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Tall Oaks Citizen Group Organizes Additional Options, Seeks Input

by Karen Goff July 8, 2015 at 4:20 pm 19 Comments

 A group of Reston citizens is soliciting feedback on planned development at Tall Oaks Village Center — as well as additional suggestions it has organized — to make principals aware of their concerns about the new plan for the aging center.

Jefferson Apartment Group (JAG) bought the mostly empty 70,000-square-foot retail center in December 2014. JAG has held three meetings with residents since April, where it showed initial conceptual plans for 154 residences and a small amount of retail.

At the first two meetings, some residents were visibly upset at the residential plans and said the center had been mismanaged — but if good management came in, retail would stay. JAG representatives disagreed, saying there is stiff competition from other nearby shopping centers and little interest in Tall Oaks from retailers.

At a meeting in late June, JAG and Fairfax County Planning staff presented a new plan that offered a slight reduction in the number of townhomes and double the amount of planned retail space (for a total of about 7,000 square feet of shopping/restaurants).

Citizens at the June meeting were organized into focus group tables, where they offered feedback on the new plans. The consensus: the small groups generally liked the diversity of housing (including two garden-style condo buildings, four clusters of 2-over-2 townhouse condos and 100 townhomes), the addition of more retail and the move towards community space.

The residents in attendance also requested even more stores and a more cohesive community open space, as well as another exit to Wiehle Avenue and more integrated space with the existing Tall Oaks Assisted Living building.

The citizens group is driving that message home and asking other citizens to chime in on a short survey.

The group has taken JAG’s plans and amended them with “citizen options,” sketching out additional green space, more integration with Tall Oaks Assisted Living, and more retail. The group has even designated what the retail should be, such as “pizza,” “Pho,” ‘dry cleaners,” and “dog groomers,” which are current Tall Oaks’ tenants, as well as “grocery/deli” and “sit down restaurant.”

Says the citizens group:

We are gathering data to present to Cathy Hudgins, the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee as well as the [Reston Association] Design Review Board regarding our desires for Tall Oaks.

The consistent theme from the community meetings has been: ample retail/services needs to be provided, green space, inclusion of the Assisted Living Facility, and parking.

We have put together two options that address these concerns. We would like the retail to stand out with a different hardscape distinguishing the Village Center from the residential areas.

We don’t know if Jefferson Apartment Group (owners of the seven-acre property) is open to changes, but WE NEED TO HAVE OUR DESIRES KNOWN and DATA can speak louder than words.

JAG representatives say the redevelopment is still in the planning stages. The company has not applied for a zoning change or filed any other official documents.

Photo: Rendering of Tall Oaks redevelopment/Credit: JAG

  • Reston Resident

    Several bad links in this article…

  • They’reClueless

    I predict that these overly helpful residents will drive the developer to abandon the project and then lease the space to a big box something or other to stop the cash hemorrhage that this endless cycle of community input is costing them. Welcome to the consequences folks, welcome to the consequences.

    • Ming the Merciless

      The “community input” will cost them nothing – because they will ignore it, as they should – or they will make some cosmetic tweaks so they can claim they “listened to the community.”

      The group has even designated what the retail should be, such as “pizza,” “Pho,” ‘dry cleaners,” and “dog groomers,” which are current Tall Oaks’ tenants, as well as “grocery/deli” and “sit down restaurant.”

      That’s great, guys. You putting up any money to create those stores that you want? No? Sorry, but the golden rule prevails here – those who have the gold, make the rules. Those who have no gold, TALK TO THE HAND.

      • Wings!!

        Anybody in the group say anything about getting a Hooters up in there?
        Hoot! Hoot!

        #HootersForReston

      • T Petrine

        Boy, Ming, when might you grow tired of making pedantic, rude comments on almost every article? We are sick of your arrogant, dismissive attitude toward folks trying to improve our community. If you can’t say something that adds to a solution, how about keeping your nasty, harsh lingo to yourself? We would all appreciate it.

        • Ming the Merciless
          • cRAzy

            Excuse me, Ming, but you don’t know the truth!!!

          • Ming the Merciless

            Whenever a female unleashes a furious emotional tirade like that of T Petrine above, it’s because a male used unfair, hateful, oppressive “truth” or “logic” against them.

          • cRAzy

            You need to change your avatar to “Stupid Sexest Pig,” Ming.

          • Ming the Merciless

            You know you’re making my point for me, right?

  • Damon Feldman

    I agree that a retail option has not been adequately explored, which is not a surprise from Jefferson “Apartment Group” who clearly buy properties to create apartments, not retail. Tall Oaks now is run-down and unappealing, but is a great location near the new metro, new intensive use area around the metro, new Fairway redevelopment and new Lake Anne redevelopment. They need a retail/commercial expert to make it work, and we need a more honest plan from someone who’s focus is retail.

    • Orlina Tucker

      Because the all the previous commercial retail real estate owners weren’t “experts”? Tall Oaks has been dying off for years, and I don’t think it’s all due to poor management.

      • Damon Feldman

        You have a good point. But the “Apartment Group” may well have bought it as a shady plan to force a conversion to apartments. I suggest they sell it to a commercial entity for real, above-board re-development, perhaps at a loss since they have failed to improve the property or solve the problems. That is if they are and were honest about making a go of it as a commercial center.

        Tall Oaks is about 0.1 miles from the northern tip of the new Transit-oriented Development area around Wiehle East (http://1.usa.gov/1Ts4E4C ) which will someday have millions of sq feet of office and likely 10,000+ new residences. Fairway Apartments will be redeveloped soon, and Lake Anne will gain more residential too. Even though Giant Food failed 8 years ago, things are changing *radically* and there can now be a viable commercial center to continue to anchor the Tall Oaks neighborhoods as envisioned when Reston was designed.

        • Orlina Tucker

          Retail centers and shopping malls are in failing health across the country. How people shop has changed, and I think this is ultimately what did TO in. I lived off Scandia Circle for 16 years, and use to bypass TO Giant for Whole Foods, until I switched over to PeaPod. I did frequent Fur Factory, Paradise Nails and TO Cleaners, however, and I don’t think it’s coincidental that these business are still making a go of it at TO. People will make the trip for services, not so much products — which they can get delivered to them via Amazon.

  • Diana Katz

    You know what would be terrific in this space? Trader Joe’s!!! Their store near the Home Depot is too small and the parking is a nightmare. Traffic to Trader Joe’s would attract other retailers.

    • Karen Goff

      It has been pretty well established by the new owners that there is no interest from TJs or other grocery stores.

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