Officials: Paid Parking Goes With Town Center’s ‘Elite’ Status

by Karen Goff April 1, 2016 at 10:30 am 112 Comments

Reston Town CenterPaid parking at Reston Town Center is a done deal. Representatives of Boston Properties and the Reston Town Center Association explained why at a community meeting at the Hyatt Regency Reston on Thursday.

“We are an elite destination location,” RTCA Executive Director Robert Goudie said, reiterating that Boston Properties is “not a non profit location.”

As Reston Now has previously reported, Reston Town Center will go to a paid parking system this summer. Goudie and representatives of Boston Properties, which owns the town center, said the plan to install a paid system has been in the works since the town center opened 25 years ago.

Goudie told the crowd of merchants and citizens that in the original town center master plan, there was a proffer agreement that the developer would have to eventually do “transportation demand procedures.” Part of that control would be paid parking. That is a common element of transit-oriented design, he said.

However, a Fairfax County land use attorney told Reston Now that those procedures included services such as carpooling and ridesharing and not paid parking.

Reston Town Center representatives said last month that the paid system is necessary because they are already seeing parking abuse at town center’s seven garages. Commuters are parking all day for free while they catch a bus to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro stop, a factor that is sure to get worse when the Reston Parkway Silver Line station opens in 2020.

There is also resident misuse, too. As more condos and apartments have been built, residents who may be paying for one parking space are commonly parking a second car in town center’s garage.

Parking is set to be $2 an hour and can be paid by an app, RTC Park. Employees at stores and offices will have to pay too, but can purchase monthly passes for $50-70 a month.

Street parking will also cost money, too: $3 an hour for a maximum of two hours.

Parking will be free on weekends and for major community events, RTC officials said. Boston Properties will be charging for weeknight parking, a representative said, because there is evidence that travelers are parking at RTC and hopping on the Hyatt Regency Reston shuttle to Dulles International Airport.

Officials said Thursday there will be validation, but it will not be a universal system — meaning stores and businesses can choose whether and how much to validate.

The validation coming out of a store’s profits — on top of paying already high rents — has many smaller business owners concerned. Many town center visitors have also said in Reston Now’s comments section and Facebook feed that they will no longer visit the center if they have to pay to park.

Thousands of area residents have also signed petitions against the paid system.

  • Restontimes

    Good to see how the RTCA feels about the rest of Reston. Guess everyone that lives outside the elite walls of the RTCA are just the lower class.

    • Mike M

      For certain snooty ole parts of Reston, this could be a devastating self-image blow. It’s a kind of a hoot!

      • Restontimes

        They got some fine art paid for by the rest of us…

        • Mike M

          Who knows what goodies we shall extract in proffers. A 20′ x 15′ “diversity garden?” Whoo-hoo! 😉

      • GrumpyOldMan

        Next there will be paid parking to shop at North Point, just to keep up the snootiness level there!

    • Ming the Merciless

      Yes but for $2 an hour you can join the elite!

  • meh

    Well they are right. It’s their property and can be used as they deem fit. This isn’t UNICEF. That said, I’ll just vote with my wallet and go elsewhere. People get stabbed at Clyde’s. [http://patch.com/virginia/reston/police-stabbing-clydes-reston-during-halloween-party-0] and the movie theater at Tyson’s is far superior

    • Ming the Merciless

      But dude your wallet says that $2 to park at RTC is cheaper than driving to Tyson’s and parking for free. Just sayin’…

      • Mike M

        Unless you stay for 2.1 hours.

  • GreenVillage

    What is so “elite” about Reston Town Center? Really?

    • LaureenMT

      Goudie specifically said comparisons to Tysons Corner do not apply: “Tysons Corner is a mall. Reston Town Center is not a mall.” Delusions of grandeur.

      • Suzanne Zurn

        The packed room laughed when he said that, too!

    • meh

      Well they have the over-priced wine bar. They have the mediocre food at American Tap Room. Don’t forget the Subway or the Panera Bread

      • Andrew M. Scott

        And God help us, that Subway is probably the worst I’ve ever been to.

    • Mike M

      Just curious. How are the MILFs at Jackson’s? May that’s what he’s talking about?

      • FreeParkingFreePizza

        They moved further west young man. The ELITE location One Loudon is a less expensive Uber ride for them.

        • Mike M

          LOL! You made me blow diet coke through my nose. So, you track the herd, pick off outliers?

    • Mike M

      Well, take the bums for example. They are fat! Fat bums are elite bums.

  • Mike M

    Very clumsy spin. How about state up front what you said to insiders a few years back: We think the market will bear it.

    • Ming the Merciless

      What are they lying about? They said they are not a non-profit. And they gave other reasons that are true, though no doubt less important to them.

      • Mike M

        First, they said internally, and YEARS before Wiehle Metro, it was a revenue grab because the market can bear it. True enough, and well within their rights. Now they say it’s because RTC is “Elite!”

        • Ming the Merciless

          MWAA intended to bring metro to Reston YEARS before Reston Town Center existed.

          • Mike M

            Intent years prior is no basis upon which to “blame” a price increase.

          • Ming the Merciless

            (eyeroll) BP has always known that someday the metro would be there. They factored this into their plans. They knew that when it opened, they could do certain things differently – including charging for parking.

            This sort of prior planning is why they are a successful business. It’s almost like they understand economics, unlike some people around here who merely claim they do.

          • Mike M

            BP had no way of knowing what took a major effort to make real. No one knew. They have the right to charge for parking irregardless. Further, to repeat myself, they stated it was their intent to charge for parking to enhance their revenue. So, none of what you say has any basis other than you said it. Same for my knowledge of economics and business. I stand by my logic. You stand by your blather.

          • Stuart

            And I stand by my insistence of telling people there is no such word as “irregardless”. It’s “regardless”. Please feel free to use the correct word in future rants.

          • WheelieRestin

            “Irregardless” is a word it’s just used so infrequently that no one recognizes it. So, feel free to use either spelling of the word – irregardless of your comment.

          • Mike M

            What Wheelie said. See below. That being said it is an unconventional and controversial word. I can agree that regardless would have been a better word choice.

          • Ming the Merciless

            Now you’re just embarrassing yourself again. BP did not need to know exactly when the metro would arrive in order to calculate correctly that they would be able to charge for parking when it finally did. In short, all your blather about “lying” has as little basis in reality as your supposed knowledge of economics and business.

          • Mike M

            Funny. I don’t feel any embarrassment. Yes, they would have to know timelines to calculate anything.

          • Troll4Prez

            When Two Trolls Go to War
            Everyone Wins!

          • Half brain

            It’s thee publ8can Party at its finest

          • Mike M

            Enjoy, my petty friend. Enjoy. And stay petty!

  • Nate_VA

    They’ve dug a moat around RTC and they’re about to fill it with sharks. We commoners are no longer welcome.

  • Bill Kotraba

    this guy’s attitude is an April Fools joke right?

  • Suzanne Zurn

    TCA Executive Director Robert Goudie started the mtg at the Hyatt with an aggressive tone and not in the Reston spirit of community. More than 5,000 people signed the petition opposing paid parking at RTC. The comments and signatures were hand-delivered to Boston Properties rep at the mtg last night. Goudie worked hard NOT to call on the petition organizer (me), constantly looking at me and then away to call on someone else. Thanks to the effort of another supporter, Susan Berger, who “yielded her time” to me, we were able to deliver the petitions.

    • Andrew M. Scott

      Thanks for pushing to make that happen, and to your colleague Susan.

    • Ming the Merciless

      Your petitions and $2 will get you (a) an hour of parking at RTC, or (b) a tall coffee at Starbucks, where parking is free.


    • Restontimes

      Up for a major boycott of the Arts Festival coming up? Look who’s on the GRACE board.

    • Guest

      Goudie has been a shill for Boston Properties since he served on the Reston Task Force, ostensibly as a “citizens” rep for RTC. What a pig!

      • Mike M

        The ranks of infiltrator shills is very old and very long.

  • Melissa

    I moved to Reston because it WAS a very welcoming community back then, but i moved out just recently because of the feel of it now is if you have money to spend please come on in and do so, if not, please go on buy! So I did right out of town 🙂

    • Ming the Merciless

      They still welcome you! They’ve just put a price tag on the welcome mat.

    • Mike M

      See you at Loudoun 1.

  • JAK

    The ‘Elite’ status of RTC has been in doubt for a bit. Most every restaurant is RTC has a location in Merrified, Tyson’s or Loudon at this point. And the fast casual choices are showing their age. I’m interested to see how the development at the RTC West and new northern section of the area that’s at least under RA association purview will turn out and if they offer any real competition to the ‘vision’ of BP.

  • ClarendonBros

    To ensure no parking just to get to Metro, just time limit. Everybody gets 2.5 hours, for instance. Or more. Or whatever. Problem solved. This is a bad PR move.

    • 2 hours free

      Yes, exactly! Many lots near metro do this to avoid commuters. Charging for just 1 hour is a pure profit grab and will hurt some business owners in the town center 🙁

  • T. Johnson

    So much for having family & friends join me for lunch during the weekdays. There are numerous options to achieve the same result – but BP will not generate the $$.

  • Restontimes
  • FreeParkingFreePizza

    Elite status like AOL Dial-Up service thought it was back in the day.

    Besides as a wise man once said, “No one goes there nowadays, it’s too crowded… or is it because they charge for parking.”

  • RestonYesterday

    This is going to kill Crunch Fitness, extra $2-4 for every workout, this is essentially doubling my membership cost.

    • Mel

      Crunch will validate. I confirmed this with Jamie, the GM.

      • Mike M

        But it is a new cost to them. So price pressure on them; price pressure on you. Stand by.

      • meh

        And I’m assuming they will pass this cost off to their members. Look for an increase in what you pay to attend said gym as the owners of Crunch will not take a hit on their bottom line

      • RestonYesterday

        Even if Crunch gets some kind of deal where they only pay half price for validations they still aren’t going to just take that kind of hit to their bottom line without increasing membership costs.

  • Scott H

    I don’t care if they want to charge for parking. The market will either “bear it” or it won’t. That will sort itself out. What burns me is the blatant lie that it’s necessary due to people using it for commuter parking to hop on metro or go to Dulles.
    All you need to address that is to allow 3-4 hours of free parking and then charge after that. Done. Allows customers to park at RTC and prevents commuters from parking for free.
    Do what you want, but don’t lie

  • Yoda

    Pay the parking, or go elsewhere. The angst here at RN over Boston Properties’ business decision is baffling. Nobody has a right to free parking on private property.
    Frankly, all the people who go to RTC to spend their money at corporate restaurants and national chains have helped to kill businesses elsewhere, so I’m happy to see something that will put the pinch on those businesses at RTC.

    • Obeewan Kanobi

      pay for parking, you will.

      or elsewhere, you will go.

      (may the force be with you)

  • susie

    Boston Properties is indeed part of the destructive Elitists.

    • WhoIsJohnGalt

      What is destructive about wanting a return on their investment. I assure you that the parking garage was not built out of the goodness of their hearts. As Boston Properties has stated, this is a business and not UNICEF. People will huff and puff but at the end of the day will pay the $2 to park and life will go on.

      • susie

        The parking garages have been there for years. Why charge people now? Did they not get paid for building it? It’s just greed.

  • $50-$70? For a part-time employee at the restaurants, that’s as much as 1/4th their monthly paycheck.

    • WhoIsJohnGalt

      Seems like they should get a better job? Or find an alternative means to get to work such as public transit?

      • there is nothing I can say to respond to such utter ignorance of the reality of the job situation today that doesn’t require significant amounts of profanity, so I’m done here.

        • WhoIsJohnGalt

          Thank your a fair and honest debate.

        • EliteinReston

          Aww, go ahead. I could use significant–make that substantial– amounts of profanity after reading some of these posts. (Btw, thanks for your valid point about the restaurant employees)

      • susie

        Where is all this public transportation you keep talking about? Reston? What if the workers can’t afford to live in Reston?

  • CE

    In my opinion this is a great idea. This will keep the riff-raff out of there. I think they should take this one step further and charge admission just to get into the RTC and the RA should pay for and build wall around it as well.

    • Restontimes

      CE, RA is already paying for RTCA’s art. How about RCC pay for the wall, how else are they going to use their Reston Tax District dollars?

    • JoeInReston

      This comment with the ‘riff raff’ insult and other comments about ‘free loaders’ not paying their fair share need to be rebutted.

      The ‘riff raff’ and the ‘free loaders’ add value to the Reston Town Center. As a paying RTC customer, mainly through restaurant dining, I am happy when the place is lively and not empty. It is fun to walk around and be a part of the community.

      Yes, there is a threshold upon which it becomes overcrowded and over bearing – think Tysons mall over Christmas shopping season – but I haven’t seen any think like that at RTC.

      This is a really stupid decision by Boston Properties.

      • CE

        Joe, you sure make a compelling argument with your restaurant dining experiences and all to back it up but I will only be happy when the tumbleweeds blow down library street as I drink a finely crafted cocktail at Jacksons and think about all the parking spaces I had to choose from 10 minutes before. And yes I like really long sentences too.

        • JoeInReston

          Your post reflects poorly on you. You can have the last word.

    • cRAzy

      If by “riff-raff” you mean “homeless,” most of them are in the Town Center area (the shelter, near Target, and elsewhere). They don’t have cars and they will park themselves wherever they can. The BPPolice try to keep them out of the town center core.

  • Larisa Briggs

    They will lose money, plain and simple. Not only will they lose shoppers, including me, they will lose businesses. The rates for office space are already high, if they add parking, it is ridiculous. And retail employees, who are not paid enough to begin with, will likely go work elsewhere. It is the logical choice, unless retailers pay the parking for them, or raise salaries.

    They could increase towing as an option to discourage commuters, like ClarendonBros said, add a time limit. This excuse is only a cover.

    • WhoIsJohnGalt

      Actually, the retail employees are paid what the market bears. It takes minimal skill sets and no real training to fold clothes or run a register or pour a coffee. If they feel they are not fairly compensated they can take it up with their employer.

      I look forward to and applaud this group for removing the freeloading that currently goes on. This is not a public parking space and was never intended to always be free as there is up keep in running a parking garage.

      If some choose to leave – that’s within their right.

      • jmsullivan

        Leeches. If they were worth anything, they’d build a transcontinental railroad or something!

      • susie

        Some people take these jobs as a stop gap until they can find something better or until they finish a degree, etc. Your rationale would mean that only bored spouses with nothing to do, or trust fund kids could “afford” to do these jobs. And public transportation is not an option for many people.

  • Mike M

    Now you’re talkin!

    Bums live within walking distance and they don’t have cars. So they can go to the ELITE RTC for free!

  • Steve

    Boston Properties’ handling of the parking fee at Reston Town Center has all the makings of a public relations disaster. “Elite” is one of those universal developer/marketing terms referring to a category of luxury shopping center. Tysons Galleria also is an elite destination. But you would never ever use that term publicly before a lay audience, especially to justify a controversial plan to impose a parking fee. By choosing that word, Boston Properties has needlessly inflamed an already flammable situation. Income inequality is evident in our community. Town center office workers, retail salespeople and restaurant servers and cooks are not getting wage increases to cover parking fees. The last thing you would want to do is anger them by saying you are elite.
    Goudie made a factual error about the history of the Reston Town Center. He incorrectly said paid parking was in the development stages since the town center opened in 1991. In fact, the town center struggled in its first few years and wanted all the people it could get as there was high turnover of tenants in a stagnant development climate. To stimulate more use, especially by regional customers, Lerner built the big boxy Spectrum Center adjacent to the town center. The last thing the town center would have done was charge for parking. Paid parking is a recent discussion triggered by the Silver Line.
    Finally, in building public support for a new fee, you would try to involve stakeholders from the start. Boston Properties is a private firm under no obligation to operate like the public sector. Still, Clyde’s and others should have found out about the parking fee first from the developer, not from Reston Now. Boston should have held a public meeting upfront to listen to the community. We have an ethic of public participation in Reston that should have applied here.

    • Tammi Petrine

      Thank you, Steve, for a wonderful post. Robert Simon is not long dead and BP comes out with an edict destructive to our community ethic. Mr. Simon would hate the divisiveness that BP has caused but, of course, he is no longer present to defend his ‘town’…

      That Robert Goudie is BP’s inept spokesperson is not at all surprising. Sadly, his performance for years at various Reston planning meetings foreshadowed his self-serving role in this.

      • Steve

        You’re welcome. Just trying to be reasonable and civil.

  • Nate_VA

    This is just as much a battle for the soul of Reston as it is a battle about parking fees. Reston has been sold out to the rich, and its egalitarian roots are fading.

    • GreenVillage


    • shadoHood

      If this improves fixing up the dump that’s known as South Reston, I’m all for it. Gentrification would do that area some good.

      • CE

        Oh yeah… Well we have a Jersey Mikes and you don’t.

        • shadoHood

          Don’t forget the Safeway where the crazy homeless guy hangs out by the Sun Bank ATM

          • Dodge

            One homeless guy? Wow, that’s really bad. I had to clean out a hobo camp from the woods behind our tennis court this weekend at the corner of Reston Parkway and Baron Cameron. Had raised floors, hammocks, trash bins, and unfortunately, a bathroom area. South Reston isn’t anything special.

          • Dilbert

            That wasn’t a hobo camp that was our tetra building. Put it back.

      • cRAzy

        You don’t know what you’re talking about.
        1. Two of Reston’s lakes (the larger ones) are in SoRes surrounded by upscale homes & townhomes.
        2. The community’s Jr. HS and Sr. HS are located there (or you send your kids to Herndon HS or private school).
        3. 2 of Reston’s 3 successful village centers are located there. The failed VC is in NoRes.
        4. The main Reston Community Center (which you are helping us pay for) is there, including theater and indoor pool.
        5. SoRes includes planning principle-driven affordable senior housing and other affordable housing (just like NoRes) and a diverse community (NOT like NoRes).
        6. SoRes has the Walker Nature Center and the bulk of Reston’s woodlands and pathways.
        7. SoRes has most of RA swimming pools for your summer enjoyment.
        8. SoRes DOESN’T have Reston Town Center’s paid parking and overcrowded mediocre restaurants!
        …and much, much more!

        Glad to live here. Glad you don’t.

  • Gregg Rosenberg

    Boston Properties is just being greedy. The rest of their schtick is BS excuses to provide a figleaf of rationalization. We’ll just have to see if they kill the goose that laid the golden egg. My wife and I already know we’ll not be going to RTC once parking is no longer free. There are too many other shopping and eating centers in the area to pay extra to park.

  • Dyngus Day

    just ride your bike to RTC, if you don’t have one and live in north reston use bike share. If you live in south reston where there is no bike share, just use bolt cutters.

    • RuthieS

      The problem with riding your bike or walking, if you come home after dark, is that it’s impossible to see where you are going.

      • cRAzy

        mmmm…how about a headlight on your bike or flashlight in your hand….

  • Gregg Rosenberg

    Someone build a multiplex at Lake Anne Center and we’re good to go with the rehabilitation now.

    • This jus in

      Clydes is moving to Lake Anne. Also there will be a horse drawn carriage around the lake. Valet parking will be expeditiously performed by fluent Castellano speaking performers.

  • South Lakes Curmudgeon


    Does BP control TCA like Mobil Land used to control RHOA?

    Does BP pay Goudie’s salary?

    It’s hard to understand why the ED of their HOA would be shilling for the developer who is about to make the RTC homeowners’ collective lives more difficult.

    Who is on the Board of TCA? Just in case a TCA member wanted to give them feedback about Mr. Goudie’s performance last night.

    Does the Board at TCA know that he made multiple misrepresentations last night that seriously damaged their credibility with their own members?

    E.g., Transportation Demand Management has absolutely nothing to do with paid parking. Why would he make this stuff up when the falseness of the assertion is so easy to fact check?

    He said paid parking is required by the Comp. Plan. Again not true. The Comp. Plan is “but a guide” and does NOT have the force of law. Besides, the Reston Master Plan says nothing about paid parking in RTC.

    He told the story about the overnight parkers who take the Hyatt shuttle to Dulles and the story about the commuters taking a bus to Wielhe Metro but had no studies to demonstrate that those incidents were anything more than anecdotes.

    BP is free to do what is wants.

    Why does the ED of TCA feel compelled to tell fairy tales to justify the money grab and be very rude and arrogant in the process?

    He made Cate Fulkerson look good which, these days, takes some doing.

    • Karen Goff

      All good questions. I will seek answers. 🙂

      • UStifosi .

        Karen, who pay’s Goudie’s salary as ED of TCA?

  • George

    You all are a bunch of cheapskates. Retailers will validate when push comes to shove. Good riddance to all of your negativity and please do go to Tysons and One Loudoun. RTC does not need you!

    • Arielle in NoVA

      ^ and Reston does not need people who think it’s OK to charge for parking in Reston.

  • MJay

    Just wait until people realize that BP is taking the personal information gleaned from the app and selling their info to multiple third parties.

  • cosmo

    Like a few other rational folks on here have noted, they are certainly within their right to charge for parking. I’m surprised Tysons mall hasn’t gone the same route with their thousands of parking spots, but it may happen. During the Silver Line construction, there was a large temporary (and free) park and ride lot just west of RTC. That lot closed when Metro opened so perhaps some commuters decided to take advantage of the next closest free parking option (though I thought RTC’s garages aren’t open for public parking until 10am, but I may be wrong). If anyone has ever been to TysonsWest, they have a Walmart, a gym, several restaurants, and doctors offices. It’s very close to the Spring Hill Metro. They allow two free hours in their garage, and I know the gym validates an additional hour. You get a ticket when you go in and simply insert it when you exit – if it’s less than two hours, you drive out for free; otherwise you pay by credit card at the exit or at a pay station in the lobby (which accepts cash). This should be the system RTC implements. I am very leary of downloading an app – I have way too may as it is. So I don’t disagree with the plan to charge for parking, but I do disagree with their proposed system and their unwillingness to allow free (or even discounted) short-term parking.

  • warriorjudi

    What do the owners of Boston Property think, that this is Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills?
    To say that this is an elite property certainly does not quite align with the true essence of what Reston is supposed to be.Welcome to “elite” white America!

  • Damon Feldman

    Terrible news. Note that Bethesda is arguably more of an “elite” location, and has fees about half as high.

    I also suspect BP is hoping to pack the lots with commuter parking, with no time limits (they will allow 24 hours of parking for $24). This would actually be bad for both merchants and the community.

    Here is their “FAQ” which is full of the worst sort of snide corporate newspeak: http://www.restontowncenter.com/about/faq/ .

    I suppose the only way to pressure BP would be to boycott the merchants, but it may harm the wrong people.

  • Mary

    I don’t think it is coincidence that Boston Properties waited for Bob Simon to die before charging for parking.

  • Joe Heflin

    “There is also resident misuse, too. As more condos and apartments have been built, residents who may be paying for one parking space are commonly parking a second car in town center’s garage.”

    Considering how many apartments and condos there are at Town Center (1,500 with 400 more coming) this could amount to a lot of cars. I am guessing several hundred plus. Factor in that a lot of these buildings only have one assigned space included with rent or the price of the condo. Never mind the Metro in 2020-what about the two new towers, the Signature, in 2018?

    This aside there is a real danger that the new parking system will intimidate a lot of people who simply won’t want to visit Town Center not understanding how license plate recognition works. Actually, I don’t understand how it works either and really have no interest in learning.

    I am also not interested in a sensor telling me that a particular space is available somewhere in a building since the sensor is not going to tell me if the car in the adjacent space is on the line, parked crooked or is simply not a vehicle that I want to park next to. The space may also be one that has a support column limiting my ability to park.

    The result is very simple: we will go to Vienna (i.e. Clarity, Bazin’s, Bonaroti) more often and Town Center much less.

    Street parking, by the way, @ $3.00 an hour is a lot.

  • Stuart

    People who are falling back on merchants “validating” will just get that cost passed on to them with higher costs for food or merchandise.

  • surfish

    It’s not unreasonable, folks.

  • Damon Feldman

    I was not sure what could be done about this – I think the only hope is to put some pressure on the merchants to work it out with Boston Properties — or to rely on the many free and more welcoming areas of Reston. So to that end….

    I put together this list of free alternatives. Please send this around and refer to it so we can keep Reston as a welcoming community where we can all go where we want without parking issues:


    Also, please add other info in the comments.

  • cRAzy

    Only Robert Goudie–Boston Properties personally picked mouthpiece–could be so arrogant, self-obsessed, insensitive, and amazingly ignorant as to call Reston Town Center “elite.” I wouldn’t have expected anything else from him.

  • Sandy S.

    Elite? What a crock! Greed is probably at the bottom of this plan to charge for parking. at Reston Town Center. As a resident of Reston for 32 years, I am appalled. As is often the case, the local visitors to Reston Town Center are being punished for what others are doing wrong. We frequent RTC, mainly to eat at one of the restaurants there during the day. We also go to the Bow Tie Cinema. So, if fees for parking go into effect, we will be boycotting RTC by not going there at all. We won’t bring our children and grandchildren there when they visit us; meals out will be elsewhere and so will movies. If Bob Simon was alive, I believe he would do the same. In fact, he might be rolling in his grave right about now.

  • WW

    “Elite” can be defined in different ways. One way is by claiming that the high pedestrian traffic and per-square-foot retail revenues justify high commercial rents. We’ve certainly seen this is Reston, as more affordable stores, such as The Gap, make way for yet another cosmetics/grooming establishment.

    The other “elite” is when you can claim people are willing to pay just for the privilege of window-shopping. And it’s a matter of time before we discover the answer to that question.

    Reston Town Center has done well by pulling people in from the region with its pedestrian-friendly retail streets and a good choice of amenities, dining choices, and stores. People come, park, walk around, and stop in to buy an ice-cream here, an outfit there. But if the first choice they face is whether to pull into a paid parking lot, they’ll think twice, and I guarantee that many people won’t pull in at all. And that will be a loss. Because retail store is RTC are not a destination in their own right. They are part of a destination, and a lot of the spending that takes place is coincidental, not planned.

    Probably the biggest losers in all this will be places that cater to the impulsive shopper, like the ice-cream shops, and the movie theatre, whose competition absolutely everywhere in the area has free parking. But the shops and larger restaurants will lose out too. Families who come for the fountains and stay for pizza at Vapiano’s will not come in the first place. Neither will couples who came just to skate when the rink is open, but then stay for dinner at any of the great RTC restaurants.

    What I fear most is that this paid-parking concept will turn into a fiasco, and they’ll kill the experiment in a year or so in favor of a reasonable solution – time-limited parking that becomes paid after 2 or 3 hours. But by the time they abandon this $2/hr thing people will sour on RTC, and some of the stores that have made RTC so great to begin with will close. And that will be a shame for all of us who consider RTC “our downtown.”


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