The Fairfax County Circuit Court granted a preliminary injunction against Boston Properties subsidiary South of Market, LLC, and its Park RTC smartphone app and parking system for the Reston Town Center.
The injunction restricts Boston Properties from enforcing its pay-to-park system on guests who visit Jackson’s Mighty Fine Food & Lucky Lounge on Democracy Drive and park in the town center’s Orange Garage.
The preliminary injunction was issued on June 13 in a lawsuit that Jackson’s filed against Boston Properties in the Fairfax County Circuit Court: “Jacksons MFF RTC LLC v. BP South of Market, LLC et. al.”
The restaurant filed the lawsuit on Thursday, March 23, and is seeking to force Boston Properties to pay $500,000 in damages the restaurant suffered from the town center’s paid parking system. The lawsuit also demands the system be scrapped.
“The question presented is whether a dispute over the installation of a paid parking system between a commercial landlord and a tenant, who had been promised free parking, supports the granting of a preliminary injunction,” Judge John Tran wrote in a letter to attorneys involved in the lawsuit. “A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy. It is a temporary determination of rights before the final judgment of the merits of a case. It commands the enjoined party to either refrain from taking certain actions or to take specific actions. It is granted by a court in its sound discretion only after taking into consideration well-established equitable principles.”
As a condition to the injunction going into effect, Jackson's was required to post a $25,000 bond payable to South of Market, LLC should it lose the lawsuit, according to the preliminary injunction order.
A FINAL DETERMINATION and ruling has yet to be made by the court. The next trial date is set for February 2018, according to Katherine Kanner, a spokesperson for Jackson’s.
"We are pleased with the ruling … granting a preliminary injunction and reinforcing Jackson’s view that the current Park RTC system creates confusion and concerns for our guests,” Jon Norton, CEO of Great American Restaurants, said in a press release. “Jackson's puts its guests first and we are delighted that they will no longer be forced to use the cumbersome Park RTC app or the current pay-to-park system in the Orange Garage.”
“From the beginning, we have asked Boston Properties to uphold our lease rights and the ruling is a step in the right direction," Norton added.
The official statement from Boston Properties after the injunction was issued, according to its spokesperson, Kathy Walsh, was: “Boston Properties is reviewing the court’s opinion and considering their options.”
The paid parking system that was implemented in January has been met with resistance from both merchants and shoppers, including this lawsuit, a Change.org petition, the formation of a Merchant’s Association comprising town center proprietors against the parking system and a “Park Free RTC” march on Saturday, March 4, that attracted hundreds of people who walked around the town center’s grounds for nearly two hours in protest.
The Reston Merchant’s Association, led by Aaron Gordon of the Gordon Food Group and the owner of the Red Velvet Cupcakery in the town center, issued a press release on March 27 that said merchants have seen a precipitous drop-off in foot traffic and sales during weekdays.
“The community has spoken and they are fed up with paid parking,” Gordon said in the press release. “People don’t want to hand over their license plate number and credit card information to Boston Properties. As a result of all of this, we see that many of our best customers are boycotting RTC altogether and others have said they will never come back.”
SEVERAL RESTAURANTS AND RETAIL owners and general managers shared their latest sales data in the Merchant Association’s press release:
Red Velvet Cupcakery: March sales were down 19 percent and projected a yearly drop of 25 percent.
Big Bowl: March sales were down 26 percent and down 4,500 customers over last year.
Busara: March sales were down 18 percent.
The Counter Burger: March sales were down approximately 24 percent.
Dawn Price Baby: February sales were down 18 percent, while all other locations were up an average of 20 percent for the same month.
The Eyewear Gallery: February sales were down 29 percent.
Potomac River Running: March sales are down 37 percent, while its seven other locations sales were higher.
Edibles Incredible Desserts: February sales were down 28 percent.
Ted’s Bulletin: Sales are down significantly on the year, while other locations have even or higher sales compared to last year.
Boston Properties implemented several changes to its parking regulations on June 5, which allowed one hour of free parking for all guests who start a parking session in the town center’s garages on weekdays and free parking within the garages for all guests on weekdays after 5 p.m.
The garages are free on weekends and street parking is free on Sundays.
As Jackson’s continues to pursue its claim for a breach of its lease rights, parking will remain free at all times for Jackson’s guests in the Orange Garage.