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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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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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Visit Fairfax President and CEO Barry Biggar talks outside George Washington’s Mount Vernon for a tourism event (staff photo by David Taube)

Visit Fairfax is exploring the idea of a tourism improvement district, which could mean an added fee to hotel stays and other amenities.

The tourism organization’s president and CEO, Barry Biggar, said the proposal could go to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a vote this September. The fee would go toward marketing the region, in accordance with a General Assembly law passed last year.

Biggar says southern Fairfax County will be targeted for the district, which would act on its own authority and set fees that could vary for different business types. It would mark a first for the county and could be a model for other areas, he said.

“That money then is collected, accumulated and used purely for the purpose of marketing, promoting the area…which collects the money, but also capital development and capital improvement,” Biggar told FFXnow.

The move could generate an estimated $1 million per year from hotels and restaurants, Biggar said.

It comes amid a county effort to revitalize and rebrand the Route 1 corridor. So far, that push has brought promises of bus rapid transit and a “Potomac Banks: Explore Fairfax South” tourism campaign with a discount pass for historic sites, partnering businesses and more.

“Only the hotels here in the area would be included, so that wouldn’t be added to a Tysons hotel,” Biggar said of the possible fee. “For a hotel, they may go, ‘We’ll do a dollar a room per night.’ For a restaurant, they may go…a half a percent of the total bill. For an attraction, you know, maybe 50 cents per admission.”

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A plan has been submitted for a scaled-back version of a new hotel at Springfield Town Center (via Fairfax County)

The first pieces of the massive redevelopment of Springfield Town Center have finally come forward, more than 12 years after Fairfax County initially approved a mass of new development for the property.

Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust has filed a plan for a five-story hotel along Loisdale Road, according to an application submitted to the county on May 11.

The hotel would stand alongside a proposed residential building, bringing about the property’s “much-desired rebirth” and acting as a catalyst for the “first free-standing buildings to be built at the property in decades,” according to the application.

The town center is slated for up to 2,736 residential units and 2 million square feet of commercial development, a plan fell into place more than a decade ago, when the complex was still known as Springfield Mall.

While the mall underwent an extensive renovation in 2012, no new development proposals have gained traction since the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ preliminary approval in 2009.

“Over the years, a variety of users have tried to introduce both commercial and residential uses to the property, but the significant proffer package and details plans have hamstrung those projects,” the application says.

The developer says the proposal should be able to move forward because it covers a limited application area, fits “seamlessly” within the existing landscape at the mall, and helps establish a new internal street network that will support future development.

The hotel would take up surface parking spaces and sit next to a 460-unit residential building proposed by Hanover to the south of the property. PREIT says it plans to coordinate with Hanover as it moves forward with its application.

A big sell of the project, according to PREIT, is that the building requires minor changes to previously planned access road and uses existing curb cuts from Loisdale Avenue. The latest proposal shifts the hotel from across Village Drive to Loisdale Avenue.

The hotel will also have 140 rooms instead of the 225 proposed in the original redevelopment plan, along with some retail to serve hotel guests. Originally, up to 23,000 square feet of ground-floor retail were planned with the hotel.

PREIT says the plan will bring vitality to an area that has been “overlooked” and will create a “mixed-use center as a community and regional focal point.”

The company purchased the town center seven years ago after Vornado Realty Trust, the previous owner, completed nearly $200 million in mall renovations and established retail facing Village Drive.

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Dozens of people will rappel down the Hilton in Crystal City for charity (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Later this afternoon (Thursday), Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay will descend by rope down a 14-story hotel in Arlington County.

McKay is among over 70 volunteers and VIPs participating in a charity rappeling event at the Hilton (2399 Richmond Highway) in Crystal City to raise money for New Hope Housing, a Northern Virginia nonprofit that provides assistance for people experiencing homelessness.

The event will unfold over two days, with elected officials and other VIPs rappeling down starting at 4 p.m. today. Arlington County Board member Matt de Ferranti has also been confirmed as a participant.

Donors from the general public will rappel down the hotel from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow (Friday). Food, drinks, music, and vendor booths will be available at a “Landing Zone” for those who want to watch.

In a media advisory from his office, McKay highlighted Fairfax County’s recent efforts to prioritize affordable housing, including its recently doubled goal to build 10,000 new units in 12 years and the Dominion Square West project in Tysons that announced full construction funding on Tuesday (May 3):

Access to affordable housing is a signature issue in Fairfax County and the region, and is my personal focus. We have seen, especially over the last two years, the tremendous struggle that comes from the lack of access to affordable housing. During my time as Chairman, I have worked nonstop to direct Fairfax County’s efforts to build at least 10,000 affordable units over the next 12 years, including more than 500 just announced in the heart of Tysons, and this is only the beginning. Affordable housing leads directly to jobs and leads directly to a significant enhancement to the quality of life and community for everyone.

This is why I am glad to be at this event today to help promote this vital cause and the great work New Hope Housing and all our non-profits do to alleviate this crisis — even if it means rappelling off a building! The more attention and effort we can bring to this critical issue of inequity, the more we can build the needed coalitions between the public, private, and non-profit sectors to give everyone the dignity of a safe, secure, and affordable home.

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The Hy-way motel near Fairfax Circle could become an affordable housing development (via City of Fairfax)

Hy-way Motel — an aging 12-unit motel just off of Fairfax Circle — is slated for redevelopment.

The Lamb Center, a daytime drop-in homeless shelter, and Wesley Housing, a Springfield-based affordable housing developer, have filed plans to redevelop the motel at 9640 Fairfax Boulevard into a five-story building with 55 residential units for low-income individuals, along with ground-floor office and retail uses.

The ground-floor space would be dedicated for Lamb Center staff and the organization’s city jobs program. It will also include parking and an entry lobby.

The second floor would house a property management office, a community room and six residential units. The remaining three floors would be set aside for housing only, with units ranging from 350 to 750 square feet in size.

Case managers will be on site to provide services to residents and roughly 15% of units will be accessible for people with disabilities.

Most units will be dedicated for low-income residents at or below 30% of the area median income, or roughly $27,000 for a single person. Case managers will work with tenants to developer skills training, manage employment, and formulate goals for securing income and maintaining housing.

In an application to Fairfax City, attorney Gifford Hampshire said the project would allow the center to continue “needed services” that help homeless individuals.

“The Lamb Center — Wesley housing partnership will reduce the number of people sleeping on the streets and in the woods, reduce the number of people cycling through emergency rooms and jails, and will provide housing not currently available in the city,” the application says. “Once housed, Lamb Center case managers will assist residents with accessing community services and resources, monitoring the quality and effectiveness of those services, and ensuring coordination of care.”

Preliminarily, staff noted that the proposal is generally not recommended in areas that are designed to be commercial corridors — especially residential mixed uses.

City staff also noted that the application provides only 18 parking spaces when 77 are required. Other issues include the need for a transportation demand management plan, more details on development standards, and the tightness of a proposed curb cut to the adjoining property’s curb cut.

The application is in the preliminary phases of the city’s approval process. So far, a pre-application has been filed. The project would require a special use permit to allow residential mixed-use in the area and a special exception to slash the number of required parking spaces.

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Approaching Capital One’s headquarters in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

At many businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed worker frustrations and fueled labor conflicts, but that apparently isn’t the case at two of Tysons’ most prominent employers.

The hospitality giant Hilton and financial corporation Capital One both made the top 10 of Fortune’s 2022 list of the “100 Best Companies to Work for” in the U.S., released on April 11.

The rankings were determined by a nationwide survey that garnered responses from over 870,000 workers and data from companies that collectively have more than 6.1 million employees, according to Fortune and the workplace culture data platform Great Place to Work, which have compiled the list annually for the past 25 years.

Hilton, which moved its global headquarters to 7930 Jones Branch Drive in 2009, was named the second-best company to work for in the country — its seventh consecutive year on the list and up from its #3 ranking the previous year.

“I’m so proud of our team members and everything they’ve done to share the light and warmth of hospitality with our guests, especially over the last two years,” Chris Nassetta, Hilton’s president and CEO, said in a press release. “This recognition is a testament to what we’ve built together at Hilton.”

In its news release, the hotel company highlighted recent efforts to expand employee benefits, including parental leave, bereavement leave, adoption assistance, mental health resources, and continuing education.

The company also said it remains committed to improving the diversity of its workforce, aiming to achieve global gender parity and make 25% of its U.S. corporate leadership people of color by 2027.

After coming in at #9 in 2021, Capital One (1680 Capital One Drive) dropped a spot to #10 in the 2022 list, with 93% of employees calling it a “great place to work for.” Workers also reported that the company made them feel welcome when they joined and lets them take time off when necessary.

According to Fortune and Great Place to Work, the ability to create an environment where employees felt supported and valued — even with the uncertainty and challenges brought by the pandemic — separated the “Best Companies” from average ones, where just 52% of workers said they thought management sincerely cared about them.

“Most importantly, they took action,” Great Place to Work CEO Michael Bush said of the companies on this year’s list. “They focused less on broad policies and more on what each person needed — in real, tangible ways. This transformed mental health assistance, elder care support, childcare and isolation support resources.”

Other Fairfax County-based companies that made the list are the engineering company Modern Technology Solutions, Inc. (#39, located near Lincolnia) and Navy Federal Credit Union (#76, Vienna).

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

With two proposals to transform hotels into housing, local officials are exploring more creative ways to reach affordable housing goals.

In Herndon, a Residence Inn is slated to convert into a 17-unit affordable housing project spread across 11 buildings. Owners say the buildings are too difficult to maintain and industry demands haven’t kept with hotel brand standards.

“The physical layout of the various buildings on the property, the interior unit configuration, and the good condition of the underlying building structures, presents a unique opportunity with the Town of Herndon to repurpose the current building as multifamily units,” a March 2 application to the town says.

A similar tale is unfolding in Tysons, but without a major affordable housing component. Property owner JBG Smith wants to turn the 22-story Sheraton Tysons hotel into a 544-unit multifamily residential tower with ground-floor retail.

The building first opened in 1985. A legal representative for JBG Smith says the units will be small in size and “offer more affordable housing opportunity,” according to a rezoning application submitted to Fairfax County in February.

These transformative uses are consistent with what building official Jay Riat says is a “steady” increase in major hotels being built or renovated in the past few years.

Even so, county officials do not expect a negative impact on transit occupancy tax revenues — which are generated from hotel uses, according to the county’s Department of Tax Administration.

What is happening otherwise may be somewhat counterintuitive: transient occupancy tax revenues are projected to rise by 15% in fiscal year 2023, which starts July 1, compared to the last fiscal year.

“To the extent that any hotels convert to multifamily units, the county may see a net tax revenue increase, as real estate revenues increase after redevelopment,” the tax department said in a statement.

The department notes that hotels are still going up in the county, including the Watermark Hotel in Tysons, which has 300 suites.

Recovery still anticipated for hotel industry

County officials with Land Development Services say existing hotels are doing well, as the Fairfax County market is not yet saturated.

A spokesperson for Visit Fairfax, the county’s official tourism resource, says repurposing a hotel into residential units seems to be a “logical” reuse, but officials still expect traditional hotels to thrive in major business areas. Read More

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The hotel faces one year of opening delays (Image via handout)

(Updated at 4:48 p.m. to clarify construction is currently underway)

Like other construction projects in the area, Virginia’s first JW Marriott is facing some delays.

The 26-story hotel, which plans to open at Comstock’s Reston Station, has been delayed by a year, according to a spokesperson for the Reston-based development company.

“Construction was delayed on this for a year due to the pandemic,” the spokesperson said, adding that work is currently underway on the site.

The hotel, which will be located at the intersection of Reston Station Boulevard and Wiehle Avenue, had planned to open in 2024 and will cost roughly $250 million to complete.

JW Marriott launched in 1984 as Marriott International’s luxury brand. There are more than 100 JW Marriott hotels in 36 countries.

Once completed, the building would complement the design of the Helmut Jahn office tower across the street.

Overall, the development is expected to have around 400 hotel units. The JW Marriott will include 250 guest rooms, 90 residents, roughly 15,000 square feet of meeting space, two restaurants and other amenities.

Marriott’s Extended Stay hotel is also planned for the site. CRS Hotel LC, a company managed by Comstock, finalized a franchise agreement in February 2021.

The project is expected to delivery in late 2024.

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Residence Inn could shift into a multifamily housing project (via Town of Herndon)

The owners of Residence Inn in the Town of Herndon say the building’s layout and amenities no longer meet “top tier hotel brand standards.”

As a result, they hope the town will allow the hotel to shift into a multifamily residential project with half of the units dedicated for workforce housing.

“The physical layout of the various buildings on the property, the interior unit configuration, and the good condition of the underlying building structures, presents a unique opportunity with the Town of Herndon to repurpose the current building as multifamily units,” a March 2 application to the town says.

The 168-room hotel — which is spread out over 11 buildings — was built in 1990. The 6.5-acre site is located south of Elden Street, west of Herndon Parkway, and north of Grove Street.

Town staff said the proposal is the town’s first for a multifamily development with a workforce housing component.

Staff said the hotel is set to “lose its flag because it cannot meet the standards of the brand anymore,” according to a March 14 report.

“Other commercial uses allowed by-right in the CS, Commercial Services, zoning district are likely not feasible without a complete teardown and redevelopment of the entire site,” the report says.

Approval of the project requires the town to rezone the property from the Commercial Services District to urban residential.

So far, the developer plans to provide 170 units. Half of them would be set aside for households earning up to 80% of the Area Median Income. That’s roughly $57,650 for a family of one and $82,300 for a family of four.

The developer is seeking a 30% reduction in the number of parking spaces — 184 parking spaces for 170 units — to meet actual parking demand. On-site bicycle parking and a bicycle repair and maintenance station will also be included on the site.

Parking will be purchased separately from unit rental rates in an effort to encourage residents to minimize car ownership.

“We believe the site is well positioned for success as both a workforce housing and market-rate housing project due to the site’s proximity to the future Metro station to the south and east, existing nearby public transit service, existing and planned pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and importantly, nearby employment in Downtown Herndon and along the Dulles Toll Road and Route 28 corridors, providing easy access to more than 100,000 existing jobs along the corridor,” the applicant said.

The Town of Herndon Planning Commission will consider the proposal at a meeting tonight (Monday) at 7 p.m.

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