Tall Oaks Owners Still Marketing Vacancies

by Karen Goff October 1, 2014 at 4:30 pm 1,129 10 Comments

Empty Tall OaksAs stores at Tall Oaks Village Center have shut their doors one after another, it has been hard to predict the future for the plaza.

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.

  • Susan

    We have contacted the property manager twice to find out about leasing there and both times were told they aren’t entertaining discussions for leasing any property until they have a new anchor. That seems crazy to me if someone wants to lease space. I don’t think they’re really interested.

  • Ralph

    I’m guessing that the owners of Tall Oaks want it to fail, and fail badly, in its current configuration so that they can press for zoning permission to replace the one story structures with high-rise condos.

    • vdiv

      Hmm, would evoking an eminent domain clause due to abandonment make Lincoln Properties reconsider their approach? How are the remaining tenants feeling about the current state of affairs? They must be rather upset.

      • Karen Goff

        In the past, the store owners have said they are just trying to run their businesses. Could be time to revisit them though. Watch for that story soon. Also Lincoln is property manager not owners.

  • Rob

    My wife and a prospective business partner approached the property management last year about signing a lease for the anchor space. They placed several calls and never got a response, and on the 7th attempt someone told them there were no plans to lease the space in the near future – they never asked what the business would have been or anything of the sort, just a “no thanks”.

    I suspect the listing of the space is required so they can claim attempts to lease the space and deduct the loss from their taxes when they don’t.

  • leeward

    What a shame, it WAS a lovely little neighborhood center. PLEASE no more condos!! Development has already ruined the Reston watershed. There -used- to be a stream running into the lake behind Becontree Lake Drive. The lake is no more. Just a morass of junk shrubs. The stream dried up when central Reston was developed.
    ‘ pave paradise and put up a parking lot’

  • Orlina Tucker

    Isn’t there something in Phase 2 of Master Plan rework that addresses failing or declining properties, as far as their benefiting from redevelopment? Seems to me it would be easier for Tall Oaks’ owners to justify redevelopment of a mostly vacant shopping center. And although they say they have no plans to redevelop…I’m seriously skeptical.

  • Bruce

    The center is going to be demolished and plans for 100 townhouses..

  • CAS

    I have been living down the corner for 28 years and nothing has ever made sense about the Tall Oaks shopping center. The center should be vital, strong and thriving! Not diving! There is something behind this all and it has not been disclosed. Maybe I need to live here another 28 years to understand. What a missed opportunity for all of us that live in Reston!

  • Pat Hynes

    As a resident of the Tall Oaks neighborhood, I’m very disappointed in that shopping center. It damages our property values, I’m sure. I don’t think owners should be allowed to let commercial space go to seed like that. What’s the point of living in a giant homeowners’ association if we can’t fight commercial blight? Does anyone know how we can advocate for improvement?


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