Planners, Schools, Innovation on the Rise in Herndon

Planners, Schools, Innovation on the Rise in Herndon

Land and money needed to build an elementary and high school to serve upcoming residential communities rising near Innovation Station.

Board of Supervisors scheduled to hold public hearing on “Makers Rise” on Dec. 5, 2017.


Gregory Riegle, McGuireWoods


John Ulfelder, Dranesville Planning Commissioner


Casey Gresham, planner


William O’Donnell, planner

New Schools Needed

Makers Rise, the proposed development by Houston Office Partners at the future Innovation Station Metro stop, would be served by Lutie Lewis Coates Elementary School, Rachel Carson Middle School and Westfield High School, according to Fairfax County Planning Commission documents.

But given the development potential of the proposed site as well as four other developments that will eventually come before the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors, “the existing schools are projected to exceed the available capacity.”

The 2018-2023 Fairfax County Capital Improvement Program (CIP) points to the need for a new high school and elementary school in the northwestern portion of the county to address these capacity issues. Franklin Middle School would also need to expand to help balance enrollments at Carson Middle School.

The proposal calling for as many as 866 residential units would result in 27 new high school students, 17 new middle school students, and 54 new elementary school students, according to planning documents, causing capacity problems at all school levels.

“A new elementary school site, as well as the construction of said elementary school, is a critical component to address the overall deficits and in balancing the growing enrollments at Coates and McNair elementary schools,” planning documents say.

The applicant has been participating in discussions with other applicants of adjacent developments to find a solution.

“I believe we are well on our way to getting there,” said Gregory A. Riegle, who represents the first applicant to come before the Planning Commission for approval.

Two 12-story office buildings near the future Innovation Center Metro Station are anticipated to be “razed” before being built.

Houston Office Partners LP and DSVO Dulles LP requested approval for plan amendments to replace the office buildings with mid- to high-rise residential buildings with retail space.

The Planning Commission on Nov. 2, 2017 recommended approval of the project, which is scheduled for a public hearing before the Board of Supervisors on Dec. 5, 2017.

Schools in the area will be impacted and there are already “serious capacity issues at Coates Elementary School,” said planner Casey Gresham.

The applicant agreed to proffer, or contribute, $1,250 more than standard for each dwelling unit in order for the school system to potentially buy land and build an additional elementary and high school school to serve the future community.

“The money is nice but the schools are expensive, schools sites are expensive, where do we stand in trying to find some school sites in this part of the county for new schools?” asked Dranesville District Planning Commissioner John Ulfelder.

William O’Donnell, of Planning and Zoning, answered. “There are four more rezonings that we are negotiating that have huge amounts of land. So we are looking at potential ability to allow a school site on one of those.”

This application is the first up of the group at the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors for approval, he said.

“So everyone is well aware of the need and everyone is trying to work together under the circumstances,” said Ulfelder.

“We need land for schools and we need help in constructing the schools,” said O’Donnell.

MAKERS RISE, the name of the current development project, was more than intentional, said Gregory A. Riegle, who represents this applicant.

“You almost can’t pick up a newspaper or business trade journal without reading about the changing face of retail and the challenges of retail,” said Riegle. “This makerspace is another way to frankly activate a mixed use community like this.”

The applicant plans at least 5,000 square feet in both buildings for maker space and retail.

The applicant describes proposed makerspace as “flexible work spaces that encourage the creation of creative products and ideas. The space is anticipated to foster entrepreneurship. The actual functions would be limited in the proffers, but are anticipated to be flexible enough to allow any creative business that is compatible with multifamily residential uses.”

“To me, that’s an important feature,” said Ulfelder. “I’m hopeful it can have the intended effect and impact.

TWO OPTIONS will remain open-ended as construction of the Innovation Station continues.

One option shows both buildings to be residential mixed-use buildings with a maximum of seven stories and 866 residential units; the additional option would permit one building to be up to 19 stories high.

“The good news is we’ll be back here doing that together, making that choice,” said Riegle.

The 7.33-acre undeveloped site is part of the larger 58-acre Dulles Station development along the south side of the Dulles Toll Road, and accessed via Dulles Station Boulevard from Sunrise Valley Drive.

The proposal also includes the expansion of an existing parking garage to construct an additional 440 parking spaces.

More than 20 percent of the project will remain open space, according to planning documents.