Andrea Schwinab, left, sits with her family and listens to the Ron Holloway Group on Sept. 5, 2005, at the 17th Annual Labor Day Jazz and Wine Festival in Herndon. (Tetona Dunlap/The Washington Post)

Herndon officials are moving forward on a $3.5 million land purchase that will become part of an overhaul of the Northern Virginia town’s historic downtown area.

After a public hearing Tuesday night, the town board voted 6 to 1 to purchase 1.67 acres of land on Elden and Center streets.

That land — currently the site of a Subaru auto dealership that is planning to move — would be combined with another three acres owned by the town to make way for new residential buildings, retail stores and a town arts center that officials hope will capi­tal­ize on the pending arrival of Metro’s Silver Line train to Herndon.

The property is owned by a limited liability company registered by Oakton businessman Ronald K. Ashwell, according to state records.

Herndon leaders said they have wanted to redevelop their quiet downtown area since the 1980s.

“We’ve been talking about this for 30 years,” said town Mayor Lisa Merkel, noting that the expected completion of Metro’s Silver Line station in Herndon by 2020 has added new urgency to the idea.

“It’s the right time,” Merkel said. “We really want to capi­tal­ize on the downtown before Metro gets here.”

Under a master plan for the downtown area adopted in 2011, the land would be sold to a private developer contracted to execute the plan’s vision.

Officials expect to vote in the next few months on a proposal to rezone the area to accommodate residential buildings as high as four stories and commercial buildings that would be as many as three stories.

Some opponents of the idea worry about too much traffic in the quiet downtown area, a place of small shops and government buildings that now functions more as an activity center for local residents.

Council member Jasbinder Singh, who voted against the purchase, said during Tuesday’s meeting that he’s also concerned that the $3.5 million price is too high.

“Everybody wants the downtown to be redeveloped,” he said, before the vote. “The question is: At what price and who does it favor?”