News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Talloakspocalypse Now: Gloomy Presentation Presages Gloomy Future For Large Retail (Updated)

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Look at these doomed souls wandering into the gutted remains of a grocery store in the Tall Oaks Village Center Stucco Wasteland, perhaps in search of the last moldy loaf of sexist bread from the final incarnation of a viable business in the space. Instead, they were greeted by a PowerPoint presentation amidst the gloom and wreckage with a simple message: there will never ever ever be another grocery store at Tall Oaks, at least if the current owner has anything to do with it.

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Confidential Restonian Operative "Joel" took pictures and shared this account:

RCLCO presented a retail market analysis that concluded grocery stores are infeasible here and that the site can support only 7,500 square feet of retail space. A Fairfax County representative said their independent analysis came to similar conclusions with slightly more retail space.

Jefferson Apartment Group presented their updated site plan. Photos and renderings compared current conditions (empty parking lots and empty buildings) with an artist's conception of people enjoying new outdoor amenities on a warm spring day with all trees in bloom. A computer generated video walked through the proposed development to show off the improvements.

Supervisor Hudgins thanked us for coming.

The audience was hostile during the market analysis and site plan presentation. They warmed up to the renderings and video, applauding at the end.

A Design Review Member acknowledged "tweaks" to earlier proposals, but criticized the townhouses fronting onto North Shore Drive. This has been a continuing source of contention. Lawyer Looney responded that Fairfax County encouraged that design and would prefer the townhouses to have even less setback from the road.

The discussion will continue next week at the Reston DRB meeting and the following week at the Fairfax planning and zoning meeting.

Contrasting the sadness pictured above with fancy renderings was a smart move on the developers' part. Another certain "elite" developer that shall go unnamed could learn a thing or two about messaging unwelcomed news from these guys.

The good news is that Jefferson appears to be bowing to community pressure by making the revised plans at least a little more Reston-like than its previous proposal, fancy renderings of amenities notwithstanding. Give us some good blockquote, BFFs at Reston Now:

The newest draft keeps roughly the same number and layout of residences, but adds additional retail and service space in an existing office building for about 8,500 square feet (up 21 percent from the previous proposal). The new plan also adds 39 percent more green space.

The tweaked plan contains structured open space, including a small amphitheater, public art/fountain feature, outdoor exercise stations geared toward senior citizens and lawn areas.

There are also plans for a children’s play area that will be “very Reston,” with natural materials, said Duncan Jones, JAG’s Director of Development & Investments.

We've seen some "very Reston" playgrounds in the past. Have your kids wear helmets.

Tall Oaks New

Fancypants renderings like this one, at least, are a pretty big contrast from the decaying eyesore that's there now. Even the few remaining tenants seem to agree:

The owner of Paradise Nail Salon, one of the remaining Tall Oaks businesses, says he is concerned about crime now that the center is mostly empty.

“I had to call the cops twice recently,” he said. “People were scoping out my store. The center is dead. Let’s work [with JAG] on a compromise. All I want is to move forward and get it done.”

It's still a tough sell. But even if this plan isn't quite elite, it definitely isn't DOA either, the end.

Update: Official Reston Association statement here. And, more importantly, this sweet Second Life-like video tour of the new proposal, with nary a bit of stucco to be seen anywhere.

Our favorite renderings and clip-art people come to life! We love it!

Metal chair

Random businessman seems to be really enjoying the impromptu concert in the amphitheater, relaxing ever so slightly in his folding metal chair.

Peeping tom

What the heck is the older woman on the right looking at? Maybe she just misses the grocery store so much she just stands there, staring at a wall. But if that's someone's bedroom window, we're going to be really disappointed.


  1. Reality has to sink in at some point. A grocery store just won't work there. Even 7-11 failed, right?

  2. OMG is that video scary. I keep waiting for a bomb to drop and everything to go post-apocalyptic.

  3. South Lakes SurvivorMay 12, 2016 at 2:47 PM

    Why don't they move the library there so it's not taking up prime real estate?

    1. Because it's central location has helped make Reston's public library the most visited in Fairfax County.

      Sticking it over in a less accessible area so the town center can have more retail space for yet another mid-scale chain dining establishment or costume jewelry store seems like the less useful option for Restonians.

  4. Gigantic bollard alert

  5. Looks like investors are poised to swoop in like vultures on another Reston property soon, following the mantra "buy low, sell high".
    Because of all the demolition and destruction planned (and beginning this summer) in Thoreau Place Senior Community in South Lakes, unit owners are lining up in droves to put their units on the market, hoping to recoup at least part of their investment before all hell breaks loose when the demolition actually starts. Who will buy the units then, when the building becomes practically uninhabitable because of all the dust, destruction, and general chaos of daily life there under impossible conditions?
    Vulture investors, that's who. They can buy the units on the cheap, from elderly unit owners desperate to sell and willing to settle for way less money than the units would be worth under normal circumstances.
    Then when the demolition and destruction are over and things get better there in a year or two, they can sell the units at a good profit. Easy money!
    Anyone who tries to profit from the desperation of frail and vulnerable old folks should be names and shamed.

    1. As a resident of Thoreau place, I say hang in there until construction is finished. At last we have a Board of Directors willing to tackle this long neglected gem. Safety is a hazard and the place is deteriorating because no Board has been willing to tackle the problems. aif we don't get these very basic improvements done... yes the building will be condemned and all will be lost. We must not let fear direct this project!


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