Density in San Francisco (top); a new TOD at Fruitvale Station (bottom left); enhanced bus service in the Merrimack Valley (bottom center); and new transit-adjacent towers in San Jose (bottom right).
Article of the Week
CALIFORNIA—Giddiness, Relief as Fruitvale Affordable Housing Complex Breaks Ground After ‘30-Year Journey’
Natalie Orenstein, The Oaklandside, August 26, 2021
The final phase of the nationally-recognized Fruitvale Transit Village recently broke ground. The “Casa Sueños” complex will replace a former BART parking lot in East Oakland and result in 181 apartments for tenants earning 20-80 percent of the area median income. The project will also include 7,500 sq. ft. of commercial space, which will be rented at below-market rate to Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, a youth leadership nonprofit serving those affected by the criminal-justice and foster-care systems.
CANADA—A City Bus Brings Vaccines to Hot Spot Areas with High COVID-19 Case Rates
Staff, CBC News, August 26, 2021
Destination Vaccination, a pilot program in Windsor-Essex County, Ontario, is using city buses to bring nurses, medical supplies and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines directly to residents. The project is a partnership between Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and Transit Windsor. The effort targets high risk areas by mapping data collected by the health agency to determine locations with higher infection rates and lower vaccine usage.
MASSACHUSETTS—New MVRTA Chief Maps Plans to Improve Bus Stop Visibility, Rebuild Ridership in Aftermath of COVID-19
Staff, 97.9 WHAV Wavelengths, August 20, 2021
The new head of Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority (MVRTA), Noah Berger, wants to bring riders back to the services and to attract new riders. More frequent service, longer hours, and working closely with communities to establish formal bus stops and signage (instead of flag stops) are among the ways that the authority will work to achieve these goals.
NEWARK—RFP Issued for Newark Penn Station Redesign
Mischa Wanek-Libman, Mass Transit, August 30, 2021
NJ TRANSIT released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the $190 million Newark Penn Station renovation project. The RFP includes pedestrian access improvements, a restored waiting room, expanded ADA accessibility, among other work.
JERSEY CITY—Jersey City Master Plan Envisions Redevelopment of Newport Mall
Chris Fry, Jersey Digs, August 26, 2021
A new master plan released by the City of Jersey City suggests the replacement of the Newport Mall with mixed-use development, transforming low-rise retail and parking into a green space surrounded by taller structures. Change is not imminent, however, as any redevelopment would require the approval of the mall’s owner, Simon Property Group.
RED BANK—Red Bank Zoning Board Approves Apartments at Monmouth and Pearl Streets
Scott Wingerter, Tap Into Red Bank, August 20, 2021
Park Valley Development (PVD) received Zoning Board approval of revised architectural plans for a mixed-use project at 120 Monmouth Street. The site is diagonally across from the Count Basie Theater and within a three-minute walk of the borough’s train and bus stations. The project will comprise 32 apartments (5 affordable), 1,322 sq. ft. of street-level retail space, 50 parking spaces (two designated for electric vehicles) to accommodate both the residential and commercial uses and wiring for two future charging stations.
N.J. Restores UEZ Program — and Appropriates $42.5M in Funds for 2022
Staff, ROI-NJ, August 17, 2021
On Tuesday, Acting Gov. Sheila Oliver signed Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) Reform Bill, which revises the program and restores $42.5 million in funding for fiscal year 2022. The program is designed to support the local economy in designated urban communities and to stimulate growth by encouraging businesses to develop and create private-sector jobs through public and private investment. There are 32 zones, located in 37 municipalities. More than 7000 businesses have been certified as part of the UEZ program. Among other changes, the new legislation creates a process for developing zone development plans to be implemented over a five-year period.
Placemaking Strategies Can Promote Greater Racial Equity in Infrastructure Investments
Kimberly Burrowes, Urban Wire, August 26, 2021
The recently passed $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill creates opportunities to reconnect communities divided by previously built transportation projects and to activate spaces that welcome community members and foster excitement. Overcoming a history of inequitable access to public space, highway-induced segregation, displacement, and disinvestment requires policy makers to consider different strategies such as using streets and sidewalks for community programming, exploring pandemic-inspired tactical efforts for long term change, and using place-making techniques to advance wealth building opportunities.
Using Engagement to Find Untapped Expertise in Equitable Development
Stefan Cornelis and Steve Kenat, Urban Land, July 12, 2021
This article suggests that, though difficult, developers can see the community engagement process as a valuable step to gather data from local people, about their interests, concerns, and needs. By considering community residents as an opportunity to create value, developers can better engage with neighbors, easing the overall process and potentially creating a more successful project.
NEW YORK—Town, MTA, AvalonBay Celebrate Harrison’s New Station Development
Lanning Tallaferro, Patch-NewYork, August 26, 2021
Work has begun on a mixed-use development to the south of the MTA Metro North Station in the Village of Harrison. AvalonBay development will build on a 3.28-acre site, replacing surface parking with four-story buildings featuring ground floor retail space with residences above, including seven affordable apartments funded in part by Westchester County. The existing parking will be replaced and supplemented by a new 598 space parking garage.
CALIFORNIA—1 Million Square Feet: Caltrain Plans Office Towers Next to Downtown San Jose Transit Hub
George Avalos, The Mercury News/Bay Area News Group, August 23, 2021
The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, the governing board of Caltrain, is advancing plans for a joint development project to be built at the entrance of the Diridon Station in downtown San Jose. The proposed project would include two office buildings with ground-floor retail space. A public plaza between the buildings would link the new structures, the station, and Downtown West, a transit-oriented neighborhood planned by Google. Caltrain plans to retain the ownership of the land beneath the office towers and to negotiate a ground lease with a selected developer.
MASSACHUSETTS—Quincy’s Development Boom Arrived 50 Years Ago. And it Came by Train.
Joe Difazio, The Patriot Ledger, August 23, 2021
Five decades have passed since the MBTA Red Line connected Quincy City residents to downtown Boston, nine miles and 20 minutes to the north. The transit investment begot other investment, including housing and employment that coincided with the shift from industrial to service sector and white-collar jobs. The rail link and station area continue to serve as a nexus for new development– supported by the transit agency’s current capital investment plan, upgrades to the Red Line, renovations to South Shore Red Line stops, and 252 new train cars.
Denser Cities Could Be a Climate Boon – But Nimbyism Stands in the Way
Maanvi Singh and Oliver Milman, The Guardian, August 22, 2021
Two crises loom large in the U.S.—the housing crisis and the climate crisis. But an especially impactful way to address both has not yet been embraced by the public—building more urban housing in a way that makes cities denser. Such urban housing creates a much smaller carbon footprint than other forms of housing and its occupants use less energy for transportation and other needs. But getting such projects built means overcoming opposition to development, even among those living in left-leaning urban centers.
New Tax Credit Floated for Developers to Convert Older Downtown Office Buildings
Richard Lawson, CoStar News, August 16, 2021
A new bill currently under consideration in Congress could create a federal tax credit to incentivize the conversion of disused downtown office buildings into residences. The Revitalizing Downtowns Act would compensate developers for 20 percent of conversion costs for office buildings at least 25 years old, working similarly to the existing historic tax credit. The legislation would also require that 20 percent of new residential units be made affordable.
DENMARK—Copenhagen’s New Hotspot is a Trailblazer for Sustainability
Mary Holland, Bloomberg CityLab, August 25, 2021
The Nordhavn development is a planned mixed-use district in the north of Copenhagen, planned with a “five-minute city” ethos. The advent of a new metro line enabled access to the area, which, when development concludes in 2050, will contain housing for 40,000 people, and office space for 40,000 as well. The district is already serving as an international model for sustainable urban development.
CANADA—50-Storey Mixed-Use Tower Could Rise Near Yonge and Bloor
Storeys, August 23, 2021
Toronto, currently undergoing a wave of growth, could see another 50-story tower with 451 residential units in the City’s Yorkville neighborhood. The development will be within close walking distance of the Bloor-Yonge subway station, with connections to two lines.