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