In the second of two community meetings held by the new owners of the Tall Oaks
Stucco Wasteland Village Center, Bob Simon called the proposal, which would replace said stucco wasteland with more than 150 homes and a much smaller retail footprint, a "missed opportunity."
Give us some good blockquote, Confidential Restonian Operative "Joel":
He suggested that they look to European towns for inspiration and hire a world class architect. He did not like the townhouse spread out across most of the property. He suggested that all the homes could fit into a single building. He emphasized the importance of public gathering places. He said of the proposed plan, "This is not a village center."Bob's got a point there. Consider the layout of the proposed Tall Oaks plan:
Beyond the undevelopable space that's already behind the village center, there's not much in the way of green space, that's for sure. Not much parking for those emergency runs to pick up sexist bread for dinner, either, assuming the significantly scaled back retail space ever gets a grocery, or at least a grossery.
Also, consider the layout for the other announced redevelopment proposal currently under consideration, across town in St. John's Wood. Aside from the ratio of townhouses to larger buildings, it looks awfully
In fact, there may actually be more green space in St. John's, which was never a village center, than in what's proposed for Tall Oaks, which is still a village center, at least in name.
In both meetings, Tall Oaks' neighbors were less than thrilled with the proposal. Most wanted something that would attract a grocery store back to the center, but after the closing of Giant, the rapid-fire failures of two international groceries (sorry, Susie de los Santos), and the palpable lack of interest by Bloom's (a rumored possibility) and Wegman's (a pipe dream for those of us unworthy to enter the gates of the particleboard Valhalla known as Loudoun County), we're fairly sure that ship has sailed. During the first meeting, land use attorney Mark Looney made this pretty clear, according to our BFFs at Reston Now:
Looney predicts Tall Oaks, which had a nearly 90-percent occupancy rate in 2007 and currently has a 13-percent occupancy rate, will be 6 percent occupied by early 2016.Note that he did not say Reston's next great village center. With even Simon saying Reston may no longer need as many village centers, we're afraid that ship may have sailed as well.
“The reality is, every anchor store knows this center and has passed it by,” said Looney, adding that there was no recent retail developer interest to purchase Tall Oaks.
“We tested the market. Crickets. No one in retail wanted to buy it in its current condition. JAG stepped forward, They are keeping the retail component. They are taking a drab retail center and turning it into Reston’s next great cluster.”
Our favorite comment?
Said one resident: “Brand new townhouses are going to make my townhouse look like garbage.”We'd argue that a deteriorating, vacant shopping center littered with tumbleweeds is what will make nearby townhouses look like garbage. At this point, pretty much anything would be an improvement. Something with more open space and some community-scaled retail would be a big improvement.