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The Plaza is No Place For a "Passion Paradise," Lake Anne Owners Say

Board will try and stop adult-themed store from opening.

Maria's Passion Paradise is a Clinton, MD-based store that sells edible underwear and holds "passion parties" and "aphrodisiac workshops" for couples.

If the merchants and residents ofhave their way, Maria's Passion Paradise won't be setting up shop in Reston any time soon.

Over the weekend, Lake Anne of Reston Condominium owners were surprised to learn that one of the owners, Michele Suissa, leased a small retail space at 1635 Washington Plaza, B-1, to Tiana Cotturo, owner of Maria’s Passion Paradise.  Cutturo did not return emails.

Rick Thompson, president of the Lake Anne Condominium Board of Directors, said other owners have complained. , a risque shop is not what they had in mind, Thompson said.

"I don't know what the definition of a sex shop is, but I know it when I see it," he said. "It's not something we want."

Lake Anne retail and residential condos are individually owned, but owners have the right to lease out properties. While there is no bylaw that prohibits this type of shop specifically, there is a clause that says owners can veto something objectionable.

The matter will be discussed at the board's monthly meeting on Wednesday, said Thompson. He added that the board will be "exercising its authority and influence to have the business curtail operation."

The board will also be investigating zoning rules that may prohibit a shop from selling sex toys near a school or a church, both of which are located nearby.

"I personally feel this is a bad match in so many ways," he said.

Thompson's wife, Eve, is a Realtor with Lake Anne's and president of the Lake Anne Merchants Association. She says she is all for revitaliazation at Lake Anne, but "this is not the kind of revitalization we want."

At Lake Anne, children play in the fountain and wait each Christmas for Santa to arrive by boat. Families spend Saturday mornings at the Farmers Market tasting kettlecorn and watching a clown make a balloon animals.

Where would a sexy store like Maria's fit in?

"I think [Maria's Passion Paradise] misjudged the market," Eve Thompson said. "This is a neighborhood. Do you want to see your neighbor coming out of that kind of a store?"

 
Kate Peterson July 21, 2011 at 03:19 PM
Private Person: 1. Bob Simon did not create the complex ownership. The complexity was introduced when the property was converted from a privately owned all rental property to condo in 1981. 2. No one is "hindering" progress or clinging to the past but change doesn't come fast. 3. It's clear that you are not a fan of Lake Anne or even of Reston, which begs the question, why are you here?
Private Person July 21, 2011 at 03:28 PM
I beg to differ -- I've done my research at Land Records. As I have said many times, and the facts clearly support what our senses can tell us and despite LOTS of taxpayer help, charrettes, historic overlays, expensive consultants and a redo of the facade paid for mostly with tax payer dollars, Lake Anne has had decades to change --- and the result has been failure----which, other than paying my taxes, I have had no involvement with in any way. Whether I live here or like it here is irrelevant to anything herein, but it seems to be the standard defense proffered by anyone who does not support the dysfunctional mess called Lake Anne and challenges those to make it better.
Karen Goff July 21, 2011 at 03:30 PM
Sara - if you read the story, you would see that it is the Lake Anne Merchants Association - the store and restaurant owners at the plaza - who are against the store opening. How in the world are you equating that with soccer moms? As a soccer mom, I take offense to that, and as the editor of this site, I am wondering if you read the story.
Sara July 21, 2011 at 03:48 PM
How does daycare qualify as something that benefits the greater good? It provides a service that someone wants to buy. There is no basic human need that it fulfills, such as water or electricity. Plain and simple, if the market dictates a demand for childcare services, then there will likely be businesses that provide those services if they can make money doing it. Likewise, this adult store sees a business opportunity and is willing to invest in opening a store. If no one shops there, then they will lose money. If people shop there, then their investment is justified. The so-called greater good will receive a benefit through increased revenue from sales taxes, payroll taxes, and jobs for its employees.
Sara July 21, 2011 at 03:55 PM
Some of the posters are concerned about their kid seeing something in public and now they will have to explain it. Instead, why not just keep your kid at home in a bubble and they will never experience the world and you won't have to explain anything to them.
Private Person July 21, 2011 at 03:57 PM
Sorry for the confusion, but it appears to me we are agree --- let the market decide whether it be child care or spice shops -- change is long, long overdue at Lake Anne and we hope that the intolerance displayed by those dismissing even discussing change will change as well.
Wendy July 21, 2011 at 04:06 PM
Are there other businesses beating down the doors to open shop in Lake Anne Plaza?? I don't see where they can afford to be so picky. I do think a potential shop should be chosen based on a business plan - research of how well their sales are likely to do, not ridiculous "moral outrage" of people who reproduce and then think the world should revolve around their child.
Amanda Hamm July 21, 2011 at 04:33 PM
I have to say, this conversation has certainly gone in a strange direction. Whether or not someone can or cannot afford childcare and has therefore decided to dump their kids off at the plaza is an entirely different issue in itself. Most responsible, mature parents would not do that (at least not with kids who are at such a young, impressionable age where an adult store would draw inquiry). Teenagers, etc have more than likely already had "the talk" and even had some sort of sexual education at that point. In light of that, I myself have an eight-year-old daughter and we sit down with her to discuss any and everything she might have questions about. If the adults are panicked about the repercussions such a store might have, then perhaps they need to sit down with their own children and see if they have any questions. There is nothing wrong whatsoever with having grownup discussions with younger children without going into all the obscene details. I can't speak for everyone, but I find that including her in discussions makes her more keen to come talk to us if she has a problem or concern; whereas a lot of parents who keep their children sheltered in a bubble are most likely the ones who fear this change.
Biker Sherlock July 21, 2011 at 05:07 PM
It seems Sara's comment was directed at one of the respondents, not the article itself since the reference to 'a neighbor coming out of a store' is from the comment section and not the original piece. Looks like Editor Karen may have jumped a bit too soon on the soccer mom jab and taking offense to her story line .... Unbiased reporting ftw!
Amanda Hamm July 21, 2011 at 05:19 PM
My query is what does "seeing a neighbor coming out of the store" have to do with "the children"? It seems to me that people are starting to confuse what we are arguing about here...
Private Person July 21, 2011 at 05:26 PM
Yours are certainly exemplary parenting skills, but the facts remain that some children are not as fortunate as to have a parent with your skills - and all one need do is venture to Town Center to see the evidence. In any case, the gentleman we discuss here has a child of two years of age I believe he said, and the debate shifted from allowing the merchant to open a spice shop to an indirectly related theory debate regarding whose responsibility it is to see that his child does or doesn't see what he may or may not want his child to see (I think that's about right) and then how the gentleman ought to deal with explaining his two year old's questions were that child to see something from the spice shop in a bag. I think that is not a matter for the merchants to debate or manage, but perhaps so if this elusive brand they seek is now beginning to sound like some sort of family oriented place. That, then, may shift the debate to what "family" means and how the merchants will serve that defined market given all of the many organizational challenges they seem to be unable to resolve.
Karen Goff July 21, 2011 at 05:40 PM
Biker Sherlock - the comment about a neighbor coming out of a store was indeed from the story and NOT from the comments. Signed, Editor Karen That said, let's try to stay on topic. The topic is a potential lingerie store at Lake Anne, not child care, soccer moms, Robert E. Simon or Editor Karen.
Amanda Hamm July 21, 2011 at 05:53 PM
Too right. Back to the story at hand, when do you think a decision will be made regarding the new business? I saw somewhere in a different article that there was supposed to have been a meeting held last night? Was that the case?
Private Person July 21, 2011 at 05:55 PM
Is this a potential or existing shop? From the website linked above: Location: 1635 Washington Plaza Ste. B-1 Reston, VA. 20190 Hours: Sunday: 11am-6pm. Monday-Friday: 11am-7pm. Saturday: 9am-6pm. Phone: (703)435-1117
Karen Goff July 21, 2011 at 06:51 PM
It is a potential store, though her website already has the new info. In any case, it is not up and running and not likely to be any time soon.
LD July 21, 2011 at 08:03 PM
I like Lake Anne but it needs to be updated... empty storefront or thriving business? I'm not sure why the argument is always that "you are not a fan of Lake Anne" or "when was the last time you've been to Lake Anne." To the new kid in town, it's really easy to see what Private Person among others reference.
Kate Peterson July 21, 2011 at 08:29 PM
You know what's really interesting? I spoke to a friend of mine that is a commercial broker in the Northern VA area. He said that there isn't a single shopping center in Reston where this kind of shop would be likely to get a lease. That the best they would be able to do might be what is termed flex-space. (This was based on looking at the Passion Paradise website). So it seems that Lake Anne isn't the exception, I mean if Tall Oaks would turn this business away why does anyone care that Lake Anne is also turning them away? You can always buy the Passion Paradise products online if there is such pent up demand.
LD July 21, 2011 at 08:38 PM
I left a few comments regarding this subject because the people in the article made it seem that Lake Anne was too good for a shop like this (this is my interpretation) and the last line of the article really got to me - caring about what your neighbor does or what stores they go to... Then the comments started with "fine residents" and "too much class", etc... so I had to weigh in. I care when a business gets turned away based on one's morals vs another's.
Amanda Hamm July 21, 2011 at 08:44 PM
My question is, if this shop isn't given the chance to open and increase business at Lake Anne, who is going to lease there?? It doesn't sound as if the plaza is a prime spot for retail or that businesses are fighting to set up shop there. So, is it such an issue to let this shop open rather than having an empty space sit??
Annie Garnett July 21, 2011 at 08:59 PM
Seems to me that there is no way for Lake Anne to win this. Lake Anne thinks it's "too good" Lake Anne has "crappy stores", which is it? It is private property, why don't they have the right to make decisions what what they think is best for them? I don't think you can hold Lake Anne responsible for the awful remarks made by some of Reston's fine and classy residents. Lake Anne is full of small business owners that work their asses off in a semi-effective way, why don't their concerns in this situation matter? Like the other poster said, if everyone is really wanting edible undies we all now know where to get them.
Private Person July 21, 2011 at 09:14 PM
It is private property, but so are Reston Town Center and Tyson's Corner Center -- both wildly successful generators of millions of dollars in tax revenues. Lake Anne surrounds a common element of the Reston Association. Moreover, the center would never survive a week without outside traffic and the dollars those outsiders bring. It's also a fact that Lake Anne has taken many hundreds of thousands of tax dollars for projects we've ;listed earlier, including many thousands per month for the RCC annex which is privately owned but leased to the tax-payers funding the RCC.
Annie Garnett July 21, 2011 at 09:31 PM
Lake Anne partially surrounds the common element of the LAKE, which is owned by all residents of Reston and managed by RA. The condo owns the bricks and the Plaza. There are a half dozen other clusters that also surround the lake so your point here is lost on me. It is a commercial center with businesses that outsiders visit, and yes like Tall Oaks without customers most businesses don't survive, again I don't get your point unless it is that Lake Anne is dependent on the kindness of strangers? The County has spent a ridiculous amount of money on studying Lake Anne. The county rents any number of buildings in Reston one of which is the property that houses the Lake Anne annex of the Reston Community Center, they also rent the office building behind the Plaza on North Shore, so what? Lake Anne owners pay the same small tax district fees and RA fees that everyone else pays. What is your point?
Private Person July 21, 2011 at 10:09 PM
Relax it's hot outside and perhaps where you are if you depend on RELAC, bit be civil --- my point is now, as it has been consistently, that the current model is not working and, of course, that modern, open, renovated centers I mentioned are generally thriving, with little, if any, direct taxpayer-funded assistance, all while generating millions in taxes while Lake Anne is not, hasn't for decades and is guzzling taxes with little benefit. Tall Oaks has much of the same problem (as do similar centers in Greenbelt and Columbia)-- a dated dysfunctional model that just doesn't work if it ever did. I am very pleased to see some common ground in that we both agree that the county has squandered a ridiculous amount of money on dubious studies with no benefit.
Justine van Engen July 21, 2011 at 10:26 PM
Apparently, the issue at hand is whether or not the space in question will be granted a Certificate of Occupancy from Fairfax County. This has nothing to do with Lake Anne or the goods which are for sale in this store. Despite the turgid arguments, the matter may be rendered flaccid by the bite of zoning regulations.
Private Person July 21, 2011 at 11:12 PM
It's not apparent to me ... do you have some inside knowledge to share with all? Are you meaning to imply that Fairfax County will determine the prudence of what's been recently styled as a "lingerie" shop? How, then, does the zoning code allow such a shop in the Reston Town Center, but not the Lake Anne village center or any other center? Sounds much more like socialism than capitalism.
Justine van Engen July 21, 2011 at 11:25 PM
Private Person, please note that there is a more recent article on Patch which includes the shop owner's perspective as well as the fact that, through no fault of the tenant's and without regard to the products she is selling, the property may have been improperly subdivided. That has nothing to do with socialism or capitalism and has more to do with things like fire code and other compliance issues.
Private Person July 21, 2011 at 11:54 PM
Again a little civility goes a long way. Why not post the link to the article? I will read it if I can find it, but let's not make this a treasure hunt, please. It's still not apparent. And what do fire "things like (the) fire code and other (whatever they may be) compliance issues" have to do with what kind of shop is in the location? And it can't be a *** fact *** if it *** may *** have been improperly subdivided. And she can't be a faulted, or not, tenant if her shop is not (yet) there.
Carolyn Lawson Low July 21, 2011 at 11:58 PM
Here's the link: http://reston.patch.com/articles/lake-anne-lingerie-store-owner-says-her-shop-will-be-tame - also currently on home page. This article appeared on Thursday, after the initial article (where these comments are being posted) The link is also available on the sidebar: "See More On Patch".
Kate Peterson July 22, 2011 at 01:38 AM
Private Person, really? Civilty? You've suddenly grown tender?
Private Person July 22, 2011 at 01:46 PM
I have not grown tender; and let's all remember that tolerance of those with whom we differ is one of the bases of a civil society. Personal, sarcastic attacks are neither useful nor civil and, of course, are not addressing the matters at hand herein.

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