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Ferris Bueller

Paid Parking Slowly Killing Reston Town Center?

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"End of Free Parking is the Last Straw for Some Reston Residents" by Antonio Olivo on washingtonpost.com

...and, with free weekend parking:

"Family Fun Saturdays - March 11" on restontowncenter.com

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FWIW - decided to meet friends at Mon Ami on Sunday for Brunch - excellent food and even better create-your-own Bloody Mary bar.  Restaurant was busy, but there were empty tables and you could easily sit in the bar area.  Parking was free and here was plenty of it.

When leaving, it was noticeably quiet and many of the restaurants we passed on our way to our car were not busy.  

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What worries me is what happened about twenty years ago, when people said "the last straw" was tearing down Evans Farm Inn. That was the beginning of *all* this "Tysons as the next New York" crap peddled on people by real-estate developers. The Metro to Dulles should have been underground until it got out to the toll road; now it's just a big eyesore, and always will be. I'm all for Metro going to Dulles; they simply (or, not-so-simply, because it would have been expensive as hell) needed to have run it underground until it got out past the commercial sector of Route 7 - *then*, it could have run above-ground between the toll lanes, and nobody would have cared. Tysons is an absolute disgrace, and Route 7 - between the Beltway and around Tyco Road - may be the single ugliest stretch of asphalt in the entire DC Metro area right now. I don't care how much it would have cost to have run the Metro underground to that point, but as a long-term investment, it would have been worth it. This is Virginia's Whitehurst Freeway.

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The people who run the RTC can do whatever they want - their choice. They can also watch the patrons of the stores and restaurnats and whatever also make a choice - some may stay and pay, others will say piss off and go somewhere else.

Retail is dead. It's been dead for 20 years.

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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]

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Town Center Restaurant Files Lawsuit Against Boston Properties Over Parking

by Dave Emke — March 23, 2017 at 11:00 am3 Comments

ParkRTC sign in Reston Town Center

(Edited 11:35 a.m. with more information from lawsuit and link to view document)

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.”

We have reached out to Boston Properties for comment and this article will be updated with any response that is received.

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Went over to RTC last Sunday to pick some salads at Sweet Green for lunch and the parking garage was pretty empty. Actually parked downstairs and some lights came on from the motion detectors since no one was down there. In the past, the the garage was filled with Sunday Brunch business. 

Also now going to the local 'strip malls' like Plaza America or South Lakes Shopping Center is challenging for parking. These smaller business areas seem to be picking up the slack and unfortunately were not designed to have the parking lots as full as they get these days. 

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RTC Merchants Planning Town Hall, Second Protest March in Fight Against Paid Parking

by Dave Emke — March 28, 2017 at 4:00 pm1 Comment

xrtcparkinggarage-300x200.jpg.pagespeed.

The Reston Merchants Association is not backing down in its opposition to paid parking at Reston Town Center, which it says has drastically hurt business.

In an announcement Tuesday, the group’s organizers says they plan to hold a town hall-style meeting in May to discuss the issue. Merchants, community leaders, elected officials and more will be invited to speak and take questions from citizens. RTC owner Boston Properties, which implemented the paid-parking system in January, will also be invited to participate in the event, according to the announcement.

In addition, the Merchants Association says it plans to work with community organizers to hold a march and rally in June to protest the paid-parking system. A march earlier this month, organized by citizen group Reston United, saw hundreds of participants.

parkfreertcprotest-300x200.jpg“The community has spoken and they are fed up with paid parking,” said Aaron Gordon, owner of Red Velvet Cupcakery and the head of the Merchants Association. “Not only is it expensive, but the app that people have to download to park is onerous, complicated and an invasion of their privacy. 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.”

Last week, one restaurant in the Town Center — Jackson’s Mighty Fine Food & Lucky Lounge — filed a lawsuit against Boston Properties, arguing their lease agreement was violated by the paid-parking system and that it has been an impediment to conducting business. In Tuesday’s announcement, the Reston Merchants Association says its supports the suit and “is likely to seek similar legal action for similar reasons in the following month.”

Boston Properties has so far not backed down from the system, which charges $2/hour in parking garages Monday through Friday and $3/hour for on-street parking Monday through Saturday. It has said the impact of the system on Reston Town Center business has been “far less” than claimed.

xrtcmerchantsmeeting-300x200.jpg.pagespeThe Reston Merchants Association, however, says retailers and restaurateurs have seen “sinking sales figures” and a “precipitous drop-off in foot traffic” in 2017. They say that is directly related to Boston Properties’ paid-parking initiative.

Figures reported Tuesday by the Merchants Association, which they say were provided with consent from companies’ owners or corporate officials, include:

  • Red Velvet Cupcakery reports March sales are down 19 percent. It projects a yearly drop of 25%.
  • Big Bowl reports sales down 26 percent in March. Sales were down 15 percent in February, and it is down 4,500 customers over last year.
  • Busara reports March sales are down 18 percent.
  • The Counter Burger reports March sales are down approximately 24 perent.
  • Dawn Price Baby reports February sales were down 18 percent, while its other locations were up an average of 20 percent for the same month.
  • The Eyewear Gallery reports February sales were down 29 percent.
  • Potomac River Running reports March sales are down 37 percent, while its seven other locations sales are higher.
  • Edibles Incredible Desserts reports February sales were down 28 percent.
  • Ted’s Bulletin reports sales are down significantly on the year, while other locations have even or higher sales compared to last year.

“Paid parking is simply killing business, ruining our reputation and destroying the sense of community that has always been the pride of Reston,” Gordon said. “The merchants are suffering across the board from the greedy money-grab of one company and many of us are being driven out of business.”

 

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15 hours ago, Ferris Bueller said:

Figures reported Tuesday by the Merchants Association, which they say were provided with consent from companies’ owners or corporate officials, include:

  • Red Velvet Cupcakery reports March sales are down 19 percent. It projects a yearly drop of 25%.
  • Big Bowl reports sales down 26 percent in March. Sales were down 15 percent in February, and it is down 4,500 customers over last year.
  • Busara reports March sales are down 18 percent.
  • The Counter Burger reports March sales are down approximately 24 perent.
  • Dawn Price Baby reports February sales were down 18 percent, while its other locations were up an average of 20 percent for the same month.
  • The Eyewear Gallery reports February sales were down 29 percent.
  • Potomac River Running reports March sales are down 37 percent, while its seven other locations sales are higher.
  • Edibles Incredible Desserts reports February sales were down 28 percent.
  • Ted’s Bulletin reports sales are down significantly on the year, while other locations have even or higher sales compared to last year.

“Paid parking is simply killing business, ruining our reputation and destroying the sense of community that has always been the pride of Reston,” Gordon said. “The merchants are suffering across the board from the greedy money-grab of one company and many of us are being driven out of business.”

 

Good statistics to support their complaint.

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Without any basis other than personal observation - this past weekend I went to RTC, no parking fee since it was on a Saturday and Sunday - the place was a virtual ghost town.  While i did not spend a significant amount of time there, perhaps weather-related, but the lack of street traffic and people/families walking around was very noticeable. 

The numbers quoted in the article are significant and, if nothing else, signify the vast numbers of people who are not visiting, hence spending $$ at the RTC.  Sadly the retailers and employees are the one's paying the price, for a situation they have little or no control over.

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The latest and greatest...you just cannot make this stuff up...

Boston Properties Says It Is ‘Very Confident’ It Will Prevail in Parking Legal Battles

by Dave Emke — March 29, 2017 at 4:35 pm13 Comments

BXP_Logo_Vertical-Color-RGB-300x221.jpgIn a statement sent to media Wednesday afternoon, Boston Properties responded to recent developments in the ongoing saga regarding paid parking at Reston Town Center.

The statement comes after a lawsuit filed by Jackson’s restaurant, an announcement by Reston Merchants Association of continued declining sales, and a statement from the Reston Citizens Association denouncing BXP’s apparent unwillingness to compromise. Released through public relations firm Fallston Group, Boston Properties’ statement claims:

  • There is “variability” in month-to-month performance of RTC merchants. Some have reported increases in sales in the past 90 days, some have reported flat or decreasing sales.
  • Boston Properties continues to work with retailers to provide customer support, parking validations and other assistance regarding the paid parking implementation.
  • Planned enhancements of the system include the addition of change machines to better accommodate cash customers, as well as improvements to payment kiosks.
  • Car counts represent “high adoption rates” of the paid-parking policies. More than 112,000 downloads of the ParkRTC app have been made, including 22,000 in the past week.
  • The $8 million of annual paid-parking revenue estimated by groups including the Reston Citizens Association is “outdated and inaccurate,” and true expectations are “significantly less.”
  • Boston Properties is committed to reinvesting a comparable value to its profit from paid parking back into the Town Center and the Reston community through ongoing maintenance, capital improvements, community events and charitable donations.
  • BXP is “very confident” it will prevail against all legal challenges related to paid parking.

The full text of the statement is below:

Boston Properties is prohibited by the terms of most of its leases from commenting on the specific sales results of its individual tenants. In any given year, Reston Town Center’s retail tenants see fluctuations in sales for a variety of reasons, from weather to seasonality to marketplace conditions. Additionally, monthly sales trends can vary widely among those tenants, depending on their business model, marketplace adaptation and sales tactics.  Based on the information provided to date under the terms of our leases, we have seen variability in the month to month performance of the merchants at Reston Town Center prior to the introduction of paid parking. That trend has continued over the past 90 days, with some tenants reporting sales are up and others reporting flat or decreased sales.

Boston Properties has always been committed to working with its tenants for mutual success. Since paid parking was implemented, we have worked with our retailers to provide customer support, parking validations and other assistance as the Reston Town Center complex adjusts to paid parking. (As a reminder, parking in the garages is free on weekends and select holidays, and parking remains free at all times for retail employees.) Boston Properties continues to monitor paid parking adoption and will consider all appropriate policy and technology amendments as needed to ensure the long-term success of the Town Center. For instance, upcoming planned enhancements include the addition of change machines to better accommodate cash customers and improvements to the payment kiosks.

Additionally, Boston Properties’ car count continues to reflect high adoption rates of the new parking policies by the community. The ParkRTC app has been downloaded more than 112,000 times — with 22,000+ people signing up in the last week alone — and to date, nearly 85,000 individuals have utilized the app to pay for parking. Since paid parking was rolled out in January, garage usage by non-office tenants have steadily increased, week over week.

Regarding the $8 million annual revenue number that has been repeatedly referenced, the estimated figure was from 2011 and was based on very different operating assumptions. It is both outdated and inaccurate. While Boston Properties does not report property-specific performance, revenue expectations are significantly less, as the vast majority of visitors and tenants are either validated or do not pay for parking. Further, Boston Properties is committed to reinvesting a comparable value to its profit from paid parking back into the Town Center and the Reston community through ongoing maintenance, capital improvements, community events and charitable donations.

Finally, regarding recent legal action, Boston Properties is very confident it will prevail against any and all legal challenges related to paid parking.

Much of the information provided in the statement echoes previous statements from Boston Properties regarding the paid-parking initiative.

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Thanks for the update Ferris Bueller! I had a similar experience on a recent Sunday picking up some lunch. Actually parked in the basement and it was empty. Prior to the paid parking situation going at brunch/lunchtime on a Sunday we were met with a full garage. 

I listed to the Kojo Nnamdi show episode devoted to this issue and was surprised by Cathy Hudgins passive aggressive support of paid parking in the suburbs. Makes me wonder if Boston Properties will hold out until Tysons Corner flips to paid parking. Is this the trend for the suburbs outside the beltway? Regardless, the urbanification of the suburbs appears to be on the horizon along the Silver Line corridor and business people are extremely happy with that. 

 

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You bet lion, glad to update as things develop.  I thought this a progressive topic, although starting in Reston, may be the precursor to Tysons paid parking and whatever similar objections it may bring.  Reston is not Tysons, at least not yet.  I too heard the Kojo show and it is apparent there is political influence/interference, but I am not so sure in the best interests of the constituents.  It is a shame to see the corridor transformed so drastically.  Change can be good, but the recent continued explosion in rental units/condos puts extreme stress on schools, roads, infrastructure etc.  The "build it they will come" plan seems to disregard all the components it takes to support the increased residential and retail population...

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Report: Leidos Considering Leaving Town Center for Reston Metro Plaza

by RestonNow.com — March 31, 2017 at 11:30 am0 Comments

Defense contractor Leidos is considering leaving its current headquarters in Reston Town Center (11951 Freedom Drive) for a new home, the Washington Business Journal reports.

Citing sources close to the company, the WBJ says the expansion in workforce brought about by the company’s merger with Lockheed Martin last year has it reevaluating its space needs. Leidos employees about 33,000 people worldwide, according to information it provides to investors.

According to the WBJ report, Comstock Properties’ 1900 Reston Metro Plaza is among the properties being considered as a potential new headquarters for Leidos. Still seeking an anchor tenant, the site was considered by Nestlé before that company chose Arlington for its U.S. headquarters. The Helmut Jahn-designed building, adjacent to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station, is currently in its final stages of construction.

WBJ says Boston Properties, owner of Leidos’ current home, has proposed new headquarters space for the firm as well.

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On 3/29/2017 at 8:13 PM, Ferris Bueller said:

There is “variability” in month-to-month performance of RTC merchants. Some have reported increases in sales in the past 90 days, some have reported flat or decreasing sales.

The Merchant Association's stats are year over year, not month over month. No shit that there's month to month variability.

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On 3/30/2017 at 8:36 AM, Ferris Bueller said:

You bet lion, glad to update as things develop.  I thought this a progressive topic, although starting in Reston, may be the precursor to Tysons paid parking and whatever similar objections it may bring.  Reston is not Tysons, at least not yet.  I too heard the Kojo show and it is apparent there is political influence/interference, but I am not so sure in the best interests of the constituents.  It is a shame to see the corridor transformed so drastically.  Change can be good, but the recent continued explosion in rental units/condos puts extreme stress on schools, roads, infrastructure etc.  The "build it they will come" plan seems to disregard all the components it takes to support the increased residential and retail population...

It reminds me of the issue with the Reston Golf Course being sold to developers. How can the infrastructure of Reston support the increase number of people living here? Additionally, all of the home owners who bought property on the golf course for that exact reason will be forced to deal with substantial change.  

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It appears from a recent announcement that IceBerry is now closing on April 30th after 10 years at Reston Town Center.  Nice little shop on the main street - obviously a saturated market being the frozen yogurt variety, but they did what they did well.  

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Tl;dr

I thought it unfortunate that, while I only wanted to grab a quick lunch at Potbelly, I had to pay for parking to do so, and also that I had to pay for a full hour ($2) and didn't have the option of a shorter time period. 

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1 hour ago, Dr. Delicious said:

Tl;dr

I thought it unfortunate that, while I only wanted to grab a quick lunch at Potbelly, I had to pay for parking to do so, and also that I had to pay for a full hour ($2) and didn't have the option of a shorter time period. 

A few weeks ago I watched a guy illegally park on Freedom Drive, run in to Potbelly and place his order, run back outside and sit in his car, then run back inside when his order was ready.  I assume this was to avoid the $2.00 parking fee you mentioned.  It was off-hours so there was not much of a line.  I am not sure this strategy would be as effective if tried during a lunch rush.  Maybe if they had an app where you could order ahead and pay like Starbucks has it would work.

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...but wait there's more.  

Boston Properties CEO: We Want to ‘Ensure That Reston Remains a Preeminent Location’

 

by Dave Emke — April 26, 2017 at 12:30 pm10 Comments

rtcparking1417-300x200.jpgIn response to a question during the company’s quarterly earnings conference call Wednesday, Boston Properties CEO Owen Thomas said the paid-parking situation at Reston Town Center will continue to be evaluated.

Thomas was asked about “an interesting article” about the situation and tenants’ concerns about business being down. In response, the CEO said:

“We did implement paid parking at Reston Town Center at the beginning of the year. As you know, Reston is an urban location, it has structure parking primarily, and there is going to be the arrival of mass transit to the region. It’s certainly not uncommon for areas with this kind of density to have paid parking. We are utilizing a state-of-the-art parking systemthat is being used in cities all over the U.S., and actually the use of these systems is growing around the U.S. In Reston specifically, the system has been adopted by 140,000 users so far. Now that being said, as you suggest, certainly not all of our customers — some, but certainly not all of our customers — have expressed some concerns about the system or simply having to pay for parking, and we are continuing to evaluate our execution and make adjustments to ensure that Reston remains a preeminent location for business and residents in Northern Virginia.”

Merchants in the Town Center have reported business to be down as much as 40 percent since paid parking went into effect Jan. 3, and an organized protest of the system in March drew hundreds of participants. Jackson’s restaurant has filed a lawsuit over the implementation, and other businesses have threatened the same; however, Boston Properties says it is confident it will prevail in any legal battles.

 

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I haven't been to RTO since paid parking started.  Just ate at Not your Average Joes.  Food is average but parking was easy.  Cava which is opening in same shopiing center should clean up though I feel they are still average.

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Apparently the Urban designation is being used to justify the instigation of paid parking.  The place is dead during the week, even in the early nighttime, typically, happy-hour prime-time.  It appears the lack of patronage at RTC now is having a positive impact on the nearby businesses but best I can tell no real #'s have been provided on the positive impact, just observations and speculation.

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On 4/27/2017 at 6:54 PM, Ferris Bueller said:

Apparently the Urban designation is being used to justify the instigation of paid parking.  The place is dead during the week, even in the early nighttime, typically, happy-hour prime-time.  It appears the lack of patronage at RTC now is having a positive impact on the nearby businesses but best I can tell no real #'s have been provided on the positive impact, just observations and speculation.

Nearby areas like South Lakes shopping center have full parking lots a majority of time.

It is interesting to me that Willard's moved into the Home Depot shopping area which on a recent visit even an hour before lunch time was filled with people.

Also Kung Fu Tea opened up in Hunter Woods Shopping Center. Already have gone three times. They were doing good business. Frankly, it doesn't make any sense for Boston Properties to not have a business like Kung Fu Tea at the RTC because it would add value. I'm sure Kung Fu Tea got a good deal in rent since Petco left that location. 

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We also have not returned to RTC since the parking charge was instituted.  Our weekly lunch & dinner visits are kaput - nice knowing ya Mon Ami Gabi, Passionfish, Clydes, Barcelona, Il fornaio, Pitango, Ted's.  Sad to say, the lack of patronage may knock sense into the property firm that imposed the charge but so many have driven away...we may never return even if the charge is rescinded.  

Plenty of terrific options elsewhere in NoVa w/out the aggro.

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Construction Workers Avoiding Reston Town Center Garages, Clogging Up Streets, Locals Say

Boston Properties didn't deny that RTC workers are denied use of the garages, but said they aren't aware of any issues.

 
By Dan Taylor (Patch Staff) - May 11, 2017 12:09 pm ET 

Construction Workers Avoiding Reston Town Center Garages, Clogging Up Streets, Locals Say
 
 

RESTON, VA — Construction workers at Reston Town Center are avoiding the paid parking garages and parking along streets nearby, irritating residents and businesses alike, locals are claiming. But RTC manager Boston Properties says they're not aware of any issues.

Anti-ParkRTC Facebook group "Reston United" posted a picture this week of a sign supposedly put up by Best Buy that reads "No Town Center Parking, No Construction Parking, No Commuter Parking, Towing Strictly Enforced."

"Ridiculous that Boston Properties can't even provide parking to their construction workers who are building THEIR buildings," the caption by Reston United reads. "I'd watch the construction workers park in the Best Buy shopping center every morning and walk over to their job site at The Signature. I'd be shaking my head thinking 'this is unbelievable.'"

Suzanne Zurn, one of the leading critics of ParkRTC, told Patch that she has noticed construction workers who are building BXP's new apartment building at Reston Town Center are parking in the area of Temporary Road and North Shore Drive rather than in RTC's parking garages, and that "dozens of construction workers can be seen coming and going from there." They're hard to miss because of their clothing and safety gear, she said.

It appears that Boston Properties does indeed require that workers park in areas near RTC rather than in the garages themselves. Kathy Walsh, a spokeswoman for Fallston Group, which respresents BXP, told Patch that "approved and permitted Reston Town Center construction workers have use of a free parking area contiguous to Reston Town Center while working onsite."

She added that Boston Properties was "not aware of any issues or complaints regarding offsite street parking issues."

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