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Reston Town Center Will Have More Info on Paid Parking at Thursday Meeting

by Karen Goff — March 30, 2016 at 11:30 am 42 Comments

Parking garage at Reston Town CenterReston residents can get more information about the planned paid parking system at Reston Town Center at a meeting Thursday at the Hyatt Regency Reston.

While the meeting is aimed at town center homeowners, residents and merchants, members of the public can also attend.

This is a venue change — the meeting was previously scheduled to be at The Avant but has been moved to accommodate more people. The meeting will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Reston Now reported two weeks ago that Boston Properties, which owns Reston Town Center, will phase in a paid parking system beginning Aug. 1. 

The app-based system, RTC Park, will also help patrons locate their car and pay the parking charges by credit card.

According to a new Frequently Asked Questions section on Reston Town Center’s website, RTC Park is “the country’s most advanced parking system.”

According to the FAQs:

“The parking initiative also includes a parking guidance system that supports an improved customer parking experience by having:

  • License plate recognition to determine vehicle occupancy within each space
  • LED-based space indicators that change color to reflect the status of the parking space
  • Electronic display boards to indicate the direction and quantity of available parking spaces
  • Online space counts in real-time and on site signage which is updated as space availability changes
  • Additional pedestrian signage to guide customers to shopping and dining options

Parking will cost $2 an hour. Store and office employees will have to pay for parking as well, but monthly passes (up to $70 for office workers; $50 for retail workers) are being offered. Many stores also say they will offer validation, but that exact plan has not yet been worked out.

Parking will still be free on weekends, holidays and during major community events such as the holiday parade, Oktoberfest Reston or the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival. There will also be designated free parking for quick stops at stores such as FedEx, CVS and the dry cleaners.

RTC officials say the paid parking is necessary to cut down on commuter parking, which has increased since the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station opened in 2014. The Reston Town Center Metro station will not open until early 2020.

“Reston Town Center is a unique environment that operates as an urban mixed use environment,” the new FAQ section states. “This is also known as ‘Second City.’ In order to preserve the parking rights of our visitors and at the same time enhance our customer’s experience, we extensively researched all options and identified the Park RTC model.”

“Reston Town Center has been reviewing customer recommendations and feedback for several years, especially concerns about the availability of parking spaces during busy shopping periods.”

Many RTC patrons say they are outraged by the decision and will take their business elsewhere. Online petitions are also circulating to try and persuade Boston Properties to change their minds.

  • RTC Employee

    I work in the Fountain Two building and have been informed that all office employees of our building will not be paying for parking.

    • Richard

      …for now

    • Liz Thatcher

      I work in Fountain One and no such order has been told to us — and that still doesn’t help the hourly employees who now have to pick up an extra shift each month to cover a new bill they have to pay for the privilege of having a job. Sign my petition and stand up to Boston Properties. They can’t be trusted. standunited.org/freeparkingRTC

  • FreeParkingFreePizza

    Remember that the Hyatt charges for parking, so do not park there if you are attending the Paid Parking meeting.

  • JoeInReston

    “RTC officials say the paid parking is necessary to cut down on commuter parking”

    There are easy ways to cure the commuter parking without charging retail customers. In fact, they are already doing it.

    I guess their logic is – better to make the obvious lie and have people think its a profit grab rather than to admit the truth and have everybody know its a profit grab.

    (This is not to suggest that they aren’t in the rights to grab profits. Personally, though, I don’t think it will lead to profits)

    • Liz Thatcher

      Sign my petition! We all know this is blubbering about their motives on their part — let’s hold them accountable for it. The more people I talk to on my personal time, the shadier this gets. When I first heard about this is was a mild annoyance, but as I talked to people while I was out about about in RTC running errands and what not, I realized that most retail employees and retailers themselves were never made aware of this plan that BP claims has “been their plan all along.” If it was their plan all along, the new retailers should’ve been informed about it. I suspect BP knows that many stores would’ve never opened here or moved when their lease was up. Boston Properties is shady and this parking scheme is a scam. They think they’re going to make a bunch of money but it will hurt them in the long run as people stop coming and retailers start pulling out. standunited.org/freeparkingRTC

      • cosmic93

        Unfortunately I can’t sign your petition because it contains a basic falsehood. The proposal is ridiculous, I agree. However, you will NOT have to download and use an app as you claim. They have hyped the app but they have also made it clear that he app is optional and customers can choose to pay on-site using cash or credit card. Had you researched this fact more fully I would have been happy to sign,

        • Liz Thatcher

          I work and live in RTC, so I have done plenty of research. You don’t have to sign my petition, but to pretend like you’re superior and to assume I haven’t done my research is a falsehood on your part. Getting the app is requirement for employees, period. And anyone who has ever dealt with a Boston Properties employee would know that the app for parking will be the preferred experience. They hype the app because that is the preferred method. Just because I left out a small detail does not make the petition false.

          • Stevie G

            getting a little testy, are we?

            are you sure you “work” in RTC? you seem to be spending a whole lot of time on this… let me guess… basket-weaving business run out of the apartment?

          • Liz Thatcher

            I actually work two jobs in RTC. Not that it matters, I just don’t appreciate when people imply that I’m lying about something. While BP may technically be able to do this, it’s not fair and an unnecessary burden to hourly employees who are trying to better themselves. Since this policy will affect myself and a lot of my friends and co workers, I thought it was a worthy cause to fight against. Sorry you find someone working their butt off to better themselves “funny,” but that’s your choice. I’m just trying to make a positive impact on my community.

      • Ming the Merciless

        It is not “shady” or a “scam” to charge for the use of your own property.

        It may or may not work for them economically, but they have every right to do so.

        • Liz Thatcher

          It is when you try to hide it from the businesses and employees. I work in RTC, and Boston Properties has been less than forthcoming about their plan. At first it was just to prevent parking abuse and would only be for visitors, then it suddenly came out that employees would be charged as well. Despite what BP keeps claiming, they have not been upfront about their plans with new retailers and existing tenants. RTC employees have found out about it through blogs and news posts, not from BP themselves. If they don’t want it to look shady, then they need to start being upfront about it.

          • Ming the Merciless

            They don’t have any obligation to inform anyone what they intend to do with their property, and their “plan” may or may not be definite in any event.

          • Liz Thatcher

            We’ll see. They might be legally obligated to inform tenants they are planning on increases their costs. Charging employees for parking might very likely break their lease with the merchants, and that is a legal obligation.

          • Ming the Merciless

            Since the RTC website announced the plan to the world, the obligation to inform has been satisfied. The RTC website also announced that retail staff will have to pay, and therefore your theory that this “might break the lease with the merchants” is essentially impossible.

        • dbncoold

          No, they should not have the right. If they do then we can blame the idiots who were running the Reston Association zoning department and other government agencies who are friends with Boston Properties and allowed this to happen.

          • Ming the Merciless

            “is” and “should” are two different things, chief.

  • MJay

    Based on my family’s habits, we will still park at RTC for the occasional date night, but we will forgo places like Anthropology for Tysons; movie theater for Tysons and Worldgate; RTC restaurants for the myriad restaurants in the area; and will stop going to quick pickups like Sweetgreen, the running store, and the cute baby store altogether. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but the idea of using an app doesn’t work for me and there are plenty of other places to go within 15-20 minutes. And even though the toll road may cost more, it doesn’t feel as intrusive as installing an app and relying on BP.

    • Guy with Brain

      ahhh… a meeting with the villagers to discuss…

    • Ming the Merciless

      By my calculation, it costs me $1 more in gas to go to Worldgate rather than RTC, and $2 more in gas to go to Tyson’s Corner rather than RTC (and that is using Route 7 rather than the Toll Road). Since I wouldn’t save anything by going to Tyson’s, and my time is worth something, and I don’t want to deal with the aggravation of Tyson’s traffic, RTC is certainly superior to Tyson’s Corner even if I have to pay to park. Of course, you may have a Prius or something and thus your calculation might be different.

      In short, I don’t go to RTC very often anyway, but $2 to park isn’t going to deter me on the rare occasions that I do.

      • P-Diddy

        Ming, you are the first person here to use logic… pretty cool stuff.

        Also… the people who are spending hours complaining are DEFINITELY driving a Prius… that goes without saying…

        • MJay

          You guys must not be married because in my world, there will be no more little trips to RTC because my wife prefers bigger shopping/dining/movie trips to Tysons and elsewhere… So the excuse for a quick trip will be, “but they charge for parking, let’s just go to Tysons” and next thing I know is we are going to all sorts of stores buying stuff. So she’s going to win a lot more now. Your significant others may be perfect and “logical” as they crunch the numbers in a vacuum, but I am speaking from real life as it pertains to me… a good, Prius-free life without the pretentious air of the guy who lords over Prius drivers for some reason.

  • Steve

    Boston Properties is such a vital part of our community. I am hopeful they acknowledge that commuters do not park in the town center on weeknights and agree to compromise by limiting the paid parking to weekday commuting hours.

    • Liz Thatcher

      Sign my petition! I’ll be at the meeting tomorrow night and plan on giving the signatures and reading out reasons for signing directly to the employees there. standunited.org/freeparkingRTC

  • compactdisqus

    it all comes down to how validation will work…full vs partial and what’s the max? will all retailers be able to validate paying customers? If I stay for 2 hours, will it all be covered? If a commuter stays for 8+hrs and validates at the end, how will that work?

    • Liz Thatcher

      It’s up to merchants, but one merchant did the figures and it would cost them close to $85,000/year ON TOP of the already high rent to validate parking for customers and employees. My gut is that some, not all, retailers will validate, but not to expect it. They may have retail purchase minimums in order to get validation so it makes fiscal sense for them, etc.

  • Liz Thatcher

    I’m going to the meeting tomorrow — make sure to sign my petition! Standunited.org/freeparkingRTC We must tell BP this is not accceptable behavior. I’ve talked to a lot of people in my personal time about this, and every worker, manager, etc says they were never told about this from BP. New retailers weren’t told when they opened their businesses, even though BP claims this has been their plan “all along.” The more I talk to people, the shadier this plan becomes. We must fight back.

  • compactdisqus

    Here’s a baseline to tweak and make locals happy and deal with commuters…

    Hours 1-2: free.
    Hour 3: can be validated (if customer gets validation but stays 2 hrs or less, no charge to store)
    Hours 4-6: @ $2 each (max $6; so, a dinner and movie could just cost you $2)
    Hours 7+ : commuter alert!, all hours charged (min $14)

    • Liz Thatcher

      That’s so reasonable! Boston Properties doesn’t like reasonable ideas. They just want $$$

      • LesAnn620

        The app/system will be implemented through Passport Parking.

        I thoroughly enjoy how the first benefit of their services for paid parking listed is “Increased revenue.” /sarcasm
        [ https://passportinc.com/parking/ ]

        • Liz Thatcher

          Possibly the first time they’re honest about their intent, which is sad.

    • Mike James

      I agree with the in basic idea, but would make hours 1-5 free. This would allow

      enough time for shops, restaurants, theatre,etc., but would charge the miscreant commuters who caused the problem in the first place.

  • Joe Heflin

    Ludicrously complicated: people will not come because of fear of not having an app, not understanding the “system” or not having what they need to park in a garage.
    If pay parking is absolutely necessary don’t complicate it. Have a gate, take a ticket and pay when you leave. Anything more will keep people away.

    Should I also mention how many unwanted e-mails someone will get who gives up their e-mail address to park?

  • cosmic93

    They sold look at reducing (or eliminating) the charge for people who enter after a certain time. If the problem is metro commuters, what threat is someone who comes at 6:30 on a Tuesday for a burger and a movie? What threat are the PTA groups who set up a skating night on a Wednesday? These are the types of people RTC should be encouraging to come in. Now it will be cheaper to pay the toll and gas to drive to Tysons or Dulles TC instead!

    • cosmo

      Exactly. Ballston Commons in Arlington charges a flat $1 if you enter after 6pm. That’s that RTC should do here, but it would be better to just let folks park for free in the evenings.

    • JoeInReston

      You are taking their comments too literally. There isn’t a commuter parking problem. There is a ‘want more revenues’ problem. They would likely see your solution to reduce or eliminate parking fees after a certain time as exasperating their problem.

  • Joe Heflin

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/2016/03/30/fba8ae0a-f688-11e5-9804-537defcc3cf6_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_metro-310pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory is Thursday morning’s Post which notes that parts of Metro may “shut down entire rail lines for as long as six months for maintenance.”

    So much for taking a commuter bus from Town Center to the Metro.

    • JoeInReston

      a) blue line
      b) That is just posturing, much like suing for $100 million. Its an opening salvo, leaving plenty of room for compromise

      • Ming the Merciless

        It is like FCPS saying “give us more money or we’ll cancel everyone’s favorite programs” (which they pretty much do every year).

  • Greg Pryzby

    Purple garage is installing the sensors (29 March) and is closed in evenings (from road by Crunch) for the work. Crunch was informed when they signed their lease (learned this week).

    If the construction started (money spent) I don’t see Boston Properties changing their mind.

    Remember BP ran out Lee’s and other small shops by raising the rent. RTC is a money grab and not serving the public. Once the coffee shop is open at Lake Anne, they will have everything: Thai food, other food, coffee and beer.

  • Peter Newman

    if commuters were smart they would park at tall oaks shopping center instead of RTC. That parking lot is EMPTY and virtually UNUSED, not to mention much closer to whiele metro.

  • jmsullivan

    You know speed cameras are all about reducing accidents too, right?

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