New parking policy raising eyebrows at Loudoun Station

(UPDATED) Some — but not all — of the parking lots at the Loudoun Station development in Ashburn now come with a price — and if you don’t pay up front — that price can be quite high indeed.

Here’s what we’ve learned — there is a surface parking lot next to the AMC movie theater and kitty corner from Señor Tequila’s that for many years has been free to park in. At some point — probably around the time the Metro opened — that was changed.

The new rules also apply to a larger lot next to the “District Park” — the small park across from Señor Tequilas. Signs have gone up at these lots saying you now have to pay to park there via an online app.

Problem is — some people have missed the signs whether because they weren’t expecting them or it was dark out.

Regardless, woe be to them. The parking enforcement team for Loudoun Station is now placing a Barnacle on the windshields of cars that haven’t paid to park in these lots.

If you’re not familiar with a Barnacle, it’s like a boot being placed on your tire, only for the windshield. It blocks the driver’s view and prevents them from moving the car.

People who return to their car from dinner or a movie or the nearby Metro and find the Barncle have to pay $275 via an online app. They are then reportedly sent a code that they punch into the Barnacle which releases it from the window.

We’re told they are then instructed to deposit the barnacle in a nearby receipticle, and if they do so, they will ultimately be refunded $200 of the fee — meaning the final cost is only $75.

That is unless the Barnacle damages your windshield. That’s what one driver reportedly had happen after the device was placed on their windshield.

“My sister from out of town parked in front of the movie theater and came out to find a barnacle parking device on her windshield. Worse yet, the damn thing broke her windshield,” Jennifer Vernon of Leesburg wrote on social media.

Now, Vernon’s sister is reportedly having to deal with her insurance company and get the windshield replaced before she can return home.

Here’s a photo from inside the car showing the cracked windshield and the Barnacle still attached. Vernon says they were only at Señor Tequila’s for an hour and returned to find the device on their vehicle.

There are sporadic signs by these paid lots warning of the Barnacle — but it’s possible drivers could miss them as well.

It’s important to note — the much larger parking lot — the one closer to Shellhorn Road and the core restaurants such as Burger 21, Famous Toastery, and Black Finn — is still free to park in, with a three-hour limit.

This is all likely trying to keep commuters departing on the Metro from parking in spots meant for shoppers and diners. Those parkers are expected to park in the multi-story parking ramps on either side of the Metro Station and the Greenway.

We’ve reached out to Loudoun Station to get more information on the decision to implement paid parking on the formerly free lot and the decision to employ a device like the Barnacle.

But in the meanwhile, consider this a public service announcement and warning to be pay close attention to the signs where you are parking.

UPDATE: For more details on the changes to parking at Loudoun Station, please see the follow up story here.

  1. Lois George 1 year ago

    So what about those of us who are “of a certain age” and don’t have a high-tech or social media addiction, but rather only a basic no-text, no-camera flip phone? I see a potential age-discrimination lawsuit on the near horizon…I’m even tempted to park at that lot this week, just to be the one to file that lawsuit 🙂

  2. AL 1 year ago

    As an employee at restaurant in the shopping center, Comstock and the Loudoun Station shopping center are giving businesses parking passes for their employees. The problem is that they are not willing to give enough for all employees and expecting those left out to pay for parking.

    Comstock is following the same steps they did at Reston Town Center and eventually will cause more businesses to leave and be hated by the local community.

  3. VR 1 year ago

    Hopefully the parking enforcement team or the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office will also be enforcing expired vehicle safety inspections and registrations. I’m sure some of the cars wouldn’t be able to pass inspection, which is a danger to others.

    • JM 1 year ago

      The LCSO actually enforces expired vehicle safety and registrations? Last time I saw them at the Dulles North park & ride hanging (in uniform) with Hung Cao as he was campaigning.

  4. detrell jones 1 year ago

    just turn on your defogger / heat in the car for about 15-30 minutes and slide a shim under the edge to break the vacuum seal(sometimes a dab of olive oil or lubricant will help). This BS makes me tempted to rent a car and park it illegally just to hack one of these more.

  5. R.S.D. 1 year ago

    Given the numerous vacant storefronts in Loudoun Station, this is not a smart move. We frequent the AMC and Señor Tequila’s, but not any longer. Parking anxiety and potential broken windshields aren’t worth it. We’ll take our business to One Loudoun.

  6. Mike W, 1 year ago

    ​​​​​​The ​stores ​at Loudoun Station are going to learn ​what ​multiple businesses at Reston Town Center learned​:​ ​You ​can’t survive as a business when you lose the ​goodwill of the community ​that surrounds you. And that’s particularly true ​even if you’ve been promised ​by someone ​’​lots of ​WMATA ​customers​’, ​but​ have failed to take into account that fewer and fewer people are riding ​the Metro ​each year because of the​ pandemic​, ​the massive shift to telework and more recently, crime.​​​​

    ​The most effective way to combat this type of egregious behavior is to refuse to do any business with any of the stores in Loudoun Station. More than that​, ​you should let these businesses know​ on Yelp, Google and Facebook​, etc., ​that you’re boycotting them due to the parking policies. If nothing else, you will warn any potential customers of the risks of doing business here.​ Warn your friends and family. ​

    Any store that would make doing business with them such a potentially risky and costly endeavor has ZERO interest in you as a customer. They apparently need the parking spaces more than they need your business.​​

  7. RW Browne 1 year ago

    Just shop at One Loudoun. There is free parking and the movie theater there is much nicer.

  8. Paul 1 year ago

    Easiest thing to do is not go to Loudoun Station. There is nothing there that isn’t at other places. My time isn’t worth the hassle….

  9. Jenn 1 year ago

    This is exactly why I stopped going to Reston Town Center and will also avoid this area now, too. I’m not using an app to park my car anywhere. And thank you for the PSA…I had no idea.

    • K 1 year ago

      Parking at RTC is free and doesn’t require an app. Just street parking requires the app.

    • Lexi 1 year ago

      RTC hasn’t been bad in a while. Parking is free after 5pm and on weekends, and the app for street parking is easy to use.

  10. David Mihelcic 1 year ago

    The answer is simple. Do not eat, shop, or go to movies there. Sorry business owners, your landlord screwed you.

  11. Don French 1 year ago

    I’m a resident at Reston Town Center. Welcome to our hell.

    You would think that Comstock would have learned from Boston Properties’ huge mistake at RTC when they instituted paid parking. It devastated our beloved Town Center. I guess there is no limit on stupidity when it comes to greed.

  12. Parker 1 year ago

    Here’s a crazy idea, people… rather than talking about ignorant lawsuits, glitching about businesses located there and cooking uphairbrained ideas for how to remove the device, maybe just don’t park in restricted areas.

    • Gunther 1 year ago

      Found the Barnacle™ employee

  13. Louis DiMeglio 1 year ago

    The justification is surely that they’re trying to keep commuters from parking in the lots. Then, why not do what Boston properties finally did in Reston and open things up at 5 PM and on weekends?’ The current 24 x 7 enforcement of this is insane and simply a money grab there is no justification for it.

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