Updated at 7 p.m. with comment from Harmony
Several local assisted living and senior centers are advertising vaccinations if seniors make reservations for residencies, a marketing tactic that is raising concern among county and elected officials.
Reston Now has found at least three businesses have advertised either through social media or on their website that if an individual pays to become a resident of the assisted living or senior center by a certain date, they’d receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
This comes as regional localities continue to have immense challenges with distributing COVID-19 vaccines to all who are eligible. In Fairfax County, everyone 65 or older is currently eligible to sign up for the vaccine. The vaccine is also free to all.
Notably, up until late last week, Tall Oaks Assisted Living in Reston ran a Facebook aid promoting a “vaccination staycation,” as reported by the Washington Post.
The local assisted living facility was advertising a $5,000 all-inclusive month-long stay in a studio apartment where residents would also receive two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. It was accompanied by a 30-second video and a photo of a senior receiving a shot in the arm.
That post was taken down on Friday, according to the Post.
However, Tall Oaks Assisted Living isn’t the only local business that has advertised this type of message.
On Jan.13, Harmony in Chantilly promoted on their Facebook page “priority vaccine access” to those who become residents prior to Feb. 9.
Sunrise Senior Living at Reston Town Center also posted on their website’s landing page that “vaccine clinics are now available” and new “eligible” residents can learn more by calling the facility. Towards the bottom of the page, however, it explains that “no respite or short-term stays” are eligible to get the vaccine.
Fairfax County officials are worried about what these messages are promoting.
“The main concern is the promotion could be interpreted as needing to pay money to get the vaccine, which is not the case,” Jeremy Lasich, Fairfax County Health Department spokesperson, writes to Reston Now in an email.
Lasich notes that long-term care facilities, like those mentioned, are receiving their vaccine allotment directly from the federal government and not the county. He says Fairfax County has allocated roughly half of the weekly doses to people 65 and over, per Virginia guidelines.
While Lasich does understand the frustration since it could be weeks or even months to get a vaccine appointment, he emphasizes that those 75 and over were able to sign up a week earlier than those over 65. Meaning, those residents’ appointments should come sooner.
The advertisements do “raise some concerns as both a promotional strategy and from a safety perspective,” Lasich writes.
Ken Plum is the Virginia House Delegate for the 36th District. Both Tall Oaks and Sunrise at Reston Town Center lie in his district. He also shares considerable concern about these promotions.
“It sends the message that you can get in front of the line for the vaccine by paying for an expensive [residency] package,” Plum tells Reston Now.
There’s already a high level of anxiety and frustration with how the vaccine is being distributed, he says, and this type of advertisements are playing off of those fears, particularly aimed at seniors and their loved ones.
“It’s misleading and inappropriate,” says Plum.
Reston Now has reached out to the three assisted living and senior centers noted asking about the decision-making process behind the promotions and advertisements.
Tall Oaks Assisted Living responded to a request for comment from Reston Now.
Executive Director George Winters admitted that promoting in such a way could be seen as “insensitive.”
“At Tall Oaks, we believe in the many positive benefits of short-term respite care for both seniors and their families. Moreover, we are delighted to be able to do our part to help seniors within our communities get vaccinated and to protect their health as well as that of their families via our vaccination clinic,” Winters writes to Reston Now. “At the same time, we recognize that demand for the vaccine is considerable and that marketing our respite-care program as we did may have been seen as insensitive to the individuals awaiting their vaccines. We are grateful to our residents, our staff, and our neighbors for their understanding.”
It remains unclear how effective the promotions and advertising were in bringing in new residents.
Winters told the Washington Post that only one person responded to the ad prior to it being taken down on Feb. 5. That person had previously taken her mother out of the Reston facility last year due to fears about the pandemic.
Reston Now has followed up with Winters if it remains the case that only one person has responded to the ad, but has not received a response.
Harmony in Chantilly, in an email response to Reston Now, said that their residents were first vaccinated in late Jan. and were among the first to receive vaccinations in Virginia.
This statement is disputed since more than 10,000 Fairfax County residents received the vaccine weeks earlier. The assisted living center says they have follow-up vaccine clinics set-up for residents later this month and in March.
They declined to comment specifically on county officials’ concern over the appropriateness or potential misleading nature of the Facebook post
Tall Oaks Assisted Living at 2052 North Shore Drive in Reston is looking to add more parking, but the request won’t go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission until late March.
The proposal is to add 29 new parking spots at the 33-year-old assisted living center.
The ask was to go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission next week with a scheduled public hearing. However, the applicant has requested a deferral, planning commission staff confirms. This is to give the assisted living center time to address community concerns and give the planning commission to review any changes.
The commission will acknowledge the deferral and the new date for the proposal to go before the planning commission will be March 24, county staff told Reston Now. Parking has long been an issue at assisted living facility, so says the application first filed in July.
The facility near the intersection of North Shore Dr. and Wiehle Ave. was originally developed with 44 spots. At the time, that was sufficient, but increasing “care needs of residents” in turn increased staffing levels, according to the application.
Throughout the years, when the parking lot was full, visitors and staff would routinely park at the adjacent Tall Oaks Village Center. As tenants fled the shopping center, parking spaces became more plentiful.
Then, in June 2016, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the redevelopment of the defunct shopping center into a mostly residential development. That is currently under construction after being delayed several times for a variety of reasons.
Due to construction, there’s currently no parking available there for Tall Oaks Assisted Living visitors and staff. The proposal is to increase from 44 parking spots to 73, 10 of which will be tandem parking spots.
The facility has 152 beds and 48 staff. Under strict application of the zoning ordinance, the facility is required to provide 99 parking spots. However, concurrently, the facility is filing a parking reduction request allowing them to be allowed to have 73 spots.
The parking spaces will be developed to not impact the site’s conservation easement and to avoid steep slopes as well as mature vegetation.
Photo via Google Maps
A new business that offers family haircuts is coming to the Tall Oaks Professional Building.
The business, which is listed as Family Hair Cutt on an Oct. 29 permit, will be located at 12054 North Shore Drive.
H&R Block, a tax preparation company that has locations around the world, also plans to move into the building.
Photo via Google Maps
A new business is coming to the Tall Oaks Professional building (12054 North Shore Drive.
H&R Block, a tax preparation company that has locations around the world, is expected to open soon at the location, according to recently processed county permits.
The building is one of two in the Tall Oaks Village Center that is expected to remain throughout the redevelopment.
The redevelopment of the village center into a mixed-use development will include 156 homes, 8,500 square feet of retail and about 6,000 square feet of office space, as well as community space. Construction is currently in progress.
Photo via Google Maps
Silver Line snags — “Though there are three outstanding concrete issues for the line from Wiehle-Reston East to Ashburn, only one of them has had a plan approved to address it: The more than 1,000 faulty framing panels at stations.” [WTOP]
Mardi Gras party — Head to the Tall Oaks Assisted Living from 3-4:30 p.m. for a Mardi Gras celebration. Partygoers can enjoy a live performance by the Louis Pettinelli Jazz Duo. The event is free. [Facebook]
School lottery — Eyeing the magnet school program at Hunters Woods? Registration for FCPS elementary magnet lottery programs opened today at 8:30 a.m. [FCPS]
Photo via Marjorie Copson
Reston is built on planned village centers. Sometimes they work. Tall Oaks didn’t.
This week on Reston Then and Now we return to the Lake Anne area where Fairfax County’s Historic Imagery Viewer shows us the rise and fall of Tall Oaks Village Center and the plans that indicate how the area hopes to recover.
Like much of Reston, the site was open fields in aerial photography up to 1976. The development opened in 1974 as the smallest of Reston’s five village centers. According to the Washington Business Journal, the location enjoyed a brief golden age with 240,000 square feet of retail by 1990.
But gradually, Tall Oaks faces more modern competition. Between the 1990s and the early 2000s, Reston Town Center, North Point, Spectrum and a range of other retail options expanded throughout North Reston.
The first big blow was losing Giant in 2007, and two replacement stores failed within a year of opening in 2009 and 2011, leaving the location without an anchor tenant since 2011. Curves, Domino’s and 7 Eleven all vacated their locations as well.
But work is underway on a new project to for Tall Oaks. The redevelopment will convert the area into a largely residential neighborhood with 156 homes with more limited retail. The Reston Association recently voted in favor of vacating an easement it held in the Tall Oaks village to facilitate the redevelopment.
For more Reston Then and Now stories, check out our most recent coverage of:
The Reston Association’s Board of Directors voted in favor of vacating its existing pathway easement at the Tall Oaks Village Center at the request of the site’s developer.
The site is currently getting redeveloped by Stanley Martin Companies into a residential community that will include a public green space next to commercial space and a new pathway.
Since the approved development plans require public access throughout the site, the developer asked RA to give up its existing easement, which RA has had since the original development of the site.
RA’s pathway easement spanned the underpass from the Tall Oaks pool through the commercial area and extended to the northeast area near the Tall Oaks Fellowship House, according to the meeting’s draft agenda.
The discussion and vote on the developer’s ask was one of the fastest agenda items tackled at the meeting yesterday (Feb. 21), taking roughly 30 minutes.
Image via Reston Association/YouTube
The Reston Association’s Board of Directors is set to consider at its meeting Thursday night a developer’s request that the RA vacates its existing pathway easement at the Tall Oaks Village Center site.
Stanley Martin Companies currently is redeveloping the former village center into a residential community with townhomes and condominiums. Part of the new project will have a public green space next to commercial space and a new pathway.
Since the approved development plans require public access throughout the site, the developers now want RA to give up its existing easement because the planned path is located elsewhere.
“Since the original development of the Village Center, Reston Association has had a pathway easement through the site, starting at the underpass from Tall Oaks Pool, through the commercial area and extending to the northeast near the Tall Oaks Fellowship House,” according to the draft agenda.
Additionally, Stanley Martin has also said that the homeowners’ association for the site will take care of the new walkway, which takes away RA’s maintenance obligations. RA staff estimates that vacating the easement will result in long-term budget savings.
The board is also set to vote on a series of questions that will give the RA’s Governance Committee further guidance for changing the power structure of RA’s key staff.
The resolution before the board will address specifically RA’s legal counsel, chief financial officer, director of finance, controller, chief operating officer and the authority of the board’s chief executive officer. Currently, RA’s bylaws say that the chief executive officer controls personnel and compensation schedules, along with hiring and firing responsibilities.
The RA is also scheduled to discuss the recent contentious PRC zoning ordinance amendment, which the county’s Planning Commission recently recommended that the county’s board deny, along with the monthly report from the treasurer.
The meeting starts at 6:30 at the Central Services Facility (12250 Sunset Hills Road).
Photo via Reston Association/YouTube
Reston Association’s Design Review Board approved minor changes to the size and number of windows for previously approved architectural designs for the Tall Oaks Village Center redevelopment on Tuesday night.
The redevelopment plans to transform the village center (12022 North Shore Drive) into a mostly residential neighborhood by adding 156 residential units, which include 42 two-over-two multi-family units, 44 single units and 70 multi-family units in two residential buildings. Nearly 8,500 square feet of retail and 5,800 square feet of office space are also slated for the site.
On Dec. 19. Stanley Martin Homes officially purchased the residential portion of the property from Jefferson Apartment Group. Currently, Stanley Martin is completing the site plan and brought “small changes” to abide by the county’s zoning to the Design Review Board.
Richard Newlon, the board’s chairman, said he was concerned about replacing some of the larger windows with smaller ones. “It’s not going to have the same architectural drama we thought we were getting before,” he said. “We’re always looking for good design and stuff that is a little bit different and a little bit progressive.”
Ultimately, the board approved the changes.
During the nearly three-hour-long meeting on Jan. 15, the Design Review Board also approved stream restoration with a year-long timeline for the Colvin Run Stream.
Tree clearing is set to begin for the stream restoration on Feb. 4, with an estimated completion of the work sometime in the summer. Planting will then follow in the fall.
The board also OK’d playground equipment and signs at the Primrose School of Reston (1309 N. Village Road).
An affected party — who did not show up to the meeting — had previously raised a concern about the size and color of a red plastic fire truck in the school’s playground.
“Reston is pretty much known for the lack of vibrant color in all of its playgrounds. It’s always supposed to be natural looks — greens and browns,” Newlon said. “I personally have never seen a green or brown fire engine.”
W. Neal Roseberry, the board’s vice chair and architect member, was the only member to vote against approving the playground equipment’s appearance.
Images via Reston Association/YouTube
Scattered pieces of the skeleton of Tall Oaks Village Center (12022 North Shore Drive) remain as the redevelopment of the property officially begins.
Demolition of the property, which will be redeveloped into a mixed-use project with 156 residential units, 8,500 square feet of retail and 6,000 square feet of office space, is nearly complete.
Construction of the new homes is expected to begin in October and be completed by the end of 2021, according to estimates provided to Reston Now by the development team in September. The development team, which includes Stanley Martin, the contract purchaser of the property, did not return requests for comment from Reston Now.
Stanley Martin’s plan transforms the village center from a predominantly retail-heavy site to a small residential neighborhood with a strip of retail. The center has long struggled with a lack of visibility from the main street and the vacancies left by Giant Foods’ departure in 2007. The plan calls for 44 townhouses, 42 two-over-two townhouses and 70 multi-family units in two buildings.
Recently, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is considering plans to reduce garage size requirements necessary to make the development team’s current plan work.
Tall Oaks’ longtime challenges have been a location on a dead end and lack of visibility from the main street. Its longtime anchor tenant, Giant Foods, moved out in 2007 and vacancies have been mounting since.
Photos by Fatimah Waseem
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the owner’s plan to redevelop the retail center into a mixed-use project with 156 residential units, community space, 8,500 square feet of retail and 6,000 square feet of office space. Jefferson Apartment Group purchased Tall Oaks Village Center in December 2014 for $14 million. A mix of townhouses, two-over-two townhouses, and multifamily buildings are approved for the 7.5-acre site.
Site development is expected to begin in March next year. Home construction will likely begin in October next year and be completed by the end of 2021.
In an Aug. 21 proposal submitted to the county, Stanley Martin, the contract purchaser of the property, says the county’s requirements for the size of garages, which are included in original entitlements, are too generous and create a “design challenge that is inconsistent with the planned site layout.” The county requires personal garages to have a minimum width of 11.5 feet for single-car garages and 20 feet for two-car garages.
Truett Young, vice president of land for Stanley Martin Homes, told Reston Now the following:
“There was an error in the original entitlements that created a requirement that the garages have an interior dimension that could not be achieved with the size of homes that were planned for the community. The county has standards regarding the size of parking spaces and the revised proffer language is consistent with those standards as well as the commitments that have been made on more recent projects of this type.”
Instead, the developer wants to remove the size requirement and add a commitment advising future purchasers of units to review the unit’s garage space. Covenants would also restrict the use of garages for parking, storing trash and other uses. Stanley Martin says it has received approval for garages as narrow as 10 feet in width at the Dulles Technology Center site. If the county approves the change, the development would “finally come to fruition,” wrote Mark Looney, the applicant’s representative, in a statement.
The Planning Commission will review the requested amendment on Nov. 15, followed by a public hearing before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Dec. 4.
In 2007, Giant Foods, the center’s longtime anchor, closed, slowly pushing the center to slip into suburban malaise. The center’s location on a dead end and with a lack of visibility from a main street has also long remained a challenge.
Rendering via Jefferson Apartment Group
Farewell, Tall Oaks Village Center as a retail spot. Welcome, Tall Oaks Village Center as a mostly residential neighborhood.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors took an unprecedented step for Reston development on Tuesday when it unanimously approved Jefferson Apartment Group’s (JAG) proposal to rezone, rebuild and transform the smallest of Reston’s village centers.
JAG will now go forward with plans for 156 homes (a mix of townhomes, 2-over-2 townhomes and multifamily buildings), community space, 8,500 square foot of retail and about 6,000 square feet of office space.
“We are very excited about the approval and the chance to rejuvenate a shopping center that has been fallow for a number of years,” said JAG CEO Jim Butz. “This will be one more nice neighborhood for Reston.”
Butz said he estimated the retail site plans and permitting will be processed in the next nine months. Because the retail space will be located in existing free- standing buildings on the property, that will enable a smooth transition for current retail tenants who desire to stay at Tall Oaks.
The residential permitting process will take about 12-14 months, Butz said. Construction would begin sometime after that.
Tall Oaks’ longtime challenges have been a location on a dead end and lack of visibility from a main street. Its longtime anchor tenant, Giant Foods, moved out in 2007 and vacancies have been mounting since.
JAG representatives have said the property was marketed to retailers in the last several years but there was little interest in locating there as more than five major retail centers featuring a grocery anchor are located within a few miles.
More recently, the developer conducted a market study that showed large retail was not viable at Tall Oaks, which is now only 13 percent occupied.
“This has been a very difficult center to remodel or upgrade,” said Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, who lives in the Tall Oaks area. “The hope I have is JAG is able to provide what is necessary to provide that.”
JAG paid $14 million for the property in 2014 and has held numerous meetings with the community since then. After noting community concerns, JAG has added green space and additional retail space to its original plan.
But many in the community were still not in favor of a complete overhaul for Tall Oaks. Some residents still maintain that retail would thrive at the center if it were properly managed. Read More
Will Tall Oaks Village Center get another shot at being a retail destination?
Come to a community meeting Tuesday, May 10 to find out the results of a retail study — and whether it has any impact on Jefferson Apartment Group’s (JAG) plans for the ailing shopping center.
The meeting is at 7 p.m. in the vacant anchor store space at Tall Oaks.
The future of the village center has been been a development topic for more than a year and JAG’s proposal is now scheduled to go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission on June 23.
JAG purchased Tall Oaks in December of 2014. The group held a series of community meetings in the spring of 2015, where it initially outlined plans to turn the 70,0000-square-foot center into more than 100 multifamily units and townhomes and limited (about 3,000 square feet) of retail.
Tall Oaks’s 25,000-square-foot anchor space, occupied for years by Giant Foods and then briefly by two international grocery stores, has been vacant for more than five years.
At a meeting last year, Tall Oaks representatives said at community meetings in spring of 2015 that Tall Oaks’ current retail space — which went from 90 percent occupied in 2007 to 13 percent in 2015 — was not viable.
They said they shopped the store vacancies, including grocery store space, to retailers but there was no interest.
That did not sit well with neighborhood residents, who said the center could work as retail if marketed properly. Reston Association also said in a letter to county officials last summer that the plan fell “woefully short” on retail and community space.
JAG then came back with a new proposal, which offered a reduction in the number of residences and doubled the planned retail space to 7,000 square feet.
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.
Graphic: Tall Oaks concept as of June 2015/Credit: JAG
Tall Oaks Village Center is planned for redevelopment by new owner Jefferson Apartment Group (JAG). JAG is planning to make the center mostly residential, with 156 residential units (garden-style condos, townhouses and two-over-two townhouses) 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.
The first motion authorized RA President Ellen Graves to send a letter to Fairfax County authorities requesting that the developer, The Jefferson Apartment Group (JAG), include the Urban Land Institute’s defined standards for public plazas and meeting areas.
JAG, which purchased the ailing village center last year for $14 million, plans to redevelop it into a neighborhood of more than 140 residences, including two garden-style condo buildings, 2-over-2 townhouses and 100 traditional townhomes.
The developer said it listened to public input after the community meetings in April, when residents said there was not enough public or retail space. At a June meeting, JAG showed concept plans for double the initial retail space, a decrease in the original number of townhouses, and expanded park areas.
The Urban Land Institute has documented the importance of public-outdoor plazas and meeting areas as follows:
“A successful public realm is one in which commerce, social interaction, and leisure time activities may mix easily in an attractive, pedestrian-friendly, outdoor setting. People are drawn by the simple enjoyment of being there. If that enjoyment is to be felt, the public realm and public spaces must be well designed and programmed.
The public realm is open to programs that are significant to the community such as charity events, holiday events, and civic events. It becomes a true public place, taking on a life of its own. As part of the community that goes beyond simple commerce or public relations, it ultimately becomes a place with a history. The public realm should allow for the integration of the people, the place, and the larger community.”
Graves will send a letter to Fairfax County Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and Planning Commissioner Frank de la Fe with that request.
The board also approved a motion to allow RA counsel inform Fairfax County/INOVA that a parcel of land located in the area known as Reston Town Center North is RA-covenanted property.
RA says its wants to make clear any future development there is subject to RA Design Review Board standards and that new residents will be members of the association.
Fairfax County and Inova recently completed a land swap to organize the 49-acre space from New Dominion Parkway to Baron Cameron Avenue. The county also recently issued a Request for Proposals for the first two blocks of Town Center North.
Town Center North will be a mixed-use district, with renovated or relocated space for the Reston Regional Library and Embry Rucker Community Shelter, as well as offices, hotels, a performing arts center, an indoor recreation center, a town green and at least 1,000 new residences.