Comparing Proposals

Comparing Proposals

Clark Ventures, Herndon Station present vastly different redevelopment packages.

During a formal presentation of the two downtown redevelopment proposals before the Town Council last week, the only similarities between the plans was each company's desire to work with the town.

"We are pleased to have the opportunity to present to you one of two radically different versions of Herndon's future," Mike Scott, managing member NortonScott LLC, said in his opening statement. "Ours is a mixed use approach including residential, retail office, hotel, parking and public space. The other is predominantly residential."

During the presentations, each company, Herndon Station LLC and Clark Ventures LLC, had 30 minutes to explain its respective plans for the downtown area.

"Our development is a true partnership concept," said Bill Sawicki, Clark Ventures LLC. "We are flexible to allow the town to have an active role in the design process. Our development is a no-cost, no-risk opportunity to the town."

Going first, Scott gave a brief introduction before yielding the floor to colleagues who comprise Herndon Station's multi-business team.

The team includes NortonScott LLC, Centex Corporation, Grand Dukes Hotels, Davis, Carter and Scott Architects, Tritec Real Estate, McGuire Woods Consulting, Tri-Tek of Herndon, Gorove/Slade Associates and Donely's Inc.

AFTER SIX MONTHS of analyzing the current downtown, speaking with residents and elected officials, Scott said the group's proposal is about "more than an arts center."

"It's about redefining one of Fairfax County's only authentic downtowns in a way that serves all of its citizens," he said.

The goal of the redevelopment is to create an 18-hour-a-day community, said Scott.

"This is really a gateway for Herndon and something needs to happen at the intersection of Center and Elden [Streets]," said Robert Atkinson of Davis, Carter and Scott Architects.

Responsible for the architectural design, Atkinson said the goal was to place retail so it fronts major streets including Elden, Center and Vine. To help the intersection of Elden and Center Streets, the group proposed a 141-room inn, to be constructed by Grand Duke Hotels. They also propose the 31,000-square foot arts center have facing retail shops or other activity generators to increase its connectivity.

"We thought having activity along Vine Street would not only help in the success of this project," he said, "but also in the success of the downtown."

Other highlights of the proposal include a parking garage that would be constructed underground so that more open space would be provided such as its roof for community use.

Approximately 120 upscale one- and two-bedroom condominiums are proposed for a two-acre site west of Center Street.

Funding for the redevelopment would be similar to mortgage payments, said Scott.

"The liability we've outlined in our proposal is essentially a single year's town budget," he said. "We've proposed to pay that obligation off over 30 years, just as most have done with their home mortgages."

The plan would not increase taxes among town residents, he said. Instead, it would take revenue directly generated from the redevelopment project and the surrounding downtown area to pay the cost of the project. Because the redevelopment will increase property values due to the new structures and services, the group believes, added to an initial $12 million contribution by the town, that should sufficiently pay the cost of the project.

"What we can say is that, over a 30-year period, 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," he said. "The indirect impact on surrounding areas of the downtown will be several times that amount."

THE DIFFERENCES between the two proposals focuses on the financial packages and the amount of housing proposed.

Clark Ventures' proposal suggests 298 high-end condominium units in three separate buildings with two parking structures that would incorporate 695 spaces. It also suggests 32,000-square feet of retail and commercial space with 160 parking spaces dedicated in an adjoining structure. The theme of its proposal is to generate a "walkable" downtown, said Sawicki.

"This [proposal] brings the homeowner to Herndon's downtown," he said, "so they will take pride in their surroundings."

Key planning elements highlighted in the proposal include activating sidewalks with a pedestrian-friendly environment, including active retail spaces that promote connectivity and allow the area to adapt to community demands through the use of a public amphitheater, civic plaza and farmers' market kiosk, he said.

The proposal also takes items from the town's current Capital Improvement Project and incorporates them into the redevelopment. This would save the town an estimated $11 million if the improvements were incorporated into the redevelopment. The only requirement from the town in the proposal is the designation of the land, said Sawicki.

"There are no other costs to the town, nor is there a requirement to dedicate future tax revenues or public funds to the repayment of project financing," he said. "Our proposal is fully self-funding because the product mix, which is weighted toward market-rate homes, takes advantage of current, favorable market conditions."

The overall revenue generated from the proposal would be approximately $300,000, according to Sawicki.

AFTER THE PRESENTATIONS, residents asked additional questions of the development teams while the council began its work session. Many residents said they would like to see Herndon Station's proposal at the price estimated by Clark Ventures'.

"It is clear that we have two distinct proposals and a lot of questions need to be asked," said council member Steven Mitchell. "But, I truly believe this is the best avenue for the town to pursue for the redevelopment of the downtown."

The next steps in the redevelopment process will be for the council to formally accept Herndon Station's proposal, which they were scheduled to do Tuesday night. They will then hold a work session, scheduled for Nov. 1 for council discussion. A Nov. 8 public hearing will follow for council members and the development teams to hear citizen comment.

Council member Dennis Husch said although impressed with both presentations, there were still areas that would need to be flushed out during the council's hearings.

"The good news is I think something is going to be done," he said. "I don't think both will be rejected, so in the next four years or so they're going to be big changes in the downtown."