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Why Wegmans Will Never Open at Tall Oaks

by Karen Goff — October 30, 2014 at 9:30 am 2,093 29 Comments

wegmansThe Reston community continues to chime in on what to do with the largely empty Tall Oaks Village Center. One answer pops up often: “I’d love to see a Wegmans there.”

Ah, Wegmans. It’s a happy place. With 11 kinds of salmon, a coffee bar, cheese so rare it’s kept in a locked case and a chef custom-making your lunchtime stir-fry. Restonians are clearly fans — but must travel to Sterling or Fair Lakes to get an $18 artisan fruit tart.

Could it be that the mostly available space at Wiehle Avenue and North Shore Drive would make gourmet grocery dreams come true?

Sorry, no.

“We are not considering this location,” Jo Natale, Wegmans Director of Media Relations for the Rochester, N.Y., based chain wrote in an email.

Wegmans didn’t become Wegmans by squeezing the stores into any old space. The company has requirements of 150,000 square feet for the store alone, along with 800 surface parking spots, says a local land use attorney.

That means Wegmans needs about 15 acres to be Wegmans. The Tall Oaks site is about seven acres — and the anchor store, which used to house a Giant Food, is only about 38,000 square feet.

And that’s before the discussion would even begin on the traffic pattern and access from Wiehle Avenue.

So to review — Wegmans is not interested and the site is not appropriate.

You’re still going to have to head to Loudoun County or Fair Lakes for the hand-silced Nova lox or a wine selection curated by someone who knows a Syrah from a Cabernet.

Photo: Wegmans/Credit: Wegmans

  • vdiv

    Fine, no Wegmans at Tall Oaks… How about an REI/EMS/Orvis store?

  • Larisa Briggs

    I have several suggestions, but no idea who to tell them to to follow up. One Trader Joes. I know we have one, but I think this location would be popular. Another one is a new player in town, but making a splash, The Fresh Market (Currently in Vienna). Thirdly, I think an Aldis would be a huge hit there. I think what TO needs is advertising. If a place were to open, incentives, signs, marketing and advertising is key. I do not think they should cut down more trees for visibility (Especially after they killed the look with the strip mall design). People need to know they are there, and the ways I mentioned are a method to do that.

    • east297

      YES, Trader Joes.. Better parking!

  • Jeff

    People forget it is there. Better signage may work but visibility from the road is best. I’d be willing to sacrafice some trees to gain a successful nearly shopping center on my way home from work. I think a grocery store is best but it would likely need to be enlarged as the current building is small. Perhaps eliminate some of the other small stores to gain more space in the anchor store. Perhaps the whole property needs to be reconfigured rather than simply remodeling.

    • Nah

      I always knew Giant was there, and its successors. The problem was not being unknown but being lame. Build something good and I will come!

  • Meh

    Not really seeing the incredible artisanal greatness of Wegmans. Doesn’t seem there is anything there I can’t get at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.

    • Carol

      Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods doesn’t have the selection of “common” products outside of food like cleaning supplies, paper goods, etc.–Wegmans has it all. So as much as I love TJ’s, I unfortunately, still have to visit the big box grocery stores too. It’s inconvenient to have to shop at 2 stores.

      • Meh

        What, you don’t want to use the Earth-friendly paper goods and cleaning supplies from Whole Foods?

        Right now, at least, I don’t mind going to Harris Teeter as well as TJ’s. Certainly not going to drive to Wegman’s just for that stuff.

  • Jeff

    A grocery store and some ofthe following: Starbucks, Flippin Pizza, Chipotle, Jimmy Johns, Bon Chon. I’d trade Mama Wok for China Express (located off Tyco Rd. In tysons)…best takeout /delivery Chinese food around! The pho place seems to have a one what loyal following but I personally prefer Pho 75 in the Kmart shopping center in Herndon.

    • Jeff

      Seems to have somewhat of a loyal following… (typo)

      • Chris

        How many Starbucks does Reston need, really.

        • .

          We don’t have enough until every Starbucks has another Starbucks right across from it.

    • JoJo

      What’s with the dis of Mama Woks? good spot. Has a following too.

  • GB

    Total Wine please. It’s 8,9, and 10 miles from my house to the nearest three and with traffic that’s a 20-30 minute drive each way. This would put it at almost walking distance – perfect! Total Wine, If you come I promise to keep you in business.

  • E Pluribus

    Can Whole Foods move from Plaza America to Tall Oaks so they can expand? They could build it out like the Whole Foods in Fair Lakes that has multiple restaurant/bar options within, and live music on the weekends. Sometimes I’ll make the drive to that store over the one in Reston.

    Regardless of what goes in, Pho Reston 75 will get my business.

    • Linda Ascher Singer

      One of my Granddaughters’ favorite restaurant.

    • H Dunn

      Yes to an expanded Whole Foods! Reston’s is not adequate for the population. Constantly colliding with people and things and frustrated by lack of stock.

  • Guest

    The problem with Tall Oaks is that it is on a dead end street with only one entry point. Every other mall/shopping center has more than one access point, RTC as a whole has maybe a dozen. Maybe Fairfax County/VDOT would consider expanding North Shore to loop around to meet Fairway Drive or just a direct entry north on Wiehle. We don’t need any new grocery stores but Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s moving there would be an option. Whatever goes in needs to be unique that will drive their own business, that location can’t depend on drive-by traffic.

    • John Farrell

      There are no VDOT plans nor any VDOT money in the 6 year State Transportation Plan for the extention of the roads described above.

      What money there is will be allocated to other projects in NoVa.

      There isn’t even any funds for the planned Soapstone bridge over the Toll Road.

      Direct access from Wiehle would require the consent of RA as it owns the treed area between Tall Oaks and Wiehle.

      Further, VDOT is not likely to approve a median break in Wiehle because the horizontal and vertical curves limit sight distances below safety minimums.

      So at best RA would have to consent to a right-in/right-out only exit across its land.

      That’s after DRB approves any renovation plans.

  • Lisa

    With the Metro just a 1/2 mile away, whoever owns this property is sitting on it, and will probably sell it so they can build high-end, unaffordable apartments or condos….seems to be the pattern lately.

    • JoJo

      Yes, there were previous articles where some had commented they were interested in leasing there and did not get a response from the landlord/owner of the property. They seem to want to sell it for housing..more profitable.

      • John Farrell

        And yet, when the County process openly invited comprehensive plan nominations at the beginning of the Phase II process, the Tall Oaks owners did not make a nomination, unlike the owners of the Hunt.

        • JoJo

          Great, I didn’t know. A previous article on this had suggested they weren’t that responsive to new business potentials, but think they we’re also wanting to lease the supermarket space first, before filling smaller spaces.

  • Linda Ascher Singer

    I reported this suggestion at Supervisor Hudgin’s Saturday meeting on Village Centers. One of my sons really wishes this as a possibility, but realizes the site is too small. If Wegmans were at Tall Oaks I’d never be able to stick to my diet.

  • Linda Ascher Singer

    Another family suggestion is using the center for an art movie theater.

  • VaWineKnow

    I think it needs to be totally reconstructed first and foremost ;(. I am a native Restonian and although I love the nostalgia of the current set up, it’s out of date, too hard to navigate and does not work especially for an area of Reston that is now going be be bustling due to the metro. I am in agreement with a Total Wine at the corner there (once they reconfigure) or an expanded Whole Foods, or even Fresh Market.

  • cosmo

    I like the suggestions for either Total Wine or REI. Either is unique enough to draw traffic. Maybe a convenience store of some sort could then open in one of the smaller storefronts to serve those who live in the immediate area with basic groceries. And I’d like to see a Dairy Queen (a full DQ with a grill menu), an Arby’s, or a Chik-Fil-A open up in the old BK building.

  • Morgan

    I really think that space is perfect for art studios.

  • Mialovesart

    Still think my 7th grader had the right answer, turn it into a 3rd RCC with much needed pool, gym , and racketball / badminton courts…. She’s off at college now, and that location is still struggling.

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