The days of standing in front of the pay stations in the Rockville Town Square garage and trying to remember your space number are coming to an end.
Beginning Sept. 1, Federal Realty Investment Trust will assume operation and maintenance of the three garages under a 50-year lease approved unanimously by the City Council on Monday.
Retailers and restaurants will be able to offer paying customers free parking validation for up to two hours.
Free parking coupons issued by the city must be used by Aug. 31, said Robin McBride, vice president and Mid-Atlantic region chief operating officer for Federal Realty, which owns and operates Town Square. The coupons will not be honored after that time.
The garages will continue to offer monthly and commuter parking, McBride said.
"We will have the ability to sell monthly passes similar to how the city did it previously," she said. Federal Realty also will be able to offer cards to frequent visitors, similar to Metro's SmartTrip cards.
Parking rates will be as follows:
With purchase validation:
- One hour: Free.
- Two hours: Free.
- Three hours: $2.
- Four hours: $3.
- Five hours: $4.
- Daily maximum: $10.
- One hour: $2.
- Two hours: $3
- Three hours: $4
- Four hours: $5
- Five hours: $6
- Daily maximum: $10
Federal Realty announced in a news release on Tuesday that it also plans to add amenities to the garages in the next several months, including a dry cleaning pickup and drop-off, a car wash, an electric car charging station and a Zipcar rental station.
“These new amenities are part of a larger effort to establish a more user-friendly and convenient ‘one stop’ experience for visitors and commuters at Rockville Town Square,” the release said.
The payment kiosks in place in the stations will be replaced with “typical retail parking equipment,” McBride said in an interview outside the council chambers on Monday night.
“Merchants love it,” she said. “They’re very excited. They’ve wanted this for a long time.”
The system will have gates and will be similar to those in place at county parking decks in Silver Spring and Bethesda, McBride said. Federal Realty has studied vehicle queuing to determine the best places to locate the gates, she said.
Customers will pay upon exit, either on foot or from their cars at the gates. Customers will no longer have to remember their parking space numbers. The red and green lights indicating if a space is occupied will remain.
Colonial Parking, Inc., will handle the on-site management for the parking garage on behalf of Federal Realty. The parking management office is located on the bottom floor of the garage that opens onto Maryland Avenue and Town Square Plaza.
Federal Realty hopes that the new arrangement will draw more visitors to the retail district in the heart of Town Center.
Turning over management of the garages so that Federal Realty could offer free validated parking was also seen as a key ingredient to attracting a long sought-after grocery store to Town Square.
City officials hope that the move will attract shoppers to a project that Rockville has much invested in while freeing the city from the costly burden of managing the garages.
"We didn't belong in the garage business," Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio said.