Town Council Approves Downtown Guidelines

Town Council Approves Downtown Guidelines

Pattern book lays out principles for downtown design principles.

A plan for the frontages of Herndon’s downtown redevelopment, as set forth by the pattern book approved by the Town Council Jan. 29.

A plan for the frontages of Herndon’s downtown redevelopment, as set forth by the pattern book approved by the Town Council Jan. 29.

— The Herndon Town Council unanimously passed a vision for principles of downtown redevelopment at their Tuesday, Jan. 29, meeting. The “pattern book,” as it’s known, lays out guidelines for building design and frontage for downtown.

The council passed a redevelopment master plan in February 2011 that laid out plans and zoning ordinances for the future of the area. This plan lays out concrete principles for potential development.

“This is part of our vision. We envisioned and are planning for a vibrant, attractive, warm, inviting downtown, attractive to business citizens and visitors,” said Councilmember Charlie Waddell. “It’s a step forward in defining our destiny, putting something out that folks can see and feel what we want.”

The planning commission worked on the pattern book for several months last year, recommending it for approval and sending it to the Town Council on Dec. 3.


Part of the pattern book adopted by the Town Council Jan. 29, which sets design guidelines for downtown development.

THE REPORT names specific setbacks and uses for each block in the downtown plan, as well as setting guidelines about how businesses can organize their frontage to make downtown more walkable, vibrant and interactive where needed.

Principles such as massing, height and articulation for detached homes, townhouses, apartment buildings, parking garages and mixed use buildings are all laid out in the document.

It also called for particular attention to be paid to the storefronts of mixed-used buildings, calling it “critical to the success of the pedestrian realm and impacting the sense of security and safety in a neighborhood.”

It recommends glazing or window trim take up a minimum of 60 percent of ground-floor retail facades and the use of the full height of such facades. Undesirable features of storefronts are named as: cluttered windows with reduced visibility into the building, fluorescent lighting, backlit signs and awnings, solid security gates, inaccessible entries and garish paint colors.

Preferential storefront materials are brick, stone, ceramic tile, hard coat stucco, wood, smooth finish wood substitute or pre-finished heavy gauge metal panels. Entrance doors are meant to be generally clear glass in wood or metal frames.

Storefront windows are recommended to have high visibility and low daylight reflection, with colored, visibly tinted or mirrored glazing deemed to be “not appropriate.”

THE PLAN also encourages retail and restaurant operators to design and operate sidewalks to create a seamless connection to other spaces, and to use appropriate signage.

“I think it’s a good idea to have these regulations, especially if the town is encouraging new developers to come in,” said Sean Valdez, who lives within walking distance of downtown and walks there frequently.

“The current owners who have been there a while seem to get what goes with the downtown’s character, but new guys might not, and we certainly don’t want to turn it into a collection of ugly signs and storefronts.”

While the plan lays out many specifics as to design elements, Councilmember Grace Wolf said she expectsvthe pattern book to evolve as downtown redevelopment becomes a reality.

Dana Heiberg, a senior planner with the Town of Herndon, said that the pattern book only applies to the downtown area, it is not a town wide ordinance.

The plan can be found at: