Boston Properties: Parking App Will Be ‘Significant Enhancement’ for Customers

Parking garage at Reston Town CenterBoston Properties executives said on a recent earnings conference call that the new parking app — which will manage Reston Town Center customers’ paid parking — will be “a significant enhancement for customers.

Boston Properties, which owns Reston Town Center, is set to introduce the paid parking system on Aug. 1. Visitors and employees to RTC will be charged $2 a hour for parking, which has previously been free for most of the center’s 25-year history.

Parking will be free on weekends and for special events. Customers are encouraged to download an RTC Park app for automatic payment. They can also visit a kiosk to pay. Some stores and restaurants will validate, but a complete list has not yet been made available.

The change to paid parking has not been well-received by most store owners and RTC visitors, though Boston Properties Executive Vice President Ray Ritchey said on the call that retailers at other properties “actually noted an increase in sales of up to 10 percent … because the people who do come to the malls now find it way more convenient and, as a result, spend more time there and spend more dollars.”

Boston Properties and RTC officials say they are going to paid parking to cut down on parking abuse by commuters, who are already parking in the seven garages and then taking a shuttle to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station. That problem could get much worse when the Reston Town Center station opens in 2020, RTC officials have said.

They reiterated that thought on an April 16 earnings call. They did not emphisize an earlier analysis in which they showed BP can make $8 million a year with paid parking in place.

From the April call:

Question: Just wondering — is it possible for you to quantify the incremental revenue opportunity [at RTC]. And are there any other opportunities across the entire portfolio where you could also realize upside potential?

Peter Johnston, Boston Properties, Inc. – EVP, Washington, D.C. Region:

Well, I don’t think we want to get into necessarily quantifying [paid parking]. I would say that there’s approximately 8,000 parking spaces there. We undertook this for a couple of reasons. Obviously, revenue is one; but we’ve got a circumstance where we have to control that to honor our obligations with both the retailers and the office tenants there, and people in adjacent residential parking — in our spaces, so to speak — as well as commuters doing the same thing.

Part of implementing it now is we’ve got enough of a runway that with the introduction of Metro proximate to Town Center probably in about three, three and a half years, we want to be in a position where the system is up and running. It’s going to be a license plate recognition system; you’ll be using an app to park there; and we think it’s going to be a pretty significant enhancement for our customer base coming to the Town Center.

Ray Ritchey, Boston Properties, Inc. – Senior EVP:

One point I would like to make is we talked to some other major retailers about the experience of implementing paid parking. And after the fact, they actually noted an increase in sales of up to 10% at the retailers, because the people who do come to the malls now find it way more convenient and, as a result, spend more time there and spend more dollars.

So we view it as a great thing for our retailers and our office tenants. The income we get will certainly be helpful, but by no means the main driver.

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