Saturday, July 13, 2024
TOD News Briefs

The Week in TOD News July 29-August 4, 2023

Suburban office space vacancies (top-left); SC continues to build highways through Black communities (bottom-left); Regulations add to building costs in Austin (right)

Article of the Week

Location of proposed Digs Project, southeast corner of 31st and Marcy Streets, Omaha. Google maps
Location of proposed Digs Project, southeast corner of 31st and Marcy Streets, Omaha. Google maps

NEBRASKA—$46 Million ‘Digs’ Project Fuels Debate About Parking Squeeze In Omaha’s Urban Core
Cindy Gonzalez, Nebraska Examiner, August 1 2023
As Omaha redevelops ahead of the 2026 opening of its $300 million-plus modern streetcar, the City Council faces a decision on whether to approve a plan for the Digs apartments. The $46 million project, the latest proposal by Uptown Properties LLC, calls for a total 147 parking spaces for the 188-unit (and 239 bedrooms) development. While in line with the City’s 2020 TOD guidelines, the project lies just outside the TOD zone and is six to eight blocks away from the planned streetcar and the ORBT, Omaha’s rapid bus transit system. Uptown Properties also seeks $4.1 million in public tax-increment financing.

Courtesy of Montclair Township
Courtesy of Montclair Township


MONTCLAIR—Montclair Releases New Plan For Lackawanna Plaza
Eric Kiefer, Patch, August 1 2023
Montclair intends to finalize its long-debated proposal for Lackawanna Plaza, a site designated as an “area in need of redevelopment” in 2015. The proposal addresses the use of 216,722 sq. ft. for multiple mixed-use buildings offering up to 300 residential units, as well as three public plazas and bike lanes. The Montclair Historic Preservation Commission has objected to the footprint of the new buildings, citing concerns about demolition of historic-designated buildings.

modern loft office interior with panoramic windows and a row of dark wood tables
Petinovs | Adobe Stock

Suburban Office Spaces Continue Uphill Climb
Joe Dyton, Connected Real Estate Magazine, July 31 2023
The widespread adoption of remote work resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect New Jersey’s commercial office real estate market. As the preference for working from home persists, public transit usage lags and suburban office vacancy rates remain in the double digits. Adjusting to these changes, developers recognize the importance of multi-modal transit-oriented development to revitalize areas and stimulate the commercial office market.

Transit and Equity News

5150 N. Northwest Highway, Chicago. Courtesy of Full Circle Communities
5150 N. Northwest Highway, Chicago. Courtesy of Full Circle Communities

ILLINOIS—Affordable Housing Should Be in All Chicago Neighborhoods
Marisa Novara, Chicago Sun-Times, August 2 2023
Marisa Novara, Commissioner of the Department of Housing for the City of Chicago, argues for building affordable housing everywhere, not merely in the cheapest parts of the city. As Commissioner, Novara actively implemented the Racial Equity Impact Assessment for developers to produce affordable housing in various markets, as well as ensuring that the Affordable Requirements Ordinance guarantees 20 percent of all units are affordable. The former Commissioner also highlighted Mayor Brandon’s efforts at targeting those currently or at-risk of being homeless.

Welcome to South Carolina sign at he state border
andreykr | Adobe Stock

SOUTH CAROLINA—Why Is South Carolina Still Building Roads on Top of Black Communities?
Sarah Sax, The Guardian, July 25 2023
Repeating a pattern of using highways to divide communities, the Conway Perimeter Road project with four lanes and connections to two highways, will displace residents of Sandridge, a small majority-Black town in South Carolina. Often seen as the “path of least resistance,” Sandridge and similar communities with large Black and Brown populations have been targeted as locations for major infrastructure improvements, a discriminatory practice that the Biden Administration has sought to redress through its $185M Reconnecting Communities grant program. In April 2022, the South Carolina Chapter of NAACP filed a Title VI complaint, which the Federal Highway Administration accepted in January 2023.

Regional and National TOD News

Courtesy of the City of Austin, Texas
Courtesy of the City of Austin, Texas

TEXAS—It’s Expensive to Build in Austin, and Regulations Are Adding Cost
Austin Sanders, The Austin Chronicle, August 4 2023
Two recently published reports find that reducing the costs of fees and building regulations would help address rising construction costs and the cost of new housing. These are important findings as Austin looks to have more multifamily housing built, as is reflected in the goals of its 2017 Strategic Housing Blueprint. Both reports focus on a common theme—the cost of bureaucracy—the added costs of navigating the city’s permitting process, archaic Land Development Code, and construction inspection process.

Brightline map. Courtesy of the High Speed Rail Alliance
Brightline map. Courtesy of the High Speed Rail Alliance

FLORIDA—Orlando’s Brightline Station Is Only the Beginning
Jim Constantine, Orlando Sentinel, July 30 2023
Jim Constantine, principal with Looney Ricks Kiss, discusses how the Brightline high-speed railroad connection from Miami to Orlando contributes to Florida’s transit-oriented development goals. Looking back to how railroads contributed historically to the state’s growth as a tourist destination and agricultural center, and forward to the expansion of the new transit system, Constantine examines its effect on commuting, tourist travel, and redevelopment.

Courtesy of the Town of Enfield, Connecticut, Office of Community Development
Courtesy of the Town of Enfield, Connecticut, Office of Community Development

CONNECTICUT—Enfield Approves Sale of Thompsonville Properties Despite Objections to Development Project
Susan Danseyar, CT Insider, July 27 2023
The Enfield Town Council recently approved the sale of properties in Thompsonville for a transit-oriented development project proposed by Impact Residential Development, despite changes to the proposal. The project aims to create a mixed-income, multifamily housing complex on the town-owned properties and anticipates a long-awaited train station, slated to begin construction in March 2025. Plans call for the demolition of the former Angelo Lamanga Activity Center and former Strand Theatre.

International TOD News

Courtesy of Etihad Rail
Courtesy of Etihad Rail

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES—UAE Soon to Have a Train to Catch as Etihad Rail Advances, GCC Network Shows Promise
Jennifer Bell and Ayush Narayanan, Al Arabiya English, August 4 2023
First announced 14 years ago, Etihad Rail has announced the location of its first passenger station in Fujairah and its forthcoming luxury rail service. With plans for a national railway connecting all of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the wider region, Etihad Rail began freight service in 2016. In September 2022, Etihad Rail and Oman Rail agreed to establish Oman and Etihad Rail, a joint venture aimed at designing, building and operating a link from Sohar Port in Oman to Abu Dhabi in the UAE, establishing the first interconnected line in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Courtesy of Mabrian Technologies
Courtesy of Mabrian Technologies

EUROPE—Europe Could Save 1 Million Tonnes of CO2 per Year by Switching Domestic Flights for Rail
Kanchan Nath, Travel Daily Media, August 2 2023
A study by Mabrian Technologies assessed the potential impact of replacing domestic air routes of less than four and a half hours or 500km, with high-speed trains to determine CO2 emission savings. In all, these 554 European air routes produce about 2.3 million tonnes of CO2 annually. Replacing the routes with high-speed rail travel could reduce the environmental impact of travel by an average of 48 percent, resulting in an annual savings of over 1 million tonnes of CO2.