News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Our Elite Reston Town Center, Back At It Again With The Paid Parking Smartphone App

343398054 1372566 1

You know how you can tell when your planned community's fake downtown gritty urban core is truly elite? When it can get away with saying things like this:

Boston Properties executives said on a recent earnings conference call that the new parking app — which will manage Reston Town Center customers’ paid parking — will be “a significant enhancement" for customers.
By "customers," we assume BP means their customers -- the purveyors of midscale dining and retail experiences who lease space at RTC. The rest of us are what the folks on the earnings call referred to as "incremental revenue opportunities."

But maybe the folks at Boston Properties have a point, inasmuch as kinda sorta requiring an app to pay for parking will keep out the riffraff who can't afford smartphones and just breathe life into an otherwise sterile synthesized urban scene by contributing to the vibrant streetscape filled with people from all walks of life enjoying the experience of shared community and "place" loiter. But they were quick to point out again that revenue wasn't the reason to switch to paid parking, nosiree mister! It's all about dissuading that one guy who parked his car in the garage and took an Uber to the airport commuters. Which makes sense, except this conversation came up during an earnings call. Or, as our BFFs at Reston Now pointed out:

They did not emphisize an earlier analysis in which they showed BP can make $8 million a year with paid parking in place.
Oh, yeah. That.

But now that the furor has calmed down a bit, it's time to answer the question: Is RTC truly elite? Well, it's getting a Balducci's, which we'd say is at least "McLean elite." You can get a $39 burger there, which by our back-of-the-envelope calculations is exactly 9.02 times more elite than a Big Mac. More midscale eateries are arriving at the periphery, which may not be elite but at least adds to the chainpalooza feel. In fact, the only strike against our eliteness of late is that Starbucks' fancy evening winefests are coming to "Great" Falls, not Reston. They get the booze, we (maybe) get their sewage. Not. Elite.

Given all the benefits of our proximity to eliteness (a new app to add to our smartphone), we should probably just get with the program and ignore comments like this:

This is just as much a battle for the soul of Reston as it is a battle about parking fees. Reston has been sold out to the rich, and its egalitarian roots are fading.
Or this:
For Reston, the last thing we need to be called is "elite."  Bob Simon's vision for Reston was anything but elitist.  It was as egalitarian and diverse--and still economically successful--as any community vision in the country.  And it remains so.  An attempt to make the community--or any significant part of it--into an elitist colony will undermine the community and likely impede its overall growth.  We have a great community founded on great planning principles calling for, among other things, racial diversity, affordability, inclusiveness, and recreational and cultural opportunity.  We shouldn't be imperiling that foundation by trying to become some version of Palo Alto, the snobbiest small city in the US, or even Chicago's Magnificent Mile. 

Reston may not be fraying at the edges, but it needs to focus on its founding vision to continue to be one of the premier planned communities in the world, not some haughty elitist self-delusion.

We know some people who won't be getting $39 burgers, the end.


  1. Can we rename the place 'Great Falls Town Center', since it really doesn't even attempt to cater the people of Reston. Why should it carry our name if we can't/won't shop there?

  2. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonMay 10, 2016 at 6:28 PM

    Dear Boston Properties:

    Here, let me help you by giving you some more talking points to add to your corporate bullshit:

    "We believe this decision will enhance the holistic experience of visiting Reston Town Center"

    "Paid parking will add value to our tenants, customers, and stakeholders, creating new synergies for all"

    "This will be an inflection point in our rebranding of Reston Town Center as an elite destination"

    "The revenue enhancement is but one of several multiple modalities we are contemplating to ensure RTC's future viability"

    Please feel free to use any or all of the above in your next press release.

  3. Logic BP PLEASE. If you make it too expensive in an already expensive locale, people will flee. If you charge parking to stores and businesses who are already paying you a fortune in rent, they will flee. If you charge employees of that businesses, especially those working for peanuts at the retail shops, they will flee. The employees fleeing will make those businesses undesirable to other potential employees. No matter how you look at it, everyone flees, you lose. Brilliant.

  4. Restonian fur Mayor!


(If you don't see comments for some reason, click here).