News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, August 17, 2015

Talloakspocalypse Now: RA Dashes Off Strongly Worded Letter Focused On Open Space, Not Retail, in Village Center Redevelopment

"There has been much interest, discussion, dissatisfaction and disappointment among the Reston community" doesn't quite roll off the tongue like "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times," but as far as an opening line of a letter from the Reston Association, it ain't bad. Give us some good blockquote, BFFs from Reston Now:
Reston Association’s Board of Directors has sent a letter to county officials saying that the new plan for Tall Oaks Village Center “falls woefully short of meeting even minimum standards sought for a village center.”
Calling the redevelopment precedent-setting for Reston's other village centers, the RA's biggest issue with the proposal by Jefferson Apartment Group, which would replace the current shopping center stucco wasteland with about 150 townhouse and condo units and 7,000 square feet of retail, is the need for open space. They write:
The most significant issue in any redevelopment of a village center is the design, scope, and extent of a central plaza/public meeting area for the surrounding community.
Neighboring residents have also attempted to push for added retail above and beyond what developer Jefferson Apartment Group has proposed, but that issue was only mentioned by the RA in passing:
An amount and mix of commercial uses sufficient to serve the surrounding neighbors should remain.
Translation: No Wegman's.

 We confess to being a bit surprised that the RA has taken such a strong stand on open space at Tall Oaks, considering comments to the extent that maybe we don't need as many village centers any more. And Jefferson's plans look great for a new cluster, but considerably less awesome if we are to continue considering Tall Oaks a village center.

The newly approved second phase of the Reston master plan essentially gave a semi-official green light to redeveloping village centers into something more residential with neighborhood-scale ameneities (translation: again, no Wegman's). So there's definitely some gray area to what an appropriate amount of open space in a redeveloped village center might look like -- and obviously, any developer is going to push for the lower end of "appropriate." So good on the RA for making a fist about this, as opposed to threatening to board floating docks or whatever.

It's not clear what happens next. The master plan basically means that Tall Oaks' developer can do pretty much whatever it wants without going through a rezoning process, although specific plans (which have yet to be filed) still need to be approved by the county and, presumably, the DRB -- which has made a fist on development issues at times in recent years. We need all the help we can get to keep Reston at least somewhat Reston-like as the Metro boom (maybe) creates more tensions between new development and existing neighborhoods, so we need the RA to be consistent and clear with county officials. Here's hoping they continue to push on this.

 Read the full letter here.


  1. A for effort, but I'm not convinced they have much sway here. And anything's better than what's there now, which has plenty of open space -- if you like deserted parking lots.

  2. I Got 'Dem Planned Community Blues AgainAugust 18, 2015 at 9:21 AM

    This burden to provide public spaces was not placed upon other neighborhood centers was it? Tall Oaks has little prospect for either retail or recreation, so let it be developed as residential-only project and get rid of this eyesore once and for all.

  3. Earth-toned Skate Park? Maybe a gigantic museum exhibiting gigantic Russian concrete . . . let's get brutal.


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