Thursday, June 13, 2024
TOD News Briefs

The Week in TOD News May 25-31, 2024

FTA awards $83M for disability upgrades to Brick Church Station (left); Montclair approves Lackawanna Plaza Redevelopment Plan; The hidden cost of “free parking” and housing in Colorado; Chicago’s office conversation subsidies; Toronto uses subway plan to take on housing crisis (right top-to-bottom)

Article of the Week

Veronica Vanterpool, FTA Acting Administrator. Courtesy of FTA (via X)

EAST ORANGE—Train Station in East Orange Will Get $83M in Disability Upgrades
Eric Kiefer, Patch New Jersey, May 29 2024
East Orange’s Brick Church station is set for a significant overhaul following an $83.3 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) as part of the All Stations Accessibility Program. The project aims to modernize the historic station to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), including installing high level platforms, elevators, and new security measures. Officials lauded the grant as a win-win for the community and commuters, with upgrades expected to improve accessibility, safety, and historical integrity while spurring economic growth and job creation.


Courtesy of Grace Episcopal Church

PLAINFIELD—Court Throws Out Challenge to Plainfield Historic Church Redevelopment
Mike Deak,, May 29 2024
A Superior Court judge in Plainfield dismissed a lawsuit challenging the City’s approval of Grace Episcopal Church’s redevelopment, ruling that the Planning Board’s decision wasn’t arbitrary. The approved plan by LE Development involves demolishing part of the church and constructing a five-story residential building, despite opposition from community members like Elizabeth Faraone, who sought to preserve the church’s historic features and organ. The redevelopment proceeds amid concerns over the loss of architectural heritage, including stained-glass windows and the demolition of the Parrish House, as the church seeks to merge with another Episcopal church due to financial difficulties.

Lackawanna Plaza Redevelopment Area. Source: Lackawanna Plaza Redevelopment Plan, 2022, Phillips Preiss Grygiel Leheny Hughes LLC

MONTCLAIR—Council Allocates $6 Million to Clary Anderson; Lackawanna Plaza Redevelopment Approved
Sherry Fernandes, Montclair Local, May 24 2024
The Montclair Town Council approved the Lackawanna Plaza Redevelopment Plan amidst a packed meeting. The plan specifies a multifaceted approach to revitalizing the area and calls for the demolition of part of an existing structure to make room for a five-story building housing 136 residential units, featuring a mix of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments. Additionally, the plan incorporates commercial spaces, provisions for parking including electric vehicle charging stations, and aims to enhance public spaces. Concerns over the plan’s consistency with the master plan were raised by the Planning Board, while town planner Janice Talley defended its alignment.

Transit and Equity News

Mixed-use housing/TOD award, City of Poughkeepsie. Darren McGee | Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

NEW YORK—Governor Hochul Announces First Awards Under Mid-Hudson Momentum Fund to Unlock Housing Potential and Build More Than 2,400 Homes in New York’s Mid-Hudson Region
Press Release, State of New York, May 29 2024
Governor Kathy Hochul announced $67 million in funding from the Mid-Hudson Momentum Fund to support 13 projects aimed at increasing housing supply and improving infrastructure in the Mid-Hudson region. The projects, which include mixed-use developments and transit-oriented communities, are expected to unlock over $576 million in private investment and create more than 2,400 housing units, with over 1,300 being affordable. This funding initiative is part of a broader strategy to address New York’s housing crisis and enhance the Pro-Housing Communities program, ensuring localities committed to housing growth receive priority in state funding.

Rendering of 1200 Montello (March 2022)

MASSACHUSETTS—Lynch’s Tow Yard to Become 94 Affordable Apartments Next to Brockton Commuter Rail
Chris Helms, AOL/The Enterprise, May 26 2024
Plans are underway to convert the Lynch’s Towing yard in Campello into 94 affordable apartments and ground-floor retail, marking the city’s inaugural project in the Campello Transit-Oriented Development Residential District. The development, named 1200 Montello, is set to include 31 one-bedroom and 63 two-bedroom units, along with underground parking and communal spaces, as part of Brockton’s efforts to address housing needs and revitalize the neighborhood.

Builders on New home construction site with contractor in foreground
ungvar | Adobe Stock

COLORADO—Colorado Steps Deeper into the No Minimum Parking Club
Robert Tyler Johnson, Foley, May 23 2023
Johnson, a partner at Foley & Lardner, discusses the hidden costs of “free parking” and lauds Colorado’s new HB24-1304, which removes minimum parking requirements in transit corridors. This legislation aims to improve housing affordability, enhance walkability, and promote transit-friendly urban development. Despite opposition concerns, Johnson argues that eliminating parking mandates can create denser, more accessible neighborhoods, aligning Colorado with other progressive cities like Portland and Minneapolis.

Regional and National TOD News

Ning | Adobe Stock

ILLINOIS—Chicago Offers Nation’s Largest Subsidies for Office Conversions
Quinn Donoghue, The Real Deal, May 30 2024 Chicago is offering extensive public subsidies to convert outdated office buildings into apartments and hotels, surpassing similar efforts in other major U.S. cities with strong backing from Mayor Brandon Johnson. Faced with high office vacancy rates and financial struggles, the City aims to rejuvenate its downtown by converting office spaces, with plans to create over 1,000 new apartments, including affordable housing, funded partly by $150 million in city subsidies. However, declining office property values and the impending end of federal aid from the American Rescue Plan create uncertainty about the sustainability of these initiatives. Also see: Chicago to Offer Most Generous Subsidies in U.S. to Save Its Downtown

Rendering of Civic Center North, Rochester, MN. Courtesy of ESG Architecture and Design

MINNESOTA—Rochester Housing Projects to Get $12 Million From DMC
Dan Netter, Finance&Commerce, May 30 2024
At its quarterly meeting, the Destination Medical Center (DMC) Corporation Board committed $12 million to fund housing projects in Rochester, Minnesota, with nearly $7 million dedicated to creating 400 affordable units downtown and along transit corridors. The city council adopted measures to incentivize single-family home construction, addressing a housing shortfall of nearly 1,000 new homes annually. The DMC’s funding supports two major projects: the mixed-income Civic Center North by Sherman Associates and the senior housing West Transit Village by Aeon, both enhancing connectivity and alleviating the housing shortage.

Proposed massing for Port Authority Bus Terminal at 10th Avenue. Courtesy of the NYC Department of City Planning

Wednesday’s Headlines: ‘Mass’ Transit Edition
Gersh Kuntzman, Streetsblog NYC, May 29 2024
The New York Department of City Planning presented plans for the new Port Authority Bus Terminal project, which aims to enhance bus service and reduce street congestion in Hell’s Kitchen, to the City Planning Commission. Plans showcased renderings of the new facility, which will include a multi-story staging structure, new ramps, and pedestrian-friendly features like wider sidewalks and green spaces. Despite some local concerns, the project promises a modernized terminal with improved bus services and significant urban improvements.

Courtesy of the City of Phoenix, AZ

ARIZONA—Mixed-Use, Transit-Oriented Phoenix Project Progresses
Staff, Daily Independent, May 26 2024
Central Station redevelopment in downtown Phoenix recently celebrated a construction milestone with a topping-out ceremony for its east tower. This mixed-use, transit-oriented development will feature two residential towers for student and workforce housing, underground parking, a transit hub, and retail/office spaces, and is set to open in early 2025. The project, a public-private partnership, aims to enhance the experience for the 2 million passengers using the city’s primary downtown bus and light rail transit center annually.

New York, New York, USA - January 12, 2019: A train departure board at Penn Station in New York City.
DW labs Incorporated | Adobe Stock

NEW YORK—Why Amtrak Is to Blame for a Hellish Night for New Jersey Commuters
Patrick McGeehan and Ana Ley, The New York Times, May 23 2024
The recent halting of trains on the Northeast Corridor illustrates longstanding issues of underinvestment in the line, which is owned by Amtrak and leased by NJ TRANSIT. This incident, caused by an overhead wire failure, disrupted service for thousands of commuters and underscored the urgent need for infrastructure improvements. The long-term solution lies in the Gateway project, a multi-billion-dollar initiative aimed at increasing rail capacity and modernizing infrastructure, though its completion is still years away.

International TOD News

Courtesy of Kolumbus Bysykkelen (Bike share, Rogaland County, Norway)

Is Public Mobility the Next Public Transport Revolution?
Lars Christian Grødem-Olsen and Nils Fearnley, World Economic Forum, May 30 2024
Grødem-Olsen and Fearnley discuss the concept of “public mobility” as a transformative approach to urban transportation, emphasizing the integration of multiple transportation modes to create a seamless travel experience. Public mobility goes beyond traditional public transport by incorporating shared mobility services, electric vehicles, and smart technology to enhance efficiency and accessibility. They argue that this holistic approach aims to reduce carbon emissions, alleviate urban congestion, and improve the overall quality of life in cities by making transportation more sustainable and inclusive​.

The future Queen-Spadina Station. Courtesy of OneTeam, Ontario Line Techincal Advisor

CANADA—How a Subway Is Helping Toronto Fight the Housing Crisis
Ben Abramson, Strong Towns, May 29 2024
Toronto, expecting up to a million new residents in the next 20 years, faces a severe housing shortage. To address this issue, the City and Ontario provincial government plan to develop mixed-use spaces with thousands of housing units on transit-owned land as part of the Ontario Line project, a new 9.7-mile subway with 15 stations. Metrolinx estimates the subway will serve 388,000 riders daily and have 227,000 residents living within walking distance when fully operational in 2031.

UKRAINE—The Institute of American Studies Described the Best Practices for Public Transportation Planning in Ukraine and Cooperation with Partners
Staff, Rubryka, May 29 2024
The Ukrainian think tank, Institute of American Studies, underscores the significance of transit-oriented development (TOD) and multimodal practices in urban public passenger transportation planning. According to study author Arsen Martyschuk, collaboration with international partners like the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the United States is crucial for funding infrastructure projects and exchanging best practices. Ukrainian cities are prioritizing the modernization of transport systems through initiatives such as enhancing transport hubs, integrating schedules, creating mobile applications, and advocating for TOD to improve urban mobility and sustainability.