Boston goes green by repurposing buildings (top-left); Office to apartments in Trenton (top-right); Walkable neighborhoods lead to healthier lives for women (bottom-left); Raleigh approves BRT funding (bottom-middle); South African provinces consider high-speed rail (bottom-right)
Article of the Week
MASSACHUSETTS—The Environmental Case for Repurposing Downtown Buildings
Ross Cameron, CommonWealth Magazine, October 10 2023
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has announced the “Downtown Office to Residential Conversion Pilot Program,” a public-private partnership set to launch this fall. Aimed at transforming underutilized downtown office spaces into residential units, the program offers reduced property tax rates to incentivize participation. As much as 12 percent of Boston’s offices have been determined to be easily convertible. In one such case, the renovation instead of demolition and new construction of the Little Building at Emerson College resulted in savings of nearly 3,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions.
TRENTON—Office to Apartment Conversion Coming to Trenton
Jessica Perry, NJ BIZ, October 10 2023
One of Trenton’s tallest buildings will soon be put to new use as a multifamily apartment building. The conversion of the 16-story, 240,000-sq. ft. structure is set to be completed in 2026. The reimagined building is located at 240 W. State Street, adjacent to bus stops for several NJ TRANSIT bus routes and less than 1.2 miles from the Trenton Transit Center. Developer Fennelly Associates plans to include a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom units as well as a ground-level cafe.
PLAINFIELD—Plainfield Redevelopment Reaches New Frontier With Apartments in Old Department Store
Mike Deak, My Central Jersey, October 6 2023
Plainfield’s newest 55,000-sq. ft. mixed-use development has achieved a 60 percent leasing rate. Situated less than half a mile from Plainfield Station, Frontier Flats offers 35 market-rate one- and two-bedroom apartments and 26,000 sq. ft. of retail space to be divided within the former Rosenbaum’s Department Store. Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp believes the development provides diverse housing options, and represents the City’s goal to promote downtown living.
HOBOKEN—Hoboken Planning Board Approves 27-Story Rail Yard Building With 20% Affordable Housing
Daniel Ulloa, Hudson County View, October 4 2023
The Hoboken Planning Board unanimously approved a proposal for a 27-story, 339,219 sq. ft. building, plans for which are consistent with the City’s Rail Yard Redevelopment Plan. Spearheaded by Observer Highway Urban Renewal LLC, 20 percent of the 386 residential units will be affordable and will include co-working spaces to encourage shorter travel distances. The project anticipates that 60 percent of residents will use on-site mass transit exclusively and will offer no parking.
WISCONSIN—Developers Vie for Millions From Madison’s Affordable Housing Fund
Eric Murphy, Isthmus, October 12 2023
Five developers have submitted applications hoping to secure funds from a $10 million Affordable Housing Fund to be used to build 300 new affordable apartments. To qualify, developers must make at least 20 percent of their proposed apartments affordable for families earning 30 percent of the AMI (amounting to $37,000 for a family of four). Additional units must be designated as “supportive housing” and will undergo review by the Community Block Grant Development Committee and the City Council. The City intends to distribute the money to as many as four projects. Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway has proposed doubling the fund to $20 million in 2024.
MARYLAND—County Funds Apartment Building Development Along Purple Line Corridor
Source of the Spring, October 10 2023
Montgomery County will provide $10.6 million in financing and a Payment In lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement to develop Park Montgomery West, an affordable housing project along Silver Spring’s Purple Line Corridor. Part of the development involves replacing the existing car park structure with the new five-level building. This project will comprise 76 new units and renovate 141 existing units—all tax-exempt by the County. Local officials praised the County’s utilization of two LIHTC funding sources, which will ensure that all 217 units will serve residents earning 60 percent or less of the AMI (or $91,970 for a family of four).
Women Living in More Walkable Neighborhoods Found to Have Lower Rates of Obesity-Related Cancers
Medical Press, October 4 2023
Women living in walkable neighborhoods experienced a 26 percent reduction in risk of obesity-related cancers, according to a new joint study by Columbia University and the NYU Grossman School of Medicine. Compared to those who lived in neighborhoods in the lowest 25th percentile of walkability, women in walkable communities also experienced a significant drop in the rate of breast cancer. The study’s authors noted that the observed relationship was stronger for impoverished women. Studying 14,274 women between the ages of 34 and 65, over three decades, researchers re-enforced the relationship between urban design and public health.
CONNECTICUT—How Stamford’s Gonna Spend $17M From State: From Train Station Garage Demolition to New Playscapes
Ignacio Laguarda, Stamford Advocate, October 9 2023
With more than $1.1 billion in funding, the State Bond Commission has allocated more than $600 million to support public transportation projects across Connecticut. In Stamford, $9 million will support the demolition of the Stamford Train Station parking garage, which will be rebuilt with a 320-foot pedestrian bridge, and $2.5 million will support transit-oriented development on Lower Atlantic Street.
NORTH CAROLINA—Raleigh Council Accepts Funding for Bus Rapid Transit, Approves Redevelopment South of Moore Square
Jasmine Gallup, Indy Week, October 5 2023
The Raleigh City Council approved $89 million in funding for the development of the 5.4-mile New Bern Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route. The new BRT service will include 3.3 miles of dedicated bus lanes, 10 stations, 19 platforms, and sidewalk improvements. Alongside the transit project, plans are in place for the construction of 500 new housing units, with 160 to 190 units designated as affordable housing.
CANADA—Hullmark and BGO Reveal Master Plan For Beltline Yards, a New Landmark in Toronto
Cision, October 12 2023
Hullmark and BGO have revealed their master plan for Beltline Yards, a 7.3-acre, 1.7 million-sq. ft. mixed-use neighborhood in Toronto. Beltline Yards will encompass a variety of housing options, as well as more than 160,000 sq. ft. of parkland, including a 43,000 sq. ft. publicly accessible park. The development prioritizes transit connectivity and will be adjacent to the New Caledonia Station. This community-driven neighborhood is set to be construction-ready for phase 1 in 2026.
SOUTH AFRICA—All Aboard for High-Speed Rail Link Between Gauteng and Limpopo
Mashudu Sadike, IOL, October 12 2023
The provinces of Gauteng and Limpopo in South Africa are considering the construction of a 240km high-speed rail link to ease traffic congestion. The rail network will serve passenger and freight traffic. Guateng Premier Panyaza Lesufi has expressed confidence in the proposal, saying it would need approval from the National Treasury. Estimates hold that investors, ready to fund the costs, will face a potential timeline of 4 to 6 years till completion.