Uncle Julio’s, a Mexican restaurant in Reston Town Center, has reached a settlement in a lawsuit the business filed against Boston Properties in late 2018 over its paid parking policies.
In early August, the case was voluntarily dismissed and all parties were ordered to pay their own legal fees. Uncle Julio’s, which has been located in RTC since 1992, sought $5 million from Boston Properties to account for the effects of paid parking on its business. The restaurant argued that the system — which has been in effect for more than two years — led to $1 million in losses annually.
A spokesperson for Uncle Julio’s told the Washington Business Journal that the issue was resolved “amicably.” The business plans to continue to offer validated parking for all customers for dining at Uncle Julio’s.
Here’s more from the WBJ report:
One of the issues Uncle Julio’s had raised in its complaint was that its closest parking garage in the development had become less accessible as a result of another parking-related lawsuit at the property. According to the Uncle Julio’s complaint, after Jackson’s restaurant sued over paid parking, a judge issued a preliminary injunction preventing Reston Town Center from enforcing the pay-to-park system on Jackson’s customers in the Orange garage. Subsequently, according to Uncle Julio’s, the pay-to-park system was disabled at the Orange garage.
“As a consequence, patrons throughout the Reston Town Center now attempt to park at the Orange Garage in order to avoid the imposition of parking charges,” stated the complaint, which was amended in March.
In March 2017, Boston Properties and Jackson’s Mighty Fine Food & Lucky Lounge settled a dispute over the paid parking system — part of a continuing uproar from local businesses and residents over the parking system. Previously, public backlash has pushed Boston Properties to cut back hours when payment is required by allowing free parking on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends.
Image via Google Maps
Recently, Reston Town Center shed its iconic logo of the Mercury Fountain in favor of a more modern and simplistic design.
For weeks, Boston Properties and their public relations company TAA PR have been mum about the rebranding effort, as well as the latest on a planned renovation to RTC’s common areas.
In response to multiple requests from Reston Now, company representatives said they have some “exciting news to share” about the future of RTC in the coming weeks. In absence of hard details, Reston Now is turning to its readers to get their thoughts on what they think about the new logo and what message the new design seeks to convey.
RTC’s first logo features a line drawing of the 20-foot Mercury Fountain, which was designed by sculptor Saint Clair Cemin and anchors the pavilion. While the new logo retains the original blue palette, its circular form — with a ‘C’ rested in the center — lends itself to many interpretations.
A new crop of tenants are expected to open up in RTC by 2020, including Jinya Ramen Bar, The Candle Bar and Muse Paint Bar. The company also announced plans to renovate most of its gathering places in over the next several months.
Until more details are made public, we’d love to know your thoughts about the new logo and the future of RTC in the comments below.
Artists of all ages and skill levels can now save the date for ChalkFest at Reston Town Center.
The annual event, which challenges artists to create chalk drawings on Market Street, is set for Saturday, September 14 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Registration is open in the following categories:
- Professional artist: $25
- Amateur artist: $25
- Families and kids: $15
Prizes will be given to winning artists in each category. Participants will also get the chance to vote in the “audience choice awards.”
ChalkFest is presented by Public Art Reston and Reston Town Center. All proceeds from the event will benefit Public Art Reston’s projects and programs.
Last year’s event was cancelled due to the forecasted rain, but in 2017, the event drew more than 4,000 people.
Photo by Public Art Reston
In recent years, Boston Properties has proffered to set aside a parcel of land in a recently approved mixed-use development for a new performing arts center. The circular center would be located on Block J as part of Reston Gateway, 4.8 million square feet of development near the future Reston Town Center Metro Station. It would contain up to 50,000 square feet and would sit near an office building with eights levels, including three levels of underground parking.
The proposed proffer has prompted Reston Community Center to explore Reston residents’ opinions on the center and whether or not RCC should play a role in pushing the initiative forward. These questions will be posed in a community survey that will be conducted this summer.
RCC Executive Director Leila Gordon told Reston Now that if the center determines it should construct such a venue, it would seek a bond referendum to fund the construction. Gordon said that RCC’s Board of Governors has no intent to raise the current tax rate.
If RCC takes part in the effort, it hopes to ensure the facility is large enough to host dance, choral and orchestral music, and theatrical musics with large casts. Its primary service audience would be community-based non-profit arts organizations and Fairfax County Public Schools’ arts programs.
Gordon also reiterated that RCC will not compete with the Wolf Trap or negatively impact its operations. RCC also hopes to ensure the center is accessible to all — with affordable rents for local art users and affordable ticket pricing.
Others have also discussed leveraging cash contributions from the county, nearby towns like Herndon and Vienna, and other entities.
“If those were to be realized, those contributors would potentially achieve calendar access to use of the new venue, and/or perhaps some role in its mission. This would be a complicated scenario to pursue, but it’s one worth exploring,” Gordon wrote.
Discussions are preliminary, as RCC has not yet discussed future possibilities with Boston Properties or the county’s land use staff.
Rendering via handout/Fairfax County Government
Last week, we learned that Boston Properties plans to upgrade Reston Town Center’s common areas.
The company will pour in about $5 million to upgrade several areas in order to “soften existing spaces” and modernize the town center, according to a representative for CBRE, who represents the property in lease deals.
While Reston Now hasn’t heard back from CBRE, Boston Properties about what’s planned, we would love to know what kind of improvements our readers are most looking forward to.
Plans are still in the design phase, but the company has already hinted at what could be coming. No changes to parking systems are proposed.
RTC-goers, please let us know your thoughts below.
The following is a statement from Scott Brodbeck, founder and CEO of Local News Now, the Northern Virginia-based online publishing company behind Reston Now.
In the end, however, I made the call to select the runners up — Robert and Anne (as in Robert E. Simon and Lake Anne) — as the “official” names of the falcons. I felt the falcons deserved better than to be named after an acrimonious local parking dispute, and as a relatively new parent I did not think it fair for adults to ruin what could have been something fun for kids to participate in and learn from.
As we said, to the extent we have the power to decide such things, “Free” and “Parking” can be the birds’ unofficial nickname and considered the “People’s Choice” option.
The reaction to the announcement was disappointing. While we expected some push-back, and would understand some mild frustration, the cursing and threats of boycotts posted by some on Facebook were uncalled for. This was intended to be a light-hearted contest to name a couple of falcons, and instead the result has grown adults cursing and becoming angry.
It was reminiscent of the UK’s “Boaty McBoatface” kerfuffle, with more unironic invective.
Let’s set a few things straight about how this all came about. Boston Properties and its PR reps approached Reston Now with the idea of running a naming contest for the falcons that had been nesting at RTC. We agreed — I made the decision to move forward — because it sounded fun for readers.
Despite some wording about working with Boston Properties on it, we ran the contest on our own and made our own decisions, like including “Free” and “Parking” in the final poll. RTC’s owner let us know that they did not like “Free” and “Parking” as names, but we moved forward anyhow. Finally, when push came to shove, I made the decision to pick the second-place names — which were, let’s be honest about it, better names — over the first-place novelty names.
To be clear, there was no money or favors that changed hands as a result of this contest, it was done informally and for fun. Boston Properties is not a current Reston Now advertiser and its only recent ad purchase from us was a sponsored post that was published in March 2017. We have also not recently solicited advertising from Boston Properties or Reston Town Center.
The fact that we now have Boston Properties upset at us, for including “Free” and “Parking” in the poll to begin with, and readers angry at us for not selecting those names as the official winner, is frustrating to say the least. But life — and the news — goes on. Hopefully this statement clears some things up.
Two weeks ago, Reston Now kicked off an attempt to name the two peregrine falcons in Reston Town Center. About 60 name suggestions and more than 850 votes later, one option clearly stood out: Free and Parking.
“Free parking” is a reference to Boston Properties’ paid parking at RTC, oftentimes serving as a rallying cry for protests against RTC or as an inside joke among Restonians. Reston Now frequently finds calls for free parking in comments under articles about business closures at RTC.
The shift from free parking to the ParkRTC paid parking initiative at RTC began at the start of 2017. In June 2017, Boston Properties, RTC’s owner, changed its paid parking structure to allow for more free parking, following a major outcry from tenants and customers.
With 64 percent of the vote, the Reston Now Readers’ Choice Award for Falcon Names goes to Free and Parking — the falcons’ new nicknames. But for the official name, upon further reflection, it was clear that the regal birds deserved a more befitting, less joke-y name.
So like Boaty McBoatface before it, “Free” and “Parking” will be how the birds are remembered by many, but the clear second place winner in the voting — “Robert” and “Anne,” a reference to Reston’s founder Bob Simon and Lake Anne — will become the falcons’ actual names.
Happy name day, Robert and Anne.
Photo courtesy Boston Properties
Last week, Reston Now asked readers for their name suggestions for the two peregrine falcons that call Reston Town Center home.
The pair are both around 7 years old and are expecting four chicks. The dad hails from Maryland while the mom came from Pennsylvania.
About 60 people commented with name ideas below the profile last week and on Reston Now’s social media pages (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).
From today (April 22) to the end of the week, readers can vote for the two names from this list of readers’ suggestions.
The winning names for the mom and dad falcons will get announced at the end of April.
Photo courtesy Boston Properties
The story of Reston Town Center’s peregrine falcons started in June 2015 when two chicks were found on Market Street.
The pair was taken to the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia, where they were rehabilitated and released, Steve Potts, a raptor biologist who monitors the falcons, told Reston Now.
“That was the first indicator that we had nesting peregrine falcons in Reston Town Center,” he said. Fast forward to 2019, and the birds are still calling Reston home.
“This is our fifth year of breeding and that’s a really high rate of having chicks,” Potts said.
While most peregrine falcons used to live near coastal plains, Bryan Watts, the director of the Center for Conservation Biology in Williamsburg, Va., told Reston Now that he has seen more move inland recently as bridges, buildings and towers mimic cliff faces overlooking a wide vista of landscape for hunting and have updrafts for flying.
“They are one of the most spectacular bird species we have on the planet,” Watts said.
Here are some peregrine falcon fun facts Potts and Watts shared:
- wild peregrine falcons can live up to about 18 years of age
- females are larger in size than the males
- eggs are usually a brick red color and about the size of a small chicken egg
- chicks fly for the first time at about 42-45 days
- juvenile peregrine falcons wander and the chicks from the RTC pair may go up to Canada to the Gulf Coast
“The pair up there is incredibly productive,” Watts said. “The hope is that they will be there for a long time.”
Potts said that he saw four eggs in the nest earlier this week. (Reston Now isn’t divulging where the nest is to protect the falcons.)
“It’s in a really remote little spot,” Potts said. “It’s a perfect spot hidden from the rain and sun, and it faces south.”
About 20 days after the chicks are born, Potts plans to return to help band them, which will take place sometime in May.
While Potts said that some people are against banding birds, he argues that annual medical exams made possible by the banding help keep the birds healthy and also allow birders and conservationists to track nest changeover.
The parents — both around 7 years old — have been identified. The dad hails from Maryland while the mom came from Pennsylvania. Reston Now readers will get the chance to name the pair.
Between now and next Friday (April 19), comment below this story and on the Reston Now social media pages (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) your name suggestions. On Monday, April 22, readers will be able to vote for the two names out a list of the most upvoted and liked suggested names.
The winning names for the mom and dad falcons will get announced at the end of April.
Photo courtesy Boston Properties
Fairfax County is looking into who should pay for and manage a community-based performing arts center set for Boston Properties’ Reston Gateway project.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a feasibility study with private and public entities at its meeting last week on Tuesday, March 19.
“The community has demonstrated strong interest and support for such a facility,” Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins wrote in her motion, which Chairman Sharon Bulova read due to Hudgins’ absence.
The 60,000-square-foot performing arts center is slated for the mixed-use project, which includes nearly 2 million square feet of office space, two hotels with 570 rooms and 162,300 square feet in retail and restaurants. Located on the north side of Sunset Hills Road between the Reston and Town Center parkways, the project will connect the future Reston Town Center Metro station to the border of Reston Town Center.
Block J has been identified as a possible location for the performing arts center, according to Hudgins’ motion. The feasibility study aims to assess if the county or another entity can finance, construct, maintain and program the performing arts center.
Before the board voted, Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth cautioned the board about the upkeep the performing arts will require.
“Having worked through a lot of this sort of thing with the Cap One project in Tysons, we found that operating and maintaining some sort of arts center is costly,” Smyth told the board. “It requires the right people to do it.”
Victoria’s Secret no longer calls Reston Town Center home.
Signs on the front doors say that the location at 11929 Market, Suite 50 is permanently closed. Black tarps were hanging in the storefront’s windows, and the prominent “Victoria’s Secret” sign had already been taken down by the time Reston Now made a visit this afternoon (March 12).
Aba Kwawu, a spokeswoman for Boston Properties, told Reston Now that Victoria’s Secret’s departure from Reston Town Center was a part of a larger pattern of closures expected for around the country.
Victoria’s Secret announced earlier this year that it plans to close more than 53 stories, according to CNBC.
“While it is unfortunate to see this iconic brand face difficulties, we look forward to replacing them with an exciting new tenant soon,” Kwawu said. No word yet on who that new tenant is for that spot, although several newcomers expected to arrive this year have already been revealed.
Locals who miss the lingerie giant can find the familiar pink and black store in Tysons and Dulles. “Please visit our other area Victoria’s Secret stores,” the signs say.
The Apple Store in Reston Town Center has some planned changes in the works.
Apple Inc. filed a building permit for the spot recently vacated by Pottery Barn, which is next door to the Apple Store at 11949 Market Street.
Pottery Barn shut its doors at 11937 Market Street on Jan. 24, along with the Williams-Sonoma store down the street at 11897 Market Street. (Both brands are operated by Williams-Sonoma Inc.)
Replacements for the now-empty spaces haven’t been announced yet. Reston Town Center recently unveiled six newcomers slated to open later this year, but did not indicate the expected opening dates or addresses.
The permit description says that it is for a new tenant layout. It remains unclear at this time whether Apple is considering expanding or moving into the new space.
Reston Now reached out to Boston Properties and Apple for comment and has not heard back yet.
Image via Google Maps
Boston Properties, the owners of Reston Town Center, recently tapped Transwestern, a commercial real estate company, to provide leasing services for RTC.
“The new leasing engagement by Boston Properties comes at the same time as a major rebranding initiative at Reston Town Center,” Transwestern announced in a press release today (Jan. 31).
“This year will hold exciting changes for Reston Town Center,” Katie Yanushonis, the vice president of leasing at Boston Properties, said in the press release. “Our investment in the branding and placemaking of Reston Town Center will help maintain its place as the leading mixed-use development in the United States.”
Transwestern will be responsible for leasing RTC’s “urban core,” which consists of more than 2.5 million square feet of office space and 450,000 square feet of retail space in the mixed-use development.
“Significant” availabilities are expected in the next few years, partly from Leidos’ consolidation at 1750 Presidents Street, the press release says.
The upcoming Silver Line Metro station in Reston and the neighborhood’s changing shopping and dining scene are also expected to boost RTC’s attraction to employers, Transwestern said.
“Transwestern is honored to have the opportunity to lease the most important urban mixed-use project in all of the Washington region,” Senior Vice President Alex Hancock, who is leading the office leasing team with Executive Vice President Joe Ritchey, said in the press release. “Reston Town Center has always been a location with unparalleled ability to help organizations recruit, retain and maximize the productivity of their world-class workforces.”
Ritchey has worked on Reston Town Center for more than 29 years.
Image via Transwestern Commercial Services
Another Reston Town Center restaurant is joining the fight against paid parking just months after the settlement of the first lawsuit challenging Boston Properties’ controversial parking system.
Uncle Julio’s filed a suit against Boston Properties and several affiliated limited liability companies for at least $5 million over the paid parking, the Washington Business Journal reported today (Jan. 11).
The Tex-Mex restaurant at 1827 Library Street claims in the suit that it has lost approximately $1 million in sales annually since paid parking was implemented in January 2017, according to the article.
Uncle Julio’s is suing RTC’s owners on several counts, including breach of contract and conspiracy, according to the story. Boston Properties has not yet responded to the lawsuit, which was filed on Dec. 21 in Fairfax County Circuit Court.
Nearly two months ago, Boston Properties and Jackson’s Mighty Fine Food & Lucky Lounge settled a dispute over the developer’s paid parking system. Jackson’s filed its suit, which also alleged breach of contract, in March 2017, Reston Now previously reported.
Boston Properties continues to face an uproar from many local businesses and residents. In 2018, nine businesses closed at RTC, with several owners and employees telling Reston Now that the paid parking drove customers away.
This year doesn’t look any better. Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn, which are both operated by Williams-Sonoma Inc, are set to close at RTC later this month.
Image via Google Maps
Birthday bash for Mark Twain — Reston Regional Library will celebrate from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. the famous American humorist, who died in 1910 and would have been 183 years old on Nov. 30. [Fairfax County]
Senior movie day — The Reston Association’s “Meet Me at the Movies” will screen “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” — the 2018 documentary about Fred Rogers — at 10 a.m. with free refreshments. Tickets are free for people age 55 and older. The monthly movie event is done in cooperation with the Bow-Tie Cinemas at Reston Town Center and is sponsored by Tall Oaks Assisted Living. [Reston Association]
Paid parking lawsuit ends in a settlement — Boston Properties agreed to a settlement with Jackson’s Mighty Fine Food & Lucky Lounge, bringing a close to the restaurant’s lawsuit over the mixed-use development’s paid parking system. [Faifax County Times]
Reston Rotary Club networking — The club will host a networking event tonight from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Reston Hyatt’s bar in the lobby. [Reston Rotary Club]
Flickr pool photo via Chris Gordon