Reston, VA

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

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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

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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:

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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

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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

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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

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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

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The team behind the redevelopment of Tall Oaks Village Center is asking the county to amend garage size requirements so it can proceed with the redevelopment of the failing village center.

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

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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

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Empty Tall Oaks

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

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Total Rehab has moved from Tall Oaks Village CenterAdvocacy group Reston 2020 is offering a suggestion on how the planned redevelopment at Tall Oaks Village Center could better preserve green space and add more retail to serve the neighborhood.

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.

JAG tweaked its design last spring after citizens said they were disappointed in the early plan for only about 3,000 square foot of retail. Read More

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 The Reston Association Board of Directors passed two motions on Wednesday relating to its role in future development at Tall Oaks Village Center and Reston Town Center North.

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.

Read More

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Empty Tall OaksThe new owners of Tall Oaks Village Center are offering Reston residents two upcoming chances to see what changes they have in store for the nearly vacant center.

Tall Oaks Development Group, a division of the Jefferson Apartment Group of McLean purchased Tall Oaks in December for $14.3 million.

The Jefferson Apartment group has developed more than 18,000 rental units in 10 states, including Virginia.

Locally, the Jefferson Apartment Group has developed, among others, the Residences at the Fairfax County Government Center, Tellus in Arlington, The Asher in Alexandria and the Jefferson at 14W, a seven-story, mixed-use luxury development in Northwest DC.

Jefferson representatives, who did not return phone calls Wednesday, will hold meetings April 23 and 27 at 7 p.m. at Reston Association headquarters, 12001 Sunrise Valley Dr.

RA says Tall Oaks is being considered for a redevelopment project that would include a mix of residential and commercial uses. The Jefferson Group will provide a brief overview of the center’s history along with a proposed conceptual plan for redevelopment at the April meetings. The company will also provide comment/response cards for meeting attendees to fill out.

Tall Oaks is zoned industrial/commercial, so turning the 7.6-acre parcel into residential would likely involve rezoning, as well as approval by the RA Design Review Board, Fairfax County Planning Commission and the county Board of Supervisors.

What do do with Tall Oaks, which in the last several years has seen many tenants leave the village center without new ones opening, has been a subject discussed at length in Reston.

Last fall, residents at a Master Plan Phase 2 meeting suggested that it may be time to repurpose Tall Oaks‘ 18-acre site as something other than a retail center. The center is about a mile from the Wiehle-Reston East Metro.

The anchor space, which housed a Giant Foods and later two international grocery stores, has been empty for more than four years. The stand-alone former Burger King space has been vacant for nearly a decade. Other recent departures include El Manantial restaurant, Curves, 7-Eleven and Total Rehab Chiropractic.

It was suggested at the Phase 2 meetings last fall that Tall Oaks could survive as a convenience center with limited retail and the remaining space could be used for a variety of other purposes.

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Plantings are now lower to discourage criminal activity at Hunters WoodsFairfax County is getting closer to its final plan for Reston’s neighborhoods and village centers.

Fairfax County officials say the the current comprehensive plan, last updated in 1989, requires revision because Reston no longer has a master developer to update the plan for Reston; the plan for Reston has outdated elements; and with population expected to grow with the arrival of Metro, Reston is evolving as a community.

After nearly four years of committee work and revisions, the county Board of Supervisors in early 2014 approved Phase I of the Master Plan, which provides a framework for development in the areas surrounding Reston’s transit stations.

The county has been working on Phase 2 since last summer, holding several community meetings to obtain feedback. It is expected to get to the approval process in the next few months.

Key points of the latest draft:

Reston’s two golf courses are to remain as golf courses. This is good news for proponents of open space as the owners of Reston National Golf Course, the 166-acre public course in South Reston, head to a Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals hearing on Jan. 21. Owners RN Golf have inquired as to whether their zoning can be considered residential rather than recreational open space. Reston’s other course is the private Hidden Creek Country Club near Lake Anne.

The updated land use map includes areas clearly marked as open space and recreational space.

Residential land use categories have been expanded from their current three broad categories (low, medium, and high density) to five categories to more closely reflect what has been built in the community, with the desired result of maintaining established neighborhoods.

The Reston neighborhoods section provides guidance to maintain the established residential neighborhoods. In the event of residential neighborhood redevelopment requests, more stringent redevelopment criteria have been established that go beyond the County criteria.

The village centers shall remain village centers. However, should a village center want to rezone and rebuild as something else, there is also specific criteria for that. That is good news for the ailing Tall Oaks Village Center, which was purchased by an apartment developer last month.

Environmental stewardship shall remain a key focus in Reston planning.

To see the entire draft, visit the Fairfax County website.

The county will have a public meeting/presentation on the draft on 7 p.m. on Jan. 29 at Reston Community Center Lake Anne.

Photo: Hunters Woods Village Center/file photo

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