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Approval of Tall Oaks Village Center Redevelopment Elements Pushed Off by DRB

by Dave Emke July 19, 2017 at 5:00 pm 27 Comments

After a lengthy discussion during its meeting Tuesday (video), Reston’s Design Review Board deferred voting on approval of landscape, architectural elevations and other aspects of the Tall Oaks Village Center redevelopment.

In their presentation, representatives of Jefferson Apartment Group described their plan for the residential portion of the redevelopment, which will include multifamily residential buildings, two-over-two condominiums and townhouses for a total of 156 residential units.

“One of our main goals with these schemes was to continue to provide diversity, not only in the number of different housing types proposed, but to really give each housing type its own identity while still maintaining a very consistent theme throughout the site,” said a representative of architectural design firm KTGY, emphasizing that the development’s architecture would be “innovative and of its time, but still respectful of its surrounding context.”

KTGY said the two multifamily home buildings in the plan directly relate in scale and density with the adjacent Tall Oaks Assisted Living facility, while the two-over-two buildings and townhomes would have “more of an appropriate relationship to the surrounding neighborhoods.”

Members of the DRB, however, were concerned by the fact that all residential buildings within the development would be four stories tall, creating what some called a “cavernous” feel.

“There’s a sense of walking through a valley,” said lay member Bruce Ramo. “It seems very un-Restonlike, particularly in the context of where it is sitting, not in a transit area.”

DRB members also expressed concern about what the townhomes would look like as drivers approach the development from North Shore Drive.

“To me, as I turn onto North Shore Drive from Wiehle into this new Tall Oaks Village Center environment, I feel a little disappointed to see brownstones,” said W. Neal Roseberry, DRB vice chair. “I kind of would want to see, personally, something that’s Reston in a contemporary way.”

Roseberry said the proposed design of the townhouses would be like a “little piece of West Market” at Tall Oaks.

Richard Newlon, another of the committee’s vice chairs, agreed.

“From three years ago, May of 2014, our interest has always been to try to keep North Shore looking more Restonlike [with] a more natural buffer,” he said. “Please, pay attention that. That’s a key element.”

Images via JAG/KTGY

  • Lake Anne Resident

    Maybe focus those efforts on the now Nationally historic site of Lake Anne Village perhaps?

    • Greg

      No more Brutalism.

  • 40yearsinreston

    Typical DRB circus with the amateur architects in the main ring
    ‘Canyon like’ ?
    Its not a subdivision, duh!

    I know, how about planting a few trees on the roof?
    That way their egos will be assuaged

    • reston resident

      Since there can be no legitimate argument against the proposed development, the DRB wants to muck around with it just to show everyone that they think they are in charge…they are petty bureaucrats, nothing more.

      • Golden Goose Liberal

        True true true but that does not mean things can change especially since 18000 households are too busy to care or low on oxygen.

      • Greg


      • TheKingJAK

        The people are in charge, and by default that makes their representative bodies in charge. So, yes, the developers need to know their place.

    • Umust B Kidding

      How can you be 40 years in Reston and know so little?

      • Golden Goose Liberal

        I wanted to ask this question before but then… respect for your elders.

  • Paul Walsh

    You don’t need to be a professional architect to recognize how un-Reston this plan is. (It’s not un-Fairfax County, e.g, lots like it along RT 50 near Frfx City & government center).
    One common trait of old-timey Reston development is a common public area out front where you see and meet your neighbors, and a sense of privacy out back, usually looking out at nature. Every development along North Shore (prior to what’s now called ParcReston, and even that complex tried to) adhered to this simple concept.
    This is difficult to accomplish on land that is a village center.
    Unlike all the other clusters, condos and apartments along North Shore, this is a village center which should be developed differently- by including ground level retail and offices.
    As currently designed, it looks like theft of civic land for private profit, with emphasis on shoehorning in as many units as possible – neighborhood aesthetics be damned.
    Wrong location for that.
    Please, return to the drawing board and present something that contributes to the community.

    • Golden Goose Liberal

      Thanks. I salute your last paragraph!

    • Uh wut now?

      “civic land for private profit”

      How is it civic land? It is private property. And yes, it is perfectly reasonable to try to obtain private profit from private property.

      • Paul Walsh

        It was zoned and developed and bought as a village center – so not ‘civic’ as in government or public property, but ‘civic’ as in for the benefit of the people of the village. That entire side of Wiehle is now a food desert. The apartments in Beacon Tree were planned and developed with waking paths to the village center so people wouldn’t need cars for every trip to the store

        • Greg

          It’s had 40+ years to be a civic space “for the benefit of the people of the village.” It failed. Decades ago. Next?

          • TheKingJAK

            It failed decades ago? No, it didn’t.

          • Greg

            Wrong. Dead wrong.

          • Uh wut now?

            It has also had 15+ years to be profitable for the benefit of its owners, and it has manifestly failed to do that.

        • Uh wut now?

          ‘civic’ as in for the benefit of the people of the village.

          I can’t find anything in any RA document that defines village centers this way. The RA website says “Reston has integrated residential areas with retail creating
          inviting village center environments for shoppers and residents, alike.
          These village centers are in walking distance for many Restonians,
          providing an easy access to retail and dining.”

          In no way does this language indicate that village centers are “civic” or “public” property. They are private property. To be sure, a shopping center “benefits” the public but it is also intended to ensure the private profit of the owner. And there’s nothing wrong with that! So all this talk about “theft of civic land” is totally wide of the mark.

  • Waterlogged

    Ha! No, seriously, please get a new architect. Stop with the flowery … they are boxes but have their own identity, but are consistent. Well, because they are boxes. Haven’t heard stuff like that since architecture school. Is there something wrong with a simple design, some negative space, good public spaces/flow, etc. or does everything need a schizophrenic facade these days.

  • Golden Goose Liberal

    This is clearly about putting more cars on the road. Because, if you paid attention, anyone with a car is a contributor and as long as you pay your car tax you contribute your fair share. And this also is the reason why infrastructure is lagging behind in so many ways!

    I have to salute the DRB for shooting this sick dog in the head, Leonardo da Vinci this is not! Shame on those organized criminals who ruined the French Riviera in the 80s, lets not allow these meat heads to take control!!! Make America great again!

    • The Constitutionalist

      Do we contribute our “fair share?” Does a more expensive car cause the road to need more repairs and thus require more in tax?

    • Anonymous Poster

      Yes, I’m sure that every time the board meets, a person folds their hands, leans forward on the table, looks at their colleagues, and asks, “Ladies and gentlemen, how exactly can we make sure we can get more cars on our roads?”

      This is a reasonable thing that people do.

  • Whew

    DRB is spot on. Thank you!

  • Greg

    It’s not Brutalist enough?

  • Why do you bother?

    The definition of “Restonlike” [sic] is a moving target.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    More soulless matchstick housing.

  • Sick of RA

    Let’s debate this ad nauseam. The DRB is made up or wanna be legislators who want to impose their views on everyone else.
    If they keep this up we will continue to have an eye sore empty shopping center instead of a new modern development.
    Look at what happened at Lake Anne so much red tape and and nit picking that the developer just gave up and walked away.


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