CDC Concrete Co. Inc. would like to abandon its ramshackle plant near the commercial district of Herndon, Va. And since CDC's rusting sand tower is the highest spot in town--and its No. 1 eyesore--the town would be happy to see the plant go.
CDC's president, John A. Andrews, even bought an option for a 10-acre parcel on the fringe of the town and hired an architect to produce sketches for two mid-rise apartment buildings for the elderly he would like a developer to build on the concrete plant's present 3 1/2-acre site.
The move would benefit Andrews, who says the new site would allow him to expand his business.
Andrews would like to finance the housing project through the new Loans to Lenders program, under which the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development can lend the proceeds of a low interest bond to a bank, which in turn passes a below-market loan to a developer. The town has not acted on that proposal, however.
And though Herndon recently passed an ordinance allowing the density Andrews is seeking for the 200-unit apartment project for the elderly, Mayor Thomas D. Rust has thrown the ordinance back to the council for more amendments. "I just want to be sure that it will be truly a housing project for the elderly," said Rust.
To Andrews, who has been trying to find another use for the site since he bought the concrete company in 1977, Rust's action is just another round in his battle with town hall.
Five years after the town and CDC plant owner began talks about the move, the plant's 25 dump trucks and concrete mixers continue to roar through Herndon's otherwise quiet streets.
"If you bring an environmentalist to the plant you would have to give him an open-heart massage," said Blaise B. Barnes, former town planner of this community of 13,000.
"The plant has become a part of the scenery and I don't think they see it anymore," said Andrews. "And if we don't get any interest from the town we are going to stay right where we are."
Concrete plants are expensive to move and Andrews says he must clear between $750,000 and $1 million on the sale of the old site to a developer in order to set up shop at the other end of town. And though the plant is a minute's walk from the town's central commercial district, its more immediately neighborhood includes body shops and vacant lots.
"No private developer in his right mind would put up a conventional project in this blighted area," says Andrews. He believes that the area would be upgraded by shops and doctors' offices if the plant were replaced by a housing project for the elderly.
"It would revitalize the downtown in an instant," said Howard A. Nachman, Herndon's vice mayor, who operates a small department store across the street from the town's New Deal-era municipal building.
Deirdre Coyne, public affairs director of the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development, says the town would have a good chance of getting a tax-exempt bond that would lower interest rates for the builder.
"We're perfectly willing to help out, but the request must originate from the town," said Coyne. "When they ask for our help we will be there."
The aspects of the project that seems to generate resistance in the town council would allow the elderly to share apartments, paying an estimated $350 a month each in rent--a price that Rust says is too high.
"This would be one of the first such projects in the country, and I'm not sure we want Herndon to be a test case," Rust said. Under the plan, each of the residents would have his own bedroom and bathroom, sharing only kitchens and living rooms.
And though Rust says he would like to see a housing project for the elderly, Andrews is skeptical. "The town council was opposing the project when money was available. They're opposing it now. They will be opposing it in the future," he said.