News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

At Reston Town Center, Will They Pave a Parking Lot and Put Up a Paradise (of Mixed-Use Bollardy Goodness?)

Parking Lot.jpg

Forget golf courses. Forget garden apartment complexes. Apparently what really gets Restonians' goats is when there's talk about redeveloping an ugly surface parking lot.

As part of its ongoing consolidation of properties at Reston Town Center, Boston Properties is now purchasing the last surface lot at Reston Town Center for a cool $27 million. By our lazy quick count, that works out to about $150,000 for each parking space, which makes it reasonable to expect that Boston isn't just concerned about ensuring continued easy access to the Ruby Tuesday's FedEx store. Which, according to our BFFs at Patch, is exactly what's on the menu:
The parcel is commercially zoned for 250,000 square feet of office space. Boston Properties is evaluating a potential mixed-use development plan, which could include residential as well as commercial uses, CoStar said.
Reading the comments on Patch, you'd think they were talking about paving over Lake Anne and opening an Sbarro in the torso of the statue of Bob Simon. But this is a parking lot, and a parking lot that's soon to be surrounded by yet more dense buildings. It's actually a place that makes sense for that kind of development, which is a lot more than we can say for some other projects that have come over the transom.

Besides, we're old enough to remember when the original buildings at our gritty urban core were surrounded by a Disneyland-esque field of surface parking, minus the monorails to take you to Adventureland the Gap. It was beautiful, assuming you like the used car lot ambiance of say, Tysons, but the dwindling amounts of surface parking has added to the verisimilitude of an authentic urban experience as our Lil' Town Center grew up.

More annoying is the fact that Boston has hinted in the past that the days of free parking in the garages at our gritty urban core may someday come to an end, but it's not like you can just park for free in the middle of Times Square -- which is the only urban analogue that we can think of with more generic chain stores than RTC.

One valid question is what will happen to the rickety, lockjaw-causing carnival rides festivals that have used the parking lot. Well, we've still got four other "town centers" with surface parking lots, so why not spread the wealth around a bit? There's plenty of space in at least one of those lots, the end.


  1. All in all it seems to show that you don't know what you've got till its gone, Paved Paradise p̶u̶t̶ ̶u̶p̶ tear down a parking lot.

  2. The big question is whether after Town Center and North Shore Drive have filled up to the brim with new development, will anybody be able to get up or down Reston Parkway to get to the hospital? You know, the kind of trip you take in an ambulance.

    The plan is to widen Reston Parkway to three lanes in each direction from South Lakes to Baron Cameron, but it won't be enough for the amount of development that is planned.

    There will still need to be many bridges across the Dulles Toll Road--5 or 6. Who will pay for those bridges at $200 million each? Developers don't want to pay for bridges ("We don't need no stinkin' bridges! Traffic is irrelevant!")

    Guess who will be paying for bridges--Reston homeowners. With a "service" district imposed by the BOS without our vote or consent.

    If it takes the loss of a favorite parking lot to wake people up, I'd have to say that's a good thing.

    1. I worked on some conceptual studies for extending town center parkway to sunrise valley drive via a tunnel. FFX county seems pretty keen on the idea.

    2. Why a tunnel, Nick? It seems like a bridge across the DTR would be cheaper.

  3. As long as we're not talking Manhattan parking prices - I'd be fine dropping a few buck to tote the kids out to a concert on the town.
    And make paying for parking easy. When will parking lots start accepting EZ-Pass? Wait, forget that I mentioned that. I'm off to the patent office.

  4. Or people could walk or bike or take the bus to the Town Center, which are all options in Reston.

  5. I just started reading this blog - and it is awesome. Couple of questions:
    1) who is behind this blog?
    2) why is everyone so against commercial development in Reston? I think it's good for all of us.
    3) when are we going to get better restaurants in Reston? (Not including Macaroni Grille!)

  6. Some answers:

    1. Don't ask, just enjoy.
    2. Traffic, traffic, and low-cost housing.
    3. We got 'em. Passion Fish and Mortons on Washingtonian's top 100. Also worthy: El Manitial in Tall Oaks, Monmartre and Jasmine in Lake Anne. And still more of you consult Yelp or Tyler Cowen's Ethnic dining guide.

    1. Big 10-4 on El Manantial. Mama Wok's also excellent. There's too much chainy stuff at RTC, but I confess to being partial to Il Fornaio. And Reston has got to be the only place where there's a (good) sushi restaurant in a former McDonald's. Mmm... McSushi!

  7. I second the motion to bike to RTC except that RTC needs more bike parking.

    cdanluva -- we're not against commercial development per se -- just commercial development that's done behind closed doors, that makes traffic problems worse, and under which those developers do NOT pay HOA fees and those of us who do end up paying for the privilege of being shafted.

    And since you're new, if you have any good ideas for commercial development at Tall Oaks, let us hear them. That place has been a failure for years.

    1. Well I agree with fighting against "behind closed doors" commercial development deals.