News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Bob Simon Calls Proposed Tall Oaks Redevelopment A "Missed Opportunity"

Bob Simon LooneyIn 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:

Tall Oaks 2
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 off-the-shelf similar:

St Johns
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.

“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.”
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.

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.


  1. Not much of a chance of retail making a go of it if both a 7-11 and Burger King failed at Tall Oaks. They're like the cockroaches of the retail scene -- indestructible.

  2. >>Said one resident: “Brand new townhouses are going to make my townhouse look like garbage.”

    That's a defeatist attitude if I every hear one. New housing brings up the property value for all those around it. It brings in new people, with new demands, driving the community to grow and develop.

  3. Bummer. I'll miss Mama Wok and Pho 75. Is there anything else still in that shopping center?

  4. "Is there anything else still in that shopping center?"

    Two different kinds of pizza, yaay!

  5. "He suggested that all the homes could fit into a single building."

    A stupid suggestion. Not everyone wants to live in a high rise. And if they do, there are plenty of them in the town center -- and more coming.

  6. That 7/11 was a great overnight stop-n-go in the old days. I always wondered how/why it seemed to be the only center that didn't have a gas station in The Emerald City. Homeless folks were a modest problem at three in the morning until the 7/11 emps (apply a stereotypical nationality here) starting pouring bleach on the discarded foods in the dumpster. Up the road at the McDonald's Exx/Mobil they had to do the same thing. Some kind of lawyer thing about being liable for what a homeless guy eats out of your dumpster. TEC at night has always been a remarkable place.

    Wasn't there an Italian restaurant at Tall Oaks backaways? Used to be able to get a tall bourbon there at ten in the morning. Name eludes me now.

    1. If you start doing tall boubons at 10 am in the morning, a lot would elude me as well at 2:39 in the afternoon.

      Why not just turn it into a park? We could use the green space.

  7. How 'bout a golf course, since we're gonna' lose one?

  8. Funny how everyone forgets that Lake Anne Village Center used to have a grocery store way back in the day (first A&P then Safeway is now Community Center) but the center has survived albeit with a pending massive overhall

  9. Maybe people would just as soon go to a place other than a town center to grocery shop. Eventually, we were lucky to move out and near Foxmill Giant, forgetting all the rest.


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