At its August 15, 2011 meeting, in 35 minutes the Mayor and Council of the City of Rockville unanimously approved a fifty-year lease of the three Town Square parking garages to Street Retail, Inc. (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT)). As Rockville Patch and the Gazette have reported, the lease provides the City with $300,000 in annual rent plus 30 percent of net income and FRIT manages and maintains the garages 24/7 as a “first class public parking garage.” The wayfinding system (red/green lights for each parking space) will stay but FRIT will remove the paying system where you enter your parking space number at a station. FRIT sets all the parking rates (including monthly passes and prepaid cards) and can establish a validated parking system beginning September 1, 2011 for fifty years.
That’s an incredibly long time, especially when I, all the current council members, and perhaps even you won’t be living when this agreement comes to an end. I guess you don’t always get to see things in life to their natural conclusion (my home mortgage?) but in major situations like this, I’d like to consider the impact not only on the next City Council but the next generation of city residents. Although we’re all familiar with time and we measure it precisely down to the second, it’s surprisingly fungible. An hour waiting at the DMV seems so much longer than an hour watching a good movie. So we know that this lease will end in 2061, but what would that look like? To explore this idea, I’ve assembled a timeline looking both forward and back fifty years: Continue reading →