News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bookpocalypse Now: Barnes & Noble 0, Purveyor of Containers 1

No more books.jpegWell, the rumor that was first surfaced by our BFFs at Patch over the weekend has been confirmed: The Barnes & Noble in Reston's Spectrum Center is closing after the holiday season. Much to our surprise, it is not being replaced by a purveyor of frozen yogurt, artisanal cupcakes or salad. What's really surprising is that it's being replaced at all, given that Spectrum owner Lerner recently revived its longstanding plans to redevelop the big-box center into the usual bollardy mixed-use highrise goodness -- plans which were approved by the county's Planning Commission last month.

In case you're keeping score at home, B&N is being replaced by The Container Store, which sells… containers, we guess. And after the departure of Books a Million, Bretanos at RTC, and the independent bookstore at North Point, Reston's only remaining bookstore will be its first one -- the used bookstore at Lake Anne.

What's weird about this all is that even with the imminent demise of the printed word and all the antiquated, industrial-era business models still desperately clinging to it challenges of the bookselling industry, what with all those fancy "Kindles" and whatnot, B&N didn't choose to leave -- it was apparently pushed by the Spectrum's owners.

David Deason, Vice President of Development at Barnes & Noble, said the company wanted to stay in Reston and was willing to pay more to do so.

“We tried extremely hard to come to an agreement with the property owner to extend the lease at our Reston location, but despite our offering significant additional rent, the property owner was unwilling to agree to an extension," he said in an email. "We regret that we will be closing this location at the end of February, 2013.”
Who knows, maybe the Lerners just like containers.

It does make us wonder exactly how long Lerner plans to wait to begin redeveloping Spectrum, assuming the project wins final approval from county supervisors. We figured they wouldn't have restarted the approval process if they didn't have plans to get rolling soon, but it's unlikely that the Container Store would have agreed to move all its fancy containers into a new space without a multi-year lease.

Of course, all this just gives us an excuse to enjoy some of the details from the site plans for the Spectrum redevelopment (ginormous PDF file):

Furniture.jpg
SOLD. They had us at that fancy trashcan with the swinging lid. Though what is that roundish item in the middle of the top row? A pair of calipers to check the BMI of people before they're allowed to sunbathe in the (semi-) public areas?

Spectrum 3D.jpg
Here's a fancy 3-D isometric rendering of the project, apparently rendered using the same hardware as this game from the 1980s. Note the low-rise building at the right -- that's where the rocket-shooting robot lurks the existing Harris Teeter building, which will continue to offer free cookies to hungry shoppers, minus the surface parking.

So long mac.jpg
Finally, here's the view of the development from the existing Fake Downtown vibrant urban core. Of course, we all know what's missing from this lovely, urbane streetscape:

New Doomsday Clock.jpg
TICK.

24 comments:

  1. Maybe B&N can move to the Tall Oaks center.

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    1. What a brilliant suggestion Renee. Tall Oaks could use the revitalization. You should write B&N.

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  2. Unlike Lerner, it doesn't seem like the Tall Oaks management is trying really hard to find a new tenant for the grocery spot. It's been vacant for at least a couple of years now, hasn't it? Like Spectrum, they've got to be thinking about redevelopment sometime sooner or later.

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  3. B&N operates 689 stores in the US, down from 840 in January 2004. That's more than one store closed per month. So, you have to wonder about their "willingness to pay" in negotiating a lease. Given the sad state of stores selling "woodware," how can we replace the community-friendly B&N store in Town Center?

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  4. Replies
    1. You haven't seen anything yet. Fairfax County has much more of the same in the queue for Reston.

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  5. So, where is the Harris Teeter parking? In a multilevel parking structure -- I hope not.

    Running a successful business in Reston? We'll change that for you -- all in the name of progress.

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    1. The Harris Teeter parking will go underground below the high-rise building right in front of Harris Teeter.

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    2. That's what I was afraid of. It's going to be like underground "bumper cars" -- with some loose carts thrown into the mix.

      Do you get the feeling that they would just as soon see Harris Teeter leave? More space for another highrise to two.

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  6. Just what Reston needs: more fugly concrete.

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  7. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonDecember 5, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Lerner: bloody barbarians at the gate.

    B&N: always a wonderful store to drop in and browse; a place that will truly be missed.

    The Container Store: the plastic emporium for finding new ways to store more of our made-in-China crap.

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  8. Rose By Any Other NameDecember 5, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    I miss the old, comfy chairs that B&N used to have. They were ratty looking and broken-down, (and maybe some hygenic issues arose with that certain homeless chap who was always hanging around) but it was a convenient sit-down while I read the Wall Street Journal and Barrons for free...

    I suppose the B&N at Fair Oaks will still be open so that is still close to where I work,and the cafe is nice there.

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    1. Yikes, comfy chairs, free newspaper reads, well Rose, you could also purchase something while you are there reading the papers, but why not just cross the street and go down the hill to the library for that? Browsing and reading something in the store in order to get an idea what the book, magazine or paper is about is fun and sensible, especially in deciding whether or not you want to buy it, but to keep the lights on, people do need to purchase things and support the store.

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  9. Rumor has it they got rid of the chairs because of the homeless population.

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  10. Yeah, God forbid that B&N be friendly to the homeless population that Reston and groups like Reston Interfaith have traditionally been welcoming towards.

    I really hate seeing all of the reasons I moved to Reston going away. Like Reston National (no, I don't play, but it's lovely green space), like the lovely community, and the mellow throwback "live work play" ethos.

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    1. Yeah, Reston National is lovely green space even if it rains golf balls down mercilessly on South Lakes Drive. I had a car once whacked while driving on the north side of South Lakes Drive. Fortunately (or unfortunately, if you don't much care for my comments), I didn't have the sun roof open.

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  11. B&N is perhaps the only venue where one can still purchase your fav Grateful Dead and Steely Dan cd's without going online.

    I am still missing Lee's Homemade Ice Cream from the RTC. Fergit that Ben&Jerry's overpriced crapola. Alas, builders and their finnaciers only want to extend leases to "credit" tenants these days. They don't give a rat's ass about long-standing businesses and their local customers.

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  12. This does totally blow popsicles stick!

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  13. This is a real disappointment. I could always count on B&N for a last-minute birthday gift, very cool cards, interesting toys and games, and lots of little nifty things here and there. I hope they find another location in Reston.

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  14. Hickory Cluster Knuckle DusterDecember 5, 2012 at 10:19 PM

    Where will people go to stuff their stupid fat faces full of all-you-can-eat breadsticks when the clock tolls midnight?!!!

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  15. Fake Downtown = Epcot Center

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  16. Everybody mentions they love(d) to browse at B&N, but, nobody mentions buying a book. Hmmm. Business model problem? What we really need is an expanded, modern, well-stocked, clean, bright library in Town Center. Oh, and with a Starbucks to help fund library operations.

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  17. Anyone who isn't clear where all B&N brick and mortar stores are headed, let me spell it out for you - C L O S E D. Record stores? CD stores? Movie rental stores? GONE. Book stores are next. Lerner knows this and is cutting B&N loose so they can find a potentially prosperous business to replace them. You know, one who will pay their rent for the term of the lease. It's a shame to see it go, but I understand where Lerner is coming from.

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  18. Don't forget the online petition. More than 800 signatures at last count!

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