Reston, VA

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

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Updated at 10:25 on Jan. 25 — Both stores closed three days ahead of schedule on Thursday (Jan. 24).

By next week, Reston Town Center will have two big empty retail spaces once filled by Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn.

Two spokeswomen — one for Pottery Barn and the other for Williams-Sonoma — told Reston Now that both stores are set to close on Sunday (Jan. 27).

The closures will create two vacancies on either side of the Reston Town Center’s pavilion. Pottery Barn (11937 Market Street) is right down the block from Williams-Sonoma (11897 Market Street).

Williams-Sonoma Inc. operates both brands. Other locations nearby include Tysons Galleria in McLean and the Mosaic District in Fairfax.

The two closures are the first large retailers to leave Reston Town Center after several restaurants and small businesses closed their doors in 2018.

This story has been updated

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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.

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We’re counting down the top 20 most-read articles of 2017 this week. Here’s the final list of our top five stories.

5. The first lawsuit filed regarding Boston Properties’ paid parking system at Reston Town Center in late March had 10,970 views. The suit was initiated by Jackson’s Mighty Fine Food and Lucky Lounge (11927 Democracy Drive). Paid parking continues to challenge local businesses, according to several tenants. Just this week, Appalachian Spring, one of the first tenants of Reston Town Center, announced plans to shutter its Reston location partly due to limited foot traffic that a business representative believes decreased partly due to paid parking.

4. Continuing a similar theme, Boston Properties’ plans to modify its parking system five months after instituting paid parking drew 11,078 views. The company rescinded the payment requirements for users of RTC parking garages after 5 p.m. and also allow one hour of free garage parking for sessions that begin before 5 p.m.

3. An article about where to watch one of the most anticipated professional fights in history gained 14,374 page views. Undefeated box champion Floyd Mayweather went toe to toe with UFC superstar Conor McGregor.

2. The brutal killing of Nabra Hassanen, a 17-year-old Muslim girl who was killed as she walked to her mosque after night prayers during the month of fasting gained nationwide attention and sent reverberations locally. Darwin Martin-Torres, a 22-year-old, is accused of raping and sexual assaulting Hassanen. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. The article gained 15,575 views.

1. A rundown of where to spot Fourth of July fireworks took the top honors of the year with more than 16,000 page views. Turns out finding places to complete the American tradition was especially popular among readers.

It’s been quite a year and we look forward to bring you more stories in 2018.

Photo courtesy of Rick Collier

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