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

(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.

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