Holiday Parking Changes Planned This Month in Reston Town Center

After brief changes to parking over Thanksgiving break, free holiday garage parking will return to Reston Town Center this month.

Although garage parking is free on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends, changes are planned for the holiday season. Typically, the first hour of parking is free on weekdays.

From Dec. 21 through New Year’s Day, garage parking will be free.

Parking was also free from Nov. 23 through Sunday (Dec. 1), in addition to the following holidays:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • President’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veteran’s Day

File photo

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No Major Flood Damage Reported at Reston North Park & Ride

Floodwaters at the Reston North Park and Ride have receded, leaving little damage at the site where water pooled up to the windshields’ of cars yesterday (July 8).

A spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Transportation told Reston Now that there appears to be no damage to the pavement or drains, which were simply overwhelmed with the “massive amount of water.”

“We’re focusing on other areas,” Ellen Kamilakis said. “There are other heavily devastated areas in the county.”

Crews are currently on-site throughout the county to assess damages.

In early September 2011, floodwaters caused major damage at the Reston Park and Ride. Several vehicles were damaged during that storm.

The lot is located at the corner of Sunset Hills Road and Wiehle Avenue.

Photo via AlphaPupObie/Twitter

 

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Verizon Seeks New Lease for Fox Mill Fire Station’s Parking Lot

Verizon Wireless hopes to continue using a portion of Fox Mill Fire Station’s parking lot for a telecommunications facility.

The five-year lease, which could be extended for up to 25 years, would bring $30,000 to the county’s coffers in the lease’s first year. Annual payments would increase by 2.5 percent each year.

County officials do not expect that the company’s use of the parking lot will impact the station’s operations. The parking lot already has a monopole that was built by Cox Cable in the early 1980s.

The company built a fenced compound to store equipment needed to serve cable television subscribers and facilitate a relay station in the first responders’ emergency network.

In 1998, Verizon expanded Cox Cable’s compound by adding an additional 264 square feet. That lease ended last September.

Revenues collected from the lease would go to the county’s general fund.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the matter on Tuesday, May 21.

Map via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Crime Roundup: Parking Dispute Draws Police Presence

A parking dispute turned violent in Reston last week, police said.

Two people got into an argument in the parking lot of McDonalds at 11265 Roger Bacon Drive on April 11 at around 9:37 a.m., according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

“The victim got out of their car and tried to block the other car from leaving by standing in front of it.  The driver allegedly struck the victim in the leg with his car and left the scene,” FCPD said.

No injuries were reported and the police are treating the incident as an assault. It’s unclear if the driver was charged.

In other news, the Fairfax County Police Department’s Reston District Station reported the following incidents in recent days:

LARCENIES:

2200 block of Centreville Road, purse from location

2200 block of Centreville Road, purse from location

1800 block of Cameron Glen Drive, property from vehicle

9800 block of Faust Drive, license plate from vehicle

12100 block of Sunset Hills Road, merchandise from business

STOLEN VEHICLES:

None reported

File photo

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Rowing Fitness Studio Team Talks Plans, Parking for New RTC Spot

A new rowing-focused studio in D.C. is eyeing Reston Town Center for its next location.

DC Row’s General Manager Brittany Brunch told Reston Now that the low-impact, full-body workout DC Row offers will be an appealing option for people working high-stress jobs, in addition to people already focused on exercise. “Northern Virginia generally has a pretty high fitness index,” Brunch said.

Like Reston residents, Reston Town Center has been established for a while, Jordan Newsome, one of the studio’s executives, told Reston Now. “We want to bring something new to them so that they come back out a little bit more [to Reston Town  Center].”

While Newsome and Brunch wouldn’t reveal the Reston location, they did say that locals can expect a pop-up near Reston Town Center before the grand opening.

The Reston location will offer similar classes to the ones currently at the D.C. location (790 Maine Avenue SW). Reston’s DC Row will cater to specialized groups, such as opportunities for corporate businesses to enjoy happy hours and gift bags after the classes and more time slots during the day for moms and pregnant women.

Like the D.C. spot, Brunch and Newsome said they want to get local kids involved. “Rowing is a collegiate sport,” Newsome said. “There are a lot of scholarships that go untouched every year.”

The controversial paid parking at Reston Town Center doesn’t have Newsome too worried.

“We are no stranger to paid parking,” Newsome said as he looked out of the window toward Main Avenue SW “The experience that we offer makes people want to come back, and they kind of seek out a way to get back. For as far as parking in Reston goes, I think it shouldn’t have too much of an effect on our business.”

Brunch added that DC Row is looking into subsidizing parking for customers at the Reston Town Center location.

No matter where DC Row goes, one principle stands out: “We really want to be apart of the community,” Newsome said.

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Uncle Julio’s Fights Paid Parking with Suit Against Boston Properties

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.

In December alone, two restaurants — Hen Penny and Obi Sushi — left.

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

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Paid Parking Under Consideration for Reston, Tysons

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) is gearing up to study parking management options, which could add paid parking in Reston and Tysons.

FCDOT hopes to hire a professional parking consultant to explore parking management, which FCDOT says would fulfill the vision of the Comprehensive Plan for each area.

It would also reduce traffic congestion and vehicle emissions from drivers circling blocks to find free street parking and create a new revenue stream, FCDOT argues.

Henri Stein McCartney, a transportation planner for FCDOT, updated the county’s Transportation Committee yesterday (Dec. 11) on the proposal and gave examples of managed parking: pay for parking and time restricted parking.

The paid parking model can support different technologies — space occupancy sensors, space finding systems, smartphone apps, kiosks, etc. — that can help people find a spot, while also assisting enforcement, she said.

The other option is time restricted parking, which can limit parking during certain times of the days or set a certain allotted time for each car. While FCDOT expects the second option would pose more enforcement challenges, license plate readers, street cameras and space occupancy sensors can assist with policing the parking.

The consultant could measure existing on-street and off-street parking supply and demand in Reston and Tysons and then model future parking supply and demand. The consultant could also recommend appropriate strategies to the board and also put forward implementation and outreach plans.

McCartney highlighted one potential challenge: designing a parking plan that does not push cars into nearby neighborhoods with free parking. “That’s a scenario we want to avoid,” she said.

With the project in its “preliminary stages,” McCartney said the study — which FCDOT estimates will cost $100,000 — will help figure out what the projected revenue could be from paid parking and citations from parking tickets.

“I’m sure there will be interest in what kind of money it makes,” Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth said at the meeting. “We need to keep that in mind.”

Some of the supervisors raised concerns about the proposal.

Braddock District Supervisor John Cook cautioned against spending the money on the study without a “functional purpose we are clearly stating.”

“We need to be clear about why we want to do this,” he said, noting that urban areas may need parking management. “I don’t think you get the consultant to come up with the reason.”

Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity stressed that parking availability and fees drive behavior, mentioning the “angst,” loss in revenue for businesses and the complexity surrounding Reston Town Center’s paid parking system.

“It does have an impact on businesses,” Herrity said, adding that he supports hiring a consultant to conduct the study. “You have some good ideas in here.”

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins responded by saying that the “problem in Reston” stemmed from unclear goals. “I think the mistakes that were made in the past can be a helpful learning process,” she said.

She stressed that the purpose of the “needed proposal” should not focus on collecting money, but instead on helping transportation in an urban setting, especially Tysons.

FCDOT plans to update and consult with the board as the process continues.

While the plan does not have a timeline yet, McCartney said FCDOT “would move fairly quickly” to hire a consultant for the study acquires funding.

After board approval, FCDOT would work with stakeholders — the Office of County Attorney, Fairfax County Police Department, the Office of Community Revitalization, the Department of Planning and Zoning, Land Development Services and others. Together, they would update ordinances, set meter rates, select vendors and begin outreach efforts to businesses and the community.

“The last thing you want is employees and Metro riders parking on the street during the day, but short term-term customers don’t have a place to park,” the board’s Chairman Sharon Bulova said. “I think we’re doing the right thing starting out with a study.”

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Wednesday Morning Notes

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 

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Breaking: Boston Properties, Jackson’s Settle Lawsuit Over Paid Parking

A lawsuit by a Reston Town Center retailer against Boston Properties in response to the developer’s paid parking system has been settled.

Under the agreement, customers of Jackson’s Mighty Fine Food & Lucky Lounge will be offered a special parking arrangement. Guests will be able to enter their license plate number into one of the pay stations in the Orange Garage or on a tablet inside Jackson’s to validate parking.

“Both parties look forward to continuing their 10-year relationship at Reston Town Center,” according to a statement published by the company.

The terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed. A representative for Boston Properties declined to comment further on the deal or release any details.

Jackson’s sued Boston Properties in Fairfax County Circuit Court alleging breach of contract in March 2017. The suit sought the immediate termination of paid parking, $500,000 in damages and attorney’s fees. Company officials stated that the restaurant suffered major disruptions since paid parking went into effect.

A number of other restaurants have cited the paid parking system as cause for leaving Reston Town Center in recent months.

This story has been updated.

File photo

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Under SEC investigation — ComScore, a Reston-based audience company, issued new financial statements showing it overstated revenue by $127 million. [Washington Business Journal]

29 acres are up for grabs — Fannie Mae is expected to vacate three major buildings in the area as it moves to Reston Gateway in 2022. Who will fill the void? [Washington Business Journal]

If you’re heading out to Wiehle-Reston East parking garage — Parking may be limited at times as construction continues in the area. Commuters can park at Reston South Park & Ride for free. [Fairfax Connector]

Flickr pool photo via vantagehill

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Tweaks to Shared Parking for Office Building Underway in Reston Town Center

Final tweaks to a shared parking agreement are underway as Boston Properties prepares to construct the last office property available in Reston Town Center’s urban core.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider a proposal Tuesday to remove roughly 78,823 square feet of future office space covered under RTC’s shared parking agreement.

Some office tenants in a future office building on Block 5, home to 17Fifty (1750 Presidents Drive), which is set to open in 2020, will park in reserved spots in a below-grade garage.

The shared parking agreement serves Phase I of RTC, a 44-acre swath of land in the center’s 84-acre urban core. If the proposal is approved, 226 parking spaces will be reserved for corresponding future office space equal to 86,923 square feet and 3,000 spaces will remain for shared uses.

The request is in response to a change in the mix of uses in the area, particularly in 17Fifty, the future of home of Leidos, Instead of a mix of office and retail, the 17-story tower will be solely composed of office space.

The overall impact of the change is minimal, said Rich Ellis, vice president of Boston Properties.

“All we’re doing is a re-tabulation of what’s required as several uses have changed,” he said.

Shared parking for the theater, eating establishments, hotels and hotel function space will remain unchanged.

Ellie Codding, the county’s director of the code development and the compliance division of land development services, said the change covers proposed buildings in response to a tenant-specific request.

Previously under this agreement, parking spaces were being shared by all office, retail, restaurant, hotel, and theatre uses. The modified agreement, if approved, would decrease the square footage of office space that shares parking under the agreement,” she said.

A parking analysis indicates 3,000 parking spaces are “sufficient to serve the mix of remaining non-residential uses” and will not reduce parking beyond 29.3 percent, a reduction approved by the county in 2014, according to county documents.

Photo via handout

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New Waiting Area at Wiehle-Reston East Opens

A new waiting area is available at the Wiehle-Reston East station.

Uber and Lyft drivers, as well as shuttle buses and vans, can use the lot, which was opened today, to drop off and pick up passengers, according to a release from Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins.

Vehicles can enter the waiting area from Reston Station Boulevard off of Wiehle Avenue. Parking is allowed for 15 minutes only. Pedestrians can use the crosswalk at Reston Station Boulevard and Wiehle Avenue to access the waiting area.

Any unattended vehicles will be towed. Vehicles stopping and standing along Reston Station Boulevard will be ticketed.

For more information, contact Connect and Ride at 703-502-9797.

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Opioid Roundtable Planned — The discussion, scheduled for the Fairfax County Government Center at 2 p.m. Saturday, will be hosted by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Sharon Bulova, chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. The event is open to the public. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

Reston Woman Pleads Guilty to Role in Gang-Related Killing — Cindy Blanco Hernandez, 19, entered pleas to abduction and gang participation Tuesday as part of a deal with prosecutors. She was among 10 members and associates of the gang MS-13 charged after the January killing of 15-year-old Damaris A. Reyes Rivas. She may face up to 30 years in prison when she is sentenced in May. [Washington Post]

Herndon Adds Parking Enforcement Position — The part-time officer was hired Oct. 3 and will work 30 hours a week, which has at least one resident worried about “end[ing] up like Reston Town Center.” [Connection Newspapers]

Silver Line Phase 2 Hits Two-Thirds Point — More than 5 million hours have been spent on the $2.78 billion project so far, according to updates expected to be presented today to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board. [WTOP]

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Mouthpiece for Reston Town Center Merchants Says His Business Is on the Outs

Aaron Gordon has owned Red Velvet Cupcakery (11939 Democracy Drive) in Reston Town Center for seven years.

He does not believe there will be an eighth.

“I feel very, very, very confident that they are planning not to renew our lease, and they’re stonewalling us,” Gordon said. “This is all retaliation, plain and simple.”

Gordon has been one of the most outspoken opponents of paid parking at Reston Town Center, initiated in January by RTC owners Boston Properties. Gordon was one of the organizers and is the mouthpiece for the Reston Merchants Association, a group of business owners and managers at RTC fighting the system.

Now, as Gordon looks at negotiating a lease extension with his landlord, he believes the spotlight he’s put on himself through the Merchants Association is making such an extension impossible.

“I have no doubt that they are retaliating against me and Red Velvet Cupcakery for being one of the leaders of the fight against paid parking,” he said. “I have a whole timeline of reasons I believe this to be true.”

We reached out to Gordon’s landlord, Boston Properties, and were told by spokesperson Marion Myers that “lease negotiations with tenants and prospects are not communicated publicly until both parties are in agreement.”

Gordon said Red Velvet Cupcakery’s lease at the Town Center comes up in May. Last year, he said, he was in negotiations not just to renew, but to bring another of his concepts, Bakers and Baristas, to the Town Center as well.

“Before this whole battle, they loved Red Velvet, they loved me as an owner, and they loved the new concepts I [would be] putting in,” he said. “Until, of course, now.”

Gordon says he is almost certain there will be no agreement with the landlord, as he feels they are going out of their way to make sure he knows he is no longer welcome at the Town Center — where he says he makes a “fairly modest but steady income” despite what he says is an 8-10 percent drop in sales in 2017.

“We received a message from them — we couldn’t even get a meeting — that, basically, they’re looking for new and fresh ideas and they want to scour the marketplace, and we may not fit into their plans, but they won’t know until the end of the year,” he said. “In my mind, this is ‘Shut up until the end of year, because we’re considering you, but we’re looking for new and fresh ideas.’ The whole thing is ludicrous.”

“Different, unique, locally owned — that’s everything Red Velvet is,” he added.

He said he isn’t in any official talks yet about a new home, but he is considering numerous locations around the area, from Ashburn to Tysons.

“That being said, we’d ideally like to stay in Reston,” he said, owing to a great community, loyal customers and a Reston-based workforce force. “My hope would be that we can attract new customers in a new location and that we can keep our old customers [as well].”

Gordon said that at a recent meeting of the Reston Merchants Association, some members reported a “slight uptick” in sales since parking rules were loosened to allow an hour free during the day and no charge after 5 p.m. However, he added, the average company is still down around 25 percent from this time last year.

“I posed the question [of whether] people feel their sales will ever get back to normal,” Gordon said. “About half the owners said we would probably get back to past levels of sales if and only if paid parking was completely taken back. The other half said we’ll never get back to past sales, because we’ve lost many of our clients forever. They’ve sworn off the Town Center and changed their buying patterns.”

He said the group would meet again soon to check in with each other and continue to discuss how they’ll move forward, including with the possibility of legal action against their landlord. (Boston Properties has said it is “very confident” it will prevail in any legal action, though Jackson’s won a preliminary injunction in its case to keep parking for its customers free.)

“When you’re in retail, your landlord and your shop are in a partnership. We’re supposed to work together, in concert,” Gordon said. “In this case, our landlord is definitely not working for our betterment. One very wealthy company is out to ruin 100 other companies they are supposed to be partnering with, for a quick money grab with no long-term vision.”

Personally speaking, though, Gordon said his involvement in the fight against paid parking might change a lot if and when his business on Democracy Drive closes its doors.

“If we’re not renewed, I’ll have very different feelings, as you can imagine, toward my landlord,” Gordon said. “I can’t help but saying I’ll care a whole lot less about the future of Reston Town Center.”

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Reston Association Leaders to Initiate Talks with Boston Properties About Town Center Parking

After hearing concerns from the community, including more than 9,000 signatures on a petition about the issue, leaders of Reston Association will attempt to engage Boston Properties in conversation about paid parking at Reston Town Center.

RA’s Board of Directors voted unanimously at their Thursday meeting (video) to authorize CEO Cate Fulkerson, Board President Sherri Hebert and Board Vice President David Bobzien to pursue the talks. Hebert and Bobzien said it is important for RA members to know the Board is actively working toward a solution.

“This is the first step, [and] we think it’s an important step,” said Bobzien, who participated in the meeting by phone. “I think it’s very important that we engage with [Boston Properties].”

Suzanne Zurn, the organizer of the petition and the founder of the Keep Parking Free at RTC movement, addressed the Board during the meeting and encouraged them to take action.

“Your neighbors, your constituents, responded in large numbers to the petition opposing paid parking at RTC,” she said. “I encourage you to read their comments and consider how RA could add weight to their voices in this important community issue.”

Paid parking went into effect Jan. 3 at Reston Town Center, requiring $2-per-hour payment in garages all day Monday through Friday, and $3-per-hour payment for street parking Monday through Saturday. On June 5, parking became free in garages between 5 p.m. and 3:30 a.m., and one hour of free parking is also offered during the day.

Many merchants at RTC validate garage parking for customers, but which of the five garages is validated varies by business. Parking at the Town Center while paid parking is in effect requires the use of the ParkRTC app, though the Town Center announced earlier this week that parking sessions can be started without the app using newly updated kiosks. Parking in the Orange Garage at the Town Center is free for Jackson’s customers, without use of the app or any other method, thanks to an injunction in a lawsuit the business has against Boston Properties.

Zurn said all of the information one must know before visiting the Town Center and parking has only complicated matters and continues to keep potential customers away.

“I don’t know of any paid parking situations in our region that are this complicated,” she said to the Board. “Do you?”

Reston Town Center is not in the jurisdiction of Reston Association. However, Director Victoria White (Hunters Woods/Dogwood District) asked if the parking situation has resulted in disruption to surrounding streets. Zurn said it has, as workers constructing The Signature building at RTC have been seen parking on New Dominion Parkway, Temporary Road and North Shore Drive.

Paul Steidler, who also addressed the Board about the issue, said the Reston Town Center paid parking outrage is hurting the character and direction of the community.

“Are we going to become an area that’s an elitist, gated community with all the decadence that brings?” Steidler said. “Or are we going to go back to our core values of being inclusive of all, of having a place we can all come and go more freely and enjoy what Reston has to offer?”

Hebert said she is hopeful she and the other RA leaders can have productive conversations with Boston Properties and help them understand the community’s plight.

“We feel like we owe that to the folks that live in the Reston Association, to speak on your behalf to them,” she said.

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