Sunday, April 21, 2024
TOD News Briefs

The Week in TOD News March 16-22, 2024

NJ’s new affordable housing legislation (right); Port Authority OKs Newark Airport Station pedestrian access project; San Diego’s green eTOD; Austin buys 107-acres for TOD; Major New Zealand project: Symphony Centre above Te Waihorotiu Station (left top-to-bottom)  

Article of the Week

Governor Murphy signed landmark affordable housing legislation with Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez, Fair Share Housing Center Executive Director Adam Gordon, and Perth Amboy Mayor Helmin Caba, in Perth Amboy on March 20, 2024. CJ McKenna |NJOIT

Phil Murphy signs NJ affordable housing overhaul bill. Here’s what it does
Ashley Balcerzak, NorthJersey.com, March 20 2024
New Jersey’s new legislation, A4/S50, signed by Governor Phil Murphy, seeks to update the process of determining affordable housing placement and zoning. Designed to replace prolonged legal battles with a streamlined framework, the measure aims to address a statewide shortage of an estimated 200,000 units. The law directs the Department of Community Affairs to publish a formula based on prior court decisions to calculate each town’s obligation to provide housing for low- and moderate-income families. By expediting affordable housing creation, implementing bonus credits (including for housing near transit), and abolishing the Council on Affordable Housing, the legislation aims to promote economic equity, mitigate housing segregation, and bolster
New Jersey’s housing framework. Also see: Governor Murphy
Signs Landmark Affordable Housing Legislation


NJ TOD News

Courtesy of Newark Liberty Airport

Start OK’d for $160M Project Linking Parts of Newark and Elizabeth to AirTrain, NJ Transit
Colleen Wilson, North Jersey, March 21 2024
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) has approved construction to improve access to the Newark Airport Railroad Station, facilitating access to both the Newark AirTrain and the Northeast Corridor. Set to begin in 2025, the $160 million project will feature a pedestrian bridge and plaza, drastically reducing travel time from an hour to just seven minutes for residents of Newark and Elizabeth. Alongside this, plans are underway to replace the aging Newark AirTrain, although the
potential extension of the PATH train remains uncertain.

Rendering submitted to Millburn Township. Courtesy of the RDM Group

A wealthy NJ town is resisting affordable housing plans. Its defiance could be costly.
Mike Hayes, Gothamist, March 21 2024
Millburn Township officials risk severe sanctions for withdrawing from a plan to build affordable housing units, defying court orders and facing potential personal fines. The 75-unit, 100 percent affordable housing complex was slated for Main Street in the heart of the upscale downtown, near shops, restaurants, and the NJ TRANSIT Millburn Station. Despite a political backlash and concerns about clustering affordable units, advocates argue for the importance of integrating affordable housing into upscale communities. As legal battles ensue, the outcome may have broader implications for affordable housing policies and development in New Jersey.

WoodmontMetro. Metuchen, NJ

Transit-Oriented Development Is Popular, but Won’t Happen by Itself
Tim Evans, New Jersey Future Blog, March 15 2024
The state’s transit towns have experienced a resurgence, driven by the benefits of transit-oriented development (TOD), which aligns with societal goals like reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving pedestrian safety. Despite obstacles such as zoning regulations and parking requirements, New Jersey’s extensive transit network presents opportunities for further TOD implementation. According to NJ Future’s Director of Research, Tim Evans, policymakers should capitalize on this potential by addressing regulatory barriers and leveraging existing programs to foster more transit-friendly communities.


Transit and Equity News

Rendering of the Palm City Transit Village. Courtesy of National CORE

CALIFORNIA—National CORE and Arup Utilize Historic Funding to Realize Sustainable, Affordable Housing Development in Southern California
Ozgur Gungor, ARUP Press Release, March 20 2024
Arup and affordable housing developer National CORE will advance the Palm City Transit Village in San Diego, with an $8 million grant from the California Energy Commission. Their efforts aim to establish a low-carbon, resilient housing complex, incorporating innovative features such as a microgrid and solar panels to minimize environmental impact. The mixed-use project will also include ground-floor retail, a community center, an onsite childcare facility and outdoor recreation spaces. The Palm City Transit Village development will be built in phases, starting in 2025.

Rendering of Suffolk Place. Courtesy of Philippe Thibault Architect, LLC

MASSACHUSETTS—No Parking Zone: Transit-Oriented Housing Approved
Melanie Gilbert, The Sun, March 20 2024
The Lowell Planning Board approved its first affordable housing development under a new downtown mixed-use zoning ordinance, which eliminates the need for off-street parking. Suffolk Place, comprising 33 condominiums for first-time homebuyers. In October 2023, the City Council approved the downtown mixed-use zoning ordinance, which changed the required off-street parking to zero spaces per unit. The project’s approval signals a shift in zoning policies aimed at promoting transit-oriented development and reducing barriers to affordable housing in the city.

Jefferson Plaza Apartments, Woodbridge, VA. Courtesy of Standard Communities

VIRGINIA—240-Unit Affordable Housing Community to Be Built on Site of Former Shopping Center
Press Release, Building Design + Construction, March 20 2024
Standard Communities will revitalize a former shopping center site in Woodbridge, VA, to create Jefferson Plaza Apartments, a 240-unit 100 percent affordable housing community (income-restricted to 60 percent of the Area Median Income). With funding secured through Virginia Housing and Freddie Mac, this transit-oriented development, located near the Woodbridge Virginia Railway Express station, addresses the strong demand for affordable housing in the area while providing essential amenities for residents.


Regional and National TOD News

The 107-acre Tokyo Electron campus. Taken from the property brochure

TEXAS—City Will Fork Over $87M for Former Tokyo Electron HQ
Cindy Widner, Urbanize Austin, March 21 2024
The Austin City Council has approved the $87 million purchase of the former 107-acre Tokyo Electron campus in southeast Austin, utilizing $27 million from Project Connect Anti-Displacement Funds to prioritize affordable housing near planned transit lines. The acquisition includes two buildings totaling nearly 190,000 sq. ft. and 60 acres of undeveloped land, aiming to develop a dense, transit-oriented neighborhood accommodating 1,100 living units. Plans involve leasing back the buildings to Tokyo Electron temporarily and redeveloping them into a Combined Transportation and Emergency Communication
Center, with extensive community engagement and further
development considerations underway. Also see: Austin City
Council approves $87 million purchase of Tokyo Electron
Headquarters for future mixed-use redevelopment.

Transit-Supportive Housing Density Map. Courtesy of the Cleveland City Planning Commission

OHIO—Cleveland City Planning Commission Approves Zoning and Transportation Policies Aimed at Creating ‘15-Minute’ City
Steven Litt, Cleveland.com, March 17 2023
The Cleveland City Planning Commission unanimously recommended the adoption of a new form-based zoning code in three pilot neighborhoods, aiming to promote dense, walkable, and transit-oriented communities. Additionally, the commission established performance standards incentivizing developers along transit corridors to invest in transit infrastructure and eliminate minimum parking requirements, while addressing concerns about gentrification and displacement through inclusive development strategies. These zoning changes seek to streamline development processes, reduce costs, and encourage a wider range of housing types, ultimately fostering more equitable and sustainable urban growth.

Rendering of The Franklin Project, Michigan City, IN. Courtesy of Flaherty & Collins

INDIANA—$100 Million Investment Breaks Ground in Michigan City
Leo Goldman, WSBT News, March 14 2024
A groundbreaking ceremony in Michigan City marks the start of The Franklin Project, a more than $100 million investment centered around the city’s South Shore Station. The project, funded in part by $10 million from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), alongside tax incentives, will feature apartments, retail, restaurants, and more, with an estimated economic impact exceeding $150 million in the first 5 years. Mayor Angie Nelson Deuitch emphasizes the city’s investment in its future, anticipating job creation and transforming Michigan City
into a residential hub with improved connectivity to Chicago.
Construction, including a parking garage and apartments, is
expected to continue through early 2026.


International TOD News

Семен Саливанчук | Adobe Stock

How does the urban world commute? Study finds over half prefer cars
Madhumita Paul, Down To Earth, March 20 2024
A recent study published in the journal Environmental International finds that most of the world uses cars for their daily commute. Analyzing 794 cities in 61 countries, researchers Rafael Prieto-Curiel from the Complexity Science Hub, Austria and Juan Pablo Ospina, from EAFIT University, Colombia observe that cars comprise 51.4 percent of urban travel, overshadowing public transit and active transportation modes, like walking and biking. The research highlights significant global disparities, with car use in the U.S. and Canada reaching 91.9 percent, while Eastern Asian and African cities reported car use at 18 and 16 percent, respectively. The findings emphasize the impact of city size on
mode choice and the need for strategies to reduce car dependency.

Symphony Centre, to be built above the Te Waihorotiu rail station

NEW ZEALAND—Auckland Midtown Urban Regeneration Project: Symphony Centre Highlight of Transformation – Project Auckland
Graham Kellern, The New Zealand Herald, March 20 2024
Plans call for a transformation of Auckland’s midtown neighborhood and Aotea Arts Quarter with the Symphony Centre transit-oriented development. Formerly a car park utilized for Auckland Council fleet parking, this NZ$450 million project (US$270 million) will encompass 4,750 sq m (~51,130 sq. ft.) and will include a 21-level structure above City Rail Link’s Te Waihorotiu Station. Daily ridership at the station is projected to grow to over 54,000. Led by Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB), Symphony Centre will integrate retail, offices, and apartments.

Harold Stiver | Adobe Stock

CANADA—‘First-of-Its-Kind’: Kitchener Adopts Ambitious New Planning Rules Guiding Growth, Adding Affordable Units
Brent Davis, Waterloo Chronicle, March 19 2024
Kitchener councilors have recently approved the “Growing Together” planning framework, aimed at managing urban growth around transit stations while fostering affordable housing options. This initiative, focusing on seven of the city’s major transit areas, introduces inclusionary zoning requirements for new developments with 50 or more units, mandating that a portion be affordable starting in 2025. The policy will gradually increase affordable units to five percent by 2031. The City Council aims to develop over 100,000 total units, with about 4,500 units as affordable. The plan garnered unanimous support from
council members but drew concerns from both heritage
advocates and developers.