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New Downtown Gains Step Closer

Company outlines redevelopment of portions of Herndon’s downtown area.

The town Planning Commission heard on Monday night from representatives of a firm working on a contract to redevelop a large portion of the downtown area, on both sides of Elden Street. In August of this year, the town signed a letter of intent with JPI on the project.

Aaron Liebert, JPI vice president, said he hoped a contract between the company and the town could be signed in the next 30 to 60 days. If that happens, company representatives would hold a series of meetings with the community and other stakeholders, probably in December. In that case some conceptual site plans for the redevelopment could be presented to the community in January.

"We understand the process of getting together with the community and the stakeholders" to gather input on what the community wants, said Liebert.

A major part of the downtown redevelopment, said the town’s chief planner Dana Heiberg, is a 12,000-square-foot performing arts center. Planning Commission chair Carl Sivertsen agreed. "A lot of people are excited about having the arts center downtown," he said.

Former Town Council member Steven Mitchell asked a series of questions about the parking the developer would provide for its mixed use development in the downtown area. Liebert said JPI would provide two temporary parking lots for the public during the period of reconstruction, adding that the downtown area in Herndon has to remain operational through any construction that may take place. Overall, three parking structures would be built, and because of Herndon’s geological features, underground garages are not possible. "We can’t go down very far," said Liebert.

Details of the development are scarce since the contract has not been signed yet. However, Liebert did say that JPI plans to build a mixed use community, retail on the ground floor and residential above it, widen Center Street and extend the Town Green to the other side of the Washington and Old Dominion Trail. The green extension would lead into the new arts center. Other open space the company would provide would serve as courtyards for its residents. Heiberg said the vision for the redevelopment contains three multi-family buildings, in the range of three to five stories, a 300-space public parking structure and 60,000 to 80,000 square feet of quality retail space on either side of Elden Street. The closing on the approval of the development is set for December 2010. Heiberg said, if everything works according to plan, the rezoning approval could be completed in 2008 and a site plan could be presented in 2009.

According to Liebert, JPI specializes in luxury residential mixed use developments, with a general demographic of single people in their late 20s or 30s. The firm has 1,800 units under construction in the larger metropolitan area. "We are very excited to be in this location," he said about working with the Town of Herndon.