RiverLine Light Rail (top left); Bike parking proposed project in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, NY (bottom left); Sustainable 86-unit apartment building in Boulder, CO (right)
Article of the Week
WASHINGTON D.C.—Developers, Metro Officials Still Pushing New TOD Forward Despite Low Ridership
Jon Banister, Bisnow Washington D.C., April 22, 2021
Though ridership on the Washington Area Metropolitan Transportation Authority (WMATA, or Metro) network is only 85 percent of its pre-pandemic levels, leaders at Metro and private developers are still betting on TOD as a long-term trend for the region. Alan Lederman, Managing Director of Development at developer Urban Atlantic, said they were still “bullish” about “the bulk of growth going forward.” Office space, however, might be trimmed down in future plans. Overall, TOD seems to be continuing. Metro has set a goal of 20 new joint developments in the next 10 years, with 9 already in process.
NEW JERSEY—Why NJ Transit’s Chief Says Ridership Will ‘Absolutely’ Recover
Michael Symons, NJ 101.5, April 29, 2021
NJ TRANSIT Chief Executive Kevin Corbett said he was optimistic that the number of passengers in the system would return to pre-pandemic levels—though not until 2025. The transportation agency has budgeted for a gradual increase over the next few years, with the most gains coming from a resurgence in travel to New York City and Philadelphia. Corbett cited already robust intrastate ridership figures, such as for buses and light rail, that currently average 50 to 55 percent of those pre-pandemic.
NEW YORK—New York City’s Mayor Wants the City to ‘Fully Reopen’ on July 1.
Mihir Zaveri and Amanda Rosa, The New York Times, April 29, 2021
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the intention to fully reopen the city—including stadiums, event venues, bars, and museums—without capacity limits by July 1, 2021. The mayor said he expected subway service to resume its typical 24-hour schedule by that date too. This would represent a significant milestone for New York City in its fight against COVID-19.
NEW JERSEY—Sens. Menendez, Booker push for bold infrastructure funding for New Jersey
abc7NY, April 26, 2021
New Jersey Senators Bob Menendez and Corey Booker spoke in front of Newark Penn Station about the infrastructure challenges the state faces, and how Biden’s American Rescue Plan spending bill could work to address them. According to NJ TRANSIT, the emergency federal funding would allow the agency to maintain operations without cuts to service or personnel through Fiscal Year 2024. Both senators pledged to fight for additional funding to help pay for planned capital projects at NJ TRANSIT, such as modernizing and expanding rail capacity and developing a zero-emissions bus fleet.
NJ TOD News
CAMDEN—NJ Transit Advances Walter Rand Transportation Center Improvement Project
New Jersey Transit, April 28, 2021
Transit-oriented development is being considered for NJ TRANSIT’s $250 million redesign of Camden’s Walter Rand Transportation Center. The project will remodel the facility to better connect riders of the River LINE, the PATCO Speedline, and the 26 bus routes that converge there. NJ TRANSIT hopes to align this major station improvement effort with the wave of redevelopment currently planned for downtown Camden.Use website image of Newark light rail.
NEWARK—New Project Could be Built Close to Newark’s Norfolk Street Light Rail Station
Jared Kofsky, Jersey Digs, April 28, 2021
Developer Brick City Capital has petitioned the Newark Zoning Board of Adjustment for permission to construct a four-story, 16-unit development in the city’s Central Ward. Parking would not be provided on site, as the new housing project is proximate to NJ TRANSIT’s Newark Light Rail Norfolk Street Station.
TRENTON—In Trenton, leaders are trying to spur development by connecting parcels to programs
Tom Bergeron, ROI-NJ, April 26, 2021
George Sowa, the CEO of Greater Trenton, a non-profit economic development organization, started a recent webinar showing five parcels in the city primed for mixed-use development by recent legislation. Sowa said that the New Jersey Economic Redevelopment Act of 2020 has laid the groundwork for mixed-use redevelopment in urban centers such as Trenton, “turning up the dial” on tax credits that companies could use to redevelop properties such as an idle parking garage or a transit-adjacent block on Clinton Avenue.
Transit and Equity News
ILLINOIS—Closing the Gap on Transportation: Chicago Area Officials Share Plans to Increase Transit Equity
Richard Requena and Steve Bynum, WBEZ, April 29, 2021
Officials from Cook County and the City of Chicago detailed efforts to pilot new fare structures to ensure equity for two Metra commuter lines in South Chicago. Fares on the Rock Island and Metra Electric lines—which are key transit connections in underserved neighborhoods—have been cut in half to increase access in these neighborhoods and boost ridership. Thirty percent of Metra riders live within the Chicago city limits.
RHODE ISLAND—State Lawmakers to Unveil Bill for Free RIPTA Bus Fares
Amy Russo, Providence Journal, April 29, 2021
State lawmakers in Rhode Island have proposed a $25 million bill to provide free bus fares on Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) routes. The program, billed as an important step in increasing racial equity and fighting climate change, would be funded by the gas tax and a new pollution tax on fuel providers starting in 2023.
Regional and National TOD News
CALIFORNIA—Berkeley Allocates $53 Million to Affordable Housing Projects at BART Stations
Bay City News, April 28, 2021
The Berkeley City Council unanimously approved a measure to allocate $53 million towards the transit-oriented development of affordable housing near the Ashby and North Berkeley BART stations. The funds would be restricted to projects with a minimum of 35 percent units designated as affordable.
NEW YORK—New Sunset Park Housing Development To Include Modern Bike Parking For Delivery Workers
Stephen Nessen, Gothamist, April 28, 2021
The Totem Group proposed a new 14-story housing development in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood. The development would feature a bike parking facility and reserved space for electric bikes used by delivery workers. The development, endorsed by Carlos Menchaca, the district’s City Council Member, will also reserve 40 of its 100 units for affordable housing. The site is across the street from the entrance to the 25th St Station (R train), and less than a block from stops on the B37 and B63 bus routes.
MARYLAND—Odenton Town Center Expands, Adds $500K Row Homes Near Train Stop
Jacob Baumgart, Patch, April 27, 2021
In Odenton, Maryland, the area adjacent to the Odenton MARC commuter rail station has been designated by the county as a mixed-use, transit-oriented hub. This district has seen growth in the number of new rowhouses constructed since the county’s TOD designation.
COLORADO—Sustainable 86-Unit Apartment Community Breaks Ground at S’PARK
Mile High CRE, April 26, 2021
A team of developers have broken ground on Platform, a TOD in Boulder, Colorado. The apartment building is one part of S’PARK, a planned redevelopment emphasizing sustainability, mixed-use, and transit connectivity in central Boulder—it is located near a new Bus Rapid Transit station, as well as a proposed commuter rail extension to Denver. The development complies with Boulder’s new form-based code, which has shifted emphasis to regulation of design rather than use.
NEW YORK—New Details for 100% Affordable Housing Complex Planned for Historic Hospital Site in Brooklyn
Devin Gannon, 6sqft, April 22, 2021
Developer Hudson Companies and the nonprofit community development organization St. Nicks Alliance presented plans before Brooklyn Community Board 1 for Cooper Park Commons, a 100 percent affordable housing redevelopment in East Williamsburg. The complex will take over space occupied by the Greenpoint Hospital, which has been largely empty since the hospital closed forty years ago, save for a few buildings already repurposed for affordable housing and a homeless shelter. The project, located close to the Graham Avenue stop on the MTA’s L Train, must still go through New York City’s Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP).
MASSACHUSETTS—Getting the Details Right on Transit Oriented Development Law
Luc Schuster and Jesse Kanson-Benanav, Commonwealth Magazine, April 21, 2021
Massachusetts’ landmark TOD law, which requires municipalities in the MBTA service area to create at least one district of “reasonable size” close to transit where multifamily housing can be built, is now in the interpretative rule-making process, where stakeholders such as the Department of Housing and Community Development decide how, exactly, the law will be enforced. The authors offer suggestions for the rule-making process to ensure that the requirement to make a new mixed-use, multifamily housing district cannot be easily evaded.
International TOD News
CANADA—Vancouver Considers Easing Rezoning for Social Housing
Diana Ionescu, Planetizen, April 29, 2021
The Vancouver City Council is currently considering a proposal to enable nonprofits to construct affordable housing of up to 6 stories without triggering a potentially complicated, slow rezoning process. Advocates are pressing for the expanded leeway to extend to buildings of 8 or 10 stories. Jill Atkey, CEO of the B.C. Nonprofit Housing Association said, “People have attached this idea of attending a public hearing and voicing either their approval or opposition to the building that goes up next door as exercising their democratic rights…[w]e don’t have a constitutional right to determine who our neighbours are.”
INDIA—Modi’s Sprawling Delhi Makeover Fuels Anger in Virus-Hit India
Shruti Shrivastava and Dhwani Pandya, Bloomberg CityLab, April 26, 2021
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced plans to build a new parliament and other government buildings, as the country faces a devastating surge in cases from the coronavirus pandemic. Some are concerned that the 200 billion rupee project ($2.7 billion U.S.) will obscure cultural and historical memory in Central Delhi, and siphon resources that could be used to face the current crisis.