Rendering of the Broadway Corridor Redevelopment, Portland, OR (top left); Essex Modern City, San Antonio, TX (bottom left); BRT routes planned by the Central Ohio Transit Authority (top right); Vancouver’s Skytrain at Rupert station
Article of the Week
GEORGIA—Revised Centennial Yards Plan Stressing Walkability, Street Connections Unveiled
Josh Green, Urbanize Atlanta, July 19, 2021
A $5 billion, master-planned project to develop Atlanta’s Gulch district is moving ahead. The area consists of ground-level land abutting the intersection of two freight railroads, adjacent to the dense downtown, though historically undeveloped due to the railroad tracks. Built above them, the mixed-use Centennial Yards project will comprise nearly 1 million sq. ft. of new development, with 20 percent of all new housing units designated as affordable. The development is within walking distance of two MARTA stations, GWCC/CNN Center Station on the Blue and Green Lines, and Five Points, the central hub station where Atlanta’s four subway lines intersect.
Americans Riding Public Transportation in Greater Numbers
Mass Transit, July 22, 2021
The Federal Transit Administration announced that public transit systems were seeing a resurgence in ridership across the United States, with some at over 80 percent of their pre-pandemic levels. Systems in Oklahoma City and Richmond recorded 81 and 80 percent of early-2020 ridership. In Florida, Miami-Dade’s transit network saw a 68 percent return, and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), 69 percent. Transit systems in Kansas City and Richmond currently have fare-free policies.
The Pandemic Sank Mass Transit Use. Data Show its Slow Recovery.
Elliott Ramos and Aadit Tambe, NBC News, July 22, 2021
According to an NBC News analysis of data from Transit, a public transportation scheduling app, nationwide ridership of most systems remained below two-thirds of 2019 metrics. The analysis depicts how some cities’ transit recovery charts upward, such as Los Angeles and Atlanta, while others, such as Dallas, remain stagnant. In Chicago, summertime one-day and multi-day passes have been reduced, and, in New York, the MTA announced that it would delay a fare hike to next year, in order to incentivize riders to return to the system.
TRENTON—Hearings Scheduled for Plans to Add 128 Residential Units Near Trenton Transit Center
Jared Kofsky, Jersey Digs, July 21, 2021
Developers have applied to the Trenton Planning Board to construct two new multifamily buildings close by to the Trenton Transit Center. The first, by Vista Center Development, LLC, would construct a 104-unit building on Greenwood Avenue, two minutes’ walk from transit hub. The second, by Ajax Holdings II, LLC, hopes to build a 24-unit structure at 632 Greenwood Avenue, about a five minute walk from the station. Trenton Transit Center provides connections to NJ TRANSIT commuter rail, Amtrak, the River LINE light rail, and SEPTA service to Philadelphia.
CHATHAM—New Bus Route to Start When Affordable Housing Comes to Chatham
Jennifer Jean Miller, Patch, July 20, 2021
A new 63-unit affordable housing complex in Chatham will also receive daily bus service when it opens, connecting residents of the Chatham Family Apartments to the NJ TRANSIT Madison Station. The 12-seat bus, which will cost the township $78,000 annually, will make stops at the complex twice on weekday mornings, with one return journey in the evening.
JERSEY CITY—First Phase of Emerson Lofts Makes Progress in Jersey City, New Jersey
Michael Young, New York YIMY, July 18, 2021
A two million sq. ft. development abutting Jersey City and Hoboken has made progress on its construction. The Emerson Lofts project, developed by Manhattan Building Company, will eventually comprise four towers, with 1,100 housing units in total. The development is about a twenty-minute walk from Newport Station, with connections to the PATH and the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail.
COLORADO—Housing First Breaks the Homelessness-Jail Cycle
Urban Institute, July 15, 2021
Denver’s ‘Housing First’ policy, which sought top the homelessness-jail cycle by providing stable housing through the Supportive Housing Social Impact Bond Initiative (Denver SIB), has been shown via a rigorous study to be highly effective. The program works by providing housing without preconditions to homeless individuals, operating on the philosophy that housing is a precondition for beginning to surmount the many challenges of homelessness. Three years later, 77 percent of participants in the study group remained in stable housing.
OREGON—How a Diverse Coalition in Portland, Ore. Is Centering Racial Equity in a Large-Scale Development Project
Meg Walker, Brookings Institution, July 12, 2021
A years-long planning effort by a coalition of Portland activist, resident, and community leaders has culminated an unprecedented Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) concerning a large redevelopment project. The 32-acre development along the Broadway Corridor will create 8,800 jobs (and priority hiring of people of color and women), provide workforce development funds, and allocate 30 percent of units toward affordable housing. The community work was accomplished by the Health Communities Coalition (HCC), and Prosper Portland, the City’s economic development agency, through years of meetings, and community engagement.
OHIO—COTA to Buy Greyhound Station, ‘Substantial’ Development Planned for Site
Brent Warren, Columbus Underground, July 22, 2021
The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) will buy Greyhound’s downtown Columbus station, with plans to redevelop the facility into a mixed-use mobility hub, with housing, offices, and retail space. The station is also situated along the alignment of two planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes, part of COTA’s LinkUS Mobility Initiative.
NEW YORK—$2.1 Billion Air Train to La Guardia Gets Green Light From U.S.
Patrick McGeehan, The New York Times, July 20, 2021
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved a $2.1 billion plan by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to construct a rail link between LaGuardia Airport and Willets Point. Critics have argued that the project’s indirect route—the only alternative to survive a questionable environmental review process—represents a waste of public funds.
TEXAS—Proposed Eastside Mixed-Use Project Secures Loan to Advance Development
Shari Biediger, San Antonio Report, July 19, 2021
Essex Modern City, an 8-acre mixed use development on San Antonio’s East Side secured funding to move forward. The fully built out project will include 800 housing units, as well as 80,000 sq. ft. of retail and office space, respectively. The near-downtown development is two blocks from several bus routes on the city’s VIA transit system.
VIRGINIA—COMMENTARY: Time to Implement Transit-Oriented Development Where It Counts
Ian M. Ollis, The Free Lance-Star, July 17, 2021
The head of Fredericksburg, Virginia’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) argues for the creation of TOD zones to facilitate smart growth at the four area commuter rail stations. As the Commonwealth of Virginia plans to double its Virginia Railway Express (VRE) service between Fredericksburg and Washington, D.C. over the next ten years, TOD overlay zones could add density and quality-of-life improvements in Fredericksburg.
CALIFORNIA—With Affordable Housing in Short Supply, California Looks to Prioritize People Over Parking
Amanda Brandeis, Denver7, July 15, 2021
Due to the 2019 removal of parking requirements for transit priority areas, a San Diego developer is building 100 “micro-units” in the place of car storage facilities. According to developer Gilman Bishop, each unit would have cost an additional $30,000 to $50,000 each, had parking had been required. With the savings from parking. The development, Secoya on Fifth, is located next to the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System’s frequent 3 bus line.
VENEZUELA—Designing For the Next Wave of Urban Poverty
Tony Frangie Mawad, Bloomberg CityLab, July 20, 2021
Venezuelan architect Alfredo Brillembourg discusses attempts to create vibrant, democratic, low-income housing in his home country. One proposed model from Brillembourg is to build low-cost, open-floor structures, and provide residents with micro-loans and “Ikea-like toolkits” to develop the apartments according to their preferences. The architect’s work also encourages an “incremental city” approach, where transit investments, such as a cable car project, act as a catalyst toward retrofitting a slum with water and electricity. According to Brillembourg, giving people mobility and accessibility creates commercial viability. “That, itself, is more powerful as a revolution than everything else.”
CANADA—Federal Minister Catherine McKenna Emphasizes Importance of Transit-Oriented Growth
Kenneth Chan, Urbanized Vancouver, July 19, 2021
Catherine McKenna, Canadian Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, voiced support for transit-oriented development as a strategy for urban growth, with economic, climate, and affordable housing benefits. This policy of densification is requisite for project funding, such as the $3.95 billion Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension, and the $2.8 Billion Millennium Line extension to Arbutus.