The Herndon Town Council this week approved a redevelopment plan that is designed to bring new life to the center of the Fairfax County town.
Created by the Herndon Central Area Commission, the plan calls for private developers to refurbish aging buildings, the improvement of public utilities, the encouragement of multi-family housing construction and improvement of pedestrian and traffic patterns.
The council unanimously approved the proposal after hearing presentations from residents and consultant Patrick Kane of the Reston architectural and planning firm of Wyles, Dailey, Kane and Associates.
Herndon Mayor Rick Thoesen said town officials plan to immediately start work drafting necessary zoning changes that will be needed for the redevelopment to take place. Plans for updating the core area call for maintaining as much of the history of the area, once a resort, as possible.
Thoesen said, "The plan has a lot of merit." He said he hopes to be able to keep politics "out of the way" while implementation efforts proceed. He said other council members will be able to see developers' and consultants' plans at the same time he does.
Developers Robert A. Young of McLean, a team of Tysons Corner area real estate brokers and developers who live in Herndon -- Tim McGrath, Andrew Shaffer and Joe Camardo -- and developer James DeVille are working with Kane on a comprehensive development plan.
Kane said, "We're trying to create a dynamic area throughout the redevelopment site. You cannot look at each individually owned parcel as if they were postage stamps" and draft an overall plan. "This will be a real cooperative effort."
Curt Bradley, of the Young and Associates development firm, said he was delighted by the town's approval of the redevelopment project. His firm owns a 3.8-acre site where a concrete plant stood. "Instead of dawdling on this thing, we can get to work immediately on everything from conceptual plans to storm-water management," Bradley said.
McGrath said, "Herndon wants to keep the old area as it used to be" even though many of the major roads around the old parts of town are now home for high-technology companies.
Herndon lies on the western Fairfax border along the highly touted Washington/Dulles International Airport Corridor.
Kane said that in recent conversations several Herndon residents told him they moved to Herndon "because they could sit on round stools at a soda fountain and get ice cream in a cake cone."
Kane said he asked where that store was and was told, "It's gone now."
That kind of ice cream parlor, along with upscale retail shops and restaurants, are the sort of businesses Young and McGrath said they want to bring to downtown Herndon. Young also plans to build multifamily housing and housing for the elderly.
The Herndon central core area is generally bisected by the bicycle path that runs in the middle of what once was the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad line. The core is bounded on the north by land along the north side of Willow Street, on the south by Oak Street, on the west by Center Street and part of the bicycle trail and on the east by the Monroe Street corridor.