Route of the “Interborough Express,” a potential new circumferential rail line (left); Bloomfield, NJ (top right); Rendering of new project in Asbury Park, NJ (bottom right)
Article of the Week
How the Pandemic Supercharged Sprawl
Patrick Sisson, Bloomberg CityLab, January 5, 2022
In the Southeast, Sun Belt, and Mountain West, those seeking more space at less cost, and who can increasingly work remotely, are fueling the growth of COVID-era boom towns—small satellite suburbs and outlying exurbs that offer low property taxes and strong local economies. Driven by a quest for affordability, this trend, which brings with it the challenges of sprawl, coexists with another trend—increased urbanization, which includes zoning reforms that encourage densification, walkability and transit-oriented development.
Public Transit Systems Refocus on Their Core Riders
Aarian Marshall, Wired, January 3, 2022
According to Alex Karner, of University of Texas-Austin’s School of Architecture, transit’s era of emphasizing peak-period commuters may be over, as agencies look to more equitably serve their most-frequent riders post-pandemic. For example, the Pittsburgh Port Authority shifted resources from commuter-focused routes to providing more frequent service in neighborhoods that were predominantly low-income and populated by people of color as well as in areas with low rates of car ownership. In Richmond, Virginia, where 64 percent of riders are Black, the transit agency has eliminated bus fares and plans to continue doing so through 2025.
What the Pandemic’s ‘Open Streets’ Really Revealed
Stephan Schmidt, Bloomberg City Lab, January 3, 2022
Researchers at Cornell’s department of Architecture, Art, and Planning conducted a spatial analysis of “Open Streets,” finding that 60 percent were in neighborhoods with incomes higher than the city median. Wealthier neighborhoods may have received these preferential amenities due to better access to political, social, and economic resources. The researchers concluded that “Open Streets” programs reflected growing spatial inequalities in American cities.
Bayonne—PHOTOS: Construction Wrapping Up on ‘Skye Lofts North’ in Bayonne
Jared Kofsky, Jersey Digs, January 7, 2022
Over the last fifteen years, new development has transformed the intersection of Avenue E and East 22nd Street in Bayonne—spurred in large part by the 22nd Street Station of the Hudson Bergen Light Rail Line. New additions include residential projects such as 245 Avenue E; Skye Lofts South, and the soon to be completed Skye Lofts North. Additional projects are in process including redevelopment of the former School of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
BLOOMFIELD—Living in: Bloomfield, N.J.: A Walkable Suburb with Plenty of Green Space
Kathleen Lynn, The New York Times, January 5, 2022
Designated a New Jersey Transit Village in 2003, Bloomfield Township features many characteristics appealing to current and new residents: diversity in population and housing types, excellent access to transit, and considerable open and green space. The township has steadily added new housing to its downtown district, where commuters can utilize the NJ TRANSIT Bloomfield Station. Travelers can also board at the Watsessing Avenue Station, the Grove Street Station on the Newark Light Rail, or ride the NJ TRANSIT 72, 92, and 709 bus routes.
TRENTON—Trenton’s 120-Unit Van Sciver Project Could Receive $1.5M in Federal Funds
Jared Kofsky, Jersey Digs, January 5, 2022
The City of Trenton will apply for a federal HOME grant toward the adaptive reuse of the historic Van Sciver building in the City’s downtown. The current redevelopment project, by RPM Development, plans to add 120 residential units, commercial space, as well as a fitness center to three adjacent properties, including the Van Sciver building. The project site is located several blocks from Trenton Transit Center, which offers service to Philadelphia, Camden, and New York.
SOUTH ORANGE—NJ Awards Over $5 Million to Build 26 Units of Affordable Housing in South Orange
Tap Into Summit, January 4, 2022
The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA) has awarded $5 million in tax credits for the South Orange Commons affordable housing project. The project comprises 26 affordable units—16 of which will be reserved for adults with intellectual and development disabilities and 10 units reserved for low-income families.
ASBURY PARK—Asbury Park Approves Mixed Use Development on Main Street
Chris Fry, January 4, 2022
The Asbury Park Planning Board approved a 24-unit, mixed-use project in the City’s downtown core. The four-story structure will include retail space and interior parking for 19 vehicles. The project is located one block from the NJ TRANSIT Asbury Park Station.
SADDLE RIVER—After 14 Months and 19 Contentious Hearings, Saddle River Ends Testimony on Housing Plan
Marsha A. Stoltz, North Jersey, December 29, 2021
Testimony concluded for an affordable housing proposal in one of the nation’s wealthiest municipalities after fourteen months of lawsuits and resident concerns over unit placement, traffic, and stormwater runoff. The 60-unit townhouse development, on the former property of comedian Rosie O’Donnell, includes eight affordable units.
SOUTH ORANGE—PHOTOS: ‘Vose & Taylor’ Development Rising Over Downtown South Orange
Jared Kofsky, Jersey Digs, December 28, 2021
Two in-progress developments are expected to add to transit ridership in South Orange. The first, Vose & Taylor, is a five-story, 110-unit project, with 11 units set aside as ”inclusionary housing.” The second, Village Commons, will include 106 units and retail space. The Township has seen sustained residential development in its core over the past two decades.
WASHINGTON—Seattle Affordable Housing Project Is Designed with Families in Mind
Emily Nonko, NextCity, January 6, 2022
Yesler Family Housing is a 150-unit apartment complex currently under construction in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. The project is a joint effort by the Seattle Chinatown-International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda) and Community Roots Housing. The aim of the project is to address the affordable housing needs of multigenerational working families. In addition to 32 subsidized units, the building will include childcare, an early-learning center, and community gardens.
How Community Design Advocates Can Be a Force for Design Justice
Phil Roberts, NextCity, January 5, 2022
To better incorporate local experiences that may be lost through traditional public input procedures, a New Orleans-based multidisciplinary design studio has added Community Design Advocates (CDAs) to their visioning processes. The CDAs are community members who are consulted on a weekly basis throughout the design process, and who are compensated by a stipend. The studio has worked with CDAs for projects in New Orleans, Dallas, and Portland.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—WMATA Announces Transit-Oriented Development at Congress Heights
Mass Transit, January 6, 2022
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA) is working with three developers to transform a parcel of vacant, agency-owned land into a new transit-oriented development. The land will be integrated into a two-acre mixed-use project to include 240,000 sq. ft. of office space and 179 housing units priced between 30 and 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI) levels. The affordable units are supported by D.C.’s Nonprofit Affordable Housing Developer fund, and the sale of the WMATA parcel ($3.1 million) will support transit operations.
NEW YORK—ALL ABOARD! Hochul Seeks Subway Between Bay Ridge and Jackson Heights
Dave Colon, Streetsblog NYC, January 5, 2022
New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced immediate plans to begin studying the “Interborough Express,” a new circumferential rail line that would connect Brooklyn and Queens, and up to 17 existing subway lines, using an existing freight right-of-way. The project is an adaptation from an earlier proposal by the Regional Plan Association, the “Triborough,” which was to extend all the way to the Bronx. Governor Hochul also directed the Port Authority to study a cross-bay rail freight corridor between Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal and Brooklyn.
MICHIGAN—In Michigan, a New Housing Project Shows that Sustainable Development Isn’t Only for the Rich
Jenna Brooker, Grist, January 3, 2022
Veridian at Country Farm is a new climate-focused development outside Ann Arbor, Michigan, that looks to serve as a model for future development. In the U.S., housing accounts for 20 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions—sustainable architecture will be an integral part of meeting the terms of the Paris Climate Accord. Additionally, 50 of the 160 units in the Veridian development will be offered to persons making 60 percent Area Median Income (AMI) to demonstrate how affordability can be integrated into future climate-conscious projects. Residents will be connected to Ann Arbor via bus lines, sidewalks, and a bike trail.
MARYLAND—Along the Purple Line, Worries that New Transit Will Bring Higher Rents
Katharine Shaver, The Washington Post, December 30, 2021
The Purple Line Corridor Coalition is a group of advocates who hope to prevent gentrification-driven displacement from the new circumferential rail line. One of the Coalition’s initiatives is to protect existing small businesses along the alignment by providing marketing and grant application support. The group also hopes to maintain existing affordable housing stock along the corridor by connecting housing providers to capital and giving technical assistance. Delayed due to a contractor dispute, the light rail line is now scheduled to open in several years, allowing extra time for anti-displacement efforts.
NEW YORK—Why New York City May Soon Be More Walkable for Blind People
Ali Watkins, The New York Times, December 27, 2021
The City of New York was ordered by a federal judge to install more than 9,000 Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) at intersections across the city. The technology provides audible cues for persons with visual impairments and vibrates to provide signals to hearing-impaired pedestrians. The judge called for a federal monitor to oversee the APS installation over the next ten years.
CHINA—First Phase of Heatherwick Studio’s Mixed-Use Development 1,000 Trees Opens in Shanghai
Andreea Cutieru, ArchDaily, January 6, 2021
The mixed-use development, 1,000 Trees, in Shanghai incorporates an orthogonal grid of tree-topped columns that act as a “visual extension” of a nearby park. The project is built upon the site of a former flour factory and sits alongside a creek. The first phase of the project was recently inaugurated, and the second phase will involve a “hanging gardens” design above the existing structure.
EUROPE—European Commission Prioritizes Cyclists and Pedestrians in Cities for “First Time in History”
Jennifer Hahn, Dezeen, January 5, 2021
As part of an effort to achieve carbon neutrality in Europe by 2050, the European Commission has proposed prioritizing walking and cycling in transportation plans. If approved, the change would require the 424 cities in the Trans European Transportation Network (TEN-T) to create sustainable urban mobility plans for implementation by 2025. The proposed initiative, if implemented, is projected to reduce transportation emissions by 90 percent by prioritizing transit and active transportation.