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Weekend Discussion: Are You Really Done With Reston Town Center?

by Karen Goff — May 13, 2016 at 4:15 pm 36 Comments

Mercury Fountain at Reston Town Center

Reston Town Center is going to a paid parking system on Aug. 1. While RTC owners Boston Properties has softened on employee parking — retail and restaurant workers will get passes — it is going to cost $2 an hour for the rest of us (though many places say they will offer some validation).

Parking will be free on and weekends. But a weeknight dinner, a Wednesday business meeting or a free concert with Mr. Knick Knack on a Monday morning are all going to cost you.

Boston Properties says the paid system, managed by an app, is necessary to cut down on commuter parking now that the Metro is in Reston. But Boston Properties executives have also said on earnings calls that they can make tens of millions of dollars by charging for parking.

Here is what many consumers say: that they are done with Reston Town Center. More than 5,000 have signed petitions urging Boston Properties to reconsider. Hundreds have commented on Reston Now’s Facebook page that they will never visit on a weekday again if it means paying for parking.

Others say it is just as easy to go to restaurants at One Loudoun or Tysons, where parking remains free. But won’t more gas to get there actually cost you more than paying a couple of bucks to park at RTC?

What say you? Are you really going to avoid Reston Town Center come August?

  • John Q Public

    “Clown Center” with Jackson’s being the main event

  • cRAzy

    If I go to another shopping center area, I will do so willing and accept the gas and even toll charges that may entail. I don’t need to accept boosting Boston Properties’ profits.

    • Ming the Merciless

      So instead you boost WMATA and Exxon’s profits… which is better, or something.

  • JoeInReston

    I don’t think it will be that hard to avoid the RTC during the week day.

    Many stores have become so upscale that I have little interest even if parking were free.

    Restaurants and events are my sole source of interest. BP has already indicated that there would be no parking fees on event days. There are plenty of restaurant options outside the RTC. So I will likely decrease the number of weekday visits, which wasn’t all that much to begin with, and use validation for the rare times that I do go.

  • Pat Wilburn

    Amazed that parking was free for so long! By all means people should go other places if that meets their needs….Reston Town Center is a great place to be and would happily pay for parking that is so close and so convenient. Who should pay for the land/facility and maintenance of the parking?

    • Mike M

      Pat, that’s NOT the issue. That stuff is already covered in the rent structure. This isn’t about covering costs.

  • Mel

    I go to the gym there, which will validate parking, so the reality is, I am not really done with RTC, since Crunch is really the best value for a gym in the area.

    I wouldn’t go to RTC during the weekday otherwise, since I don’t work in Reston, so not like RTC would notice that I am gone anyway.

    As for weekends, I may still go, but I am not thrilled with the places to go there anyway. I’ve been sexually harassed by creepy patrons at both Jacksons and Clydes (middle aged white males who don’t understand that I don’t want to talk to them, in case anyone wants to jump in with the vaguely racist comments). So I really don’t have much of an incentive to go. Passion Fish is pretty awesome, as is Barcelona, but the appeal is sort of limited otherwise.

    • SueB

      But when Crunch validates, they will have to pay. I won’t take long for them to increase their rates to cover it. If still the best value, you’re good, but maybe not.

  • FreePark!

    The argument that metro riders currently park at RTC and ride the Fairfax connector bus to the train station is just silly. Between the time it takes to park and wait for a bus @ $1.25/$1.75 each way it would save tons of time to just drive and park at the metro. Parking at RTC would add probably a good half hour to a commute each way to save maybe $2.00. I would gladly pay $2.00 to cut my commute by an hour! That said, I probably won’t pay $10 on Wednesday night for good but mostly over-priced food and drink at RTC…

    • Ming the Merciless

      Does the Wiehle garage fill up? If people need RTC for overflow parking then it would make sense.

      • Why do you bother?

        It doesn’t and they don’t. And people aren’t using RTC as commuter parking – that’s a straw man. This is 100% about a big money grab. I’m out.

        • Ming the Merciless

          (shrug) If it isn’t true now, it will be true when the nearby Reston station opens.

  • BooBots

    With a myriad of shopping areas with free parking in Reston (and Herndon), no reason to pay to park at RTC.

    It would behoove BP to reconsider their decision before August. But, if they want to wait & see, they will wait and see a decline in patronage at RTC.

  • Ming the Merciless

    “Never RTC!” is about as serious as “NeverTrump” for Republicans or “I’ll move to Canada if Trump wins!” for Democrats. Sure they say that but you know they’re not going to follow through.

  • Anna AKG

    My bank is in RTC, Why do I need to pay $2 so I can go to my bank? or go meet someone for a business meeting? Why the people that bring business to RTC need to pay for the commuters. Yes, I do think they are only trying to make more money off us!

    • Ming the Merciless

      $2 is nothing. I go to business meetings in DC all the time and pay $15 to park.

  • Peter Pfeiffer

    I’ll just make certain that where I plan to visit validates parking! The businesses more than likely had a say in this decision

  • dick

    RTC has physically been a part of Reston since its inception. What other Reston Village Center asks you to pay to park? Pay parking separates RTC into just another shopping center and not part of our community…kinda sad.

    • Ming the Merciless

      RTC feels like “part of the community” when they have events there, but not when it’s just “a place to shop” even if parking is free. One wonders if they’ll have free parking for the types of events like the arts festival where they close the street. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

  • LakeNewportLady

    I already told my husband only weekends from now on. We currently go there 3x a week for lunch but I have no interest in paying to park.

  • Mookie Taylor

    I don’t go there often anyway, and when I do it is by bicycle or on the weekend. I will be even less likely to go to dinner there on a weeknight now though.

  • Longtimerestonian

    This is about greed..an aggressive towing policy would discourage overnight parking..putting barriers that don’t open until 10:30 would discourage commuters..

  • RestonLyons

    We live across the street from the RTC so won’t have to pay. We see a film at BTC about every 2 months unless it Oscar show a lot of films time as we prefer the films shown at Angelica or go to Landmark. We eat out there maybe twice a year as don’t like the restaurants, way too noisy. I don’t shop at any store there as not appealling to me. I do get my hair cut there and occasionally go to the CVS. The new shops don’t appear busy at all. I agree that it would be silly to commute from there to the Metro on a bus.

    I wish it was a place I wanted to visit

    • Ming the Merciless

      So the building where you live does not charge you to park in it? Wait, they do? Why, those greedy b@st@rds! How dare they???

      One might wonder why you choose to live in a place you don’t want to visit…

  • MsMarlynn

    Just found out Brighton is closing a week from Monday. Told that building will be coming down and rebuilt. Sad to lose Brighton. Assume Talbots next?

  • Reston has changed and a lot from when I first
    came here in 1965 and from when we moved here in 1982 and more change is
    coming. There are some 8-10,000 new apartments/condos coming along
    and close to the Silver line to Dulles.

    The Town center is poised for significant change and BP is just making
    adjustments in anticipation of the coming change.

    And the recent feasible projections for Tall Oaks are just another example of how
    focused Reston is going to be on the development along the Silver Line.
    And the nature of the change is why the Lake Anne proposal fell through and why
    Tall Oaks is not a village and why the Town Center is in for dramatic
    change…or why would BP has paid a billion dollars for it?

    In due time the TC and the Silver Line corridor will not be a place for
    residents in classic subdivisions to go to the movies or for lunch or dinner.
    10,000 new apartments/condos will dramatically alter the basic nature of
    Reston.

    Lake Anne will be similar to now but with new energy but no new dramatic
    developments. And South-side Reston will be as it is now subdivision
    country with small commercial centers here and there.

    So change is coming folks and let’s prepare for it.

  • Sidewinder

    I currently spend over $2,000 per month on business lunches, happy hours and dinners at the Town Center during weekdays. That will abruptly end on August 1st. I would not ask my customers and partners to spend money on parking while I’m the one supposed to be entertaining them, let alone suggesting that they download an app on their phone to pay for parking, or asking them to walk to a “Kiosk” to pay. No way… ridiculous.

    This is all about greed. If Boston Properties would consider giving 2hrs of free parking before charging fees, that would allow people to still enjoy a nice lunch, dinner or shopping experience for free, and would also discourage the commuters from leaving their cars there all day. They should also give all employees that work at the town center a free pass. They are not commuters, and they legitimately have to park there. This is just common sense, and Boston Properties is just a group of greedy liars.

    Oh, by the way, my dry cleaners and bank are there, and I use the FedEx location to drop off packages and print supplies. Sometimes I use Mayflowers, or pick up to-go food from restaurants. BP wants to charge me $2 for each of these visits that take about 2-5 minutes each?

    Goodbye RTC. It’s been fun.

    • Ming the Merciless

      So do you, your customers and partners get reimbursed for any of that $2,000/mo as a business expense? And if so, why would you not get reimbursed for parking as well?

      • Guy Norris

        stop asking such good questions. big daddy sidewinder is too busy at his “business lunches” to respond

    • Phil Lilienthal

      Forget the notion that few of us spend that amount at RTC, but more the case if we don’t. Surely Sidewinder can afford it and is motivated by Boston Properties’ excessive greed and, to me, an anti-community spirit in imposing this. And, to justify it as a way of limiting commuter poaching on retail parking is a joke. The two hour limitation would tak care of that, or employing a few people to chalk mark tires with the time they were spotted and to ticket them after two hours would be easy. You have gotten us to shop at RTC. Don’t drive us away by your greed. I think it makes sense to avoid RTC so other developers don’t think they can get away with eliminating free parking in Reston centers.

  • I’m disappointed they will start charging. I won’t go there anymore for weekday lunches. There are many great alternatives including Not Your Average Joes, Lake Anne, Le Madeleine… I like the Mosaic District and Fairfax Town Center more than Reston Town Center now. Very greedy to charge for parking. Just like the operators of the Dulles GREEDWay.

  • Dentro

    The poll ignores the fact that some people happily ride bikes or Uber to RTC anyway. Now that parking costs money, the cost-benefit just skews further away from what was already an irresponsible decision to drive in the first place.

  • Buddy Roe

    I went to town center this evening. The parking areas say no parking before 10 without a permit. So, where is the commuter problem they are using as a spurious excuse?

  • Trottingbob

    Tired of being ‘nickle and dimed.” Property tax increases; Dulles Toll increases; Metrorail, bus and garage increases. Planned tolls on the Parkway and I-66 inside the beltway. Possible county transportation and meals taxes. And now, new user fees, like this!

  • EliteinReston

    Thanks for posting this question and for your continuing coverage of the parking fee. Had it not been for Reston Now, I do not think Boston Properties would have decided to waive the fee for low income workers.
    I do not think it is realistic to say I will not go to the town center because of the parking fee. However, I will try to plan those trips when parking is free on weekends. I will definitely limit discretionary trips on weekdays. For the times I am off on Tuesday, I will not go to Bowtie anymore for the discounted movies and concessions. I will not go to restaurants when special family occasions such as birthdays or Valentine’s Day (Passion Fish) fall on weekdays. I won’t go during Restaurant Week anymore; the whole point of that week is to offer people seeking to save money a break on their meal. I will not go on a summer night for ice cream and to sit near the fountains. I will not meet my nephew there for lunch again as we tried to do at least once a quarter. My 26-year-old nephew and his colleagues who work nearby say they will cut down on their happy hours at the town center and shift to other venues. I will reconsider town center restaurants altogether if the county imposes a meals tax, which would make the parking fee even more insulting.
    I will not view Boston Properties the same way again. All I knew about the company before this debacle was that it supported many Reston-area events and institutions including the YMCA, Cornerstones, Taste of Reston and more. The company mishandled the fee at every step, trying to sell it as a response to a commuter parking problem that could easily be addressed while still allowing for free weeknight parking and a two-hour free parking limit on weekdays. The person I feel sorry for is spokeswoman Marion Myers, a longtime booster of Reston who Boston Properties hid behind when it came time to disclose this dubious fee to the public. Why can’t this company’s executives be transparent and explain their thinking? That way, we could at least understand where they are coming from and move on.

  • jmsullivan

    I work in an office building in the RTC, but am not sufficiently important to rank my own assigned spot beneath our building. So I park in the public garages every day. Given that this fee is weekdays only, I gather I’m apparently Boston Properties’ primary target. Not paid poorly enough to rate an exemption, but not paid highly enough to never even notice that they started charging the proles to park.

    I’m not in a position to quit my job over this. That said, there are plenty of companies doing what I do outside the Town Center, including quite a few that have actual employee parking but are still within a very reasonable commute. So I’m definitely paying a lot more attention to the “looking for someone with your skillset” emails that flow through my inbox these days. I don’t expect my company would like that, but then I don’t think they’re planning to pay for me to park here either.

    But if changing jobs doesn’t work out, I’m going to have to suck it up and pay the $70 a month and you’d think, having done that, the fee would no longer be an issue for me. Why not come back to the Town Center with my family at night to go to the movies or a restaurant? I’ve already paid for the parking.

    Because this is a lame money grab motivated by greed and cloaked in half-baked lies that tells me BP doesn’t even think they need to come up with more believable lies. That’s why. I’ve already started bringing my lunch most days rather than go downstairs to get lunch. I’ll miss the Bow Tie theater, but I’m already shifting my movies to other places. I’ve been getting my office shoes at the Allen Edmonds shop there, but there’s other places to get those. Basically I’m looking for things I do at the Town Center and looking for ways to not do them anymore.

    I’m sorry to squeeze Town Center merchants because I know this isn’t their fault. But that’s what I’ve got to work with. They’re BP’s human shields. I don’t think this ends well for them.

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