RA: Tall Oaks Plan ‘Falls Woefully Short’ in Public and Retail Space

by Karen Goff August 17, 2015 at 9:30 am 17 Comments

 Reston Association’s Board of Directors has sent a letter to county officials saying that the new plan for Tall Oaks Village Center “falls woefully short of meeting even minimum standards sought for a village center.”

The Jefferson Apartment Group (JAG) purchased the aging village center in December and plans to redevelop the space — which is only 16 percent occupied — into a variety of housing with a small amount of retail.

JAG has not filed any permits or plans for the redevelopment, which will not need rezoning under new Reston Master Plan rules.

The company has held three community meetings. In the first two last April, the plans were not well received by community members, who said if proper management was in place, retail would thrive.

At the most recent meeting, in June, JAG officials came back with an amended plan featuring 150 rather than 154 homes (a variety of townhomes, 2-over-2 townhouses and condos), about 7,000 square feet (up from 3,000 SF) of retail and additional open space.

But the lack of a community gathering space and open space remains an issue for Reston Association, RA President Ellen Graves said in an Aug. 6 letter to Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and Planning Commission member Frank de la Fe.

RA says JAG should follow Urban Land Institute guidelines for the importance of public plazas in planning for the new Tall Oaks.

Those guidelines state a successful public realm is one where “commerce, social interaction, leisure time activities may mix easily in an attractive, pedestrian-friendly outdoor setting. … The public realm should allow for the integration of the people, the place and the larger community.”

Says RA: “The current Jefferson Apartment Group redevelopment plan does none of the above. In all its iterations, the plan falls woefully short of meeting even minimum standards sought for a Village Center in Reston. The existing elderly housing residents [at Tall Oaks Assisted Living] should be supported in the Village Center’s design, amenities and uses. An amount and mix of commercial uses sufficient to serve the surrounding neighbors should remain.”

See the entire letter below.

RA Letter Re:Tall Oaks by Karen Goldberg Goff

Photo: Rendering of redeveloped Tall Oaks/Credit: JAG

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