Seattle, Washington (top left); Automatic opening windows at Uber’s headquarters in San Francisco, California (top right); Rendering of Essex & Crane in Orange, New Jersey (bottom left); Interstate 10 under construction in California (bottom right)
Article of the Week
Report: Housing Growth in the Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Metro Areas Shows Why the U.S. Is Failing at Climate ResilienceRushaine Goulbourne and Jenny Schuetz, The Brookings Institution, December 16, 2021
With the passage of the Build Back Better Act (BBB), the Biden administration hoped to demonstrate its commitment to cutting the nation’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in half by 2030 through a variety of initiatives and investments. However, the BBB overlooks the interaction of land use and housing development that can positively affect energy consumption and GHG emissions in a least three ways: reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by building homes near job locations and public transportation; encouraging walking and biking by building mixed-use development; and lowering energy use by building smaller homes, i.e., missing middle housing. This article explores the spatial patterns of housing, jobs, and public transit in three major metro areas and what housing might look like with federal and state policies designed to promote more climate-friendly housing development.
NEW YORK—As Traffic Roars Back, Neighborhoods Outside Manhattan Feel the Pain
Winnie Hu, Patrick McGeehan, and Nate Schweber, The New York Times, December 28, 2021
While automobile traffic has returned to pre-pandemic levels, transit use has not, leading to increased congestion, carbon emissions, and pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities. The additional traffic has led to the suspension of certain bus stops in Lower Manhattan due to gridlock, as well as persistently late meal deliveries to homeless shelters in both the Bronx and Queens. Note: Access may require registration for a free account.
10 Ways Cities Came Back in 2021
Linda Poon, Bloomberg CityLab, December 26, 2021
In this retrospective, CityLab looks at how cities have adapted to new technologies and priorities borne by the pandemic. One architectural example is Uber’s new San Francisco headquarters, with 180 glass panes that automatically open and close throughout the day, cycling fresh air throughout the structure. Another is Sweden’s exploration of the “One-Minute City,” which looks to create immediate connections outside one’s door. For transportation, cities such as Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Bakersfield, are piloting variations of a “Universal Basic Mobility” concept that looks to ensure a minimum level of access to transit and micro-mobility for users.
ORANGE—PHOTOS: Construction Begins on ‘Essex & Crane’ Complex Next to Orange Train Station
Jared Kofsky, Jersey Digs, December 22, 2021
Construction is underway on Essex & Crane, a 209-unit development in Orange, on a former commercial site. Nearby, developer Peek Properties is building Orange Crossing, a 50-unit structure. Both are situated within one block of the Orange NJ TRANSIT station.
PRINCETON—W Squared, $350M Transformative Project in West Windsor, Moving Forward After Final Approvals
Tom Bergeron, ROI-NJ, December 20, 2021
The West Windsor planning board approved W Squared, a $350 million redevelopment of a site within walking distance of the NJ TRANSIT rail station at Princeton Junction. If completed as specified, the project will comprise 535 apartments, 135 assisted living units, 150 townhomes, and 48 condominiums. The 25-acre project will also include a public promenade, and commercial and retail space.
CAMDEN—Glassboro-Camden Line: Update on the Long-Awaited Project
P. Kenneth Burns, WHYY, December 20, 2021
When completed, the Glassboro-Camden Line, the proposed light rail connection for South Jersey commuters, will connect communities from Glassboro to Camden and to Philadelphia. An environmental impact study for the rail line was completed earlier this year for the project, the cost of which is estimated to be between $1.6 and $1.8 billion. Sponsoring agencies are now looking to begin the preliminary engineering phase, with a current projected completion date of late 2027.
MORRISTOWN—Morristown M Station Developer: One Office Building Up, One to Go
Morristown Green, December 17, 2021
Developers SJP Properties and Scotto Properties celebrated the enclosure of the first building in their M Station development adjacent to Morristown’s NJ TRANSIT station. The developers of the office and retail complex hope to prioritize pedestrian connectivity between their project, the train station, and Morristown’s downtown with a landscaped promenade and two public plazas.
CALIFORNIA—Santa Monica’s Message to People Evicted Long Ago For The 10 Freeway: Come Home
Liam Dillon, Los Angeles Times, December 26, 2021
The City of Santa Monica announced a pilot program to prioritize affordable housing for the families of those displaced by the construction of the Interstate 10 freeway in the 1960s. The roadway’s builders destroyed roughly 600 homes in a primarily Black and Mexican-American neighborhood. Santa Monica’s program will initially be open to 100 low-income former residents, including descendants of those displaced. Portland, Oregon created a similar program in 2016 for those displaced by Interstate 5 and urban redevelopment policies.
NEW YORK—Where New York City’s Affordable Housing Push Fell Short
Kriston Capps, Bloomberg CityLab, December 16, 2021
New York City public advocate Jumaane Williams released a plan examining the effects of outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s housing policy throughout his tenure. Though a mandatory inclusionary housing policy—requiring affordable housing in new developments—was enacted in 2016, it has led to the production of only 2,065 units in the past five years. Market-oriented advocates have argued that such policies distort the cost of housing construction, exacerbating the housing crisis, while left-leaning urbanists have critiqued such measure for lacking deep affordability, and creating tiered amenities, such as “poor doors.” Williams’ report concludes that just 17 percent of the affordable housing constructed during de Blasio’s mayoralty applied to extremely low-income households—those earning 30 percent or below Area Median Income.
GEORGIA—MARTA Announces First Transaction of TOD Affordable Housing Fund
Marybeth Luczak, Railway Age, December 30, 2021
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) announced the use of $24.7 million in financing to preserve 201 affordable housing units near the agency’s West End Station. MARTA’s Greater Atlanta Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing Fund was launched in January 2021, with $100 million in support from Morgan Stanley.
CALIFORNIA—Redwood City: Sequoia Station Shopping Center to be Turned into Transit-Oriented Mixed-Use Project
Aldo Toledo, the Mercury News, December 29, 2021
A developer announced plans to purchase six acres of a shopping center in Redwood City and transform it into a TOD with 631 apartments, 1.2 million sq. ft. of office space, and 170,000 sq. ft. of retail space. The parcel is located close to CalTrain’s Redwood City Station, which will see increased service as the transit agency electrifies its corridor. The mixed-use project will also include a childcare center, and open space connecting the downtown area with the station. According to the developer, 40 percent of the 631 apartment units would be dedicated as affordable housing.
NEW YORK—New Law Requires MTA “To Consider Bicycle And Pedestrian Access” At Bridges And Stations
Jen Chung, Gothamist, December 29, 2021
New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law legislation directing the MTA to incorporate safety and accessibility for cyclists and pedestrians at agency facilities, such as stations and bridges. Notably, several bridges owned and operated by the MTA—such as the Verrazzano Narrows and the Henry Hudson—lack accommodations for bicyclists and pedestrians.
CALIFORNIA—LA’s Expo Line Density Plan Survives Lawsuit
Greg Cornfield, Commercial Observer, December 28, 2021
A Los Angeles Superior Court has upheld the City’s plan to allow taller residential and office buildings along the Metro Expo Line on the Westside. In 2018, the City approved the Expo Plan (Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan) which supports the construction of about 6,000 multifamily and condo units and 14,000 jobs within a half mile of five stations. A local nonprofit called Fix the City sued to overturn this plan, arguing that the city’s infrastructure, specifically the road network, was inadequate to support the increased density.
HAWAII—Plan That Reimagines Industrial Area Near Airport’s Rail Station Approved in Unanimous Vote
Hawaii News Now, December 22, 2021
The Honolulu Planning Commission approved a TOD plan for Lagoon Drive station, part of the City’s forthcoming metro line. Currently, the area is primarily industrial, and the plan works to preserve existing businesses, and calls for up to ten housing units located above industrial uses.
WASHINGTON—Growth Management Has Worked for Seattle and Reduced Sprawl
Richard Conlin, The Seattle Times, December 21, 2021
In this opinion piece, a former Seattle city councilmember and urban planner argues for a renewed emphasis on smart growth policies to combat sprawl and reduce carbon emissions. While Seattle grew by over 21 percent over the last decade, Washington State’s Growth Management Act (GMA) allowed the City to concentrate density in the existing urbanized area. At the same time, to combat rising housing costs, the author argues that Seattle should continue to promote an increase in housing supply, adding new market rate and subsidized units, including promoting diversified housing options in single-family neighborhoods.
MASSACHUSETTS—Newton’s New Multi-Family Zoning Obligation
Sean Roche, Village 14, December 17, 2021
The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development recently issued guidance on the State’s Housing Choice Act, which requires that communities served by the MBTA create at least one zoning district that permits by-right multifamily development. For Newton, the City must create a 50-acre contiguous zone within ½ mile of a transit stop, with zoning regulations that enable the creation of 8,330 multifamily units (25 percent of the City’s 2020 housing units). However, depending on how the transit zones are drawn, existing multifamily housing may count against this total. Newton has seven light rail stations, and three commuter rail stops.
CALIFORNIA—West LA Development Would Bring 455 Units to Expo Bundy Area
Dolores Quintana, WestSideToday.com, December 17, 2021
The Los Angeles Department of City Planning is considering a proposal to construct a transit-oriented residential complex near Expo/Bundy Station. The project would include two apartment complexes comprising 455 units, with 52 reserved as affordable. The site location is covered by Los Angeles’ Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) incentive program, which provides building incentives for certain types of development near transit.
UNITED KINGDOM—FCBStudios Designs Mixed-Use Development in the Heart of Bristol
Andreea Cutieru, ArchDaily, December 30, 2021
The Bristol City Council approved plans to redevelop three vacant bank buildings in the central part of the City with new commercial, retail, and restaurant space. Additionally, the project will provide better public access to the historic St Mary le Port church tower and ruins. The project is located within walking distance of many bus routes as well as ferry service.
INDIA—Why Urban India Needs Transit-Oriented Development?
Ved Parkas Dudeja, Business World, December 20, 2021
For rapidly growing India, TOD is an effective policy to better manage urban growth in a planned, sustainable manner. Delhi, for example, has proposed a TOD policy including a floor area ratio (FAR) of 400 in designated TOD Influence Zones, which extend for 500 meters in each direction of transit corridors. However, the author argues, effective TOD policy should include measurable benchmarks, including “percentage of new development within the radius of transit stations, the percentage of the population to inhabit the TOD Zone and the percentage of people to have access to public transport.”