plaza on June 4 (via Chip McCrea Photography)

Reston Pride will return to Lake Anne Plaza this year for its fifth annual festival on June 4.

The annual event follows the theme “You Belong Here” in an effort to engage the LGBTQIA+ community.

This year’s event will feature more than 65 vendors, including local businesses, artists, and advocacy organizations. Organizers have also partnered with Elden Street Tea Shop to concoct a specialty tea blend — appropriately called Inclusivitea — produced to raise funds for Reston Pride.

Board president Kyle Rohen said the event has been blessed with active participation from the community at large.

“I believe the importance of pride cannot be understated, particularly at a time where the most vulnerable members of our community, specifically trans youth and queer people of color, are under relentless attack in legislatures nationwide,” Rohen wrote in a statement.

Drag performances, spoken word, and the event’s headlining act — The Kinsey Sicks — are also set for the event.

The Kinsey Sicks, an a capella quartet who describe themselves as “America’s favorite dragapella beauty shop quartet,” will perform at Reston Community Center’s CenterStage the same night at 8 p.m.

Nathan Hagan, an event organizer, said this year’s event has nearly double the number of vendors and organizations participating over last year.

“Some other changes this year include a reinforced commitment to community and giving back,” Hagan said by email. “In the wake of some of the political debates around the country and our region here in Northern Virginia, we have some specific community leaders who will speak and share their experiences within the Transgender community.”

Organizers anticipate between 2,000 and 3,000 people to attend the festival throughout the day.

“It is a hyper-local focused pride festival that first and foremost is about creating a safe environment where people feel empowered to be themselves,” Hagan said. “While we are called ‘Reston’ by name, our volunteers and board members come from across the region, and we serve and partner with individuals and organizations around the larger area.”

The organization hopes to donate proceeds from the event to Casa BruMar Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to build an LGBTQ+ community center in Virginia. The funds would support housing stability for trans youth.

“Our directive here is clear; service to our community is vital for growth and longevity of the community itself, and Casa BruMar provides the exact kind of support necessary to keep trans youth safe,” Hagan told FFXnow.

Reston Pride is a nonprofit organization that launched in 2018. The group advocates and educates individuals about the LGBTQIA+ community in Reston and surrounding areas.

Photo via Chip McCrea Photography

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The long-anticipated opening of Wegmans in Reston is nearing, as the grocer begins hiring for the 85,000-square-foot business.

Wegmans is set to open in early 2023 at the new Halley Rise development, a $1.4 million mixed-use neighborhood located at the intersection of Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive.

The company has begun hiring for 150 full-time positions ahead of the opening. Positions range from entry-level management to culinary roles like chefs, prep cooks and dishwashers. Overall, the grocer is expected to employ more than 400 people, most of which will be hired locally.

The new store will include a market cafe, coffee shop and The Burger Bar.

“We bring new employees on board to begin training quickly after they’re hired,” said Store Manager Katie Sullivan. “Our commitment to in-depth training is the main reason we begin the hiring process so early. These jobs provide competitive pay with industry-leading benefits, flexible scheduling, and most importantly, a great place to work.”

Applications will not be accepted at the construction site, and hiring for part-time positions is expected to begin at a later date.

The grocer is part of Brookfield Properties’ transformation of a 36-acre office park at the door of the Reston Town Center Metro station into a mixed-use neighborhood with 3.5 million square feet of housing, retail, modern offices and open spaces. Up to 1,500 residential units, 250,000 square feet of retail, and 1.5 million square feet of office space are planned.

In 2020, Wegmans anticipated it would open before the end of this year, but the company later revised that timeline to early 2023.

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Residence Inn could shift into a multi-family housing project (via Town of Herndon)

The proposed redevelopment of an aging Residence Inn in the Town of Herndon is barreling toward a final approval before the Herndon Town Council this month.

The property owner, identified as Elden Street Owner LLC, is repurposing the hotel at 315 Elden Street into a 170-unit project with at least half of the units set aside as workforce housing, according to application materials reviewed before the Herndon Town Council on Tuesday (May 17).

“They’ll go through and renovate every unit,” David Stromberg, the town’s zoning administrator, said.

Councilmember Sean Regan said he was pleased the applicant did not alter its plan — particularly the workforce housing component — as it moves through the approval process.

“It’s wonderful to see it stick with that original vision,” Regan said.

The plans include 184 parking spaces and 72 new bicycle spaces. Roughly 48 spaces are planned within a cycle station facility, and 24 spaces are planned on racks throughout the site. The applicant’s traffic demand management plan must be approved before occupancy begins.

Other improvements include new ADA-friendly crosswalks, the dedication of roughly 885 square feet of street frontage for future road improvement, and roughly $10,000 for bus stop improvements.

Because of the change of the property’s use, the plan now falls within a floodplain overlay in FEMA’s current flood maps. But the property was removed in the latest floodplain draft and a flood study is no longer required as a result.

Councilmember Jasbinder Singh said he was concerned about ambient noise from the neighboring Outback Steakhouse that is currently under construction.

“I wonder whether we could make sure any noise… doesn’t effect these units,” Singh said.

Stormberg said the addition of parapet walls around the building’s mechanical units “does function to keep some of the noise in.”

The town council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the project during its session on May 24, which could result in a vote.

Mayor Sheila Olem encouraged council members to bring up any proposed amendments in a speedy fashion in order to move forward with the application.

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New restaurant Knossos will take the place of Spice Town in Herndon (via Knossos/Facebook)

(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) The family behind Knossos Restaurant, an eatery that called Leesburg home for a decade, is bringing its Greek and American cuisine to Elden Street.

Owner Sarfraz Nawaz said many customers have been asking about plans to open a new location. Once the renovation is completed, the business will open at 150 Elden Street, Suite 180, the former home of Spice Town.

“We wanted to pick a location that would provide a central hub location to the various surrounding areas to meet the demand for high quality Greek food. This location is conveniently located near Fairfax County parkway and provides that easy access,” Nawaz wrote in a statement to FFXnow.

While there’s no exact date yet, the owners hope to open their doors to the community within the next two months. The restaurant’s Leesburg location closed in 2006.

Knossos Restaurant will have limited indoor seating, and no outdoor seating is available. Pickup and delivery will also be offered.

It offers subs, burgers, gyros, shawarma, falafel, platters, salad and other items.

Photo via Knossos Restaurant/Facebook

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Morning Notes

A Virginia Department of Transportation truck at the intersection of Route 1 and Popkins Lane in Groveton, where traffic signals were flashing (staff photo by Brandi Bottalico)

Metro Leaders Step Down — Metro General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld and Chief Operating Officer Joe Leader resigned, effective immediately, last night (Monday) after the transit agency pulled 72 operators for failing to recertify. Wiedefeld had been set to leave on June 30 but says he wanted to “provide a more timely transition to Interim General Manager Andy Off.” [WMATA]

Mosby Woods Residents Split Over Possible Street Renamings — “The increasingly diverse neighborhood named after Confederate army battalion commander John S. Mosby…is another battleground, with the [Fairfax] City Council set to decide in June whether nine streets in Mosby Woods should be called something else.” [The Washington Post]

Pipe Replacement to Disrupt Wolf Trap Area Traffic — “Lawyers Road (Route 673) just south of Carhill Road will have one lane of alternating traffic in each direction via flagging Tuesday, May 17 through Wednesday, May 18, between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. each day to replace a stormwater pipe…Through traffic will be detoured via Garrett Street, Trott Avenue, Vale Road, Hunter Mill Road and back to Lawyers” [VDOT]

Police Share Details on I-95 Crash — “The woman who died in last week’s fatal three-vehicle crash on Interstate 95 in Springfield, Virginia, was identified Monday by Virginia State Police….Speed and driver distraction are being investigated as contributing factors in the crash.” [WTOP]

Herndon IT Company Bought for $4.2B — “Herndon information technology contractor ManTech International Corp. (NASDAQ: MANT) said Monday morning it has agreed to be acquired by D.C. private equity powerhouse The Carlyle Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CG) in an all-cash transaction valued at $4.2 billion.” [Washington Business Journal]

Decision Nears on Lake Accotink Dredging — Fairfax County will make a final decision “in just weeks” on how to address sediment build-up in Springfield’s Lake Accotink. The options currently on the table would transport the sediment to a nearby industrial park or pipe it to Wakefield Park, where it would then be taken to a quarry via I-495, raising environmental and traffic concerns. [ABC7]

Reston Association’s Pool Season Underway — “Our Pools season has officially started! Check out these scenes from opening weekend at North Shore and Lake Audubon! Thanks to all who came out! We’re ready to have an amazing summer at the Pools!” [RA/Twitter]

Bear Sightings Might Become More Common — “Due to warmer weather, bears are beginning to move throughout the county. Be safe by securing your trash cans and bird feeders, reducing the likelihood of on of our hairy friends popping up in your community.” [Pat Herrity/Twitter]

It’s Tuesday — Clear throughout the day. High of 73 and low of 58. Sunrise at 5:56 am and sunset at 8:18 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A carnival will light up the Town of Herndon in early June (via Town of Herndon)

This year’s alternative to the annual Herndon Festival — a carnival — is set for early June.

The Herndon Carnival will come to the Northwest Federal Credit Union (200 Spring Street), bringing rides, games, entertainers, food vendors and a 5k race to the campus.

Admission is free to the event. In addition to carnival staples, attendees will have the chance to enjoy Greek, Latin, Asian, and southern and traditional American foods.

Pets are not allowed in the carnival areas, and all backpacks, packages and hand-carried items will be searched.

Here’s more from the town on the logistics of free bus shuttle service and parking for the event:

A free shuttle bus service will transport attendees to and from the Carnival area, departing every ten minutes from the Peraton building off Worldgate Drive, 12975 Worldgate Drive, or from the front of Herndon High School, by the bike racks, off Bennett Street.

Two new stops have been added: Herndon Middle School, in the front of the school at 901 Locust Street, and Parkridge Apartments off Florida Avenue.

Parking at shuttle bus pick-up/drop-off locations is free. Shuttle bus service hours are as follows: Thursday, June 2, 6:00-10:00 p.m.; Friday, June 3, 5:00-11:00 p.m.; Saturday, June 4, 10:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m.; and Sunday, June 5, 10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. Or ride your bike and enjoy a free bike valet service located off Herndon Parkway and the W&OD Trail.

Free public parking is available at 505 Huntmar Drive, a short walk from the Carnival site. For Kiss and Ride drop-offs, use 151 Spring Street.

A “Run Into Summer 5k” is planned to take place on Sunday, June 5 at 7:30 p.m. Beginning at the Herndon Community Center, the race will take attendees through the historic downtown. The first 500 pre-registered participants get a free t-shirt. Registration for the event is open online.

The event is sponsored primarily by Northwest Federal Credit Union and several community and countywide partners. The race is sponsored by Wegmans, Virginia Pediatric Group and Good Wolf Gear.

Residents should avoid the intersection of Herndon Parkway and Spring Street, which is primarily where traffic will be impacted by the event.

The town expects the usual Herndon Festival to return next year, marking 40 years since the event started in the town. The format of the event was changed to help the town and department transition back to hosting large-scale events.

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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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A rendering of the proposed Parkview development and promenade at the gateway of the Herndon-Monroe Metro Station (via Town of Herndon)

When Metro riders get off the future Herndon-Monroe Metro Station, town planners want the first impression of the town to be a unique experience.

That’s part of the reason why town officials are working on the Herndon Metrorail Promenade, a 500-foot-long and nearly 70-foot-wide gateway plaza that will connect the Metro station to Herndon Parkway.

It’s designed to be the first introduction to the town, offering a “gateway experience…unlike all other major entrances to the town,” staff said in planning documents.

Up to $200,000 is up for consideration for the project as part of the town’s Capital Improvement Plan, a long-range planning tool that will be discussed by the Herndon Town Council tonight (Tuesday).

While it’s too early to know what the promenade will look like, town planners hope the “quality, form, scale and aesthetic design of the whole and its components will create a lasting impression” of the town on pedestrians.

A walkway along the center of the future promenade will serve Metro riders once the station opens. Another public walkway that’s currently under construction will run from Metro’s pavilion to the sidewalk of Herndon Parkway and two land bays.

Strategically, the gateway is intended to boost the success of the Herndon Transit-Oriented Core. It will feature a mix of plaza spaces and planted areas with sculptural elements and seating to welcome visitors into town.

It’s not yet clear how the promenade will match up with the proposed Parkview development, which will open up directly to the plaza at 593 Herndon Parkway from the Metro station door. Lerner Enterprises’ mixed-use project went to the town’s planning commission for a discussion last night (Monday).

It will be a while before the town’s vision for the promenade comes to fruition. Currently, the project has no timeline, as only design and engineering funding the project has been allocated.

Town spokesperson Anne Curtis tells FFXnow that the land for the future promenade is currently owned by three different entities.

“The town owns the center portion, where the existing walkway is located; private property owners own the land adjacent to the walkway.  These owners will be providing improvements when redevelopment occurs,” Curtis wrote in a statement.

Design and engineering will also be necessary to make sure that the current walkway is redesigned to become a “seamless” part of the promenade, Curtis said.

Developer contributions for the project are expected, along with other funding sources.

While much remains unknown about the promenade design itself, the opening date of the Metro station also remains a mystery. There currently isn’t even an estimated timeline for opening the Silver Line’s long-anticipated second phase, even as crews complete final testing and pre-revenue service activities.

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Town of Herndon police (courtesy Herndon Police Department)

(Updated at 7 p.m.) Police, hazmat crews, and other first responders are on the scene of a death in the Town of Herndon.

The Town of Herndon Police Department is advising people to avoid the 500 block of Florida Avenue while the investigation is underway.

“There is no threat to the public,” the department says.

Police later said that it did not appear any crime had been committed, but crews “noticed something that prompted them to call HAZMAT to the scene as a precaution.”

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