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Tall Oaks Owners to Show Tweaked Plans June 22

by Karen Goff — June 15, 2015 at 4:30 pm 25 Comments

 Tall Oaks Village Center owners Jefferson Apartment Group (JAG) will present a revised look at plans for the space on June 22.

JAG, along with Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, is hosting and open house at 7 p.m. at Reston Community Center at Lake Anne, 1609-A Washington Plaza.

JAG, which purchased Tall Oaks for $14 million last December, held two community meetings in Reston in April. Representatives showed plans to replace the increasingly vacant shopping center with 154 residential units (townhomes and condos) and a small amount of retail.

The proposal was not well received by Tall Oaks-area residents, who would prefer the village center be preserved as a retail center, including a grocery store anchor. There is an online petition asking JAG to keep Tall Oaks retail.

The 25,000-square-foot grocery store space — formerly a Giant and then two different international groceries — has been vacant for nearly five years.

Land use attorney Mark Looney said at the previous meetings that there was almost no interest in Tall Oaks among retailers.

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.

Meanwhile, Reston Master Plan Phase 2, recently approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, says developers do not have to get a Comprehensive Plan Amendment in order to redevelop Tall Oaks as residential.

Rendering of new Tall Oaks residences/Courtesy Jefferson Apartment Group

  • Mike M

    No interest among retailers?
    Not when the maintenance is abyssmal and the rent is sky high.
    I don’t believe there is any real fundamental economic issue with the plaza other than the owners want something other than retail on their land.

    • Ming the Merciless

      Giant couldn’t make it work… Fresh World couldn’t make it work… Compare Foods couldn’t make it work… These large corporations were obviously easily bullied by the mean old landlord, who hated taking their rent money and pushed them out as fast as he could.

      • Chuck Morningwood

        What are you talking about? How many years was Giant’s there? A couple of decades or more?

        It’s basic economics. If the landlord really wanted to have the place full, he could do that easily. The fact that nobody will lease there should tell you that the landlord’s price is higher then his potential customers want to pay.

        • Ming the Merciless

          Did something change over those years? Oh yeah, other grocery stores opened in Reston that were more attractive than Tall Oaks Giant, so their level of patronage dropped to nothing. The few times I went in there, hardly anyone else was there.

          No customers, no profits, no ability to make payroll or rent. That is simple economics.

          • Chuck Morningwood

            Just because Giant’s decided to move on doesn’t mean that others couldn’t make it. The simple fact of the matter is that the rent was high enough that occupant couldn’t keep prices down low enough to compete with the larger stores.

            Just as cost hikes get passed on to consumers, so to can cost discounts. If you doubt this, I suggest that you review how Wally of WalMart’s made his money.

          • Ming the Merciless

            Erm, the fact that two of them couldn’t make it demonstrates pretty clearly that others couldn’t make it.

            You are fixated on a conspiracy that requires the bad guy to be simultaneously a genius and incompetent. (Is this a hangover from Bush Derangement Syndrome?) It is entirely possible for a landlord to keep his tenants, and collect their rents, until he is ready to sell the plaza to a developer. Then the tenants are required to move on, as indeed the current few remaining tenants in Tall Oaks will be required to do.

          • Chuck Morningwood

            And what I’m saying is that the reason that there aren’t occupants there is not because it’s a bad location, incapable of supporting businesses, but because the landlord is running out tenants by keeping the rents there unrealistically high.

          • Ming the Merciless

            If you restate the claim enough times, no doubt some people will believe it even though it flies in the face of common sense and has no evidence to support it.

          • Chuck Morningwood

            Talk about ignoring common sense. It’s all about the rents, not about the viability of the businesses. Consider the extreme case. What if the landlord were to offer to lease at $1/sq.ft.? Do you think that somebody wouldn’t be able to take that spot and turn a healthy profit? Of course, the landlord won’t rent for that much, but my point is that, if the rent is low enough, businesses will rent.

          • Ming the Merciless

            Yeah, and the landlord has no costs at all, so he can totally let people rent for $1/sq ft! That makes perfect sense!

            Or, it could be that nobody wants to start a business – which involves significant costs – in a crappy plaza, no matter how low the price, when other more attractive venues are readily available.

      • Mike M

        Do you know the rent they paid and how comparable it is to other places?
        Didn’t think so.

        • Ming the Merciless

          Hey, since you and Chuck Know For A Fact the rent was (criminally, artificially) Too Damn High, you should tell me what it is.

          • Mike M

            Enough to run out the renters and to get the place sold to those who felt confident they could make more money rebuilding and selling resdences. Certain development interests suggested redevelopment even while Giant was still there.

          • Ming the Merciless

            Mike, you asked for specific numbers… even though you don’t have those numbers yourself.

            Do you know the rent they charged? If not, how do you know it was “enough to run the renters out”?

            Again: they don’t have to run the renters out in order to sell to a developer. Running the tenants out denies them rental income unnecessarily.

          • Mike M

            We disagree. To redevelop it helps to have the leases run out then renew at rates they know won’t be accepted. Leaving it vacant helps make the case locally that some changes should be made to enable development as it completely suits the developer.

          • Ming the Merciless

            If you don’t have the numbers then you have no basis to argue that the rents were artificially “too high”.

            The simplest explanation is the obvious one. Tall Oaks plaza sucks, and it has competitor plazas that do not suck.

    • shagga

      hard to pay rent when you loose money.

  • Jeff Myren

    We have other grocery options within a couple miles. If it’s just a small grocery store then I probably wouldn’t go often unless it was to pick up a thing or two. A Trader Joe’s could work as their business model was built on limited options but there is already one in Reston. I think a Chik-Fil-A and a Cava Mezze plus apartments would work well. Would I like a cool bar or pizza place, sure… But they should go in Lake Anne down the block.

  • Full Time Bowanker

    Unless there is a Starbucks dropping anchor I cannot see anything developing out of this republican hell hole.

  • j0n

    Tall Oaks never made sense to me from a retail perspective. The fact that there is only one way in and out to Sunset struck me as odd convenience wise. Also, if you were new to the area and were driving down Sunset, you’d probably never even realize there was retail back there.

    • Googlemap

      Tall Oaks is off Wheile. No where near Sunset.

      • j0n

        Thanks for the correction

  • Wings!!

    I think a Hooters would fit in there nicely. As I’ve been saying, Reston needs a Hooters.
    #HootersForReston

  • Rebecca Totten

    Giant left because it didn’t fit the profit profile of the new Giant owner (Netherlands-based Ahold) and Ahold opened a bigger store in North Point. I worked in the Hallmark in Tall Oaks in the 90’s and that owner’s per square footage rent at that time equaled the per square foot rent on Connecticut Avenue! The rent has always been ridiculously high. No one is saying no new development. The problem is JAG’s (new owner) HIGH density plan based on greed. The intersection at North Shore and Wiehle is already stressed due to the new subway station. Adding 154 new homes (or approx 300 new residents with cars) will make traffic a nightmare. JAG has no idea what Reston is about and really doesn’t care. They had to be pushed into taking into consideration the senior citizens home in Tall Oaks. They have allowed for very little open space. They have openly admitted that they expect all overflow parking to go out to North Shore. They are allowing a small amount of commercial space only after protests from the local residents. JAG said they had talked to all of the current stores in Tall Oaks. They had not and that fact was pointed out by 2 of the current commercial renters at one of the public meetings! Yes, Tall Oaks needs to be redeveloped but not with the current plan.

    • JCSuperstar

      Actually the density allowed at Tall Oaks is FAR GREATER than the number of units JAG decided on. Read the existing development plans. Most agree the number they proposed is far less than expected.

      The only retail that would survive in that area is a very big box retailer, like a Dollar Store, Hardware Retailer Furniture Retailer, etc. Not something the local residents would want anyway. As Looney stated so well, when a 7-11 pulls out, there’s not enough ton make it economical.

      I anticipate the competition for more retail will take place at Isaac Newton Square.

      JC

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