You’re Invited: Reston Town Center’s 25th Birthday Party

Mercury Fountain at Reston Town CenterReston Town Center will celebrate its 25th birthday later this month with a community party.

Reston Town Center — which opened on Oct. 18, 1990 — will mark the milestone with Reston Town Center Day on Oct. 18, 2105 from noon to 4 p.m.

There will be free refreshments, live music, entertainment, games, pumpkin decorating, hayrides and more at Fountain Square and in the Pavilion at Reston Town Center. VIP remarks will take place at 1 p.m.

When Reston Town Center opened, it was about four blocks of shops and restaurants anchored by the multi-screen movie theater and the Hyatt Regency Reston.

Reston Town Center was a groundbreaking idea for its time — an outdoors, built-from-scratch downtown in the suburbs. It was built at a time when indoor malls were still trending nationwide.

However, town center set the model for dozens of similar developments to open nationwide in the following years.

Reston founder Robert E. Simon always envisioned such a place, and the 85-acre parcel was left undeveloped for Reston’s first 25 years.

Several attempts to get the project underway collapsed, mainly because there weren’t enough people living nearby, Kenneth P. Wong, senior development manager for the original project told The Washington Post when RTC was ready to open.

“The idea of a downtown in the suburbs was something that no one really had a grip on,” he said. “It’s a very complicated proposition that needed a long [research and development] gestation period.”

And when it did open in October of 1990, it did so in a huge rainstorm. And in the midst of a recession.

Nonetheless, RTC was successful from the start, has greatly expanded, and its last remaining undeveloped parcel, the surface parking lot, will soon be transformed.

Several original tenants remain, including the Hyatt, Clyde’s, Talbot’s and Ann Taylor. RTC’s current footprint is 2.8 million square feet of office space, 50 shops, about 30 restaurants and three residential high-rises. Office space, meanwhile, is 100 percent leased, officials have said at several commercial real estate events.

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