Glasgow transforms to fight climate change (left); Build Back Better to build or preserve affordable housing (top right); Policy to support America’s downtowns
Article of the Week
NEWARK—Newark Designated as ‘Transit Village’ — Which Gives City Opportunity for More State Assistance
ROI-NJ, October 24, 2021
Newark has joined the list of state-designated Transit Villages, officially the 34th designated municipality since the program’s inception in 1999. The City will now be eligible for technical assistance from agencies in the Transit Village Task Force, such as NJ TRANSIT and NJDOT, as well as priority consideration for certain grants. Newark’s Transit Village District is centered upon Broad and Market streets, and contains 63 bus stops, three light rail stations, and Newark Penn Station, with NJ TRANSIT, Amtrak, and PATH rail service, as well as access to private bus operators. Much of the Transit Village District involves active redevelopment plans, such as the Living Downtown Redevelopment Plan, and the Downtown Core Redevelopment Plan. Newark has seen a wave of new, dense development in recent years.
ILLINOIS—To Boost Ridership, Chicago Plans to Slash Transit Fares
Brody Ford, Bloomberg CityLab, October 25, 2021
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is pivoting away from traditional 30-day passes that served commuters, to discounted 1-day, 3-day, and 7-day passes to reflect new travel patterns, and promote equity in transportation. Currently, CTA averages about half of its monthly pre-pandemic riders, leading to a mounting budget gap. Erin Aleman, executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, said, “In the long term, we need to rethink how transit operations are funded.”
Policy Hackathon: Recreating America’s Downtowns
Renuka Rayasam, Politico, October 21, 2021
According to Kastle Systems, which tracks keycard entries into its office buildings, office occupancy in 10 American major metros is at 36 percent of pre-pandemic levels. To discuss the post-COVID recovery, Politico convened a panel of planners and municipal leaders from across the country. Strategies identified by the experts include: creating and maintaining outdoor spaces, converting office space to residential housing, eliminating or reducing parking to create space for other uses, and improving transit or other car alternatives, among others.
JERSEY CITY—New Renderings Released as SciTech Scity Begins Construction in Jersey City
Chris Fry, Jersey Digs, October 25, 2021
SciTech Scity is a redevelopment project from Liberty Science Center that, in its first phase, will include a new science-focused K-12 school, and 111,000 sq. ft. of “innovation space” called Edge Works. The project will also involve Scholars Village, two buildings that will provide housing for individuals working at Edge Works and the school, such as scientists, entrepreneurs, and graduate students. The first phase of SciTech Scity is expected to open in 2023.
CAMDEN—NJ Transit Awards Design Contract For Walter Rand Transportation Center Project
Progressive Railroading, October 22, 2021
NJ TRANSIT awarded a design contract for the new Walter Rand Transportation Center (WRTC) in Camden. The contract calls for the design concept to include future transit service in Camden, as well as “new retail, office, housing and hospital opportunities to foster mixed-use development and support community investments.” The WRTC currently serves 26 NJ TRANSIT bus routes, the River Line light rail, as well as the PATCO Speedline, private buses, and an SJTPA shuttle.
NEW BRUNSWICK—Apartments and Retail With Rooftop Deck Proposed in Downtown New Brunswick
Susan Loyer, My Central Jersey, October 19, 2021
An LLC has applied to the New Brunswick Zoning Board of Adjustment to build an eight-story, mixed-use building in New Brunswick. The first floor of the 45-unit structure will contain space for 12 cars and 32 bicycles, as well as office and retail. If constructed, residents would be able to walk less than a quarter-mile to New Brunswick Station, with service to Trenton and New York Penn Station.
Public Housing Takes Priority in Biden Spending Bill
Kriston Capps, Bloomberg CityLab, October 28, 2021
The housing focus of the pared-down Build Back Better Act has shifted toward repairing, replacing, or building public housing, allocating $65 billion toward these efforts. According to the White House, the bill will build or preserve more than one million affordable housing units across the country. Additionally, the bill includes a “soft repeal” of the Faircloth Amendment, which has prohibited the construction of net new federal public housing units since 1999.
CALIFORNIA—SANDAG Allocates $700K to North County for Transit Pilot Program
Steve Puterski, The Coast News Group, October 26, 2021
The North County Transit District (NCTD) serves northern San Diego County municipalities, including Escondido, Carlsbad, and Oceanside, with bus, light rail, and commuter rail service. Recently, the board of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) approved an $8 million pilot program to provide free transit for riders 18 and under on the system. The pilot was developed by SANDAG’s social equity working group, and, if financially feasible, the agency plans to eventually extend “youth opportunity” passes to all riders by 2030.
PENNSYLVANIA—Port Authority Study Pushes More Diverse Development around Transit Stations
Ed Blazina, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 26, 2021
A self-evaluation by the Port Authority of Allegheny County found that the agency could do more to apply “an equity lens” to ensure that its transit-oriented development promotion efforts do not inadvertently drive displacement. For example, the number of Black residents living in the East Liberty Station TOD area declined by 34.4 percent, while the housing cost burdened, identified as those paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing, grew by 49.8 percent. The study suggests that the Port Authority work with local municipalities to include affordable housing in TOD projects, promote the reduction of parking requirements, and establish a dedicated mixed-use development fund for TOD.
MARYLAND—Maryland Transit-Oriented Development Puts People Ahead of Cars
John Kruskowski, BisNow, October 27, 2021
Metro Centre is an in-progress TOD in Owings Mills, Maryland, built around the municipality’s station on the Baltimore Metro. Eventually, the development will encompass 1,700 housing units, 1.5 million sq. ft. of office space, and 300,000 sq. ft. of retail. At the TOD’s center is a branch of the Baltimore County Library, as well as the Community College of Baltimore County. According to the developer, a mix of uses is part of their overall strategy, “I don’t think that I would want to build an apartment building or an office building by itself today. Mixed-use is primarily the direction that we’re going in today.” Note: article requires free registration.
PENNSYLVANIA—SEPTA Launches Transit Supportive Community Development Program
SEPTA, Press Release, October 27, 2021
As part of the agency’s SEPTA Forward initiative, the Philadelphia area’s mass transit provider will launch a Transit Supportive Community Development (TSCD) Program to help shape development adjacent to SEPTA service. According to the press release the TSCD Program will look at development from a corridor perspective, rather than focusing just on stations themselves. SEPTA will discuss the program in more detail in a webinar on November 3.
NEBRASKA—New Transit Oriented Development Code Encourages Accessory Dwelling Units in Some Parts of Omaha
Alexandra Stone, KETV Omaha, October 21, 2021
While Omaha has many existing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU), city policy created in the 1980s requires applicants to have 50 percent of their neighbors sign a petition requesting city approval. Now, the ADU construction process would be streamlined, only requiring approval from the planning board. The new ADU policy is part of a Transit-Oriented Development rezoning in Omaha, centered on a station on the Omaha Rapid Bus Transit (ORBT) line.
SCOTLAND—Glasgow: The Last Best Hope to Fight Climate Change
Calum Watson, BBC News, October 29, 2021
This visual essay explores how Glasgow, a post-industrial city hosting the COP26 climate summit, is transforming itself into a sustainable center. While heavy industry–often involving coal, oil, and gas–used to dominate Glasgow’s economy, the city has transitioned to a financial services base. The city’s many historic tenements, poorly insulated, are now being upgraded to be more energy efficient. The River Clyde, which used to accommodate shipping, is now being used to heat homes, using submerged heat pumps akin to those used to heat 97 percent of Copenhagen. Finally, the city is switching its transit network to electric buses, plans to replace diesel garbage trucks with hydrogen-powered vehicles, and is investing in 160 miles of bike lanes.
REPUBLIC OF KOREA—UN Studio Reveals Design of 10-Minute Neighborhood for Seoul
Andreea Cutieru, Arch Daily, October 29, 2021
Architecture and urban design firm UN Studio shared plans for Project H1, a redevelopment proposal for an industrial site and railyard in Seoul. The concept includes a residential zone, consisting of eight towers, connected to a commercial and business area by a network of green space. The project aims to create a development “containing all the amenities of contemporary living within a 10-minute walk.”