Monday: More Developer Talk on Tall Oaks

Tall Oaks residential rendering

The new owners of Tall Oaks Village Center will be back in Reston Monday for another presentation about potential plans for the nearly empty center at Wiehle Avenue and North Shore Drive.

Executives from The Jefferson Apartment Group, along with land use lawyer Mark Looney, spoke to a full house at an initial meeting at Reston Association headquarters on Thursday.

Monday’s meeting (7 p.m. at RA’s offices) is not expected to yield new information, but will be another chance for residents to see what JAG has in mind.

Thursday’s presentation was met with a high level of frustration by Tall Oaks-area residents and store owners, who blame the previous Tall Oaks Village Center owners for letting the 40-year-old retail center fall into disrepair while it continued to raise rents. That drove many tenants away in the last few years — with no new stores taking their place.

McLean-based JAG plans 154 residential units on the site — a mix of townhomes, “two over two” townhomes and condos in two-four story buildings. JAG also plans 8,500 square feet of retail, which would hopefully include loyal Tall Oaks tenants such as Mama Wok, Paradise Nails and others.

Many at Thursday’s meeting said more residential would burden traffic and asked that retail be given another chance at Tall Oaks.

Looney pointed out that retail has been declining at Tall Oaks for a decade. Giant Foods left the anchor spot in 2004. It was replaced by two different international grocery stores, each of which lasted fewer than two years.

There are also a half-dozen other grocery stores within a few miles, most of which were not open when Tall Oaks was thriving in the 1970s and 1980s, he said.

“When you start to compare existing retail at Tall Oaks to other new retail that is newer and more attractive, that’s when Tall Oaks began to struggle to compete,” he said.

The future may have been sealed when 7-Eleven left in 2008, he added.

“The notion of 7-Eleven not surviving is shocking,” said Looney. “7-Eleven is a very nimble business. If you can’t keep a 7-Eleven open, it says something.”

Looney predicts Tall Oaks, which had a nearly 90-percent occupancy rate in 2007 and currently has a 13-percent occupancy rate, will be 6 percent occupied by early 2016.

“The reality is, every anchor store knows this center and has passed it by,” said Looney, adding that there was no recent retail developer interest to purchase Tall Oaks.

JAG says that no site plan has been filed with Fairfax County and the Tall Oaks redevelopment plans are in the very early stages. JAG would also have to file a re-zoning application to build housing on the site of the shopping center.

Tall Oaks’ future was also a big point of discussion at last week’s public hearing on Reston Comprehensive Plan changes.

Rendering of new Tall Oaks Village Center site/Courtesy JAG

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