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by RestonNow.com — March 24, 2017 at 4:00 pm 0

Morning Notes Oct/NovIt’s the first weekend of spring and the weather forecast is looking fantastic. Here are some ideas for how you can get out and enjoy yourself.

  • Reston Association has an “open house” event slated for Sunday from 2-4 p.m. at The Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Ave.). Members are invited to come find out more about what RA has to offer.
  • Islamic Relief USA’s “Skate for Syria” is tonight from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at SkateQuest (1800 Michael Faraday Court). Tickets are available online for $12; they will be $15 at the door. Proceeds from the fundraiser support Syrian Humanitarian Aid.
  • Reston Town Center is hosting “Family Fun Saturdays” throughout March to benefit Opportunity Neighborhood: Reston. This week’s schedule features mini train rides, caricature and balloon artists, free “sweet treats” and more. The event will go from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.
  • Other events at Reston Town Center this weekend include an art workshop at Greater Reston Arts Center, a cooking class at Il Fornaio, cupcake-making demonstrations at Williams-Sonoma and live music at World of Beer.
  • ArtSpace Herndon (750 Center St.) will host its Best of FAVS showcase from 7-9:30 p.m. tonight. The event showcases several films from George Mason University’s Film and Video Studies program. There will be a question-and-answer session with the filmmakers as well. Tickets are $20.
  • There will be a community rummage sale Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Berthold Academy (11480 Sunset Hills Road). Proceeds from the event will go toward class trips for students.
  • Reston Community Players’ will put on “Rock of Ages” tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m., as well as Sunday at 2 p.m. at CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road). Tickets for each performance of the show, which will run through April 1, are $25.
  • Scrawl Books (11862 Market St.) will host storytime with author Anne Marie Stephens on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to noon.
  • The Diva Central prom dress giveaway will be Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. at the Lake Anne location (1609A Washington Plaza N.) of Reston Community Center. The giveaway is open to any current middle school and high school student who is in need of a formal dress, shoes, jewelry and other accessories.
  • An all-ages nature workshop involving spring bulb containers will happen at Walker Nature Center (11450 Glade Drive) from 2-3 p.m. Sunday. Cost is $7 for RA members and $9 for non-members.
  • The Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Greater Washington will present its Suite Serenade at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at United Christian Parish (11508 North Shore Drive).
  • There will be a free Montessori music class and information session at Herndon Community Center (814 Ferndale Ave.) from 6-8 p.m. Sunday. Parents are invited to learn about Little Oaks Montessori Academy.
  • Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive) will have its YA Book Club on Sunday at 2 p.m.
  • Kalypso’s (1617 Washington Plaza N.) will have live music tonight, 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., from Throwing Plates. DJ Kram will play Top 40 hits Saturday night.

by Dave Emke — March 23, 2017 at 11:00 am 47 Comments

ParkRTC sign in Reston Town Center

(Updated 11:35 a.m. with more information from lawsuit and link to view document; updated 4:30 p.m. with statement on behalf of Boston Properties)

The first lawsuit regarding Boston Properties’ paid parking system at Reston Town Center has been filed.

In a press release Thursday morning, Jackson’s Mighty Fine Food and Lucky Lounge (11927 Democracy Drive) announced the suit, which includes a motion for a temporary injunction over the “cumbersome paid parking system [Boston Properties] implemented in January 2017.”

Representatives of Town Center businesses have been meeting among themselves to discuss their options since paid parking began, and the threat of potential legal action was first made public in early February.

The suit by Jackson’s (view) was filed Wednesday afternoon in the Circuit Court of Fairfax County. In addition to the injunction, the restaurant seeks “an award of damages of $500,000 or other specific amount to be established at trial.”

According to the lawsuit, Jackson’s says it negotiated lease terms preventing Boston Properties from implementing parking controls that “unduly impede” guests and requiring Boston Properties to assure that any paid parking system must allow Jackson’s to validate parking — at no expense to the restaurant — for guests and employees. The lawsuit claims the validation system imposed by BXP violates the restaurant’s lease rights and the requirements it sought.

“Our team has been inundated with complaints from guests who tell us that the process to use the validation system is cumbersome and confusing,” said Orson Williams, managing partner at Jackson’s, in the announcement. “On top of that, Boston Properties’ parking attendants often give incorrect and misleading instructions when our guests seek help in getting unlimited free parking.”

Jackson’s, operated by Great American Restaurants, opened in the Town Center in 2008.

Restaurants and other businesses within the Town Center have claimed major decreases in business since the paid parking system went into place. An organized protest that took place earlier this month saw hundreds of participants from throughout the community.

Boston Properties has said the impact of paid parking on Town Center business has been “far less” than claimed.

“We did not want to have to sue and we tried to work with Boston Properties to address our concerns and our rights under the lease to give our customers free and hassle-free parking, both before and after Boston Properties implemented this parking system. But they were uncompromising and appeared disinterested in working with us to provide our guests a better experience at Reston Town Center,” said Jon Norton, CEO of Great American Restaurants, in the announcement. “It appears to us that they are focused on maximizing revenue instead of honoring the spirit and terms of our lease, and seem unconcerned with the impact their system has had on the Town Center. It is disappointing that they have spent so much time bolstering a PR campaign rather than working with us to fulfill their lease obligations.”

Spokesperson Kathy Walsh of the Fallston Group, speaking on behalf of Boston Properties, said it “would be inappropriate to discuss pending litigation, particularly as there is a confidentiality provision that prevents either party from discussing many of the lease terms.”

by Dave Emke — March 22, 2017 at 9:00 am 16 Comments

Morning Notes - Winter

More Attention for Town Center Parking Debate — Reston Town Center merchant Aaron Gordon was on The Kojo Nnamdi Show on D.C. radio station WAMU on Tuesday speaking about paid parking at the Town Center. Supervisor Cathy Hudgins was also on the show to give her thoughts. [WAMU/player.fm]

Whole Foods Purchases to Benefit Fairfax County Charity — Five percent of purchases today at Northern Virginia locations of Whole Foods — including in Reston at 11660 Plaza America Drive —  will benefit Firefighters and Friends to the Rescue, which partners with Fairfax County Fire and Rescue to provide coats, books, toys and needed supplies to families. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

Elected Officials to Discuss Economic Growth in Area — Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and delegates Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax/Loudoun) and Kathleen Murphy (D-Fairfax/Loudoun) will be among the speakers at a forum on economic drivers and opportunities March 30 in Herndon. [Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce]

County Officials Worry About Effects of Immigration Fear — At Tuesday’s meeting of Fairfax County’s Public Safety Committee, officials discussed concerns that members of the immigrant community will become afraid to report crime, ask for help or provide police information. They say that distrust may jeopardize overall safety in the county. [WTOP]

by Dave Emke — March 20, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Fun in Fairfax - Instagram - Mar. 19

Reminder: RA Board Special Meeting Tonight  The special meeting of the Reston Association Board of Directors originally scheduled for March 14 will be held tonight at 6:30 p.m. at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the findings in StoneTurn Group’s review of Reston Association’s purchase of the Tetra/Lake House property and the subsequent overruns in the cost of its renovation. [Reston Association]

New Town Center Restaurant Seeks Employees — Hen Penny is the newest restaurant by Pheast Food Group, a subsidiary of Thompson Hospitality. Management says it is planning to open March 30 at 1820 Discovery St., the former home of Pheast’s BRB. The business is looking to hire cashiers, delivery drivers, cooks and more. [Pheast Food Group]

St. Johns Wood Redevelopment Again on Agenda — The Reston Planning & Zoning Committee will have an informational meeting March 27 at 7:30 p.m. on Bozzuto’s planned redevelopment of St. Johns Wood. [Reston Planning & Zoning Committee]

SLHS Grad’s Team Falls in NCAA Tournament — Princess Aghayere, South Lakes High School Class of 2015, played 12 minutes for the University of Pennsylvania Quakers in their NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament first-round game Saturday against Texas A&M. Penn led by 21 points early in the fourth quarter; however, Texas A&M staged the biggest comeback in women’s tournament history and came out victorious, 63-61. Aghayere scored 2 points and recorded 2 rebounds. [Penn Athletics]

Students Named to All-State Band, Orchestra — The All-Virginia High School Band and Orchestra will both perform April 8 in Manassas. Among the performers will be 77 students from Fairfax County, including several local students. On the All-State Band are Catie George and Mason Moy (South Lakes High School); and Nathan Coughlin, Noah McKee and Emma Rood (Herndon High School). Members of the All-State Orchestra include Herndon High’s James Adams and Ethan Morad. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Photo via @FunInFairfax on Instagram

by RestonNow.com — March 17, 2017 at 5:00 pm 8 Comments

Northern Virginia Restaurant WeekThe Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and other regional chambers are sponsoring the fifth annual Northern Virginia Restaurant Week, Monday through March 27.

Northern Virginia Restaurant Week is designed to offer the opportunity for people to enjoy dining at a number of participating restaurants at reduced prices. Restaurants participating in the event offer selections from their menu at special prices.

Restaurants in Fairfax, Loudoun, Arlington and Prince William counties are all participating. In Reston, participating eateries include:

  • American Tap Room (1811 Library St.)
  • Carrabba’s Italian Grill (12192 Sunset Hills Road)
  • Il Fornaio (11990 Market St.)
  • M&S Grill (11901 Democracy Drive)
  • McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood & Steaks (11920 Democracy Drive)
  • Mon Ami Gabi (11950 Democracy Drive)
  • Morton’s The Steakhouse (11956 Market St.)
  • Not Your Average Joe’s (1845 Fountain Drive)
  • Red’s Table (11150 South Lakes Drive)
  • Tavern64 (1800 Presidents St.)
  • The Melting Pot (11730 Plaza America Drive)
  • Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro (11750 Sunrise Valley Drive)
  • World of Beer (1888 Explorer St.)

To see special menus being offered as part of Restaurant Week, as well as a full list of participating businesses, visit the event’s website.

by RestonNow.com — March 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm 0

Reston Parkway underpass on W&OD TrailIt’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend and a lot of people will be out celebrating. Safety officials are reminding residents to party responsibly and to be sure to have a safe ride home.

As part of the effort to keep everyone safe, the Washington Regional Alcohol Program is offering revelers free rides (up to a $20 value) through its SoberRide campaign. The program is open to everyone throughout the Washington region through 4 a.m. Saturday.

To get the free ride, use the Lyft app and enter the promo code SOBERRIDE.

Partying or not, though, there will be plenty of things to do in the Reston area this weekend. Here are just some of the options available.

  • The Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road) will host its annual spring flea market Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. The free event is available to residents of all ages. For more information, call 703-476-4500.
  • The fourth annual Maker Faire NoVa is Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at South Lakes High School and Langston Hughes Middle School. Tickets at the door will be $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens and $5 for children. Family packs of five tickets will be $40.
  • Teen job fairs and resume-building workshops will be offered Saturday by Fairfax County at Chantilly High School (4201 Stringfellow Road) from 10 a.m. to noon, and at Oakton High School (2900 Sutton Road, Vienna) from 1-3 p.m.
  • Reston Town Center is hosting “Family Fun Saturdays” throughout March to benefit Opportunity Neighborhood: Reston. This week’s schedule features horse-drawn carriage rides, free funnel cakes and a performance by the McGrath Academy of Irish Dance. The event will go from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.
  • The opening reception of Greater Reston Arts Center’s “Emerging Visions” exhibit is set for 6-8 p.m. Saturday. The show features curated works of art created by Fairfax County students from South Lakes, Herndon and Oakton high schools, and it will be on display through April 1.
  • The Social Justice & Peace Conference will be Saturday from 12:30-6 p.m. at United Christian Parish (11508 North Shore Drive). The free event will include workshops on how people from different religious backgrounds can support immigrants, the trans community, environmental justice and more.
  • A bird walk at Sunrise Valley Wetlands and Polo Fields will be offered from 7:30-10:30 a.m. Sunday. Check out Reston Association’s WebTrac for more information.
  • Reston Community Players’ will put on “Rock of Ages” tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m., as well as Sunday at 2 p.m. at CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road). Use the password “St. Paddy’s” when purchasing tickets for tonight’s show by phone or in person to get them for $10. Regular tickets for each performance of the show, which will run through April 1, are $25.
  • A Kennedy Center Production of “From the Mouths of Monsters” will be performed at Herndon High School (700 Bennett St.) tonight at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students and children.
  • Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive) will be visited by Frying Pan Farm Park on Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon, featuring animal education, stories and crafts. For adults, the lecture series on World War I will continue at 2 p.m. Sunday.
  • Kalypso’s (1617 Washington Plaza N.) will have live music tonight for St. Patrick’s Day, with Mark Scott from 4-8 p.m. followed by Sam Gunderson from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
  • ArtSpace Herndon (750 Center St.) will have the opening reception for its exhibit “There’s No Place Like Home,” by members of the Great Falls Studios, from 3-5 p.m. Sunday. The show will be on display through April 8.
  • The Reston Town Center Singles Meetup group has an event scheduled for tonight at Ned Devine’s Irish Bar & Restaurant (2465 Centreville Road, Herndon). Shake 3X will perform at the restaurant from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

by Dave Emke — March 13, 2017 at 9:00 am 4 Comments

Morning Notes

More Speak Out Against Paid Parking — The owner of Obi Sushi says sales are down about a third since Boston Properties initiated paid parking at Reston Town Center. Meanwhile, the president of the Reston Citizens Association says it’s just one more sore spot to a community battling an increasing cost of living. [Washington Post]

Retired Detective’s Story Gains AttentionAs we reported, retired Fairfax County Police Department detective Bruce Wiley took care of a 17-year-old intruder at his Beaver Circle home last week using no more than a flashlight and a baton. Since, he has shared further details about the incident with Washington television stations. “I was lucky that he didn’t have a gun,” he told one. [Fox 5 DC/WJLA]

Nominations Still Open for Reston Volunteer Awards — Candidates for Reston Association’s Volunteer Service Awards can still be nominated until Friday. The awards recognize individuals, families, groups and businesses that make a significant contribution to the community through volunteer service. [Reston Association]

SLHS Baseball Star Continues His Success — Jared Abelson, a 2015 South Lakes High School graduate, picked up two hits for Macalester College in a game over the weekend against Marian University in the Tucson Invitational. The sophomore is batting .478 through six games this season. [Macalester College Athletics]

by RestonNow.com — March 10, 2017 at 4:00 pm 0

Fairfax County Park Authority trail markerLooking for something to do this weekend? Here is a sampling of what’s available in Reston and Herndon:

  • Reston Community Players’ opening performance of “Rock of Ages” is tonight at 8 p.m. at CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road). They will also take the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets for each performance of the show, which will run through April 1, are $25.
  • The ice skating pavilion at Reston Town Center will have its final day of the season Sunday.
  • Reston Town Center is hosting “Family Fun Saturdays” throughout March to benefit Opportunity Neighborhood: Reston. This week, there will be dog adoptions with Lucky Dog Animal Rescue from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; a fire truck and police car “see inside” event from 1-3 p.m.; a balloon artist from 1-4 p.m.; live music from 2-4 p.m.; and “free sweet treats” beginning at 1 p.m., while supplies last.
  • Potomac River Running (11911 Democracy Drive) will present its Lucky Leprechaun 5K, set to begin at 8:30 a.m. Sunday. The event will also include a kids’ fun run, and there will be a post-race celebration at World of Beer (1888 Explorer St.)
  • Other events at Reston Town Center this weekend include Girl Scout cookie sales, an Easter cookie class for junior chefs at Williams-Sonoma, wine tasting at Il Fornaio and live music at World of Beer.
  • The reception for Joan Kelly’s “New Directions” at Reston Art Studio and Galleries (11400 Washington Plaza W.) will be from 2-4 p.m. Sunday. Works are primarily acrylic paintings on paper.
  • The documentary film “Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age” will be shown Sunday at 3 p.m. at CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road). Admission is free.
  • Mentalist and magician Derek Jasper will present “Epiphany” at NextStop Theatre Company (269 Sunset Park Drive) tonight at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; tickets for the two-hour show are $25.
  • Students at South Lakes High School (11400 South Lakes Drive) will present their annual student showcase at 7 p.m. tonight. Tickets are $5.
  • ArtSpace Herndon (750 Center St.) will offer Cornucopia of Inspirations — HOPE, an afternoon of upcycling discarded treasures, from 2-4 p.m. Saturday. The event is for students in grades 1-5. Admission is $25.
  • Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive) will present a lecture on the evolution of the Loudoun/Fairfax county line from 2-3:30 p.m. Saturday. Local historian Jim Lewis will tell the story. The lecture series on World War I will continue Sunday at 2 p.m. as well. For kids, there will be a showing of Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” at 11 a.m. Saturday and a young-adult writing workshop Saturday at noon.
  • The Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston (1625 Wiehle Ave.) will be host to a discussion of LGBT issues at 11:30 a.m. Sunday. The Rev. Dr. Debra Haffner, sexologist and author, will be the speaker.
  • Kalypso’s (1617 Washington Plaza N.) will have live music from The Jones from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. tonight. DJ Kram will play the hits Saturday night.
  • Congregation Beth Emeth (12523 Lawyers Road, Herndon) will offer “Purim Palooza!” from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. A moon bounce, crafts, food, carnival games and more are planned.
  • A special nonprofit art exhibition, part of a partnership between International Association for Self-Proclaimed Artists and Writers (IASPAW) and Building Futures Thailand, will be presented Sunday from 1-5 p.m. at The Avant at Reston Town Center (12025 Town Square St.).

by RestonNow.com — March 10, 2017 at 12:30 pm 65 Comments

Park Free RTC protestThe following open letter by Aaron Gordon of the Reston Merchants Association is offered in response to the open letter penned by Boston Properties that appeared on Reston Now on March 3.

Dear Fellow Community Members,

Reston is a unique place. Besides living, working and playing here, we are a close-knit group, brought together by the desire to know each other and to be part of a distinct community. Boston Properties’ implementation of a paid parking system is tearing the fabric of who we are, how we choose to live and what we do within Reston.

For 26 years, we have enjoyed the ability to park in Reston Town Center, meet friends or be alone, go to work, walk around, shop (or not), dine and take advantage of the entertainment opportunities. The Town Center has been a formal and informal gathering place, a place that often costs nothing to use, but provides much enjoyment.

Sadly, Boston Properties’ decision to install paid parking has turned a once vibrant community into just another mall.

Boston Properties has given many excuses over the past year for its decision to institute paid parking. Excuses like parking convenience and combatting Metro commuters. Don’t let them fool you … the truth is there is only one reason to charge for parking — profit.

Ray Ritchie, Executive Vice President of Boston Properties, set out his case back in 2011, when in a shareholders call, he laid out just how much money the company would make by charging us for parking. Ritchie outlined that the paid parking plan would make Boston Properties $8 million per year and would be worth $130 million of additional value to the company.

On March 3, 2017, Boston Properties, in an open letter to the community published in Reston Now, stated that their three primary goals for activating paid parking include protecting parking rights for the RTC tenants and visitors, enhancing the parking experience of tenants, visitors and patron and augmenting revenues dedicated to reinvestment in the Reston community.

In the same letter, Boston Properties listed a series of reasons attempting to validate their paid parking program. We find many of these justifications to be inaccurate and offensive and underscores Boston Properties’ overreach.

Paid parking will help manage unwarranted commuter parking.
Commuter parking was never the issue. It is easily solvable by instituting 3-4 hours free parking and charging commuters. Also, Boston Properties lumps overnight and out-of-town parking into this category. This is different from commuter parking. Boston Properties’ paid parking plan is an overreach designed to add revenue for the company.

Boston Properties is committed to assisting retailers during this period.
There is not “regular communication” and “open and honest dialogue.” Rather, Boston Properties gives the same automated answer to everyone, which is to say that it will take months to analyze the situation and right now it is too early to formulate any conclusions.

Paid parking is not having the adverse impact that has been reported.
Why would merchants be so upset if their numbers were not down dramatically?

Boston Properties’ statement is not accurate. Of course paid parking and the onerous parking system has had, and is having, an adverse effect. Most of the retailers have indicated that paid parking has been a disaster for business and projected sales are down dramatically. We are losing long-time customers who may never return. If this continues, many merchants have indicated that they will not be in business long.

Each retailer chooses whether or where to validate parking.
We find it galling that Boston Properties is actually attempting to muddy the waters and place the parking fiasco on the merchants of Town Center!

Boston Properties, which already charges some of the highest rent in the area, now wants its merchants to pay them for validation as well. Validation is extremely costly for every merchant and not workable for stores whose standard items are low value like coffee, baked goods or ice cream. Many merchants simply don’t make enough revenue to pay additional fees for parking. Additionally, it is absurd to expect guests and shoppers to have to figure out which retailer participates in the validation program and where, if the store participates, they may park.

No retailers have closed as a result of paid parking.
Two stores, Origins and BGR Burger, have recently closed and one said that the new paid parking was the “nail in the coffin.” At least one other store has indicated that it will leave when its lease is up in a year. And, new merchants are already shying away from RTC due to the disastrous impact of paid parking.

Boston Properties has already made a number of changes based on customer feedback, including offering: free parking in garages on weekends, holidays and special event days; doubling the number of parking ambassadors, primarily at night to assist retail shoppers; installing additional onsite educational signage; adding a list of validating retailers to the ParkRTC app; regularly updating FAQs on the website.
There is much confusion about this. As it turns out, free parking does not include street parking. It was also not free on MLK Day. And “special event” means any day that Boston Properties deems special, usually an event they are running to benefit their brand.

The “parking ambassadors” are unfriendly and not helpful, and seem to be on hand mostly to warn you that you must pay. They are not knowledgeable about the system and generally can’t help guests figure it out.

Educational signage? The signage is not succinct and/or user-friendly. One customer — an astronaut! — was having trouble figuring it all out in a timely fashion, and complained to the proprietor of the store she was in.

Stop adding things to the app. Treat all retailers the same. Give everyone the same advantage in attracting shoppers. We want everyone to succeed.

As for updating the app, you can update it every day and people still won’t care. People want free and safe parking.

The ParkRTC app is secure to use, and most daily parkers are paying using the app.
The app gets a terrible 1 1/2 stars out of 5 on its reviews from the app store. Users say they don’t trust it, and many wonder why Boston Properties needs all this information about RTC patrons.

Boston Properties remains dedicated to nonprofit fundraising.
Yes, Boston Properties scheduled its last nonprofit fundraiser to coincide with the rally residents and merchants organized against paid parking at the same time on the same day. They did everything they could to limit the protest, including restricting the group from rallying on Reston Town Center property.

Boston Properties remains committed to this paid parking model which they believe meets the objective above.
The longer this situation goes on, and with no negotiating with Boston Properties, the more people will go elsewhere, the harder it will be to bring them back and the community as a whole will become less desirable.

Boston Properties will continue to support our community’s strategic plan.
If the plan is to destroy Reston Town Center, this is the path to take. If the plan is beyond making more revenue, providing conveniences, services, and a gathering place for people to live, work and play, Boston Properties must reconsider the parking program they have implemented.

Aaron Gordon
Reston Merchants Association
[email protected]
www.gofundme.com/reston-merchants-for-free-parking
www.facebook.com/restonunited/
www.facebook.com/RTCparkingfee/
twitter.com/hashtag/ParkFreeRTC?src=hash

by Dave Emke — March 6, 2017 at 10:15 am 52 Comments

Hundreds of displeased residents braved chilly temperatures Saturday to participate in a march to protest paid parking at Reston Town Center.

“We believe it’s a huge success, despite the cold weather,” organizer Guarang Shah said. “Final numbers are 450-plus.”

Reston Town Center patrons and business owners have been making their displeasure known since RTC owners Boston Properties announced last year their plan to institute paid parking. The initiative went into effect Jan. 3, after which businesses have said their customer base has dwindled.

The throng of protesters began their afternoon march in the parking lot of Winwood Children’s Center on New Dominion Parkway. Aaron Gordon, owner of Red Velvet Cupcakery at RTC, stood among the protesters in the parking lot and said the support shown by local residents means a lot to merchants affected by the decision by RTC owners Boston Properties.

“It feels like we’re not the only ones in this battle; it feels like everyone has the same anger,” Gordon said. “We’ve been making the argument that we’re down in sales and customers are no longer coming, and this proves our point.”

The protesters were not given permission by Boston Properties to march within Reston Town Center; however, the marchers’ path did cut through — under the close eye of security — as they worked their way back to New Dominion Parkway. After looping around Not Your Average Joe’s, the protesters lined up along the parkway and were greeted by a large amount of honked support from passing motorists.

Marchers were encouraged to document the event on social media with the hashtag #parkfreertc.

Boston Properties has said that the paid parking initiative is “here to stay” and that the distress claimed by businesses is being overblown. Gordon, who is organizing a group of merchants considering legal action against Boston Properties, said he is hopeful that the company will eventually see business in the Town Center is down “disastrously” and will have a change of heart.

“If there are 500 people out here, that represents 50,000 people that feel the exact same way,” Gordon said. “Just as Boston Properties is saying they’re never going to take away paid parking, we’re never going to go away.”

Wendy Warren, of Herndon, was one of the former Town Center patrons who came out Saturday to support the cause. She said she and her family visited RTC two or three times a week prior to paid parking. Now, they go to the Mosaic District or One Loudoun instead.

“There are no other suburban shopping areas around here that have paid parking, or such a poorly designed app,” she said, citing concerns that have been raised by a number of people who’ve spoken out against the system’s ParkRTC app. Boston Properties insists the app is secure.

Wendy’s husband, William, said Boston Properties should consider a different approach to its paid-parking initiative.

“Three hours of free parking, so that you could come here for something like dinner,” he said. “They state they want it to guard against commuter parking, but they could easily accommodate for people who want to come use the amenities here at the Town Center.”

Shah said if Boston Properties didn’t take notice of Saturday’s protest, there will be more to come.

“If they don’t change their mind, there will be another march,” he said. “We are already planning another march that will take place in summertime.”

by RestonNow.com — March 3, 2017 at 5:00 pm 6 Comments

Reston street signLooking for something to do this weekend? Here is a sampling of what’s available in Reston:

  • As previously reported, there will be a protest of Reston Town Center paid parking from 1-4 p.m. Saturday. The group plans to march on the perimeter of the Town Center. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.
  • Reston Town Center will host “Family Fun Saturdays” throughout March to benefit Opportunity Neighborhood: Reston. This week, there will be carousel rides from noon to 5 p.m., free s’mores and hot chocolate, a performance by the Fairfax Jubil-Aires and free ice skating from 1-4 p.m.
  • Also at Reston Town Center this weekend are kids’ cooking classes at Il Fornaio and Williams-Sonoma, South Moon Under’s spring launch party, Girl Scout cookie sales and more.
  • Youth Art Month at the Greater Reston Arts Center (12001 Market St.) officially kicks off Saturday with an opening reception and Family Day from noon-4 p.m.
  • The Reston 10-Miler race is Sunday, beginning at 8 a.m. at South Lakes High School (11400 South Lakes Drive).
  • Walker Nature Center (11450 Glade Road) will host an all-ages nature program on raptor exploration Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to noon.
  • This will be the final weekend “For the Love of Color” will be on display at the Reston Community Center’s Jo Ann Rose Gallery (1609A Washington Plaza N.).
  • Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive) will host events for kids including a computer coding workshop (Saturday, 11 a.m.) and a visit from the South Lakes High School robotics club (Saturday, 1 p.m.). For adults, the lecture series on World War I continues Sunday at 2 p.m.
  • Kalypso’s (1617 Washington Plaza N.) will have music from the Josh Allen Band tonight.
  • Jeff From Accounting will play a concert Saturday at 10 p.m. at World of Beer (1888 Explorer St.)
  • New Love Animal Rescue plans an animal-adoption event Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. at Pet Valu (1422 North Point Village Center).

by RestonNow.com Sponsor — March 3, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

The following was written and sponsored by Boston Properties.

Dear Reston:

We are truly grateful to all the Reston Town Center (RTC) residents, visitors, retailers and businesses who have placed their trust and confidence in this wonderful property for several decades. We have shared many special moments with this community and very much want that tradition to continue to grow for generations to come.

After years of research and planning, RTC activated paid parking in January with three primary goals:

  1. Protecting the parking rights of RTC tenants and visitors who patronize the Center.
  2. Enhancing the parking experience of those tenants, visitors and patrons.
  3. Augmenting the Boston Properties revenue dedicated to reinvestment in the Reston community through improved facilities for the general public, family-oriented events, best-in-class retail, innovative technologies and nonprofit donations.

As with the progression from surface parking to garage parking some years ago, we realize moving from a free to paid parking model is a big change and has caused some confusion and dissatisfaction; however, our overriding, long-term goal is to continue to bring you the amenities you expect from a world-class destination. It is in this spirit we are writing this letter to share our perspective, correct misinformation and encourage productive feedback and dialogue. We offer the following thoughts based on today’s most prevalent concerns:

Reston Town Center logoPaid parking will help manage unwarranted commuter parking. Over the course of the last three years, tens of thousands of people used RTC garages for short- and long-term commuter parking, including overnight and out-of-town stays, creating a shortage of spaces that led to frustration for tenants and visitors coming to Reston Town Center. Further, there were numerous instances of residential owners leaving their vehicles in RTC spaces. Since converting to paid parking, we are already seeing significant improvement, allowing for more RTC visitors to conveniently utilize the garages.

We are committed to assisting retailers during this transition. We are in regular communications with our retailers, and welcome open and honest dialogue in order to address the concerns that are most important to that tenant’s ongoing business operations.

Paid parking is not having the adverse impact that has been reported. When analyzing parking occupancy levels in our garages, we found January’s occupancy to be virtually identical to last November’s occupancy. Interestingly, on average, visitors have been staying longer since paid parking was activated, allowing for more time to enjoy RTC retail and amenities.

Additionally, based on the January 2016 versus January 2017 sales revenue data we have received, while sales have decreased for a few businesses, the majority of our tenants’ sales are either flat or have actually increased. It is important to emphasize this is a 30-day snapshot and not necessarily indicative of a longer-term trend. We will continue to closely analyze all revenue activity, as growth is in everyone’s best interest.

Boston Properties logoEach retailer chooses whether and where to validate parking. Each retailer and restaurateur makes its own business decisions about 1) participating in a validation program and 2) what validation terms to incorporate within their unique business model, to include validating for all or select garages.

No retailers have closed as a result of paid parking. Not a single retailer has vacated due to paid parking. In fact, numerous tenants are renewing their leases. Over the last year, 15 retailers renewed leases and four new retail leases are in progress.

We have already made a number of changes based on customer feedback, including:

  • Offering free parking in garages on weekends, holidays and special event days
  • Doubling the number of parking ambassadors, primarily at night to assist retail shoppers
  • Installing additional onsite educational signage
  • Adding a list of validating retailers to the ParkRTC app
  • Regularly updating FAQs on the RTC website

In March, we will be installing an upgraded credit card pay station with a larger screen that provides better functionality in extreme weather.

(more…)

by Dave Emke — February 28, 2017 at 4:00 pm 10 Comments

ParkRTC sign in Reston Town CenterA group planning an organized protest of Boston Properties’ paid parking initiative at Reston Town Center continues to grow.

More than 300 people have indicated on Facebook that they plan to participate in the event, while more than 800 others have shown interest. Guarang Shah, one of the group’s organizers, said he is confident there will be a strong turnout for the event. A large number of commenters on the Facebook page have shown their support for the cause and/or announced their intention to attend.

Shah said the protest won’t take place on Reston Town Center property, as Boston Properties did not grant permission for the group to do it there. The group will “march a route provided by the Fairfax County Police,” according to the Facebook page.

Elizabeth Krial, another event organizer, said she has spoken about the group’s concerns with Raymond Ritchey, Boston Properties executive vice president.

“The protest is not about an opposition to Boston Properties, the protest is to bring them to a conversation about how this parking model could be improved so it actually works for the demographic,” Krial said. “[Ritchey] definitely seemed like a part of him was open. I think it was a good positive first step. He said he is personally and professionally invested in the Town Center.”

The protest is scheduled for 1-4 p.m. Saturday.

by Dave Emke — February 24, 2017 at 4:00 pm 0

Reston Parkway underpass on W&OD Trail

Looking for something to do this weekend? Here is a sampling of what’s available in Reston:

  • At the Walker Nature Center (11450 Glade Road), children can learn about gourmet treats for birds on Saturday from 11 a.m.-noon. For the grown-ups, a “Wine and Design” painting event is slated for Saturday night, 6:30-9.
  • Events at Reston Town Center this weekend include Girl Scout cookie sales, a cooking class at Il Fornaio (11990 Market St.) and special skating events at the ice pavilion.
  • At the Reston Community Center’s Jo Ann Rose Gallery (1609A Washington Plaza N.), “For the Love of Color” remains on display.
  • At CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road), Irish musicians Lúnasa return to the stage tonight at 8. This show is sold out, but patrons are invited to the box office after 7 p.m. to get on the waiting list.
  • Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive) will host events for kids including a “Minute to Win It” game show event (Saturday, 11 a.m.), chess club (Saturday, 2:30 p.m.) and YA book club (Sunday, 2:30 p.m.). For adults, cinema classic “Il Postino” will be shown Saturday (2 p.m.) and the lecture series on World War I continues Sunday (2 p.m.).
  • Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road) will have the reception for its February art exhibit, “From the Heart,” on Saturday from noon-1 p.m.
  • Kalypso’s (1617 Washington Plaza N.) will have music from the Holly Montgomery Band tonight and DJ Kram on Saturday night.
  • Spectrum will be performing tonight at World of Beer (1888 Explorer St.) beginning at 10 p.m.
  • Dewey Animals is planning an animal adoption event at Pet Valu (11160 South Lakes Drive) Saturday from 1-3 pm.

by RestonNow.com — February 22, 2017 at 10:15 am 13 Comments

J.McLaughlin store at Reston Town Center

Reston Town Center announced Tuesday that clothing store J.McLaughlin will open on Market Street later this year.

According to a press release:

J.McLaughlin, a classic American clothing and accessories brand for women and men, is expanding its retail fleet to RTC with a new location slated to open later this year.

The 1,113 square foot store will feature all of the elements that classify the trademark J.McLaughlin aesthetic, an inviting feeling with distinctive details, furnishings and décor. In keeping with the colorful palette and cheeky details of the brand, the interior of this store is decorated with marine shades of green and blue complemented by bamboo-inspired furnishings.

The Reston Town Center location marks J.McLaughlin’s fifth location in Virginia and the 177th store to open nationwide. Originally founded by two brothers, Kevin and Jay McLaughlin, in 1977, the retailer believes in “being a good neighbor” and approaches business as a welcome and active community member.

The shop will be located at 11932 Market St., the former location of Origins, which closed in January. As we previously reported, signs advertising the new clothing store were posted by Feb. 1.

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