So Large and Still Empty: This Space at Plaza America

by Karen Goff March 29, 2016 at 1:10 pm 40 Comments

Plaza America Champps 20161

The former Champps restaurant at Plaza America is close to becoming Reston’s version of a white elephant.

The 11,963-square-foot space remains unoccupied since Champps closed in October of 2014. That makes it Reston’s longest and largest commercial vacancy. Added bonus — the smaller adjacent spot, which formerly housed Saladworks, is now also for rent.

So what gives? The property is actively being marketed by CBRE. It’s in a prime location. Marketing materials highlight these demographics:

  • Underserved retail market within 3 miles where demand exceeds retail sales annually by an estimated $984 million
  • Strategically located off Dulles Toll Road with over 117,894 VPD and access to over 255,042 VPD in 1/4 mile
  • Strong daytime population of 37,869 within 1 mile and average incomes above $119,600

Rental rates per square foot are not made available in the marketing materials and representatives marketing the property generally won’t comment on why no tenant has signed.

A lot of retail and restaurant can fit into close to 12,000 square feet and a lot of money is available to be spent at a shopping plaza that includes a Whole Foods, a Starbucks and generally upscale retail.

So, for the 23rd month, what do you think should fill this space?

  • Ming the Merciless


    You know you want it.

  • Wings!!



  • mlbjunkee

    Maybe CBRE should adjust their monthly lease requirements. I’m guessing that, like RTC, their rates are so high that a new retail business won’t take a chance on the space.

    • Mike M

      Key point. But they aren’t talking. I’d be willing to bet it won’t go empty six months after RTC imposes parking fees. I have been thinking Hard Times. But Hooters wouldn’t hurt my feelings. I miss Bertucci’s. But I doubt those business models with their price structure / margins would work under CBRE in this location.

      • Wendy Flint

        Vehicles Per Day. Commercial Real Estate Lingo for traffic counts.

        • Mike M


      • Greg

        Too big and too expensive for Hard Times.

      • Ming the Merciless

        “Why don’t for-profit businesses understand how to set their prices in order to make a profit? Geez, it’s so simple!” — said the so-called economist.

        • Mike M

          You tell me? If your place goes vacant for two years . . . then it’s either ineptitude, or . . . ?
          I think there are reasons beyond incompetence.
          You are still stinging from your Econ lessons with me. I tried to be gentle.

          • Ming the Merciless

            Does the landlord know his own business better than you do? My guess would be… yes he does.

          • Mike M

            Not always. In the US economy investors (speculative types) can take over a firm and run it into the ground. It happens all the time. Also, markets change, businesses fail. Note that there was commercial real estate construction going on in our area well after vacancy rates were high and office hoteling was on the rise. Take those two colossuses at the east end of Reston just West of Hunter Mill, south of the toll road. Developers have shown to be incompetent from time to time. Because of their relationship with government and voters, they are known to fib about their motives and plans. But yeah, maybe these guys know what they are doing such as trying to empty the mall so they can get redevelopment into mixed use. Maybe the tax advantages of vacancy are higher than I know.
            I am starting to think you oughta pay me for these lessons. If only you would listen and learn.

          • Ming the Merciless

            You are really going full tard on this one, Mike. Anyone with an ounce of common and economic sense (i.e., not you) would appreciate the following facts:
            1. Plaza America has a VERY LOW vacancy rate both in an absolute sense and relative to other plazas in Reston.
            2. Most of their tenants have been there for a very long time.
            3. Therefore, the rent there is NOT too damn high.
            4. Therefore, the landlord is NOT trying to drive tenants out or keep spaces vacant for conspiratorial reasons. The landlord clearly knows how to get, and keep, viable tenants.
            5. Therefore, if the Champs space is vacant, that is because no viable tenant has applied for it.

            Of course, people like you often cling to their pet theory in the face of facts and logic, so I don’t expect you to listen or learn either.

          • Mike M

            That’s not accurate. The vacancies are substantial. Only Whole Foods , the CVS, and the bike shop have been steady tenants that I can name. Restaurant turnover has been significant if not 100%+. Staples, an anchor, is new. Champs, a large space remains vacant.

            Economic principle, Ming: when the product won’t move, the price is too high. It’s really quite simple.

          • Ming the Merciless

            Dude. I go to that plaza several times a week. I was there today. YOU ARE WRONG. It has low vacancies and low turnover.

            Economic principle: if you have lots of tenants and they stay for long periods, then you are charging the right amount of rent.

    • Ming the Merciless

      So what makes the conspiracy theory credible here? This is not Tall Oaks. The owners of Plaza America are not trying to get it redeveloped. And, other new businesses have opened in the plaza or plan to do so.

      But somehow, the answer is always…

      • Mike M

        Ming, the rent is not too d–n high because someone says so. The rent is too da–n high because the demand will not meet it. Some Logic with your Economics lesson:
        IF the product doesn’t move, AND you want to move it, lower the price.

        • Ming the Merciless

          When Mike M is the landlord of a commercial property, then his opinion will be well-informed and have value.

          • Mike M

            Economics, Ming. I look at other markets too. Most of the principles are the same. Take the relationship between supply, demand, and price, for example. In this case they may well be angling for redevelopment. That’s one explanation of why they may not have lowered the rent to meet demand. It’s been done before. Take Tall Oaks for example. But I walked you through that one and you didn’t get it.

          • Ming the Merciless

            You revealed your ignorance of economics and your lack of understanding of how businesses operate once before, and I am not at all surprised that you haven’t learned anything since then.

            Your conspiracy theory is hilariously stupid.

  • TheRealODB

    It’s like this article was written with Wings!! in mind….

  • DisqStew

    Cheesecake Factory

    • Mike M

      I’m not a huge fan, but that’s more in line with CBRE and rents in this location.

  • Nyla J.

    Hooters? I thought for sure Wings would be the first to comment.

  • Me


  • Chuck Morningwood

    Any place that has an “Open Carry” night.

    • Dodge


  • Greg

    Parking there is horrible, and the space is on the second floor.

  • Love to see a Fuddruckers there (though 5 Guys might protest!) or another Irish bar/restaurant. A Busboys & Poets would be neat.

  • Sidewinder

    A “Ram’s Head Live – Reston” would be good with popular headliner bands and a BIG STAGE! There’s nothing like that around here. I’m sure the county would squash that idea though because they are dead set against people having fun.

    • LakeNewportLady

      Man that would be awesome. A music venue in Reston would be amazing.

  • Arielle in NoVA

    Dave and Busters

  • These two vacancies are only two out of a half dozen in Plaza America. And I agree the access to this restaurant is technically not bad but it is hard to imagine where one would park and walk there. The parking lot across the street is frequently full as are the ones across from CVS and Wholefoods. Parking is the issue for sure.

    • Mike M

      So, you’re saying that if parking access becomes more difficult, the businesses and the landlord might suffer?

  • Jennifer Walter

    Sullivan’s, Roy’s, Wildfire, Seasons 52, PF Changs

  • Chuck Morningwood

    How about a dueling piano bar ala Bobby McKey’s? Reston could use some adult entertainment in the evenings which doesn’t involve either shopping, movies or stuffing one’s face.

  • Novanglus

    Strip malls are out of favor, and restauranteurs know it. The only way to get there is to drive and there’s not enough parking to support the open businesses (never mind if the six+ vacancies get leased). These sites will stay vacant until PA becomes a mixed-use development with direct transit service — such as a BRT or trolleybus which connects it to the Wiehle and RTC metro stations.

  • Ming the Merciless

    You should totally become a commercial real estate investor. With the sheer genius of your “reduce the rent as low as possible, to zero if necessary, because there is no cost to build or maintain a commercial property, and it doesn’t hurt you if a total loser business moves into your space and dies” strategy, you can’t possibly lose!

    • Mike M

      Somehow, I don’t “totally” recall ever saying any of that the you put half-way into quotation marks. If that’s the only way you can debate this, . . . I’d call it beneath you. Much business is risky, Ming. While I am no expert at commercial real estate, not everyone in the business is either. And as I said they may be trying to empty the place for redevelopment. I spoke with a women last night who works in commercial real estate told me this may be the case here in Reston.

      • Ming the Merciless

        “Lower the price” is your idiotic refrain. Evidently you believe that there is no floor beneath which a landlord can “lower the price”. This defies economic and common sense. Nor have you ever provided evidence to indicate what the minimum rent at Tall Oaks or Plaza America must be in order to support your claim that the landlords deliberately refuse to drop their rent to this minimum.

        I spoke with a women last night who works in commercial real estate told me this may be the case here in Reston.

        Oy vey. That’s what you call facts and evidence now?

        Try again.


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