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Herndon Council Approves Downtown Master Plan

Here are the highlights of the downtown master plan, which was approved by the Herndon Town Council on Tuesday night

The Herndon Town Council passed the downtown master plan with some amendments on Tuesday night. The discussion was long and complex but there’s plenty to know when it comes to the future of Herndon’s downtown. Here are the highlights of the downtown master plan.

• The planning process for the downtown master plan began in 2009 and has included a steering committee, the Planning Commission and Town Council and a lot of feedback from the community, including from meetings and via e-mail, phone calls and letters to the town.

• The plan adopts what’s referred to as “Illustrative Plan: Option A,” created by Urban Design Associates and dated Dec. 10, 2009, with changes. This plan is the less dense of the two versions and includes buildings at a height of three to four stories maximum.

• The plan calls for redevelopment that would include retail and mixed commercial uses, such as offices, on the blocks bordered by Center Street, Locust Street, Spring Street and Vine street where it turns into the town’s municipal parking lot behind the TPI Building. (Blocks D and C on the included map.)

It calls for residential uses that could include multi-family residential buildings, townhouses or single-family homes on three parcels of land along Center Street, including at the northwest corner of Center and Vine, and the parcel of land that includes Herndon Ornamental Ironworks. (Blocks F, G and I on the included map.)

On the parcel of land at Center and Vine streets, the plan originally called for a multi-family, age-restricted residential facililty up to 80 units, but the council put language in place that would also open the land up to small-lot, single-family homes, townhomes, or a mix of the two. Nothing that goes on that property is to be more than three stories tall. (Block F.)

The plan calls for infill development along Station Street between Center and Pine streets. (Blocks J and K.) It also calls for retail, commercial use and hotel uses in the downtown, which would most likely be in the block bordered by Monroe Street, Pine Street and Station Street and Lynn Street. (Block M.)

 Additionally, the plan calls for housing along the northern portion of the block where the Pines Center sits currently, with mixed-use retail, office and commercial spaces on the southern portion of the block. (Pine Center block.)

• The council made adjustments to the language regarding the block that 750 Center St., is located on, where the Herndon Foundation for the Cultural Arts has proposed a possible public art center that is to include private commercial property for arts-related uses. (Block E.)

The plan now reads that the town will “Retain block E for long-term land lease or sale to an entity for the development of an arts/associated use public arts center and commercial facility with flexible lease spaces for arts related commercial uses. It is intended that this facility provide sale or ground-lease income to the town, as opposed to requiring any further town investment and/or development cost.”

This language, proposed by Councilman Bill Tirrell, helps ensure the town receives payment for the land and prevents the town from spending any taxpayer money on the project, while providing the opportunity for a future arts center on the site.

• In the block where the Pines Center is currently located the plan calls for small-lot, single-family detached homes along the south side of Jefferson Street rather than townhomes.

• The plan encourages a hotel use somewhere in the downtown, “recognizing that the plan is based on form and generally does not prescribe specific upper story uses on specific sites."

• The Town Council included language to the plan that includes the building Great Harvest Bread Co. is in, 785 Station St., as a property that is historic to the town and is to be preserved. Each building on that block, including Maude, The Breeze and Hefler Performance Coaching, was already included as a priority building because of their history to the town, however Great Harvest was not originally labeled as a historic property.

• The Town Council struck language from the plan that referred to specific costs of the infrastructure gap, because those costs are market driven and will change over time. The plan recognizes that the town may have to contribute funding toward infrastructure costs, which can be done through a number of ways, but still seeks potential funding from developers, such as in the form of proffers.

• Town staff will now develop for future consideration altering the downtown zoning district from PD-D, planned development-downtown, to align with the new downtown master plan and renaming the district PD-TD, planned development-traditional downtown.

• In hopes of streamlining the process, town staff will develop rezoning for the Planning Commission and Town Council to consider, specifically rezoning properties in the downtown master plan that are currently owned by the town. Staff will also present the adopted downtown master plan to the Heritage Preservation Review Board and the Architectural Review Board for their consideration and comment.

• Town staff will now begin to work on the development of a pattern book that will be illustrative of the town’s vision and will help inform developers as to what the town and community are looking for in downtown development. This will be done with the assistance of consultants.

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UPDATE: The Town of Herndon has issued a press release on the Downtown Master Plan. It is posted in its entirety below.

Downtown Master Plan is Result of Months of Citizen, Stakeholder Input

Herndon, VA (February 23, 2011) – At its public hearing on February 22, the Herndon Town Council adopted a master plan for its downtown that, in the words of the adopted resolution, provides a “community vision for future downtown development.”

Among its features, the adopted Downtown Master Plan includes recommendations concerning the type and location of future structures in the downtown; methods of ensuring quality development; and potential methods of financing necessary for desirable public infrastructure.

The adopted plan limits future downtown development to a maximum of four stories with a mix of three and four story buildings; denotes locations of semi-public plazas; and envisions future buildings that reflect the massing and scale of traditional small town downtowns. The desire for the downtown to build upon its reputation as a place for entertainment and recreation is evident in the plan, as is the commitment to incorporate pedestrian and bicycle-friendly improvements.

The Downtown Master Plan’s adoption by the Herndon Town Council follows months of public review and input.  A Downtown Master Plan Steering Committee, appointed by the council at the project’s onset in 2009, worked with the town’s planning staff and its team of project consultants, led by Urban Design Associates (UDA), to create a process that allowed for significant public input into the plan.

UDA hosted public workshops, at which renderings were evaluated in detail; the Planning Commission held public hearings throughout the planning process; and the Town Council held public hearings to ensure that all citizen input was collected and considered.  The planning effort incorporated the many facets of planning and development including urban design, architecture, engineering, land economics, public infrastructure, traffic impacts and historic preservation.

“The end result of all of this time, energy and commitment on behalf of our citizens is a Downtown Master Plan that communicates clearly and decisively our community’s vision for Herndon’s downtown, well into the future,” said Mayor Steve DeBenedittis.  “Developers who approach the town now have a much better sense of the type, size and location of projects we are seeking.  This will greatly enhance opportunities for successful development of Herndon’s downtown in a manner that meets our community’s needs while respecting our character and heritage.”

The adopted Downtown Master Plan resolution, as well as block-by-block renderings of the plan, will be available for review at www.herndon-va.gov, “Planning/Zoning.”

Ruth Robertson February 23, 2011 at 10:37 PM
Bravo, Town of Herndon! Finally a Downtown Master Plan, and it leaves open the option for competition to run an arts entity. "• The council made adjustments to the language regarding the block that 750 Center St., is located on, where the Herndon Foundation for the Cultural Arts has proposed a possible public art center that is to include private commercial property for arts-related uses. (Block E.) The plan now reads that the town will “Retain block E for long-term land lease or sale to an entity for the development of an arts/associated use public arts center and commercial facility with flexible lease spaces for arts related commercial uses. It is intended that this facility provide sale or ground-lease income to the town, as opposed to requiring any further town investment and/or development cost.” Now the Council needs to go back and rescind the 2004 MOU as this new wording creates a conflict between the newly adopted Downtown Master Plan and the 2004 MOU.
Walter Hadlock February 24, 2011 at 02:31 PM
I'm hoping someone can bring me up to date on what ever happened with the Diamond Hotel project. As I recall, the Town did, finally, approve a revised version the plan. Now, I see the recently approved Downtown Master Plan includes "a hotel". I remember reading the approval of the revised plan coincided with the economic downturn and Starwood Hotels put the Herndon project on hold. Is this company's approved project still a viable part of the approved Downtown Master Plan?
Richard Downer February 24, 2011 at 06:29 PM
Please see the Block E Question & Answer PDF in the photo/PDF area of this article. It has been updated to indicate the Town Council's 02.22.11 positive action. Q&A's #1-17 were presented to the Council and handed out to the audience prior to Tuesday evening's public hearing. This Q&A document was prepared by the Herndon Foundation for the Cultural Arts - New Facilities Committee (Robin Carroll, Richard Downer and Les Zidel) to provide answers to the many questions that have been raised about the future use of the ArtSpace block. Please contact the committee at info@artspaceherndon.com if you have any further questions. Also, thanks to the Town Council, who voted unanimous approval, and all of the citizens who have supported our efforts to fulfill HFCA's mission to build a community-oriented public art center in our downtown.
Leslie Perales Loges February 24, 2011 at 06:57 PM
Thanks so much for adding that file Richard!
Barbara Glakas February 25, 2011 at 12:19 AM
Congratulations to the Town Council for moving the Downtown Master Plan forward!

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