Lawsuit Filed in Reston Town Center Parking Battle

Lawsuit Filed in Reston Town Center Parking Battle

— A restaurant in Reston Town Center filed a lawsuit against Boston Properties on Thursday, March 23, over the paid parking system that was implemented in January, which has been met with resistance from merchants and shoppers.

Jackson’s Mighty Fine Food & Lucky Lounge on Democracy Drive filed the lawsuit, including a motion for a temporary injunction against its town center landlord, South of Market LLC, which is controlled and operated by Boston Properties.

Filed in Fairfax County Circuit Court, Jackson’s seeks 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 lawsuit alleges the town center’s parking validation system violates Jackson’s lease rights and the requirements for its guests to receive free parking.

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

THE PAID PARKING system requires all parkers to pay by providing their license plate number and credit card information by either using a mobile app called Park RTC, accessing the Park RTC website or by dialing a phone number. For those parking in the center’s garages, utilizing a kiosk to pay by credit card or cash is also available.

More steps are required when people receive validation for their parking, which participating merchants dole out via numeric codes that patrons must then enter into the mobile app or the kiosk that correlates with specific, color-coded parking garages that merchants are assigned.

If shoppers park in the incorrect garage, they are out of luck.

“Many parking users have complained that the system is not user-friendly, requires payment upfront and signage in the garage is confusing,” Williams said.

The lawsuit is the latest move in a merchant- and community-lead resistance to the town center’s paid parking system since it was implemented on Jan. 3.

In February, disgruntled merchants who claimed their businesses are now suffering significant profit losses organized into the Reston Merchants Association and hired the Fay Law Group to look into taking legal action.

Earlier in March, hundreds of people walked in a “Park Free RTC” protest march demanding Boston Properties reduce hourly parking rates or give patrons the first hour or two free.

“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,” Jon Norton, CEO of Great American Restaurants, which owns Jackson’s, said in a press release. “But they were uncompromising and appeared disinterested in working with us to provide our guests a better experience at Reston Town Center.”

While the restaurant chose to forgo teaming up with the coalition of merchants who are threatening legal action under their association umbrella, it feels it has its own unique legal claim.

“Jackson’s lawsuit is based on their own lease and contractual terms,” Christy Moran, a Jackson’s spokesperson, said over email. “Each restaurant negotiates their own lease. Great American Restaurants/Jackson’s is not aware of the terms of other leases.”

MORE LITIGATION is still to come if merchants continue to feel their requests are ignored.

“We're very much behind Jackson's,” Aaron Gordon of Gordon Food Group and the proprietor of the Red Velvet Cupcakery in the town center, said over email. “Don't be surprised if others, including the Merchant's Association, follow up with lawsuits of our own.”

Boston Properties was unwilling to comment on the litigation.

“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,” Kathy Walsh, a Boston Properties spokesperson, said over email.