Rendering of proposed Trenton Waterfront (left); Site plan for former Newark Bears Stadium site (top right); Concept rendering of TOD in Peekskill, New York (bottom right)
Article of the Week
AUSTIN—Community Group Will Help Guide $300 Million of Project Connect Anti-Displacement Spending
Bryce Newberry, KVUE, April 12, 2021
When the City of Austin’s landmark Project Connect transportation initiative was approved by voters last fall, it included a provision to allocate several hundred million dollars to fighting displacement that the new transit, rail and expanded bus, might exacerbate. Recently, the City announced that it had formed the Catalyst Group, a collection of local stakeholders that will help to figure out how this money should be spent. According to the City, 88 percent of panel members are from Austin’s Eastern Crescent, an historically redlined, disinvested part of the city, where 90 percent of the residents are people of color, and all make less than the area’s median income.
COVID-19 TOD News
Transportation: The pandemic changed the workday, but will transit riders return?
Justin George, Kate Rabinowitz, Maria Aguilar and John D. Harden, The Washington Post, April 16, 2021
Transit agencies and others are paying close attention to travel trends that have resulted from shifting demands, work from home, and other behavioral changes that continue to evolve a full year into the COVID-19 era. Noticeable shifts include relatively strong demand for public transit in communities with high numbers of Black, Hispanic and lower-income workers, as well as a flattening of peak travel periods. Some transit agencies are employing schedule modification, while others are studying the effects of implementing lower fares, to address what might be a prolonged period of reduced ridership.
How Amsterdam Recovered from a Deadly Outbreak — in 1665
Feargus O’Sullivan, Bloomberg CityLab, April 14, 2021
A new study on the economic effects of Amsterdam’s 17th century bubonic plague epidemic, as well as France’s 19th century cholera outbreak, looks at how the growth of these embattled urban centers was affected. Perhaps counterintuitively, once the epidemics had passed, there was quick stabilization and positive change. Amsterdam’s population continued to rise, and, in an effort to expand access to land acquisition, the mortgage was invented (previously buyers had to pay the total sum upfront). None of this is to discount the ravages of infectious illness in urban areas, but looking to the past can provide hope for the future of cities post-COVID-19.
How Biden Can Free America From Its Zoning Straitjacket
Edward L. Glaeser, The New York Times, April 12, 2021
This opinion article looks at the regulatory means by which zoning has limited housing production in the United States over the last half-century, and how President Biden’s massive COVID-19 infrastructure bill could be tailored to incentivize states and municipalities to loosen their restrictions. “If the president wants to break the country out of its zoning straitjacket, the infrastructure plan should ensure that no benefits go to states that fail to make verifiable progress enabling housing construction in their high-wage, high-opportunity areas,” Edward Glaeser, Harvard professor of economics writes. Such a measure would dramatically increase levels of transit-oriented development, and recalls Massachusetts’s Chapter 40R Smart Growth Act, passed earlier this year, which incentivizes TOD and mixed-use development by conditioning the disbursal of funds on the removal of restrictive zoning.
Need a COVID-19 Vaccine? Visit Your Local Transit Center
Jenny Bergal, Stateline, April 12, 2021
Across the country, transit agencies are working to transport people to their COVID-19 vaccination appointments by providing free travel on their networks. These efforts have included California’s Foothill Transit’s transformation of a new bus depot into a vaccine clinic, and MARTA’s repurposing of a commuter parking lot adjacent to the Doraville rail station in suburban Atlanta. There the transit agency teamed with DeKalb County and the county health department to set up a large vaccine site.
NJ TOD News
Middlesex County and Its Partners Announce Major Decision in the Design and Engineering of the North Brunswick Train Station
Press Release, Inside NJ, April 15, 2021
The Middlesex County Improvement Authority has selected WSP USA as the design and engineering consult for the development of the North Brunswick Train Station. Middlesex County, and its partners, the NJ Department of Transportation, NJ TRANSIT, North Brunswick Township, and the MCIA, made the official announcement of the project award, and look to move this long-awaited project forward quickly.
Paterson Breaks Ground on $94M Project to Revitalize Historic Hinchliffe Stadium
Joe Malinconico, Paterson Press, April 14, 2021
Hincliffe Stadium, a long-decaying site overlooking Paterson’s Great Falls, will be brought back to its former glory through a project that will include a six-story 75-unit senior citizen apartment building. The City hopes that this project will honor the legacy of the ballpark, once host to the National Negro League. The area is served by the NJ TRANSIT 712 bus, and is located about a mile from Paterson Station, with service to Hoboken and New York.
New Redeveloper Will Head Project in Central Ward at Former Newark Bears Stadium Site
Tom Wiedmann, Tap Into Newark, April 14, 2021
Developer May Newark LLC received approval to begin construction on a large redevelopment of a vacant site near the waterfront, the former Newark Bears Stadium. May Newark plans to build 4,200 housing units, as well as office, retail, and public space. In terms of equity, 5 percent of the units will be designated as affordable, and a $15 million PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) contributed to the city. The site is accessible by transit via the Riverside Stadium stop on NJ TRANSIT’s Newark Light Rail.
Trenton’s Plan to Reclaim the Waterfront Endangers Iconic Modernist Buildings
Darren Tobia, Jersey Digs, April 9, 2021
A redevelopment plan by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority would reconnect downtown Trenton with the Delaware River waterfront but it has received opposition from groups concerned about two modernist buildings that would be demolished. The redevelopment area is served by several NJ TRANSIT bus routes and SEPTA bus route 127, and is located within a ten-minute walk of the Trenton Transit Center providing access to commuter rail and Amtrak service on the Northeast Corridor and to the RiverLINE light rail.
Suburban New Jersey’s Future Takes Shape
Corina Stef, Commercial Property Executive, April 8, 2021
This interview with Ralph Zucker, President of Somerset Development, discusses Somerville Station, the largest mixed-use development to date approved by Somerville Borough. More than 30 years of planning and collaboration between multiple public and private stakeholders, including NJ TRANSIT, contributed to the project, which when completed will result in a new civic center, street-level retail, a public plaza, NJ TRANSIT parking facilities, a 374-unit apartment community and a 156-unit community of for-sale townhomes.
Regional and National TOD News
NEW MEXICO—Zia Station Timeline: Moving Dirt
Katherine Lewin, Santa Fe Observer, April 14, 2021
The Santa Fe City Council voted to give preliminary approval for a transit-oriented development next to the Zia Road Rail Runner Express train station. Though the project still needs several rounds of Planning Board review and approval, the developer Zia Station LLC expressed optimism that construction could begin as soon as this August or September. The first phase will build 14 townhomes and 244 apartments and will comply with the City of Santa Fe’s affordable housing requirements.
PENNSYLVANIA—Society Hill Hotel Tower that Sparked Backlash Moves Ahead
Ryan Briggs, WHYY, April 13, 2021
An unnamed developer in Philadelphia’s historic Society Hill neighborhood obtained a permit to demolish a single-family building and construct an eight-story tower with hotel rooms and ground floor retail. The Society Hill Civic Association remained opposed to the new development, saying it conflicted with the neighborhood’s character. However, the developer has completed a revision process with the Philadelphia Historical Commission, which has approved the project.
ILLINOIS—South Siders Keep Pushing For Housing, Employment Near Obama Center Site: ‘We Want To Make Sure This Is Something That Works’
Maxwell Evans, Block Club Chicago, April 12, 2021
Advocates and elected representatives are working to ensure that development surrounding the Obama Center in Jackson Park, on Chicago’s Far East Side, includes affordable housing. The recently passed Woodlawn Housing Preservation Ordinance requires the reservation of 30 percent of new units on city-owned lots for “very low-income households,” as well as payments to neighborhood housing development and stabilization programs. These changes come during significant renovation work at the 59th St. Metra Station, and while the line is experiencing a 50 percent fare reduction to improve access for residents in the traditionally underserved area.
NEW YORK—Crews Demo Former Bar in Port Jeff to Make Way for Housing, Commercial Space
Staff, News 12, April 12, 2021
Crews in Port Jefferson, Long Island, demolished a shuttered bar and discotheque to make way for a new mixed-use development adjacent to the municipality’s train station. The village-led project will create 45 new units of affordable housing that will be allocated using a lottery system.
NEW YORK—Peekskill Proposal Would See 160 Apartments, Hotel, Retail Near Train Station. Here’s How.
Michael P. McKinney, Rockland / Westchester Journal News, April 10, 2021
Ginsburg Development Companies is looking to build a TOD adjacent to Peekskill’s Metro-North Station. The project would create 160 apartment units, as well as hotel and retail space. The Peekskill City Council is currently considering the proposal, as Ginsburg would need multiple zoning variances for the project. Peekskill City council member Vanessa Agudelo expressed interest in including a requirement for affordable housing as part of the project.
International TOD News
INDONESIA—Mitsubishi JV to Build Jakarta’s First Transit-Oriented Mixed Use Development
Global Construction Review, April 14, 2021
Japan-based Mitsubishi Corporation and Singaporean Temasek Holdings announced a joint venture to develop a large new TOD in Greater Jakarta. The multi-modal complex will connect new housing with Cisauk Station, a commuter rail line to Jakarta’s central business district.
UNITED KINGDOM—Network Rail Supports Thatcham Housing Site Offering Bridge
John Herring, Newbury Today, April 13, 2021
Network Rail, Britain’s rail infrastructure asset manager, said it would support replacing a grade crossing in Thatcham to complement the 2,500-home Thatcham Station development. The local council argues that such a vast addition to area housing stock requires upgrades to its transit infrastructure as well.
CANADA—Massive Residential Development Proposed for Toronto Rail Corridor
Global Construction Review, April 12, 2021
Three developers hope to build thousands of homes using air rights from the Canadian National Railway. If approved, the Orca Project will add 3,500 housing units, a six-story office tower, a linear park, and 48,499 sq. ft. of retail space to downtown Toronto.