Ten female urban planners who deserve the limelight (top left); Rendering of Avenue & Green, Woodbridge, NJ (top right); Promoting transit ridership post-Covid (bottom left); Transit friendly planning in Austin, TX (bottom right)
Article of the Week
NORTH CAROLINA—Will Charlotte’s $13.5 Billion Transit Plan Benefit Those Who Need it Most?
Danielle Chemtob, Axios Charlotte, March 21, 2022
Leaders from the Black Political Caucus (BPC) are demanding assurances that Charlotte’s 13.5 billion transit plan will prevent gentrification and create equity. The transit plan calls for a new east-west light rail line, the Silver Line, and a new commuter rail, the LYNX red line. Charlotte’s real estate values have risen rapidly, especially near the light rail, displacing those who could benefit from the infrastructure. Local leaders are mulling a one percent sales tax increase to fund the transit investments, which will disproportionately affect people of color who make up three-quarters of Charlotte Area Transit System’s customers. The BPC requires that four percent of sales tax revenue be earmarked for anti-displacement measures and that 10 percent of housing units built within one-mile of a transit station be affordable. In addition, the organization called for the participation of minority contractors in building the transit network proportionate to the population of Charlotte.
VIRGINIA—Arlington County to Promote Transit Use in Post-Covid Marketing Push
Jo DeVoe, ARL Now, March 22, 2022
Arlington County will launch a campaign to encourage the use of public transportation and to thank people who have taken subways and buses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Public transport has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, with rail ridership recovering 33 percent and local bus ridership returning to 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels. The campaign, which is aimed at restoring transit ridership, will begin in late spring or early summer and will continue for at least one year. The county’s effort is part of a statewide strategy undertaken by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) to promote transit use. NVTC utilized a one-time, $500,000 state grant to launch the campaign and asked the bordering jurisdictions to contribute a 20 percent match, or $100,000 each.
MAINE—2 Charts Show Just How Bad COVID-19 Hurt Public Transit in Maine
Jessica Piper, Bangor Daily News, March 18, 2022
Bus and train ridership in Maine remains between 30 to 50 percent lower than pre-pandemic levels. Vehicle use has rebounded in the past year and public transit agencies are struggling to adapt systems to changing rider habits. Federal funding allows the Greater Portland Metro to maintain service levels despite lower fare revenue. The agency hopes to work with partners and leverage federal funding to adapt services and attract new riders before federal aid runs out in 2023. Projects considered by the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System include improving accessibility of bus stops and working on transit signal priority for buses. With more people working from home, Greg Jordan, the executive director of Greater Portland Metro believes moving toward a more uniform service throughout the day with less focus on peak hours is one way to match the changing rider habits.
CARTERET—Carteret Gets Final OK to Begin Building Ferry Terminal Later This Year
Suzanne Russell, MyCentralJersey.com, March 22, 2022
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved the final permit needed for the Borough of Carteret to begin construction of the Carteret Ferry Terminal on the Arthur Kill. The permit approves one-time construction dredging along the waterway and the installation of 130 of bulkhead, a 40-by-40-foot pier to provide passenger access, steel pilings, bumpers, and a 200-foot-long wave screen. The borough has received more than $30 million in federal and state grants toward the project, including two $6 million grants, a Transit Ferry Boat Grant through NJ TRANSIT, and a U.S. Department of Transportation grant for a ferry terminal. Construction is slated to begin later this year.
As Gas Prices Rise, Towns Add Electric Car Charging Stations
Wayne Parry, The Detroit News, March 21, 2022
New Jersey’s planned expansion of electric charging stations serving cars and NJ TRANSIT buses receives national attention as gasoline prices rise to over $4 per gallon. State officials recently awarded $1 million in grants for the installation of electric charging stations in 24 tourist locations, including Asbury Park, Atlantic City, Ocean City, and several state parks and forests. The state is now home to about 625 vehicle charging stations and NJ TRANSIT will soon utilize a station at a bus depot in Camden.
BOUND BROOK—Bound Brook Approves 49 Apartments on Talmage Avenue
Mike Deak, MyCentralJersey.com, March 21, 2022
The Bound Brook Planning Board approved 49 apartments in a four-story mixed-use building at the corner of Talmage Avenue and Van Keuren Avenue. The property extends north to Linden Avenue and is currently used as a parking lot. The project will include approximately 2,000 sq. ft. of retail space on the ground floor facing Talmage Avenue and underground and outdoor parking. The building will be about a half-mile from the Bound Brook Station on the Raritan Valley Line and about a mile from Bridgewater Station at the TD Bank Ballpark.
Transit-Oriented Developments Offer All the Options
Jessica Perry, NJBiz.com, March 21, 2022
Two properties in Central Jersey, Crossings at Raritan Station by Accurate Builders & Developers and Avenue & Green by Prism Capital Partners, have both exceeded 80 percent lease rates since February, indicating a positive market response to transit-oriented developments. The Avenue & Green property is situated at the corner of Rahway Avenue and Green Street and comprises 10,500 sq. ft. of retail space at ground level and 232 studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments on the upper floors. Fifty percent of units in the building located adjacent to the Woodbridge Station leased in just 90 days. In Raritan Borough, Crossings at Raritan Station comprises 276 units in a building located at 59 Second Avenue, next to the train station. Like Woodbridge, Crossings offers access to major roadways, and it is located a mile from downtown Somerville and the Somerville Station.
10 Female Urban Planners That Deserve Limelight
Aditi Pancholi, Rethinking the Future, n.d.
Urban planning is a male-dominated profession. Though statistics show a minimal presence of women in the field, there are women urbanists, urban policymakers, urban planners, urban designers, activists, economists, politicians, and social workers who have largely contributed to the profession of urban planning but rarely receive the appreciation and recognition they deserve. This tribute highlights women who have contributed to the profession, including Ester Hill, Erica Mann, Blanche Lemco Van Ginkel, Odilia Suarez, Amanda Burden, Margaret Helfand, Elizabeth Plater, Ellen Dunham, Janette Sadik Khan, and Toni L. Griffin.
TEXAS—Capital Metro to Roll Out New Fare Card, Lower Rates for Low-Income Residents in 2022
Sumaiya Malik, Community Impact Newspaper, March 22, 2022
Capital Metro unveiled plans for a new smart fare card and payment system that will introduce fare capping and support an equitable fare structure for transit riders with lower income levels. The new system will allow commuters to use a new Amp account to pay for fares within the Capital Metro app or use their Amp account smart card. Enrollment in the Amp card plan will offer a reduced cost of riding, or “Equifare,” to those who qualify. The proposed capping of fares will ensure that riders are not charged more than $2 per day or $33 per month regardless of the number of rides taken. The reduced Equifare will be available to riders whose household income is less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Those who received a 50 percent discount in the current system for reduced fares will continue to receive benefits with the new Amp smart card.
MISSOURI—KCATA Pursues Ambitious Mixed-Use Tower Downtown
Kevin Collison, Flatland, March 24, 2022
The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) plans to develop a 26-story mixed-use building at its former transit site at 10th Street and Main Street. According to the proposal, the ground floor will include retail, 30,000 sq. ft. of office space for KCATA, and approximately 200 affordable apartments on the remaining upper floors. “We are proposing a vibrant, equitable, and diverse mixed-income ‘vertical’ neighborhood which will help KCATA and KCMO achieve their strategic goals by promoting transit usage and delivering housing,” RideKC Development Corp. (RDC) and KCATA officials stated.
NEW YORK—Developer Sets Mid-April Target Date for Lynbrook Apartments at Former Feather Factory Site
Mike Smollins, LIHerald.com, March 24, 2022
A $95 million, 201-unit transit-oriented apartment complex is scheduled to begin construction in mid-April at the site of the former Mangrove Feather factory. The proposed 278,014 sq. ft. development will comprise 55 studios, 111 one-bedrooms, and 35 two-bedroom apartments for the site that remains vacant since 2008. The transit-oriented development located close to the Long Island Railroad station intends to attract young professionals who commute to Manhattan. The property will be seven stories high, with two floors of parking and five residential floors.
GEORGIA—MARTA, Goldman Sachs Announce New Atlanta TOD Effort
Progressive Railroading, March 23, 2022
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) with Goldman Sachs’ Urban Investment Group announced a $100 million investment to the Atlanta Affordable Housing and Transit-Oriented Development Initiative. Officials broke ground on the proposed site for Skyline Apartments, a 250-unit affordable housing complex across the street from the southern terminus of MARTA’s planned Summerhill bus rapid transit (BRT) system, a service that will connect Southeast BeltLine riders to rail routes. Through the initiative, mixed-income housing projects will be developed close to MARTA’s 38 heavy rail stations, 12 Atlanta Streetcar light-rail stops, and new transit investment corridors.
TEXAS—Parking Relief, Transit-Oriented Walkability, Townhomes Recommended for Tyler-Vernon Station Area
Rachel Stone, Oak Cliff Advocate, March 22, 2022
The first draft of the West Oak Cliff Area Plan identifies several focus areas that are subject to upcoming authorization for rezoning. With three DART light-rail stations in the area, the draft aims to help create a land use and land development vision for the region. As a land-use goal, the draft plan recommends increasing housing opportunities throughout West Oak Cliff through accessory dwelling units, or rear apartments. It also suggests that properties be remodeled or replaced with duplexes, triplexes, or quads. The Tyler/Vernon part of the plan provoked outrage and political controversy last year, leading residents near Tyler Station to forge the Polk Vernon Neighborhood Association in opposition to developers who wanted to raise building heights to permit townhomes or apartments. Additionally, the draft plan recommends improvements to sidewalks, bike lanes, and easing parking restrictions for older commercial buildings and suggests creating more green spaces across the region.
CALIFORNIA—VTA Bets Big on Housing in Santa Clara County
Eli Wolfe, San Jose Spotlight, March 19, 2022
The Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) will lease its surplus land near its light rail stations to private developers and government housing agencies to address the region’s housing shortage as well as its own financial challenges. The State of California recently invested $29 million to build a 569-unit housing project near Tamien Station in San Jose and is seeking a developer to build a 105-unit housing development near Winchester Station in Campbell. With 25 potential development sites, the VTA is expected to support the creation of more than 7,000 apartments by 2040, 2,500 of which will be considered affordable. The effort is projected to generate $60 million in additional revenue annually.
MALAYSIA—Making an Impact in Sentul East
Ruby Lim, Metro News, March 24, 2022
The transit-oriented development, SkyMeridien, is a residential high-rise building with easy access to public transport such as the Sentul Timur LRT Station, located 300m from the station and accessible via a covered walkway. The building comprises 780 units, ranging in size from 581 to 1,318 sq. ft. and includes recreational facilities. Certified as a green building, SkyMeridien is designed with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives in mind to save energy and resources. As part of the SkyMeridien project, SkyWorld launched Solution+, Malaysia’s first ecosystem and enhanced ecommerce platform. Solution+ connects homeowners with commercial products and services including interior design and renovation, furniture and home appliances, telecom subscription services, and movers, packers and rental services.
CANADA—64 Supportive Units for the Homeless Proposed Near Skytrain Rupert Station
Kenneth Chan, Urbanized, February 10, 2022
BC Housing developers have submitted a proposal to build a permanent supportive housing project at 2518-2538 South Grandview Highway in East Vancouver. The development site is a nine-minute walk west of SkyTrain Renfrew Station and is currently occupied by two 1950s-built, single-story duplex structures. In November 2020, the provincial government acquired 2518 South Grandview Highway (west lot) for $2.395 million, and 2538 South Grandview Highway (east lot) for $2.44 million, creating a land assembly of about 15,300 sq. ft. If approved, construction will begin mid-2023, making it the second new permanent supportive housing building in the immediate South Grandview area. A six-story building with 50 supportive units is also slated to be built at 2930 Renfrew Street, about a four-minute walk from Renfrew Station.