Paid Parking Begins Today at Reston Town Center

by Dave Emke January 3, 2017 at 10:15 am 94 Comments

Parking garage at Reston Town Center

The date has arrived. As of today, visitors to Reston Town Center are paying for the right to park there.

The ParkRTC paid parking initiative has officially begun, a Boston Properties official told Reston Now. Mobile pay parking is available through the ParkRTC smartphone app, while visitors without the app will be required to use garage pay stations or pay by phone.

RTC Parking signParking in the Town Center’s five garages will now cost $2 an hour (up to a maximum charge of $24 a day). Street parking is $3 an hour. A number of retailers have previously announced they plan to offer parking validation.

This marks the first time since the retail and residential complex opened in 1990 that parking fees will be collected.

The ParkRTC app, which can be downloaded via iTunes and Google Play, enables visitors to see available spaces, pay for a parking session, extend a parking session and receive discounts from retailers. According to Robert Weinhold, a Boston Properties spokesperson, more than 28,000 people had downloaded the app as of Tuesday morning.

Boston Properties, the owner of Reston Town Center, had originally announced it planned to commence paid parking at Reston Town Center last year. However, the start date was pushed back to Jan. 3 to allow “additional time to educate consumers” who were not embracing the technology, an RTC spokesman told Reston Now in September.

Nearly 9,000 people signed a change.org petition, organized by Reston’s Suzanne Zurn, asking to stop the new parking fees from being enacted at the Town Center. However, Boston Properties and the Reston Town Center Association did not bend on the plan.

Last month, Reston Now conducted an unscientific poll in which nearly 94 percent of readers said they do not support paid parking at the Town Center.

  • johnQPublic

    Finally I can stop going to the overpriced clown center

    • Joe Potts

      Haha silly boy

  • noodmik
  • Anonymous Poster

    Why does it need all those permissions? Knowing my phone call status? Access to files on my phone? That’s insane.

    • Generic User

      Yes, it is insane in the membrane. It also wants your first born.

  • Jon Taylor

    lol at anyone who downloads this app or pays to shop at rtc

  • Andy Goble

    Darn, I really wanted Bar Taco today.

    • Gavin

      Bar Taco validates parking. Enjoy.

      • MLog

        But doesn’t the validation count toward a future visit to RTC and not the visit being validated, and only if you download the app?

        • Gavin

          Wow. All I said is bar taco validates parking. That’s it.

          Heaven forbid service businesses in RTC try to do something to save their business because their landlord suddenly pissed off their clientele.

          If you want Bar Taco and are concerned about paid parking, it’s good to know Bar Taco is willing to make it easier/cheaper for the patrons that still want to visit them by providing some kind of “paid parking”. Good for Bar Taco.

          And I’m really not sure how Bar Taco validating parking is a moral issue?!?! They’re working with what’s been handed them. You think Bar Taco wanted paid parking? You think they wanted an invasive app? They just want your business and if that means paying for parking, good for them!

          • JoeInReston

            Not sure why your having a heaven forbid moment. Nobody is criticizing Bar Taco. They are criticizing Boston Properties’ stupid parking policy, particularly the delay to the validation component.

      • JoeInReston

        Unless you have the app, the parking validation is only good for the next visit.

      • Andy Goble

        The phone app sounds like a nightmare.

        • Joe Heflin

          As noted above please read the “terms and conditions.”

      • J

        Who wants to even deal with downloading the app and then getting a validation code, entering it, etc just to park in a distant suburb to eat? Not me. Agree with others that I will be taking my business elsewhere since parking is plentiful at RTC and all this is greed. I feel awful for all the retailers and restaurants that will probably go out of business as a result of this move.

      • jmsullivan

        Well, it’s a moral issue, isn’t it? I work in the town center, so I kind of have to park there. My company cut some kind of deal with Boston Properties, the details of which I’m not privy to. But basically they wanted the make and model and plate number for my car, and I can apparently just ignore the whole thing and park as before without having to worry about it. Presumably Boston Properties is keeping a database of approved vehicles.

        So this is now pretty much moot for me, but I’m still going to avoid RTC businesses wherever I can just because it’s the right thing to do. And yeah, I’m going to miss BarTaco…

        • Joe Heflin

          Can I mention Taco Bamba in Vienna which has free parking?

          • Jose

            Taco Bell is even closer and also has free parking, and much more affordable than the tacito prices at Bar Taco.

          • Ming the Merciless

            Not a very big parking lot, though!

        • JoeInReston

          Tipicos Gloria Restaurant, a tiny dive restaurant in the Kmart shopping center, has pretty good tacos. They don’t have the selection of Bar Taco or Taco Bamba, but the tacos they do have taste great.

          They have a much larger sister restaurant in Sterling with the same menu.

  • cRAzy

    So does this mean that all the free parking around RTC will be filled by people going to RTC? I mean at the Best Buy shopping center, corporate lots south of the W&OD, apartments/condos across Reston Pkwy from RTC, even in the “elite” townhouse development west of RTC.

    Not only is Boston Properties screwing itself, it appears set on screwing all its neighbors.

    • Scout


    • Joe Heflin

      Reston Hospital is going to have an opinion on this, too, along with the several office buildings and their parking lots which support them. The people who live in the rental partments and condos who do not have enough spaces will be forced to find a free space elsewhere. Reston Hospital is directly across the street from the Savoy…

    • ziacharm

      I hope not. It isn’t fair for businesses in the Best Buy center to lose their parking spots. They shouldn’t be punished for not making their customers pay for parking. People should either pay at RTC or decide not to go to RTC. Of course, asking people to be fair always works out so well…..

      • peevee

        All this plaza is going to be demolished soon anyway.

    • Stop Scamming the System

      I suspect Best Buy, et al will soon put up signs indicating that cars parking and not shopping will be towed.

    • JoeInReston

      There isn’t enough parking for Best Buy, Container Store, and NYAJ customers let alone for RTC customers looking to avoid parking fees, particularly during the Christmas shopping season.

      The Best Buy parking lot is already in stiff competition with the Trader Joe parking lot and Plaza Americana (aka Whole Foods) parking lot for worst parking lot in Reston. This might be just enough to push it over the top!

      Great work Boston Properties!

      • Tom

        Couldn’t agree more with your choices. The parking lot at Plaza America is the worst. I gave up on that shopping center long ago.

        • Ming the Merciless

          It will get better as soon as all the new year’s resolution people quit going to the gym.

    • Bowman Towne Drive was packed to the gills by 7:30am this morning, full to within a couple feet of the intersection at Fountain Dr. The condos in the area have already implemented increased parking scrutiny and will more strictly enforce towing in the coming month.

    • Scott H-Man

      This is the part nobody has been talking about. People will park at “Best Buy” and walk over. That lot will eventually have to add some measure of controlled parking which will then push out the issue to other lots. Soon, Home Depot will have controlled parking.

  • Joe Heflin

    I believe it is much more complicated than it appears.

    1. When you visit the App look at the “terms and conditions”. They are lengthy. Am I correct? Any dispute is governed by North Carolina and not Virginia?
    2. Am I correct? If I park on the street that I MUST use a phone? I cannot use a kiosk in any garage? If I do not have a phone available I cannot park on the street?
    3. Parking is NOT free on the street on Saturdays. It is in the garages. Parking is $3.00 an hour on the street, 2.00 an hour in the garages.
    4. How does the Charlotte, North Carolina company which administers this judge when a car has not paid? What is the fee for this?
    5. Street signs say “violators will be immobilized and charged a service fee at owner’s expense.” Does this mean booted? What if I disagree-does this mean I have to go to North Carolina for resolution in court? How much is the service fee for taking the boot off? What is the total cost for being a violator and immobilized and ending the immobilization?
    6. If I park in a garage and use a kiosk to pay, what is the grace period from parking my car to when I have logged in at the kiosk? What is the charge if I exceed this period of time?
    7. Can I pay with cash at a kiosk?
    8. There is a phone number to call which says I can “pay by phone.” Again, I will need a phone to make the call.

    • Mike M

      Remember when automation and wireless telecom made things simpler. That doesn’t even seem to be the goal anymore. Odd.

    • jmsullivan

      5. Street signs say “violators will be immobilized and charged a service fee at owner’s expense.” Does this mean booted?

      More or less. IIRC, they’re using some kind of big plastic shield that they stick on your windshield so you can’t see out, and you have to pay them to remove it.

      Something like this: http://barnacleparking.com/infficiencysolved-1/ Though I don’t know if that’s the exact model they’re using.

      • Generic User

        Just kick out the windshield like in the movies, no one needs those anyways.

  • Joe Heflin
  • Larry Lo

    Tyson’s corner, Tyson’s Galleria, Fairfax Corner, even Mosaic at Merrifield all have free parking. There is nothing special enough at RTC making it worth the headache and cost of pay parking/parking validation.

    • Ming the Merciless

      Sure, go ahead and spend >$2 in gas to avoid paying $2 in parking. Make sure you don’t use the Toll Road, too, because that’ll cost you.

      • Larry Lo

        It is $2 or $3/hr. Also have you even looked at the app privileges?

        Why does a parking payment app need to:

        find accounts on the device

        find accounts on the device

        approximate location (network-based)
        precise location (GPS and network-based)

        directly call phone numbers
        read phone status and identity

        read the contents of your USB storage
        modify or delete the contents of your USB storage

        read the contents of your USB storage
        modify or delete the contents of your USB storage

        take pictures and videos
        Device ID & call information

        read phone status and identity

        I will gladly pay to drive to another center, park for free, and keep what little privacy I have left.

        • Ming the Merciless

          I have never spent more than an hour shopping or eating.

          To be sure, I have absolutely no intention of downloading the app because I rarely patronize the RTC stores anyway, and now there is even less reason to do so.

  • JoeInReston

    On the bright side, the sooner they start their paid parking program, the sooner it can fail due to customer desertion.

    Let the battle of wills begin!

  • NoMoBoPro

    Maybe if we all parked that the North County Government Center, the police station and Hudgins’ office, BoPro’s paid parking would get some official attention–of a variety unwanted by BoPro.

  • tattler


  • I do worry about the safety of employees as this is enacted. They all have to park in one parking garage, on one level. As one employee I spoke to said, “great, so have all the people carrying large amounts of cash [to do bank drops] walking to a predictable location at a predictable time every day. This will end well.”

  • MLog

    My wife and I decided that we will not return to RTC; it’s just not that great, unique, or (ahem) “elite” enough to justify paid parking under the current terms. For at least our money, the Counter, Big Bowl, and Anthropology will lose out on relatively frequent business.

  • tmw313

    Although I am not thrilled about RTC’s paid parking I will continue to patronize the stores and restaurants. As a Restonian, I depend on the success of the ‘town centers’ to protect my property value. It is encouraging to see that retail workers will not be charged and the discounted rate after two hours, as well as some restaurant validation is fair. Unlike some, I would rather drive five minutes and pay $5 to park for lunch and shopping in RTC than fight traffic on a 20 minute drive to Tyson’s for free parking. RTC is way more charming to me than Tyson’s.

    • Richard

      Lake Anne is more charming than RTC. So are South Lakes Shopping Center, North Point, historic Herndon, Aslin Brew Pub and countless other spots within 5 minutes drive. All have free parking.

      • tmw313

        Yes, Lake Anne is lovely. Walking distance from my home so it’s a favorite spot for our family, mostly in summer for kayaking, festivals and farmers market:) RTC’s different flavor is just as charming to us as we attended the film festival, ice skating and my girls love the high-end shopping. As a homeowner I would rather patronize Reston business (Villages) instead of going outside to Herndon and Tyson’s. My opinion is just that a $5 parking fee will not cause ME to go outside of Reston for shopping or eating out however I recognize that the parking fee will be a deterrent to some.

        • pcidone

          I respect your opinion, however you’re sort of missing the point. If you live in Reston – most anyone here can afford the parking fee. It’s the idea that it is being initiated as a source of revenue on an already extremely successful retail center.

          • tmw313

            I do live in Reston, and more importantly I own a home here, pay Reston Association fees, Community Center fees and my cluster HOA fees. I enjoy Reston so why would I boycott RTC when I enjoy it and have no problem paying to park. It’s factored into my enjoyment. Things change. Just because parking was free before doesn’t mean it needs to stay that way indefinitely. Why punish myself, the businesses, the employees and community over $5. I’m going to ‘peace-out’ on this as I know my opinion isn’t respected. My bet is those saying they are boycotting RTC will either come back or never frequented it to begin with.

    • Generic User

      So basically you are trapped in a dysfunctional relationship with RTC.

      • tmw313

        Not at all. Basically an occasional $5 to park at RTC will not affect me financially. Paid parking is a way of life in many areas. I can’t understand the outrage over this where people are threatening to drive (gas cost, time, aggravation, etc..) to avoid spending $5. Not to mention most restaurants are validating (not fast-food), retail employees are exempt, free parking Saturday, Sunday, special events and holidays. There are other raising costs that are worth grumbling about more. Raising the HOA fees in my cluster… yes. RA raising their HOA fee… yes. $5 parking… no.

        • Generic User

          Yes, yes, that’s it. Drink this delicious Kool-aid. Mmmmhahahahaha!

    • Kevin Malone

      It’s because all the people commenting are cranky old people that don’t want change.

    • Joe Heflin

      Property values are an entirely different discussion. This would include the value of condos at town center, year over year; assessed values of nearby homes 2006-2016, the anticipation of the Metro vs the reality, 3,000+ rental apartments recently opened or under construction, explosive and competitive growth of Tysons and a great deal more for another thread.

    • TheKingJAK

      As a Restonian I depend upon fair practices and goodwill towards my neighbors, hence why I stand with them in boycotting Reston Town Center.

      • Donna Meagle

        So the only reason you depend upon fair practices and goodwill towards neighbors is because your from Reston?

  • Guest

    Boston Properties’ decision to put in paid parking was greedy and stupid, and its decision to use a truly intrusive and elusive app for payments is actually beyond the pale. But, as many of you point out, you don’t have to go to RTC (unless you’re an employee); you can shop where parking is free.

    At the same time, all of you who are RA members paid more than $40 this year along for all the stupidity that is going on with RA’s Tetra purchase. This included over $900K in negative cash flow in 2016 vs. the $200K-plus POSITIVE cash flow RA laid out in its forecast selling us on the Tetra referendum. And now, as RestonNow reports (https://www.restonnow.com/2017/01/03/proposed-independent-review-of-lake-house-falls-through/), RA is blocking a FREE review of that purchase and renovation.

    And you don’t have any choice but to pay the $40-plus last year (your assessment fee just went up $35 to help cover the cost) and more of the same for the next 3 DECADES. Let’s focus, folks! We need to get rid of the RA Board members, the RA CEO, the RA attorney, and ultimately Tetra.

    • Richard

      Parking is free at the Tetra property. You’re off topic.

      • Edward Calvert


  • BJ in Reston

    Goodbye Reston Town Center. I’m not coming back, nor is anyone else I know.

  • Wheatie

    This is some system! No doubt put together by brainless millennials! If anyone is attacked in a parking garage, I hope you sue Boston Properties for all they’ve got.

    • JoeInReston

      Indeed,the millennials are to blame.

      Keep off our yard millennials!

    • peevee

      I am sure that was an idea of some brainless MBA without ANY experiences of actually creating businesses.

  • Generic User

    I have not been educated.

  • CBDS

    Where else can we shop and eat?? Lol
    There are only 2 or 300 restaurants in a 10 mile radius. 4 huge malls with free parking haha.

  • Why do you bother?

    I feel sorriest for the RTC businesses that will suffer as a result of this ill-advised money grab.

  • Generic User

    How I am consoling myself that RTC had jumped the shark as reasons not to miss it now that parking has gone cra-cra:

    1. Cosi closed…the bread was awesome.
    2. Jackson’s changed the side on the Hickory Grill Chicken dish from that really good rice side to stupid, overused jumbo asparagus….gross. And now they have removed it from the menu! Sacré bleu!
    3. The Counter is way over priced anyway.
    4. Yes, Clyde’s is good, but since I live in Arlington and work out here, they have other locations…and Tysons has that tasteless mural for entertainment.
    6. Banana Republic…all of their men’s clothes are now skinny sized. I am not manorexic.
    7. I miss the charm of the old Ben & Jerry’s that the new one doesn’t have.
    8. There is another freakin’ Potbelly and Chipotle less than a mile away.
    9. Tevana is the Yugo of teas.
    10. Red Velvet only has about three flavors left every time I have been in there. Besides, cupcakes are so 2010. Cronuts, anyone?

  • pcidone

    I’m sorry, just one more way to try to further urbanize Reston. It is insane. This is going to be a mess and I for one am of the opinion there is nothing at RTC worth paying $2/hour for parking. Guess I will take my business elsewhere.

    • Joe Heflin

      Again, it is $3.00 an hour on the street. You will be ticketed if you only pay $2.00.

      • pcidone

        Joe – thanks for clarification. Honestly – see my comment below. We will plan to take our business elsewhere.

  • restonista

    Just returned from a quick errand at RTC (which didn’t require parking.) Saw 2 parking enforcement vehicles within 2 blocks. Didn’t go into the garages but saw tons of street vacancies! While I applaud not allowing the condo/apt. folks to monopolize the parking, I’m still 100% against the parking fees as they stand. Overflow condo/apt. parking and commuter abuse would be basically eliminated by the offering 3 hours free parking for those that want to patronize the retail and restaurants. I’m just not going to spend another $3 to buy a card at The Paper Store when they are already expensive enough! I’ll just simply go to another store and save money. Boston Properties is screwing all of us! The only benefit is for themselves! Ridiculous!!!

  • Greg

    Bye, Felicia!

  • :(

    We were all going to go to Vapiano’s for dinner, but they don’t validate, so we decided to go somewhere else. Bummer. Oh well I guess.

  • Mr Juicy Fantastic

    This might be a mental play. Right now they charge $2 per hour. People are outraged. Later they will lower it down to $1 per hour. All of a sudden it looks like a better deal resulting in people coming back. Just a thought.

    • Joe Heflin

      It’s $3.00 an hour to park on the street.

  • RC

    The boycott begins today!

  • Anonymous

    Hopefully someone in RTC admin will read this: you’re pissing off a lot of people in northern VA. I couldn’t care less where I get my kicks; I live in Reston but commute to Gaithersburg every day, driving doesn’t bother me. I’d rather go to One Loudoun, Dulles Mall, or even Rio in Gaithersburg than pay my hard-earned cash for something that was once free, should be free, worked just fine when it was free, and was a barefaced and hamfisted cashgrab attempting to capitalize off of Reston’s popularity. Everyone I know will be boycotting RTC until this mess is sorted out. RTC was fine. This is not New York or DC, this is a suburban community. Quit screwing with Virginians.

  • just saying…

    next thing you know…people will be parking at the metro parking lot to go shopping at RTC!

    Judging by everyone’s comments, it looks like a good time to invest in a tow company 🙂

    • Joe Heflin

      I am guessing they will not tow you. Rather they will immobilize your car and after you pay the overtime parking charge, the immobilization fee, the charge for removing it (from your windshield or rear window?) then someone will go out and physically remove it. Meanwhile your car is probably going to sit somewhere at Town Center attracting a lot of attention with what amounts to a big sign on it. What is Reston Town Center’s responsibility if your car is damaged or vandalized while it has been immobilized?

  • WorkInHerndon

    Paid parking doesn’t happen if no one goes. Stores already planning on leaving. This is fail.

  • Jeff

    Big mistake. Greed by Boston Properties that will long range hurt them. We had a nice dinner at RTC with visiting family over the holidays. Last time we will be going there. I’ve been a customer of RTC businesses since 1995. Partly due to easy access and free parking. I have now cancelled a membership at a RTC business. Have no unique reason to go there. So I won’t. Not till they fix was not broken.

    • Justin

      Talk about bitter….. I’m glad I don’t know you.

      • Jeff

        Justin. That was not bitter. Are you hired by Boston Properties to troll this one by? Flag was the odd personal insult not related to content of the post. What time zone are you in…

  • mike connor

    So if you consider that stupid parking app, look at all of th permissions it requests when you install it. In order to use it to pay for the privilege to park at RTC, you get your private data compromised and location tracked at no additional charge! I have no idea why they thought charging for parking was a good idea. Have they seen Loudon 1 lately? Don’t they know the exact same retail establishments are all over the place, where you don’t need to worry about paying to park?

  • Tostig

    I fear we’re going to get the worst of all possible worlds here: sales off, enough to drive some good local businesses out but not quite enough for Boston Prop to cancel the program; some customer traffic lost but not enough for BP to cancel it; too expensive and too much of hassle to go to RTC anymore but not enough of a groundswell of people feeling that way to force change. In the end, I think RTC keeps its parking fees, less people go there, RTC turns into a backwater relative to Loudon One and others, life goes on, and property values go down a little. I don’t see a happy ending to this one.

  • Stephen Sachs

    Usually when paid parking happens it’s because there is so much parking demand that paid parking is necessary to control it but I never thought RTC parking garages were that full. The Mosiac District is far busier than RTC and parking is free. RTC paid parking just seems like a stupid move based on greed.

  • kcmargulies

    I will now head to One Loudoun. Has the excellent Alamo Theater. Plays new movies and some classics. And great restaurants. And FREE parking.

  • kcmargulies

    One Loudoun will also soon have a Barnes&Noble. And free parking. 😉

  • Ed Hicks

    I can expense parking when I’m forced to go to RTC for a meeting but I will do everything in my power to move meetings to Herndon or Loudoun One.

  • peevee

    No more occasional visits to RTC for me. Why bother?

  • peevee

    What happens to the people who work in all the businesses in RTC? Do they pay but then compensated by their employers? I guess it is them who have downloaded this app.

    Imagine to be a waiter in one of those restaurants. The parking fee takes all your hourly salary.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    I used to get my prescription at CVS. While CVS is one of the places that provides validation, it’s so much of a hassle that I might as well go to Plaza America down the road. My wife went there for the last time and said the RTC looks like a “ghost town”. Congrats Boston Properties for KILLING RTC as a retail center.

    I wonder if Reston snobbery took hold where they thought that RTC was so special that it warranted parking fees and conditions similar to that of Manhattan and that the fees would price about the losers who don’t have $200K a year govt jobs to blow $200 on a shopping trip. It’s like something out of South Park’s Shipatown.

    It’s not just the money that’s a kick in the teeth but the app makes parking at RTC tougher than filling out my taxes. I have to register in a zone and then validate? If I stop for a few minutes to let someone out, will I get a ticket as big brother snaps my license plate? And I’m reasonably tech saavy so I can only imagine the confusion this creates with a core customer the RTC had appealed to which was rich housewives looking to kill a few hours shopping at the 70% clothing and kitshe stores and getting a drink afterwards.

    It also kills the appeal of the RTC for the locals who pay nosebleed prices for tiny condos as the few reasonably prices places are boarded up due to lack of business like Pittsburgh Mills (look it up). A 150 million dollar mall put up in 2005 and now sold for $100 at auction. Just in time for the 2nd real estate bubble to pop! What perfect timing!

  • mike connor

    Been nice knowing ya RTC! Pay to park, while using that shady ParkRTC app that asks for A LOT of permissions on my mobile device?! No way!


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