Petition Asks That Tall Oaks Remain Retail Center

Total Rehab has moved from Tall Oaks Village CenterA group of Reston residents has started an online petition to demand that Tall Oaks Village Center remain a village center — and not a residential development.

The petition, posted by “Concerned Residents of Tall Oaks” is aimed at Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and Reston Association CEO Cate Fulkerson.

“Tall Oaks community needs and deserves a Village Center with retail that we can walk to and green space where the community can gather,” the petition says. “A balance of residential and retail in a plaza-like setting would be a good compromise.”

Tall Oaks has been losing retail tenants at a fast clip the last several years. It is currently at 16 percent capacity, land use attorney Mark Looney said in a presentation to residents in April. In 2007, it was 92 percent occupied.

The village center was sold to McLean’s Jefferson Apartment Group in December. The company is in the early stages of envisioning what to do with the 40-year-center.  Preliminary plans include 154 new homes in a combination of mid-rise condos and townhouses, as well as 8,500 square feet of retail.

The plans were presented to Tall Oaks-area residents at two meetings in April. They were not well received. Many residents said a retail center would be successful if it had the right management and that more residents will choke traffic on already slow Wiehle Avenue.

“Tall Oaks community needs and deserves a Village Center with retail that we can walk to and green space where the community can gather,” the petition says. “A balance of residential and retail in a plaza-like setting would be a good compromise.”

Changing the county zoning from commercial to residential may be more flexible under changes to the Reston Master Plan.

Many of those who signed the petition list their reasons why they want Tall Oaks to remain retail.

“Please represent the people of Reston instead of developers,” said one commenter.

Wrote another: “I grew up down the street from Tall Oaks and loved it when it had a Giant and a 7-Eleven. Being able to walk with my mom or ride my bike to the store to get something was awesome. My parents still live there and I pass Tall Oaks every day, and I’m sad because I remember what it used to be. Would love it if they could bring something similar back. Plus, when Robert E Simon designed Reston it was for a planned community where everyone is supposed to be within half a mile of a village center.”

Photos: Top, current empty spot at Tall Oaks; Bottom, Jefferson Apartment Group rendering of residential development.

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