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Comparing Downtown Plans

A look at the two downtown redevelopment proposals before the Town Council.

In the upcoming weeks Herndon's Town Council members are scheduled to make a decision on two redevelopment proposals submitted for the redevelopment of downtown.

But, council members are trying to ignore pressures to provide a quick answer.

"This is an important enough project that we need to get it done right, rather than get it done quickly," said Mayor Michael O'Reilly.

And to make sure they get it done right, council has requested its consultants — contractually hired to review the proposals — provide them with a comprehensive review of the two, very different, financial packages.

If council members do not think either plan is viable for the downtown redevelopment project, they can reject both proposals, said O'Reilly.

Submitted by Clark Ventures LLC and Herndon Station LLC, below are highlights of the two proposals, as well as a comparison of what each team has offered.

CLARK VENTURES LLC:

This proposal was created to construct public facilities downtown with a family-friendly focus for community-sponsored events as well as to create an area where residents can come together to shop and mingle, according to William Sawicki, Clark Ventures senior development manager.

Highlights of the plan include:

* A cultural arts center to be built at the current Hands Ink location with a projected 2009 completion date

* A large civic plaza to front the arts center

* A natural amphitheater built in cooperation with the civic plaza and along the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, to create a space for public arts programs

* Permanent home for the Farmers' Market that would allow the market to expand to additional days and times

* Municipal parking lot in two separate structures to include 120 spaces dedicated to the arts center and 230 spaces dedicated to the customers of neighboring businesses

* Road, streetscape and infrastructure improvements including the signalization of the intersection of Center and Elden Streets and upgrading the signalization along the W&OD Trail to improve pedestrian safety, among other things

* Proposed 298 high-end condominium units in three separate buildings with two parking structures and 695 dedicated parking spots

* A proposed 32,000-square feet of street-level retail and commercial office space with 160 dedicated parking spots in an adjacent structure.

HERNDON STATION LLC:

Peppering commercial/retail offices with residential spaces, Herndon Station's proposal is intended to enhance the existing downtown structure, said Mike Scott, principal developer and managing member Herndon Station LLC.

Highlights of the plan include:

* A 31,000-square foot arts center to be built at the Hands Ink property and lined with retail shops facing Vine Street

* A 1,046-space parking structure with 230 spaces dedicated for retail and 110 spaces dedicated for the arts center. The roof of the structure would be landscaped like a park for public use

* A public plaza for the Farmers' Market and other community events located at the head of Vine Street, adjacent to the W&OD Trail

* Along Elden, Center and Vine Streets a 51,000-square foot retail space is proposed to offer upscale shopping and complement the shops fronting the arts center

*A 141-room inn to be built at the corner of Center and Elden Streets;

* A three-story, 83,000-square foot office building set up to offer housing and office space;

* Approximately 120 upscale one- to two-bedroom condominium units on two acres west of Center Street.

FINANCIAL COMPARISONS:

Aware that each financial package can be reduced or increased depending on alterations to the proposed redevelopment plans, council is trusting consultant reviews and citizen comment to help come to a decision.

Clark Ventures' financial plan calls for a no-cost, self-financing approach that should leave the town with approximately $11 million in planned town spending. The only responsibility to the town is the land — some of which is still under negotiation. With this package the town would not be required to dedicate future tax revenues or public funds to the repaying of project financing, according to Sawicki.

The no-cost incentive is an option because of the large number of residential units proposed. By taking advantage of the current market conditions, enough revenue would be generated to fully fund the development, valued at nearly $30 million, said Sawicki. The proposal also incorporates approximately $11 million of street improvement projects currently proposed in the town's Capital Improvement Program.

Herndon Station's financial package mirrors a home-mortgage plan. The group proposes the town pay building fees — approximately $30 million — over a 30-year period, said Scott. As a result of the redevelopment project, new tax revenues will be generated. Existing tax revenues in the broader downtown area will also increase due to the project. Because of this, these increased tax revenues are projected to be enough to cover the cost of the project, said Scott. That money would not include a $12 million contribution proposed by Herndon Station.

This increased revenue would not be because of an increase in taxes, said Scott.

"Over a 30-year period," he said, "the mix of uses proposed for the site in our proposal will generate $21 million more in tax revenue from the site alone than the proposed alternative."

Council was scheduled to discuss each proposal at its Dec. 6 work session, and plans to hear further public comment on the proposals during the scheduled Dec. 13 public hearing. A decision to move forward could be made during this hearing.