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Tall Oaks Citizens Have Suggestions for Better Redevelopment

by Karen Goff — August 18, 2015 at 1:00 pm 15 Comments

Total Rehab has moved from Tall Oaks Village CenterNearly 100 Tall Oaks-area residents answered a recent survey on the future of their village center, saying they want more than 10,000 square feet of retail, among other tweaks to what is being planned for the ailing village center.

In July, the grassroots Concerned Citizens of Tall Oaks asked neighbors to look at “Citizen Options” compared to the latest concept from The Jefferson Apartment Group (JAG).

JAG, which purchased Tall Oaks late last year, wants to build 150 residential units and up to 7,000 square foot of retail on the site of the nearly empty 70,000-square-foot village center at Wiehle Avenue and North Shore Drive.

Sixty respondents to the citizen survey said they liked “Citizen Option 1,” which adds retail up to 10,000 square feet and opened up space in front of Tall Oaks Assisted Living. Thirty-three responses were in favor of Citizen Option 2, which also added up to 10,000 square feet of retail, as well as more parking.

Overall, 83 percent of respondents chose a citizen option over JAG’s option, says group rep Sherri Hebert, the president of the Bentana Woods Cluster Association.

“Although not a scientific research study, the results further validate the thoughts and concerns of the residents of Reston,” says the group’s report.

Hebert has also written a letter to county officials outlining the citizens’ furstration.

“Developing this land into a gem of Reston and a model for other village centers is critically important to Reston’s future,” she said. “To create another housing cluster would set the wheels in motion to dissolve the uniqueness of Reston and its village centers, increase traffic and decrease the character of the neighborhood and lower the quality of life of the residents. All of these factors would ultimately lead to a city without personality or distinction and lower property values. ”

The group’s main conclusions:

  • Require a minimum of 10,000 square feet of retail. The retail that is currently operating successfully at Tall Oaks, to include Paisanos, Paradise Nails, Fur Factory, Pho 75, Vocelli, Kumon Learning, and Tall Oaks Veterinarian easily fill the square footage. They have expressed interest to stay and have been successful for years in the village center.
  • Require community green space/meeting space in a village or plaza-like setting.
  • Require adequate parking so overflow parking isn’t along North Shore or it becomes impossible for customers to park for the retail services.
  • Require a traffic study and feasibility of an exit onto Wiehle westbound.
  • Require design of housing and retail building fit into the community and the Reston nature feel.
  • Push for LEED certifications, green roofs, reuse of rain water, etc.
  • Consider building above retail if needed.
  • Require plaza/village space, multi-generational gathering space.

JAG has not yet submitted any formal permits or plans for Tall Oaks. After an April meeting where the concept was not well received, it did make changes to double the retail space (from 3,500 to 7,000 square feet) and add open space.

“We don’t know if Jefferson Apartment Group is open to changes, but we need to have our desires known and data can speak louder than words,” says the citizens group.

See a final report from the citizens below.

Tall Oaks Options Survey

  • cRAzy

    Gee, wonder why RA Board member for the Tall Oaks area Eve Thompson didn’t take this kind of an initiative before shooting off her mouth at an RA Board meeting.

  • Ming the Merciless

    We want this, we want that, we want another thing.

    And we want someone else to pay for it.

    Typical Americans today.

    • John Lovaas

      What seems to be missing here is just a modest amount of creativity and willingness to work together to address the community’s legitimate concerns and enable to developer to succeed as well. The community is not asking for as extensive retail as existed in the past on this site. It would seem that the modest retail they request, along with community-serving open space, would support profitable development and a vital community area. While retail has not prospered in some time at Tall Oaks, times are changing with the advent of Metro just down Wiehle from Tall Oaks. And, if one opened Tall Oaks to Wiehle Avenue, imagine what might be possible.
      Surely, a creative developer who wants to work with the community could solve this. Look at what is happening at Lake Anne thanks to a creative developer–Republic Land–after years of failed concepts by mental midget developers. One key ingredient added to Republic Land’s creativity, of course, is the Silver Line.

      • Greg

        “The community,” as you like to term it, it a a very few idealists like you who can’t stand change and can’t admit that failed visions are neither desired nor fit for contemporary lifestyles. The rest of us, the vast majority, support leveling the Brutalist 30-year failure that is Tall Oaks and let it be developed as proposed. We need NO more “meeting places,” funded on the backs of private land owners no less, in Reston. There are plenty of them, most of which are vastly underused, as is.

  • reston realist

    Typical comments from a vocal minority who refuse to see that the concept of the original Reston centers has been a commercial disaster. Lake Anne, Hunterswood and Tall Oaks all failed.Now this same group and the RA Board want to stand in the way of a developer who is willing to risk their capital to turn around an empty shopping center.
    Let’s debate this for the next 10 years and continue to see this space deteriorate even further.
    If you wanted a shopping center why did you not support it?

    • Sherri

      The community did and still supports the remaining businesses. The former owners forced businesses out and/or put in grocery stores that were dirty and smelly. NO ONE would go there. The prior owners got what they wanted and the community has suffered. It is time to stand up for what is needed.

      • Reston Crimewatcher

        The former owners leased to the smelly store operators because NO ONE ELSE wanted to open in the space. The prior owner got what they wanted because they owned the shopping center. They timed the sale of their asset to benefit themselves. Thats’ called business. Tall Oaks has been shitty for years and years. Grow up and stop complaining. JAG are the property experts here and they will develop what they feel they can profit on. I, for one would love to see high end, market rate townhomes. Some high end retail would be nice. Community gathering space is a buzzword that RA and its groupies like to use, but it is not needed. No one wants to gather.

  • Dr. Nefario

    They wasted their time, the only way to make JAG change their plans is to hire a lobbyist. They can pass bribe money to elected officials to rezone, change taxes/fees, make up laws that would hurt JAG. The lobbyist could also plant a spotted owl on the property and then call up their contacts in the EPA. We have the best government money can buy, don’t waste your time on grass roots efforts.

    • ESA Troll

      EPA has no jurisdiction over Spotted Owls or other endangered species. That would be the FWS.

    • Ricky Spanish

      Fact: Owls are also know as Hooters

  • Wings!!

    Hooters, Hooters, Hooters.

    #HootersForReston

    • Bowling 4 Bollards

      You know, after listening to these RA whiners, I am almost ready to agree with you! How about a real good dive bar?

      • Greg

        Maybe we can get a Jimmy’s East? Or something? Whitey’s West? Quarterdeck?

  • Bowling 4 Bollards

    Let JBG develop this property in accordance with their own design and plans. RA should absolutely butt out. Tall Oak residents ( or anyone else) do not require more meeting spaces built at someone else expense. There is no shortage of meeting/gathering spaces in Reston. This unscientific survey is a joke, and so-called progressive independents like John Lovass should get off their asses and try building such a project with their own money at some other location, if they do not like the plans. My bet is that they could do no better!

    • Bowling 4 Bollards

      It’s JAG, sorry.

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