BXP: Reston Town Center Parking To Become Free For First Hour and After 5 P.M.

by Dave Emke May 31, 2017 at 12:00 pm 85 Comments

(This article was updated at 1:45 p.m. with additional information and comments.)

Nearly five months after instituting paid parking at Reston Town Center, Boston Properties is modifying the system to allow for more free parking.

According to a statement released Wednesday morning by BXP, changes will go into effect Monday that will rescind the pay requirement for users of Reston Town Center parking garages after 5 p.m., and it will also allow for one hour of free garage parking for sessions that begin before 5 p.m.

“As promised, Boston Properties has listened to community and retailer feedback and evaluated the paid parking initiative at Reston Town Center (RTC) over the first quarter of this year,” reads the statement.

Garage parking for the second hour will remain at $2, with subsequent hours charged based on the existing pay scale. No changes will be made to street parking, which is $3 an hour.

“Based on a study of traffic patterns and behaviors as well as retailer input, Boston Properties identified that one hour of free parking and free parking after 5 p.m. would address the primary concerns expressed by the community while still supporting the original goals of paid parking: protecting the parking rights of RTC tenants and visitors and augmenting revenue dedicated to community reinvestment.”

Free parking will be in effect each night from 5 p.m. until 3:30 a.m.

Anyone parking before 5 p.m. will still need to register a parking session with the ParkRTC app or at a kiosk, spokesperson Kathy Walsh said on behalf of Boston Properties.

“This is necessary both to allow patrons and visitors to extend a session should they decide to stay longer than an hour, as well as for enforcement purposes,” she said.

Walsh said those parking after 5 p.m. will not need to take any action, just as with parking on weekends, holidays and during special events.

Guarang Shah, organizer of the Reston United group that staged a protest march on Reston Town Center earlier this year, said he is happy to see the compromise from Boston Properties.

“Initially we thought it should be two hours [free during the day], but one hour is fair enough, and after 5? I mean, yeah, that’s fair,” Shah said. “I think it will make people happy, they can go to dinner. And if somebody wants to stop by for lunch, they can stay for an hour too.”

Boston Properties also says it will be making upgrades to the payment kiosks “to streamline payments and validations.” Among these enhancements, visitors will be able to swipe a credit card rather than manually entering payment information. In addition, new cash machines have already been installed adjacent to the kiosks.

“Considering the current, challenging, national retail marketplace, these changes reflect Boston Properties’ continued commitment to its merchants,” said Peter Johnson, Boston Properties executive vice president, in the statement. “We are confident this new model will help ensure the long-term success of all Reston Town Center stakeholders.”

Reston resident Suzanne Zurn, who started a change.org petition in opposition of paid parking that gathered more than 9,000 signatures, called the announcement “progress” toward fixing a system that “has been damaging to the community, to businesses and employees.”

“The community welcomes Boston Properties realization that free parking hours are needed and we look forward to learning more about the upgrades to the parking kiosks. Only one hour free during the day is not enough time for someone to park and have a business lunch, attend to other business appointments in RTC, or participate in one of the special events like Mr. Knick Knack. A two- to three-hour free period during the day would have done more to alleviate the barriers and the community anger.”

No further modifications to the paid-parking rates are expected at this time, Walsh said.

  • Generic User

    One hour is really still not enough to eat lunch, not to mention shop at a store or two. It really should be two or three hours. Glad to see BXP has stopped being unreasonable, but it is not enough and I am sure you still have to download their stupid app even to get the free parking. I am still a boycott, BXP.

    • Brian Pyatt

      1 hour is plenty for lunch, this isn’t happy hour.

      • Generic User

        When is the last time that you went to Jackson’s or Clyde’s for lunch with, say, three co-workers and got seated, ordered, ate, and got back to your car in one hour?

        • Brian Pyatt

          I want your job.

          • Generic User

            Don’t get me started on the martinis.

        • Feh

          Do you want Clyde’s to give you a charge number as well? Sheesh it’s always gimme gimme gimme, never satisfied.

          • Generic User

            How is your job going with BXP, “guest poster?”

          • Feh

            I am sure they don’t tolerate slackers like you who steal company time every day.

          • Generic User

            I am surprised your company is letting you read and comment on RestonNow stories if you and they are so micromanage time-obsessed. Not a minute can be wasted, you have TPS reports to fill out.

        • Willie Reston

          If the $2 is too much for four people to cover, try a faster option like Hen Penny or Sweetgreen where you’ll be out in under an hour.

          • JoeInReston

            If I am going to the RTC for a week day lunch, I am likely doing so to hit up a non fast casual option. There are plenty of fast casual options outside RTC with easier parking options.

        • OtherwiseEmployed

          How much time does your company give you for lunch? Most give 45 minutes. So if the four of you are stretching lunch past an hour then your company is forking way over more than $100 for lost time (slackers). You can afford the extra 2 bucks for parking if you split it.

          • Generic User

            I have worked for 9 companies in my career and have never really been given a time limit for lunch, much less a 45 minute one. Most companies just expect about an hour and that you don’t abuse it. And while going to McDonald’s certainly won’t take you 45 minutes, any sit down and order restaurant takes an hour or more with wait time, etc.

      • Evey Hammond

        You still need time to take in a movie, and if it’s just eat your lunch and get out of here, the only people who benefit from just one hour are restaurants. The stores are screwed. Also, business luncheons where a deal is at stake rarely conclude in just one hour. There are more businesses in RTC than just restaurants that need consideration.

        • Willie Reston

          If you’re at a business luncheon where a deal is at stake, are you scrapping the deal over a $2 parking fee?

          • Richard

            No, but you’re WAY less likely to go there at all when you have to explain to all the participants that they’re gonna have to load an app on their phone to park there. Oh, yeah, it might take you the next 30 min to set it all up. Oh, and you have to give it access to your contacts and stuff. On second thought, let’s go to Loudoun One.

          • Willie Reston

            I totally agree that the app is a terrible idea and I would not schedule a business meeting at RTC simply because the app. I was just calling BS on the comment that someone wouldn’t want to hold a meeting there because they might get hit with a $2 fee.

          • JW

            I wouldn’t hold a meeting if it cost each participant $2.00 per hour.

          • Generic User

            In my deals, $2 is my margin, so yes. I am very small potatoes.

      • J Woods

        Actually, one hour is not enough for lunch. In the past (though not during paid parking) you had to wait 30 minutes or more just to be seated at Clyde’s for lunch. Poor Boston Properties! They are so incompetent that they even mess up their mea culpa.

        • Generic User

          Incompetent, yes. But still greedy. They know people can’t eat lunch in an hour, so they did this on purpose to get the second hour’s $2.

      • Reston Mom

        One full hour free? Gee whiz. Still boycotting. Still not downloading their spyware.

      • EADGBE

        1 hour is not enough time for lunch anywhere in the Clown Center.

        • Willie Reston

          This statement couldn’t be any more false.

          • Richard

            You can eat at Hen Penny’s in under an hour. Great chicken. And sodas. And fried twinkies! (I didn’t say it was healthy). But I wouldn’t load RTC’s parking app for that free hour. Call in your order and double-park for a minute. Take it to go!

      • JoeInReston

        If customers want to spend extra time for lunch – whether it is because they are moochers or because they will make up their time later that day – it would be in RTC’s best interests ($) to lengthen the free parking time beyond one hour. Otherwise these customers will go elsewhere.

        The same forces that forced RTC to offer the one hour free parking are in play. Suburban customers aren’t going to pay for parking.

    • Nah

      Eat faster, ingrate.

  • Nate_VA

    I’m very happy to hear this news! Now we can have dinner in RTC on weekdays without having to pay for parking.

  • Generic User

    I guarantee the restaurant staff will get sick of being pestered by tables to hurry up and get the food, get the check so they can get out in an hour.

    • Nah

      Nah. More people processed through = more tips for them.

  • Longime Reston Resident

    One hour free???? I guess I could run to the bank and back. Is Reston Town Center run by idiots???

    • BWallace

      I am guessing major decisions are made by millenials. Or possibly preschoolers.

      • Willie Reston

        Right, because boomers have made nothing but great decisions over the last 35 years.

      • RVA_101

        How petty and insulting of you. The younger generation inherits not only the world, but a ton of spite as well.

        • Josie

          Not petty at all. Everyone is stupid while young. They grow out of it. But they shouldn’t be in charge until they do.
          That said, I can’t believe that a 58 year old would come up with smart phone spyware parking.

          • Reston Mom

            Amazing that the new standard of insult is: “are you in charge of the Reston Town Center?”

          • JoeInReston

            Wouldn’t it be less petty to withhold millennial insults when the stupidity in question was committed by a non millennial.

          • Brinn

            First of all, no everyone is not “stupid while young”. Have you actually ever met a young person? Like say, someone in their mid-20s working two jobs and living in a shoebox of a room in someone’s basement because that’s all they can afford between their student loan debt and stagnant wages?

            And on the other side of the coin, there are some incredibly tech-savvy 58 y/os. And I bet once they saw the dollar signs LAZ showed them, they jumped right on board. The data mining was either a bonus revenue stream or not a concern in the face of the money they would make.

            Millianials inhereted this terrible economy with rising costs and stagnant wages, and you have the gall to suggest it’s milennials behind the idea to screw over everyone? You need to take a good long look at yourself and figure out why you’re not capable of respecting an entire generation.

      • Brinn

        Have you ever actually spoken to a millenial in your life? Cause it ain’t twenty year olds making boneheaded decisions about how to squeeze every penny out of people to sate their own greed.

    • cRAzy


    • RestonAssurance

      Certifiable idiots indeed.

    • Captain Obvious

      Yes, craven, greedy idiots. They finally caved and ALMOST got it right, except for the stupid one hour limit which will likely die of its own weight.

  • Generic User

    Let’s face it. BXP has just become the newspaper kid from “Better Off Dead” for lunch visits.

    • Jenny Gibbers

      Have you considered this? Go to the BxP building, take the elevator to the top floor. Find an unlocked door, walk out and put your feet over the ledge. Then call me.

  • Anonymous Poster

    Silly they didn’t do this in the first place, but I’ll be more likely to go now for dinner and a movie on Tuesday nights like I used to. Evenings free like this is what they really needed.

    The hour free thing is kind of silly, but whatever. This was never anything I could take advantage of anyway since I work downtown.

  • tattler

    After 5:00pm….until when? Knowing Boston Properties’ money grabbing, opportunistic tendencies, I wouldn’t put it past them to make it free for just a short period of time. The time they start charging again will say a lot of how much they’ve “listened to the community”

    • cosmo

      Until 3:30 a.m.

  • cRAzy

    That’s a start. If BosProp’s real (claimed) intent is to prevent Metro parking, they could easily allow as much as 3-4 hours of free parking during weekdays. Ain’t nobody taking the Metro to DC (or even Tysons) and coming back within that timeframe. So they are just admitting defeat by conceding the absolute minimum they can get away with. If we let them!

    • Pepe

      I couldn’t agree more. This is still a flawed solution. They should have given 2 or 3 free hours. 1 hr? it is not enough to go for lunch. It might be only for coffee.

    • Brinn

      That was explicitly never the intent as you can buy a monthly parking pass for any garage and no one’s gonna stop you from walking over to the metro. (And $70 is cheaper than metro lot parking over the month).

  • Richard

    BP is finally beginning to acknowledge their massive failure. I hope the executives who initiated and perpetuated this disaster have lost their jobs. They can continue to forget about my day visits, but this might be enough to get me back for weekends or evenings, as long as I never have to install their app. Much of the damage is done, though. Most now associate RTC with paid parking. People will be slow to return, and BP will never be trusted again in this area. Unless they offer three hours or more, without requiring an app on my phone, then they have totally destroyed the “public common” atmosphere for Reston that they once enjoyed.

  • Scott

    So I guess this means BP saying business was UP over 2016 wasn’t factual…weird.

    • cRAzy

      C’mon! It was a valid “alternative fact.”

  • southside

    Agree that it will take a while for people to return and they have likely lost some customers forever. Had this been the original plan there would have been some push but not all the bad press, boycotts and a protest march. It would have been fun to be a fly on the wall in some of the BP meetings about this.

    Two hours free would have made more sense with BP’s stated goal of stopping commuter and non-RTC parking, but I’ve done quick lunches at RTC in under and hour (including getting back to the office south of the toll road) but that required going at 1:30 instead of noon.

    The article mentions adding cash machines and updating the credit card machines so maybe (…maybe…) that will make it easier to use the garages without downloading the phone app. Need more details about what they plan on those two things.

    Ultimately, I still think RTC would be better without paid parking except for maybe the street parking to be sure that those spaces roll over for more people to use them. But it is nice to see the voice of the consumer (which in this case is visitors and the businesses leasing from BP) along with a drop in $$$ can result in change.

    • Brinn

      Their goal was NEVER to stop commuter parking — any Tom Dick or Harry can buy a monthly pass for $70.

  • Scott

    Visit on the weekends…. Check
    Visit weekday evenings… Check
    Weekday meetings/lunches…..download an app, even if you are there less than an hour, just in case you stay for 61 minutes.

    RTC used to be my go to for business lunches b/c it was easy and there were plenty of options. The parking app continues to make this a near impossibility b/c it would require asking questions about attendees having an app, etc, etc, etc. It’s much easier to just go elsewhere.

    While the changes will make me slightly more likely to visit in the evenings, in the last 5 months I have found a host of other options and I haven’t missed RTC one bit. Also, I still have a bitter taste in my mouth from BP’s outright lies re: the reasons behind the paid system and this non-apology in the announcement of the new policy infuriates me more so I’ll probably visit less than I otherwise would.

    A full-throated apology and acknowledgement that they screwed up, and I would let bygones by bygones.

    Finally, I’ll never download the app. If RTC would implement a system that would issue a ticket and allow me to easily pay at a kiosk with cash or credit, and I’d be more likely to visit during paid times. Can you imagine being a visitor from out of the immediate area and trying to figure out how to give BP your money to park for the privilege of spending your money with their tenants?

  • J Wally

    I believe this is a good compromise. I will be happy now to support the merchants at RTC again. The community spoke and had a big impact.

    • LeftPolitico

      No, it is not a good compromise. See the many other comments for the reasons why.

      • Bookoo

        Majority those reasons are simply “I don’t want to pay for parking at all.”, but it seemed unlikely that they were just going to abandon free parking all together.

        Sure I wish they would have given 2-3 hours free, but with the addition of free parking after 5pm during the week it seems like it would probably satisfy the majority of the people who are upset about the parking.

        Now if only they would fix the stupid way their parking system is structured it would be even better.

    • TheKingJAK

      It’s a good start, but I’m unsure if such a compromise is acceptable after BP’s sheer arrogance.

  • Malcol6

    In all the news and comments … not one mention regarding discontinuance or continuance of RTC merchants validating parking for those who may be parked more than one hour; or doing business before 5 p.m. Also not one mention regarding on-street handicapped parking – still must pay?

    Will be interesting to have RTC merchants or the Reston Merchants Association provide their updated “input” to the Boston Properties announcement.

  • Generic User

    Reston United’s statement that the BP changes are fair is awful. There goes their leverage. I wonder if Guarang bothered to check with all of the Reston United members/supporters to see if they thought having only an hour at lunch was fair. I suspect the answer is no, he didn’t check and no, the majority would still not think it was acceptable. I appreciate his passion, but way to give up the game too early.

    • LeftPolitico

      Agree completely. My jaw dropped when I saw the statement from Reston United. None of this changes my mind, no driving to RTC for me.

      • Ross

        Because it time to move on. Get out live a little, enjoy a nice even at Reston town center.

    • Adrian Havill

      You’re 75 percent there, RTC. Now go back to total free parking and you’ll make everyone happy. Remember, the customer is always right.

  • Phil Lilienthal

    How petty and Trumpian of BP to want a fight even while compromising. If there is a reason, as all residents have been saying, to encourage shopping at RTC, and no disagreement at stopping commuter parking, why not be gracious and allow 3 hours parking so shoppers can be relaxed about meals and shopping? Even while gaining a little favor, they look cheap and picky.

  • EliteinReston

    To understand Boston Properties’ debacle with paid parking, take 3:45 minutes to watch this video from 2011 of Reston business and civic leaders praising Boston Properties for embracing Reston’s community concept and ethic.

    Boston Properties had been one of the shining regional examples of how to blend community with development. But early last year, something changed within the company. Some tone-deaf company executives decided on a bone-headed plan to charge for weekday and weeknight parking at a town center where parking had been free for 25 years. From the start, the plan was ill-conceived, drawing the company needlessly in a fight with the same community that had praised it for years. Among other things, the company failed to consider the impact of fees on low-wage workers, forcing BP to backpedal. The company announced the fees without first informing its tenants, leading to lawsuits and ill will. The company failed to gauge community sentiment, and make itself available to the public to explain its reasoning. Worst of all, the company failed–until now– to consider a reasonable compromise to allow some free parking on weekdays and weeknights. It has been a textbook public relations fiasco from the start, and may take years for Boston Properties to restore its reputation in Reston.

    • Phil Lilienthal

      It’s a shame that their non-Reston employees didn’t see the video.

  • Jenny Gibbers
  • Pepe

    All lies and more lies! it is not about preventing metro parking by getting more revenue by affecting the RTC businesses at the same time. If it were metro parking prevention related, they would have given 3 hours free.

  • Robert Mowbray

    I still don’t have a smart phone or plan to acquire one. Also one hour is not enough to donate blood or attend the free movie for seniors.

  • 40yearsinreston

    The spyware stays
    After 5pm is when the bars start to fill up

    BP are feeling the pressure – maintain the boycott

  • Sonia Byrnes

    No, should be free, people is not coming back, restaurant are loosing money left and right, stores are closing,
    Boston Properties are greedy! Good luck

  • Chkitout1

    I’m sure it’s a coincidence that Jackson’s lawsuit against Boston Properties was to have their first day in court on June 1st. Thank you Jackson’s and Great American Restaurants.

    • alkhrt

      JAcksons has gotten all of my business when visiting RTC, but still going after 5pm. RTC was my go to spot. It had everything going for it. Convenience and choice. They have still lost all of the lunch crowd. 1hr is typically not long enough to find a spot, walk from the spot to a restaurant, get seated, eat, pay and walk back to the car. Plus the inconvenience of requiring the app (which I would bet they get more money off of reselling your personal info as they track you from store to store), giving the parking company access to all of the crap on the phone, and yet another attack point for hackers to get my personal info.

  • Bob

    I’m not going to start going to RTC again just because they’re offering one hour free parking. When Metro came to Ballston, they had three hours of free parking, and the Metro station was directly accessible from the mall — not a third-of-a-mile walk like the new Metro station will be from RTC.

    Mark my words, the new development in that part of Reston will be closer to the Metro station, along the toll road (between the toll road and the W&OD bike trail).To the extent there is development further from the Metro station, RTC will be competing with whatever is built in the Spectrum space.

    The advantage RTC has is the look and feel of a street-level urban space. That is a retail environment, and the RTC parking policy has killed the place for retail. Reston is not in the middle of nowhere, and there is nothing there that is not available somewhere else within a 15-20 minute drive. So it’s easy not to go there.

  • Ella

    At least they finally admitted its a straight up revenue grab. My company used to bring us here for lunches but we’ve started going to Not Your Average Joe’s instead. No one wants to deal with organizing a huge group to download an app and all the headaches associated with that, especially since many colleagues don’t live in Reston or want the app.
    2-3 hour free parking is the only sensible COMPROMISE. 1 hour free is hardly a compromise — just throwing the community a tiny scrap and expecting us to be grateful for said scrap. Disappointed in the Reston United statement. I’m staying away from RTC until appropriate and fair changes are made. Stop hurting our community.

  • Dizzy Diz

    So if you get a free hour then free parking really starts at 4PM. We can get our happy hour on a bit earlier!

    • Hieronymus Bosch

      Just remember –
      “Anyone parking before 5 p.m. will still need to register a parking session with the ParkRTC app or at a kiosk,” spokesperson Kathy Walsh said on behalf of Boston Properties.

      • Dizzy Diz

        Not scared of an app=earlier happy hour.

  • Sheila Stackpoole Rabaut

    I go out to shop and I spend a lot of money but it willl not be downloading and app. Shopping takes more than an hour over there. NO ONE goes to Apple for under an hour. Not possible. 3hours give the local shoppers and eaters time to eat and shop or maybe a movie. Very very few people will be taking the Metro for under 3 hours. BP will still get the Metro crown they want. They are gauging us. We have gotten on without them since January and I will continue. There is a plethora of shopping and restaurants in the area. It really only hurts those who bought condos there but don’t they already have their own parking? This is HBS – BS.

  • Sheila Stackpoole Rabaut

    That should read, They are gouging us.

  • Arielle in NoVA

    It’s a step in the right direction for BP, but there shouldn’t be paid parking there at all. Not only is 1 daytime hour not nearly enough for non-Metro use (and not like the Metro is anywhere near there yet anyway), but nearby parking lots have started towing because of BP’s greed. What used to be an area where you could park and freely walk around at your leisure, for hours if you felt like it, has become a place to avoid because of parking enforcers and tow trucks. BP has ruined that entire area of Reston for us.

  • Lake Anne Resident

    The Parking Overlords are weakening, continue to resist!

  • Kara Gardner Wills

    One hour free and load the insidious ParkRTC app…nope


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