Tall Oaks Citizen Group Organizes Additional Options, Seeks Input

 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

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