Update: Tall Oaks Hearing Delayed Until at Least June

by Karen Goff April 12, 2016 at 4:40 pm 20 Comments

 Jefferson Apartment Group’s (JAG) public hearing before the Fairfax County Planning Commission will not happen until sometime this summer at the earliest.

The developer, which purchased the ailing shopping center in December of 2014, has had two spots on the planning commission docket this spring, both of which have been delayed. JAG is now slated for a hearing on June 23.

JAG representatives said in February they needed additional time to conduct a market study examining the area’s retail viability.

JAG’s current plan is for 150 homes and about 7,000 square feet of retail space on the parcel at Wiehle Avenue and North Shore Drive. That plan has not been well-received by community members or Reston Association, which said in a letter to county officials last summer that the plan fell “woefully short” on retail and community space.

JAG’s plan features a variety of townhomes, 2-over-2 townhouses and condos. The retail space has been expanded from the original plan for 3,000 square feet of retail.

JAG representatives said at community meetings in April of 2015 that Tall Oaks’ current 70,000-square-foot retail space — which went from 90 percent occupied in 2007 to 13 percent in 2015 — was not viable.

They said they marketed the store vacancies, including the 25,000-square-foot anchor/grocery store space that has been empty for about five years, to retailers. There was no interest.

The market study will provide more definitive results, and Fairfax County is likely to follow up with a similar study of its own, RA land use attorney John McBride said in February.

“There is a problem with Tall Oaks,” he said. “The community, developer and the county are hopefully going to work together to solve that problem.”

McBride said part of the problem for Tall Oaks is it is designated a village center in Reston’s Master Plan, but never developed as a village center — with a variety of uses built around community space — when it was first built in the mid-1970s.

“It never was a true village center,” McBride said. “It is more of a suburban strip center. Getting it to a true village center as best it can be is the challenge before us.”

McBride said after the market study, the developers will present the findings — and perhaps new plan — to the RA Design Review Board the county planning commission.

Several Tall Oaks-area residents have said they would like to see a study done independent of the one JAG is conducting.

They have also said they would like to see about 10,000 square feet of retail, as well as more green space, on the site.

Rendering of new Tall Oaks Village Center residential and retail/Courtesy JAG

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