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Layout of the new self-storage facility being planned for Herndon (via Town of Herndon)

A new self-storage facility appears likely to replace a soon-to-be-demolished, four-decade-old warehouse in Herndon.

On Monday (Sept. 26), the Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission unanimously approved plans to construct a 30,000-square-foot Security Public Storage facility at 331 Victory Drive. The old warehouse currently on the site, located in a business park, would be demolished.

This came after a public hearing where a couple of neighbors shared their own approval for the project.

The new building will replace a warehouse originally built in 1982 that currently houses several tenants, including Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, which uses the space to build and store sets and props.

“This proposal will demolish an aging industrial building with a modern building that more efficiently uses the town’s limited space,” reads the staff report.

The project was first brought to the town’s Architectural Review Board back in April.

Renderings of the self-storage facility on Victory Drive in Herndon (via Town of Herndon)

Even with the commission’s approval, there remain several steps before demolition and construction can begin.

Next, the project goes to the Herndon Town Council for a public hearing. If it passes there, a site plan will undergo an administrative review, then return to the Architectural Review Board for another public hearing on the exterior. Finally, Security Public Storage can apply for building permits to start construction and demolition.

If and when all of that does happen, demolition and construction could take about a year to complete.

Several commissioners and neighbors said during the public hearing that the new building is expected to be an improvement over what’s there now.

A drive aisle will be removed, trash dumpsters will be shifted indoors, air conditioners placed on top of the building, and an on-site stormwater treatment solution will be installed.

Residents hope the changes will lead to less traffic, better landscaping, improved water quality, and a decrease in noise around the building, which borders about five single-family residences in the Van Buren Estates.

“Overall, we are very pleased with what the new building will be, removing the road, and moving the…trash dumpsters from the building,” one resident of Van Buren Estates said at the public hearing. “It’s definitely a big improvement.”

Residents and the commissioners still had some questions or concerns about the details of the plan. The length, material, and continuity of the fence dividing the self-storage facility from the residences as well as the landscaping were topics of discussion.

Some also wondered if the community actually needs another self-storage facility. With several multi-family developments in the pipeline for Herndon, Security Public Storage made the case that more self-storage would be needed.

While a couple of commissioners questioned that assertion, the project nonetheless proceeded forward.

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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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Fairfax County police car lights (file photo)

An Alexandria man was convicted earlier this month in connection with a series of armed gas station and convenience store robberies in Herndon.

Rashawn Perkins, 28, allegedly wore a ski mask and used a firearm during four robberies over five weeks, according to court documents.

“The evidence established that Perkins robbed a 7-Eleven on December 30, 2021 and a Sunoco on January 19, 2022. The evidence further proved that on February 5, 2022, Perkins returned to both locations and robbed them at gunpoint again,” the Department of Justice’s U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a Sept. 23 release.

According to court documents, Perkins — who previously had been convicted of three felony offenses — threw a firearm out of his bedroom window when the Fairfax County Police Department executed a search warrant for his home.

“Evidence at the trial established that this was the same firearm Perkins used to commit several of the robberies,” the release said.

Perkins faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 28 years in prison and a maximum of life imprisonment when sentenced on Jan. 12, 2023.

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A new bakery has opened on Elden Street in the Town of Herndon (courtesy France Saunders)

Another dessert shop has officially opened at 332 Elden Street in Herndon.

Nothing Bundt Cakes is slated for a grand opening on Oct. 7 and 8 following a soft opening that happened in early September.

The first 75 guests on grand opening day will receive a free coupon for one mini bundt cake — known as a bundtlet — every month for a year, along with drawings for other prizes.

Store owner France Saunders also plans to have balloon art and face painting for children.

Our goal is to create a cake that not only reminds you of home, but also opens you to a new world,” Saunders said. “All of our cakes and frosting are made in each bakery. Each of our recipes uses the freshest of ingredients to include real eggs, butter and cream cheese.”

The bakery first opened in 1997 in Las Vegas and has since expanded to over 400 locations across the U.S. and Canada.

Saunders also owns the company’s Dulles franchise, which opened in 2017.

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The town is accepting a bid to restore more than 1,000 feet of the stream (via Town of Herndon)

The Town of Herndon is moving forward with a multi-million-dollar contract to restore more than 1,000 feet of Sugarland Run Stream.

At a Herndon Town Council meeting tomorrow (Tuesday), the council is expected to vote on awarding a nearly $964,000 contract to KBS Earthworks, Inc. to complete the project.

Public bidding on the project closed on Sept. 9. The lowest bidder — Geomorphic Restoration — did not respond to the town’s request for additional documentation.

“The next lowest bidder KBC Earthworks, Inc., has been found to be responsive and responsible,” John Irish, deputy director of the town’s public works department, said in a statement.

The project includes restoring 1,100 linear feet of the stream, along with 250 linear feet of three tributaries on the town’s property. The design also includes pedestrian access to the east side of the project.

The trail will remain open during restoration, but the portion of the trail central to the site will be replaced during the construction project.

“Stream restoration will include but are not limited to constructed riffles, rock cross vanes, rock toe revetments, plunge pools and rock outfall channels,” a staff memo says.

The project has been in the works for years. Stream restoration creates a stable channel using natural materials to restore the function, dynamics and structure of the stream to the maximum extent possible, according to the town.

A project timeline was not immediately available.

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Mayor Sheila Olem is running against two other candidates this November (Photo via Sheila Olem).

Mayor Sheila Olem is running against councilmembers Sean Regan and Jasbinder Singh in the upcoming mayoral race on Nov. 8. This week, FFXNow will feature candidate statements in their unedited form. Statements are published in the order in which they are received.

What are your top three priorities for the Town of Herndon?

  • Promoting active living by improving pedestrian, cycling, and transit spaces in our community.
  • Using redevelopment to usher in mixed-use projects that add vitality throughout our 4.2-square-mile town.
  • Working with partners to plan and design streets, sidewalks, paths, and transportation facilities to make them safe and accessible for people of all ages and abilities and vehicular transportation while keeping our taxes low.

What is the top challenge that the town faces and how do you hope to address it?

Getting our community partners to come back out for community events! I hope you will join me and attend NatureFest at Runnymede Park, September 25, the Herndon Home Coming Parade, Downtown Herndon, October 8. Wintermarket, December 10, Downtown Herndon. If you are looking to get involved with your community, we have many groups looking for volunteers.

With the opening of the Silver Line on the horizon, how do you believe the town can better prepare for transit-oriented communities?

The Town has been planning and preparing for the arrival of Metro for decades. Drive around the Herndon Parkway where the Metro will arrive, and you will see the new bus bays and kiss & ride bays for commuters to arrive on the north side of the Herndon Metro. Take a turn onto Van Buren by Haley Smith Park and you will see the ‘Complete Streets’ project which is part of the key connections for multi-modal travelers to connect between the W&OD Trail and our Historic Downtown to the Herndon Metro Station. The $120 Million in transportation/safety/stormwater projects funded with $85 Million from county, regional, state, and federal dollars (our partners). As a resident of Herndon since 1990 I have been personally involved in countless community meetings over the years, for the arrival of the Silver Line. I personally have been impressed over the last 20 years, at how far ahead of the ‘other’ metro stops the Town of Herndon’s planning has been. I will continue to collaborate with our community and partners on improving our community for all to enjoy.

How can the town better position itself to manage public safety and road safety?

We, as the elected officials, can make sure we attract and keep the best and brightest staff available. We can also keep in mind that we are part of the Northern Virginia Region and collaborating with the partners will be productive for all. Our Town Staff work very well with staff in the region, which has and will continue to keep our community and roads safer.

Racial diversity continues to grow in the Town of Herndon. To what extent is the town prepared to cater to all communities?

We have a very professional, diverse staff and they work well with all our community. One of the reasons my Husband Harvey moved to Herndon was the international diversity. He felt like he had a front row seat into the experience his great-grand fathers had when they brought their families to the U.S. in 1904. As a parent that has two children that completed Herndon Schools (Fairfax County Public Schools Hutchison, Herndon Elementary, Middle & High Schools) our schools are well prepared. As an active member of the community, I have seen for myself, how our community and town work with people to make them feel welcome. Our own ‘host student’ from Pakistan, now living in the DC area, speaks of how welcome he always feels when he visits Herndon. Our community will always make.

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A driver lost control of their vehicle last month on Spring Street (Photo via Stephanie Frye).

(Updated on Sept. 13 and Sept. 14 to clarify an accident account and add attribution) Increased redevelopment in the Town of Herndon’s transit-oriented core may come with a price: increased concerns about road safety in quiet neighborhoods designed for low speeds, town officials say.

Late last month, a Jeep flipped over on Spring Street, hitting a tree right in front of a home. The driver reportedly lost control of the vehicle, police said. 

A series of crashes in the area have prompted the creation of a neighborhood coalition that is calling on the town for change. Most of the residents are in and around Spring Street.

At the forefront of that effort is Stephanie Frye, who claims she was almost struck by a drunk driver in the middle of the day while walking her dog on the sidewalk of Spring Street in downtown Herndon. 

She said a police officer told her the driver was going nearly 60 mph on a street where the speed limit is 25 mph. The driver crashed into another car and ended up on the frontward of a home on 651 Spring Street, destroying a concrete pillar on the site, she says.

The Town of Herndon said that there is no record that the individual was going nearly 60 mph on the road, according to a town spokesperson. The police department’s police report characterizes the incident as a DUI.

Since that May 2018 incident, Frye and other residents asked town officials to make the area safer. 

Part of the problem is cut-through traffic. Many drivers seem to be using Spring Street to avoid Elden Street and the Dulles Toll Road. 

The regularity of seeing a car on its side in a ditch, a road sign at a 30 degree angle from being hit, cars flipped onto their roofs, car mirrors and other parts scattered in front yards, fresh tire marks on the sidewalks, cars crashed into town establishments has become a regular occurrence,” Frye said.

But of the four crashes that happened on this stretch of Spring Street from Elden to Van Buren streets this year, speed was not even a contributing factor, according to a spokesperson for the Herndon Police Department. 

In two crashes, the drivers lost control of their vehicles. The third incident was a hit-and-run in which a car took out the sideview mirror of a car parked on the shoulder. The fourth accident was attributed to a driver who did not have the right-of-way. 

“These have been the only four accidents over a twelve month period in that portion of Spring between Elden and Van Buren,” said police department spokesperson Lisa Herndon. 

In April, residents compiled a list of incidents and mitigation measures to the town after a car crashed into a crepe myrtle on the side of the road. 

Four months later, a Jeep took out the same tree as it careened onto its roof. 

A seven-day speed study conducted by the town in mid-May found that speeds were below state standards that trigger changes to engineering traffic controls. Average speeds ranged between 28 and nearly 27 mph. 

“The town is looking at the accident and assessing the area,” Kelly Garrone, a spokesperson for the Town of Herndon, told FFXnow.

Ideas include further reducing the speed limit to 15 mph, trimming trees to make sure speed limit signs are visible, adding speed camera on Grace Street near the school zone, and adding speed cushions in particularly problematic areas. They have also suggested making residential streets for “local traffic only” and upping police enforcement. 

The stalled redevelopment of Downtown Herndon — which is on pause — and the start of service for Silver Line Phase II will likely bring more cars, town officials have noted in previous town meetings The town has several major projects in the works to add relief to area streets.

Residents wonder if it may be too late before a casualty takes place.

This isn’t the first, and certainly not the last accident that has occured on Spring Street that could have killed one of our neighbors,” Frye said.

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Alfaro Rodriguez Juan was arrested in connection with a series of indecent exposure incidents (Photo courtesy FCPD).

Local police have arrested a Herndon man in connection with a series of indecent exposure incidents near the Washington & Old Dominion Trail in Reston and Herndon.

Fairfax County police arrested and charged Juan Alfaro Rodriguez, 42, with five counts of indecent exposure. Rodriguez was arrested on Thursday for warrants from another state.

Detectives believe the suspect was involved with at least 13 cases in Fairfax County and eight incidents in the Town of Herndon. The arrest was made after collaboration between the Herndon Police Department and FCPD.

Rodriguez lived in the Town of Herndon since January, according to FCPD Lieutenant Ryan Lazisky, assistant commander of the violent crimes division. He had an outstanding warrant for attempted rape in New York.

Detective continue to investigate if Rodriguez is linked to other cases.

“We believe there is information out there that could lead us to additional charges,” Lazisky said at a press conference today (Monday).

FCPD received a tip from the U.S. Marshalls last week. The department’s fugitive team acted promptly to arrest Rodriguez, who was attempting to flee the state.

Photo via FCPD

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Paul Veneto is pushing a beverage cart to raise awareness about 9/11 (Photo via Herndon Police Department).

Town of Herndon police officers gathered on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail Wednesday to celebrate a peculiar site: a retired flight attendant pushing a beverage cart.

“It was an honor to welcome Paul “Paulie” Veneto to the Herndon as he continues Paulie’s Push,” the Herndon Police Department wrote.

Paul “Paulie” Veneto — a former flight attendant whose colleagues were killed on Sept. 11 — trekked through the Town of Herndon this week in memory of the victims of that fateful day.

FFXnow’s sister site ARLnow previously reported that Veneto’s shift on Flight 175 had ended, sending a new crew into the skies on its normal route from Los Angeles to Boston. They were all killed.

Veneto is now pushing an airplane beverage cart 30 miles from Dulles International Airport to the Pentagon — tracing the path of American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon and killed 184 people.

He began his journey on Sept. 8. He hopes to wrap up on Saturday, the 21st anniversary of 9/11.

Last year, he embarked on a lengthier journey — pushing a beverage cart across 230 miles from Boston Logan International Airport to Ground Zero in New York.

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The company utilized agtech to grow produce more efficiently (Photo via Michael Ross).

At area Harris Teeter locations, leafy greens, herbs and vegetables trace their roots to Beanstalk, a new vertical farm in the Town of Herndon.

Local and state officials — including Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin — will  gather on Sept. 13 at 3 p.m. to celebrate the grand opening of the farm, which uses hydroponic technology — which is soil-less — and heirloom seeds to grow its products. The farm is located at 251 Exchange Place.

“Their headquarters will also breathe new life into an empty space in the heart of Herndon. Beanstalk is a member of the Made in Fairfax network, which connects local small production manufacturers to networking groups, marketing opportunities and potential customers,” according to the county.

Beanstalk did not return multiple requests for comment from FFXnow.

The business also sells its items to Harris Teeter locations and on-site. Visitors can also tour a research facility on the site of the farm by seeing the growing process in action.

Beanstalk Farms received a $100,000 grant from the governor’s agriculture and forestry industries development fund. The county matched the state contribution to help expand the farming company. It plans to invest over $2 million in the area and create 29 new jobs as part of its relocates it headquarters to a formerly vacant data center in Herndon.

Brothers Jack and Michael Ross founded the company to produce food four times as efficiently as traditional hydroponic farming. The brothers first opened their 3,000-square-foot facility in Springfield in 2018.

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