Will any tenants sign leases there? Will the property eventually be rezoned so homes or a community center can be built there? Or will it just remain a near-ghost town for years?
It is speculation that took hold nearly three years ago, when Compare Foods closed in the center’s large anchor spot. Compare Foods was the second international supermarket in five years to occupy the space after longtime tenant Giant Foods left in 2007.
Since then, it has been one closure after another. Even some new tenants that signed in that time have since closed. Among the departures: 7-Eleven, El Manantial restaurant, Curves, Burger King, Total Rehab Chiropractic and Dominoes Pizza.
Some mainstays remain. Paradise Nails, Vocelli Pizza, Paisano’s Pizza, Mama Wok and Pho 75, all of which have a loyal customer base.
The vacancies are still there despite active marketing by Lincoln Property Management.
“Tall Oaks Village Center is located in Fairfax County, one of the fastest growing suburban locations in the Washington, D.C. metro area,” reads the Tall Oaks listing on Lincoln’s website. “The county enjoys one of the most affluent and educated consumer bases in the country.”
Lincoln reps did not return requests for an interview and asking prices for the spaces were not available.
Lincoln’s site shows more than 46,000 square feet of space in four storefronts up for rent. That includes the anchor site, which is more than 38,000 square feet. The anchor site is listed as “will not divide,” meaning it will take a big tenant such as a grocery store to seek the space.
Meanwhile, Lincoln’s somewhat dated marketing brochure for Tall Oaks shows the demographics of the area (“Excellent demographics with 87,181 people with an average household income of $160,145 within 3 miles”).
It even has a map of what is located at nearby shopping centers, including North Point, Reston Town Center and the Home Depot area.
Proximity may be part of the problem. Tall Oaks, built in 1974, was a stable but slightly hidden neighborhood plaza throughout the 1970s and 80s. But by the mid-1990s, when North Point was built and Reston Town Center became a solid community retail spot, competition from more grocery stores and stores with easier access marked the beginning of the end for Tall Oaks.
Will the village center be the first one to become just a memory? Reston founder Bob Simon said he would be OK with that. He says Reston was planned with seven village centers, and five were eventually built because predicted population density ended up being a bit lower than expected here.
“Perhaps we need fewer village centers,” he said in July.
The Reston Master Plan Phase II plan may agree. The Strawman Text of the plan, which will be discussed at a community meeting Oct. 18 (8:30 a.m. at South Lakes High School), says “redevelopment in the village centers can occur in commercial core areas.”
Phase II of the Master Plan will not provide a concepts for redeveloping any village centers. Rather, it is setting guidelines regarding architecture, green space and the village center’s roles as gathering spaces with a variety of community uses.