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As New Tenants Come to Reston Town Center, Current Businesses Report Losses Due to Paid Parking

by Fatimah Waseem March 1, 2018 at 11:30 am 28 Comments

As Boston Properties announces a mix of new commercial tenants, the Reston Merchants Association continues to decry paid parking at Reston Town Center roughly eight months after ParkRTC scaled back its parking structure.

Seven businesses reported a downslide in revenue over the last year, losses that owners said were caused by paid parking.

Others worry that parking will drive out small businesses and cause RTC to lose its appeal and accelerate its transformation into a downtown similar to other town centers. Tenants also say customers often express gripes over paid parking.

Last June, Boston Properties, RTC’s owner, changed its paid parking structure, which originally charged for weekday parking, following major outcry from tenants and customers. Parking is free for one hour during the day and after 5 p.m. Street parking is $3 for one hour and $6 for two hours, with no charges on Sundays.

The narrative by merchants upset over paid parking stands in stark contrast to official statements from Boston Properties, which currently owns more than 4.6 million square feet in RTC. The company has successfully inked long-term leases with major tenants.

Although the company did not respond immediately to a request for comment, the company indicated RTC is a “top experiential” development in the country.

New commercial tenants have recently signed long-term leases with the company, including Balducci’s Food Lovers Market, &Pizza, Muse PaintBar and Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls.

“We have listened to the community and are thrilled to announce a combination of new national, regional, and local retailers that will continue to enhance the shopping experience. Developing best in class retailers that strengthen Reston’s connection to the Town Center is our priority,” wrote Stephanie Friedman, director of leasing at Boston Properties, in a statement announced new developments in RTC.

Aaron Gordon, owner of Red Velvet Cupcakery, said that despite changes to the structure, requiring customers to pay for parking was the “worst decision” made by RTC. He reported a 37 percent drop in income over the last two quarters of last year, as compared to 2016.

“What took decades to make us the true center of Reston has been undone by one shortsighted, money-grabbing decision. Reston Town Center is more a ghost town than town center,” Gordon said.

Ray Pugsley, owner of Potomac River Running, said business between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. is “terrible.”

“Even when doctors refer people to use, they tell us that their patients refuse to patronize Reston Town Center,” he said.

In the statement, other businesses reported the following:

  • Big Bowl reported a 15 percent drop in sales compared to 2016. A major portion of the drop happened during lunch hours, when parking is not free.
  • Ben and Jerry’s estimated a 10 percent decrease in sales.
  • Pitango reports an 11 percent drop in sales last year, as compared to 2016.
  • Edibles Incredible Desserts reported $135,000 in losses last year compared to the previous year.
  • PR Partners says its new quest business is down an average of between 25 and 30 percent “as a result of paid parking.”

File photo.

  • JS333

    I’m so tired of reading about this. It’s clear Reston Now opposes the paid parking. Obviously the new businesses are doing their die diligence before moving in. It’s been a year so it is what it is. Get over it & write about something interesting.

    • Biker Sherlock

      ^ found the Boston Properties employee….

    • North Restonian

      Reston Now knows exactly what stories hit hot buttons for its readers because it can read its analytics. Obviously, its readership cares about this topic. I know I read every story about it. Ignoring it won’t make it go away.

    • JoeInReston

      The blow back from a very unpopular decision by Boston Properties to charge for parking at the Reston Town Center has resulted in business losses and store closings. This is worthy of local news coverage. The fact that it generates page views is a big sweet icing on the cake for Reston Now. Get over it & read about something else that interests you.

      • 40yearsinreston

        Try BPX.com

    • Joyce W

      Boston Properties trolls are easy to spot. And you are one, sir. I love your Freudian slip “die diligence.” That sums it up.

    • Greg

      “…die diligence…”?

      Surely that’s a pun, no?

    • Generic User

      The paid parking articles are the only reason I read RestonNow. Please don’t take that away from me. I live on bitterness.

  • Donald

    I recall the infamous RCA (Sridhar Ganesan) offer to BP — Give your profits back to Community.

    “…The Reston Citizens Association says it wants Boston Properties to give the money it is collecting from paid parking at Reston Town Center — a number the group projects to be $8 million annually — back to the community….

    “…BP has in the past been a good and generous manager of the Reston Town Center and can be this again. RCA stands ready to work with BP to address its legitimate concerns about commuter parking while at the same time preserving the open and welcoming character of the Town Center that has made it such a centerpiece of our community and the greater region….

    For more information, please contact:

    Sridhar Ganesan, President, RCA

    https://www.restonnow.com/2017/03/29/reston-citizens-association-to-boston-properties-give-money-back-to-community/#disqus_thread

    Donald

    • Chuck Morningwood

      Or maybe they should just drop the paid parking, let the consumers keep and spend their money as they see fit, and then we — the consumers — can choose whether or not to contribute to RCA.

    • cRAzy

      Actually, the proposal was put together by an RCA Board member, Mr. Inanli, who lives in RTC. Nowhere in the RN article nor in the press release re this RCA decision is Mr. Ganesan’s name mention.

      Nothing to see here. You just want to make Ganesan responsible because you clearly don’t want Mr. Ganesan on the RA Board.

      Here’s the press release: https://www.restonnow.com/files/2017/03/RCA-BPX-press-release.pdf

      • Donald

        Uhhh. Mr. Ganesan was President of the RCA. He was fully accountable for the actions of his non-profit. His name is at the bottom of the Press Release.

        What a pathetic defense. “Someone on the board wrote it…wasn’t me… “

        Donald

        • cRAzy

          His name is not on the press release. The release was the product of the RCA Board, not Mr. Ganesan any more than Sherri Hebert dictates the contents of proclamations and press releases approved by the RA Board.

          • Donald

            I cannot believe this is your defense of Mr. Ganesan.

            Donald

          • cRAzy

            I can’t believe your accusations of Mr. Ganesan are, to be polite, “fake news.”

          • Donald

            His name is at the bottom of the press release on the official RCA website.

            https://restoncitizensassociation.blogspot.com/2017/03/reston-citizens-association-supports.html?m=1

            Get real. He was the RCA president, and the spokesperson for the organization. The president speaks for the board. The president is accountable for the board’s actions.

            This boondoggle of RCA, led by Sridhar Ganesan, was harshly criticized. It was a lone action, apparently assuming it had the authority to speak for the Community — NOT.

            Donald

  • Charlotte Hicks

    I don’t see what the big deal is anymore. Just go to orange lot, walk into Jackson’s, have a coke and a smile and you have nothing to worry about. Heck, you don’t need to even go into Jackson’s but “white lies” are never a good thing. 😉

  • 40yearsinreston

    still paid parking ?
    Still not going

    • cRAzy

      EVER!

  • Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

    I cannot believe BXP sitting on a gold mine and basically shutting it down over a small short term gain, if any. Even if they completely reversed its hard to imagine that anyone would forget this greedy foolish move and go back there.

    • 30yearsinreston

      some “senior leaders” pride is on the line

    • Generic User

      BP is winning so much, they are getting sick of winning.

  • Why do you bother?

    Hey, BP: Do you want to know how we know you’re lying?
    .
    Your lips are moving.

  • Tan

    For the love, enough with the complaining already. Big Bowl is horrible and the other Are after thoughts while you’re there. Other locations are packed at lunch time so it’s not the parking cost. So many of us work in RTC and go back to places with better food.

    • kiki

      It is packed at lunch because of all the office buildings. Duh

      • Tan

        Hence no excuse for some restaurants. We all have to eat somewhere. Don’t downplay where the office workers eat. Potbelly, Sweetgreen, Busara, Panera, and Community Canteen always have lines.

  • shamrock

    I don’t object to paying for parking per se, but I seriously do not know what to do when I get there. I can’t take a ticket like a normal parking garage and pay on the way out. I don’t have and will not download the app, so, wtf?

  • Chris

    I’ve been meeting for business lunches @ Ice House Cafe in Herndon. It’s kind of like a trip down Memory Lane — the places we used to go before there was RTC. I like it!

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