[IMAGE]TOD.jpg[/IMAGE]More and more Americans are choosing to take public transportation and live in more walkable areas, as evidenced by ridership peaking in many parts of the U.S. Transit oriented development (TOD), the incorporation of business, office, retail or housing properties into transit station plans, is emerging at an increasing rate nationwide, and existing projects are thriving.

While the spending may be on hold in many cases, the planning is surging forward all across the U.S. Transit authorities and developers alike are positioning themselves to be ready for when the economy picks up, so they can reap the benefits these new projects will bring. 

Factors urging TOD

Four basic factors have recently come together to make the climate for TOD projects more opportune. A cultural shift is the result of demographic changes in age and the number of singles increasing; less home buying and transit ridership growing, due to the recession; and a different type of economic driver emerging and exposing a pent-up demand for more walkable urban communities. Also, cities nationwide are waking up to the fact that the combination of a robust transit system and mixed use will keep them viable, as evidenced by Portland, Ore., Phoenix, Dallas and many others.

Demographics. In late 2006, the Journal of the American Planning Association published an article by Arthur C. Nelson, which was later referenced by Christopher Leinberger, metropolitan land strategist and developer, The Brookings Institution, in his book, The Option of Urbanism, showing the fundamental change in the demographics of the U.S., the average household size and its makeup. Americans are living longer, there are fewer households with children and many more single-occupancy households in the country. Consequently, there has been a different housing product mix desired in the country over the past few years.

Additionally, in 2008, the Center for Transit Oriented Development (CTOD) updated its market demand estimate from 2004, and projected that by 2035 there would be a doubling of demand for homes near transit and that to keep up with that demand, 2,000 of these units must be built, per year, between now and 2035.

The study used census projections on aging, as well as demographic changes in ethnicity and immigrant populations, both of which, the study claimed, are more inclined to want to live in higher density communities near transit. Combined, these populations are driving the interest in demand for homes near transit, and, currently, we don't have enough.

Pent-up demand: The new "American Dream." Leinberger stresses that transportation drives demand for development. "Of the 15 infrastructure categories, transportation is by far the most important because it dictates what we in real estate can build." The last two to three generations in the U.S., he explains, mostly built highways, which was what the market demanded then, creating drivable suburban areas.

"Americans embraced it, and rushed out to the suburbs. And, that became the basis of what most people think of as the 'American Dream.' A fleet of cars, white picket fence, single family house," Leinberger says. "People forget, though, that that dream was really focused on the industrial era in this country."

Leinberger says that today Americans are living in the new, "Knowledge-Experience-based economy." Manufacturing is occupying a much smaller percentage of the workforce. As a result, the "American Dream" is changing as well. "As a reflection of that change underlying the economic driver of this economy, the 'American Dream' today is of choice. You can have either drivable suburban or walkable urban, and you can have them at different times in your life," Leinberger says. There are also different kinds of walkable urban, ranging from low-density to extremely high-density. "Today there's pent-up demand for walkable urban, because we have not been producing much in the last 60 to 70 years," he adds.

About one-and-a-half years ago, Leinberger conducted a survey at the Brookings Institution, called "Footloose and Fancy Free." It listed the walkable urban places in the top 30 metro regions in the U.S., and found 157 of them that were at critical mass. Approximately two-thirds of these areas were served by rail transit, indicating that rail service and walkability go hand-in-hand. 

The Washington, D.C., region has, on a per-capita basis, more examples of walkable urban places than anywhere else in the country, Leinberger says. This is much higher than New York, where only eight percent of residents in the region live in Manhattan out of almost 20 million people. The rest of the 92 percent are spread out over four states, at a density lower than Los Angeles. "So, the people in Manhattan are certainly living like Seinfeld, but the rest are living like Tony Soprano," Leinberger points out. "Washington, D.C. has 20 walkable urban places that are regionally significant. Ninety percent are rail transit-served. That's not a coincidence. So, this is a real demonstration that transportation drives development and that rail in particular drives development."

The recession. Even in the current economic climate, Gloria Ohland, VP, communications, for Reconnecting America, a national non-profit organization that works to integrate transportation systems and the communities they serve, says that walkable neighborhoods near public transportation are holding their own. "There was an article in the Denver Post earlier this year that called [Denver RTD's light rail system] 'the Money Train,' because property values along the line had gone up seven percent while property values in the region at large had gone down 15 percent." While seven percent may not be a big number, the fact that property values were decreasing everywhere else indicates that the market recognizes that people are interested in sites near transit.

 Despite the fact that in most places developers are having a hard time getting financing, Ohland says this is an important time for the public sector, transit partners and cities to get their ducks in a row.  "It's also a good time for them to buy property near stations. Land prices are lower right now, so it's a good place for them to position themselves so that when the market comes back up, they'll have sites that are ready to go," she adds.

Valerie Knepper, transportation planner, at the San Francisco-based Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), agrees that now is a very good time for TOD projects. "In this economic recession, which has hit housing very badly in general...areas hit the hardest are away from the urban core. It's single-family housing, where people have to drive a lot, and have little accessibility to transit. The worst hit are on the edges."

"We've seen a huge uptick in the amount of transit ridership, and less of a problem with foreclosures in more urban areas that are well-served by transit," says Dena Belzer, president, Strategic Economics a consulting firm that works on economics projects and partners with CTOD.

As far as projects being planned in the current economic downturn, Belzer thinks that progress will be slow-going, but agrees that now may be an ideal time for property investment.

"[Strategic Economics] was talking to an architect who's working with a developer in the Los Angeles area, who says that he's seen a huge decrease in construction costs, and they're moving forward with a very dense project along the proposed extension of the Gold Line...he's saying the property owners are unloading the property at a relatively inexpensive price, and construction costs have dropped enough so that it makes a project that didn't necessarily look feasible before look [more realistic] now."

While that may be just one example where the conditions appear to be ripe and the developer is capitalizing on the opportunity, "the metrics are right-sizing themselves in a way that's making the projects feasible...in some places," Belzer says.

Cities reassessing futures. Streetcar circulator systems have also played a role in cities transforming their accessibility with TOD projects. Rick Gustafson, principal, at Portland, Ore.-based Shiels Obletz Johnsen Inc., who worked on the Portland Streetcar project since its inception in 2001, with two vehicles, discussed the transition, and its impact on the city.

What started out as a run-down industrial area has, over the past 12 years, generated approximately $3.5 billion in investment, and from that came nearly 10,000 new housing units. Daily ridership for Portland Streetcar is approximately 12,000. The reduction of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) is 70 million per year.

The consulting firm formed a relationship to work on projects in Portland and Seattle, and both, Gustafson says, are oriented toward the shorter trip. "Seattle is 1.3 miles long. Portland started at 2.4 miles. Both of them were projects [geared] toward higher density in town locations."

In Seattle, the interdependence of transit and a local business became a big boon to the city when Amazon decided to relocate its headquarters, one million square feet of new office building, on the streetcar line. The move created a need for employment, a major benefit for the city. The decision was influenced dramatically by the location of the streetcar, Gustafson says.

Still, circulator projects have not been considered very high-priority regionally or nationally. According to Gustafson, that's largely due to a mentality that the primary value of transit is for commuters to deal with congestion.

"We've been trying to press for high-quality circulation. You can support a much higher density of development. When you [do that], you begin to have a real impact on the carbon footprint, travel and behavior of individuals. Creating a park-and-ride, and running long-run commutes certainly gets people onto transit, but that...tends to support the current land use patterns of our country: urban sprawl," Gustafson says.

He sees the biggest obstacle as getting people to realize the benefits of mixed use. "You can begin to accomplish a lot of your trip purposes as a resident by walking. Our whole institutional structure is set up to keep uses separated. This idea of mixing uses has forced a lot of changes on typical institutional structures. It's not as easy as people think."

Still, the atmosphere for streetcars has never been more aggressive and positive with regard to cities wanting to invest. "There's a thing going on with the country, with cities re-assessing their futures. Most cities are now starting to recognize that their transit network [is] symbolic as a fundamental component of a 'good city'." More cities are recognizing that a high quality transit system reflects on their viability and future growth potential. "It's overwhelming how many cities are seriously looking at major investments in streetcars and rail across the country, to a large extent, to rebrand [themselves]," Gustafson adds.

Other recent, successful streetcar projects have taken place in Little Rock, Ark.; Tampa, Fla.; and Kenosha, Wis., according to Reconnecting America. In addition, 85 cities in the U.S. are currently studying streetcar systems. Gustafson observes that more cities are now advancing beyond the talking stage, to putting the resources together to make it happen.

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Creating the TOD dynamic

MTC has been conducting a residential choice study to determine what people are looking for in terms of housing. The study is focused toward local jurisdictions that are interested in making TOD more attractive.

MTC started with open-ended focus groups of San Francisco Bay Area residents who are moving or have just moved. They developed a survey of approximately 35 questions addressing various factors of transit, including quality and proximity to rail or bus, and level of importance.

The group asked about six factors of importance, and defined eight market segments based on how people responded. They started working with the easiest segment in terms of attraction to TOD: the transit-preferring group. "They want really good transit, that's the most important thing for them in finding a home. The last group is high-income suburbanites, who [aren't interested in] transit. They want to drive," says Knepper.

MTC also gathered information on each segment's income level, auto ownership, where they live, whether they have kids in the home and demographic information.

The goal is to help local jurisdictions to review their TOD plans and assess them based on the factors. MTC suggests measures that they can use to determine feasibility, identify valuable market segments and pinpoint what those segments require that is missing in their plan.

"The biggest [factors] that people cared about, across all groups, were being able to walk around the neighborhood to do chores and feel safe walking around their neighborhood at night. These are above a short commute to work, or convenient driving or good schools," Knepper says. That's favorable for TOD, because most groups across the board are attracted to the mixed-use aspect, she adds.

One group, mostly couples, that didn't express a need for transit, but like being able to walk around their neighborhood, might be a good fit in the outer areas of a TOD project geographically, because they want to be able to walk to local stores to shop. According to Knepper, they tend to have a higher income than some of the other groups, so they can support the local retail.

Every TOD should attract a variety of different market segments. "The transit-preferring group [is] a little lower-income, and they really want to take transit, but they don't have as much disposable income," Knepper says. A mix of people with different incomes is necessary, so there are people who want to support the local businesses, and people taking transit. "You put them together, and get a mixture, and create that dynamic between them."

Funding challenges

Even with the right market segments, TOD projects can be more difficult to build, take more time and are typically public-private partnerships, with the public sector putting up the piece of land or contributing funding to help the project move forward. "Any time you're talking about lengthy time periods in the development process, it ends up being much more expensive because the developers have to carry the financing in the meantime. Because [of timeframe and cost], developers tend to [target] the higher end of the market," says Ohland.  This means that the primary objective of many TOD planners, to provide a certain percentage of affordable housing near the transit station, can be thwarted.

A recent challenge for TOD projects is obtaining stimulus funds, given that the time frames of many projects extend well beyond the two-year limit in which the money must be spent.

 The Brookings Institute's Leinberger remarks that stimulus distribution has not been very widespread to transit systems. The bulk of the transportation funds went through the state DOTs, regardless of the size of transportation systems. "This is meant to stimulate the economy. And in this country, the top 100 Metros generate 75 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The vast majority of the transportation money is going to the rural areas because of the state DOTs. In other words, this economic stimulus is going exactly where the economy is not," Leinberger says.

Belzer, however, sees the market sorting itself out over time. Looking at a project like Pasadena, Calif.'s Del Mar Station on the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Gold Line, she points out that there are a lot of residents who are not using transit for their daily commute, but for non-work trips, and those are a bigger percentage of total trips for any given household. The fact that transit trips are substituting auto trips, even if they're not commute trips, is a good thing, she concludes.

Market for ridership

Seven months into operation, Phoenix-based Valley Metro is experiencing growing ridership at unique times of day and during the week, in part due to a synergy with nearby development.

Three cities are connected to the existing 20-mile line: Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa. Other members that make up Valley Metro's governing board are the cities of Glendale, Chandler and Peoria. There are six future extensions planned. 

Through local, regional and federal funds, there has been a large investment in infrastructure improvement. "We want to make sure we maximize the investment, so that future development along this corridor will take advantage of its proximity to the transportation infrastructure. We assist our member cities in their effort to create policies to market sites to bring about change to their plans in order to encourage TOD along the corridor," says Jim Mathien, planning project manager.

Ben Limmer, planner, says Valley Metro is currently in the late planning stages for the 20/21 line in West Phoenix and the Mesa line (the DASH purple line) heading east and slated for 2016. The two lines are nearing the end of the planning phase. As they move toward engineering, as part of the federal evaluation process, Valley Metro will be working with the member cities and establishing additional transit-supportive land use policies and programs.

 Since Valley Metro's full funding grant agreement in 2004, the green light for construction with the FTA, the agency has seen more than $7 billion in development, including about $5.5 billion of private investment, as well as $1.5 billion of public investment. Public investments include a new convention center, hotel and a transportation center in downtown Tempe.

Arizona State University's (ASU) downtown satellite campus has drawn a variety of projects, from small to large-scale housing, mixed-use, retail and office, and many are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified.

Housing has been the biggest success. "We've seen the smaller scale two-, three- and four-story wood frame projects, and quite a few high-rise projects [in] downtown Phoenix...there's also been a lot of infill housing. Housing has been spread across the whole line, making it unique from some of the other lines I've seen," says Limmer.

Despite the recession, development has kept moving, albeit at a slower rate, but it's concentrated in some of the more specialized areas, including ASU in downtown Phoenix, and especially in Tempe. "There are some specialized housing projects coming online, unofficial student and faculty housing, marketed to the student, smaller units, those have continued to move pretty quickly," says Limmer.

In total, there has been more than nine million square feet of commercial space, approximately 18,000 residential units and more than 3,000 hotel rooms along the 20 miles. Most of it is finished, though some is still in planning or under construction. 

Mathien says that one of the things the light rail has done is broadened the geographic area of access for ASU students to the university. "It enables them to get to campus quickly, so they can live a little farther away...there have been some residential projects, several hundred units each, which are nearing completion that are right near a light rail station. That only happened because of light rail."

Hillary Foose, public information officer, says that a significant percentage of ridership is using the system for commuting, but there is a large element that is using it for leisure, which has piqued the interest of more developers and restaurateurs.

"Particularly on Saturdays, [ridership is] thousands beyond what we thought it would be. Largely, it's people using the light rail for leisure," says Foose. Valley Metro recently extended weekend service hours on Friday and Saturday night until past 2:00 a.m., based on an overwhelming amount of public input not only from passengers who would like to ride later, but also the business community wanting to see their customers stay later, she adds.

Mathien says there are also plenty of all-day riders. "People who are going to lunch, a doctor's appointment or something that normally they would have driven to, or not have made the trip, but now, during mid-day, you'll find there are quite a few people on our light rail vehicles. And this is encouraging to property owners and developers, because they see there's a market here all day long."

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Rail as community catalyst

In Dallas, the relationship between rail and TOD has solidified and provided a place for walkable urban communities to take off.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) runs a 45-mile light rail line, which opened in 1996, and has since added a couple of extensions. The system also includes 30 miles of heavy rail, and the agency is constructing another 45 miles of light rail, effectively doubling the system.

Jack Wierzenski, director of economic development, DART, says that all of its member cities that have or are about to get rail have been very active in planning for TOD. When the first line opened, it was still a new concept. The line at that point was only in the city of Dallas. "The position [in the development community] was, 'let's see if there's anything to this.' Within three years, we had a couple of projects moving forward. The two big ones were the Mockingbird station and the Cedar South Side station, which are both infill projects," Wierzenski adds.

The Mockingbird Station is served by the North Central segment of DART and crosses near Southern Methodist University (SMU), right at the confluence of the Red and Blue rail lines. "There was already a community there, and this has enhanced it," says Wierzenski. The new Bush Library will be going in soon, too, he adds.

The Mockingbird Station has helped to renew the old downtown area, attracting a lot of new restaurants and businesses over the last eight years. There has been a noticeable impact on the economy, creating a thriving environment, Wierzenski says. "I think that project is a good example in terms of impact on the community, the rail station being the catalyst...it's really brought a lot of attention to the downtown and a whole new environment's been created because of that," he adds.

Conversely, the Mockingbird Station also provides a prime example of how the economic downturn has affected DART. Until November, the agency was in negotiations on a development deal on some of their parking lot property, in hopes of moving their surface parking into a structure. That has come to a stop, based on an inability to secure funding.

"With the economy the way it is, and the banks' reluctance to loan money, nothing is really moving forward. No one's in a real hurry to finalize negotiations on the development side. But nobody's saying, forget it, go find another developer. They all want to keep their finger on that, it's just that they can't get access to money right now," Wierzenski says.

He confirms that there is still plenty of preliminary planning going on, in anticipation of when the economy starts turning around. "Everyone wants to be ready. We're preparing for when that happens, getting an inventory of all of our properties that have TOD potential. We're going to prioritize those, so we'll be ready to go out with RFPs when the market is there again."

Community collaboration

Jeff Ordway, manager of property development, for the San Francisco-based Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART), says that the Fruitvale Station Transit Village has been their most successful TOD project.

The agency partnered with the Oakland-based Unity Council, a non-profit community development corporation serving the Fruitvale District of the city, and the city of Oakland. The Fruitvale Station Transit Village is built on the east side of the tracks, and BART replacement parking and bus intermodal facilities are built on the west side. The project opened in 2004, after ten years of planning.

"It has become a bit of a poster child to show to others," Ordway says.

The project was complicated to finance and put together, because the ground level is retail, the second level is office and housing is on the top level. The real estate market for housing, retail and office products rarely coincides, and having all three pieces come together by market forces at the same time is extremely rare. "Banks and lenders are changing, but they still look at these land uses independently. They don't look at the synergy that they bring to each other. A bank will send out an appraiser who will only look at the retail, and won't relate the fact that the retail is under offices and housing. So, it's extremely difficult to finance," Ordway explains.

The solution to this problem was to physically enlarge the area slated for development and make some buildings office, some housing and a smaller portion retail. This enables the agency to react to the real estate marketplace, and build products as the cyclical market changes.

"If you really think in terms of what's necessary for good TOD to be effective, you need a variety of land uses: retail, housing, office, some place making element, whether it's a pocket park or a focal point, a gathering space, and you need to accommodate all the access modes," he says. Doing that on a five-acre piece of ground that the transit agency owns, won't work, Ordway adds. Again, the agency decided to collaborate. "We needed to shift our focus into a larger area, blur the boundaries as to who owns what, and joint venture with adjacent property owners," he explains. This enables the agency to look at all the pieces necessary for TOD to be placed, and there's more land to comfortably accommodate all the access modes. "It also creates flexibility. If you're going to put parking in a structure, you don't want to do it just for transit; you want to do it for shared use," says Ordway.

One lesson learned, says Ordway, was there was probably too much retail initially put in, and the project struggled. "There was intent to have retail occupied by local businesses, and there was just too much retail for that to comfortably occur. There's been a lot of re-ordering," he adds.

Collaborating with the local jurisdiction, the community, and then the private sector is what drove the project's success. "If people aren't on the same page, it won't happen. This is all about building relationships, and then about building a physical space. But the relationship needs to start first. I think that's an absolutely critical thing to understand," Ordway says.   

Driving the economy

Ultimately, transit operators, according to Leinberger, have a critical role to play in the future of the country, and need to understand what business they're in. While they may think they're in the transportation business, he argues that the work they're actually doing is in economic development and that they are integral to creating sustainable places at their train stations. "The means by which they do this, is by people. But the end is creating extremely valuable, sustainable, walkable urban places." If they don't realize this, they end up building systems that don't generate adequate economic development and tax revenues.

"The built environment, which is real estate and infrastructure, is 35 percent of the assets of our country; the largest asset class. It's obviously a huge driver," says Leinberger. "Until transit [operators] understand that they drive that growth, it's going to result in sub-optimal systems. They're every bit as critical to the growth of our country as the highway builders were during the late industrial era."

[PAGEBREAK]LIvable Communities Act

Art Guzzetti, VP, policy, American Public Transportation Association (APTA), says that one of the first things the Obama Administration announced was their Livability Initiative, intending to connect transit, housing and place.

The initiative was jointly announced by three cabinet secretaries in the same hearing: Sec. Sean Donovan, from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Sec. Ray LaHood, from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and Sec. Lisa Jackson, administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In early August, the S. 1619 Livable Communities Act 2009 bill was introduced by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn). "We're really putting a lot of emphasis behind this bill," Guzzetti says.

S. 1619 would establish the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, which would create the Interagency Council on Sustainable Communities, and put into place a comprehensive planning grant program and a sustainability challenge grant program.

"The federal government believes it can...create communities that are more efficient. TOD communities are much lower in their greenhouse gas output," he adds. "There's receptivity to transit [now], and it's increasing every year. We have the ridership trends to show it."

 


SMART Planning

Due to creative financial planning and partnerships, Sonoma, Calif.-based Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) is moving full-speed ahead on its Railroad Square project.

The square will be located in the historic center of Santa Rosa, where the train depot has been for more than 100 years. The former rail yard, once used for a now-defunct freight railroad, has created an opportunity. "It's a vacant site and has been for a long time, due to contamination problems. But it's also a very important piece of property because it's so central," says Chris Coursey, community outreach manager. The property has gone through a remediation process.

SMART began working on the project in 2005, reaching an agreement with the city of Santa Rosa. With input from the city, they chose the Pasadena, Calif.-based developer, Creative Housing Associates, and won an exclusive negotiating agreement with them. "We went through a couple of years of difficult negotiations during which the market was declining, around the end of 2006 [through] early 2008," says John Nemeth, planning manager.

The developer tried to maximize their return in the declining market, and stay within SMART's parameters, which included a large housing component of at least 125 units on a 5.3-acre site, on-street parking only if there were streets created internally, and lots of green building. They presented a design that everybody liked, but soon ran low on funds, and had trouble finding investors. Creative Housing ended up partnering with the developer next door, the John Stewart Co., in San Francisco, whose property they needed for an adjacent parking structure, and who SMART was negotiating with over a sliver of property on the boundary between the two sites.

The project was widely embraced but still had a financial gap. A third partner got involved, San Francisco-based Equity Community Builders (ECB), and put together a plan to rally several different public sources. One critical source was the CA Proposition 1C bond funds, which contributed $11.4 million. (Passed in 2004, it offered bond money for TOD projects, brown field cleanup, and affordable housing.) The city of Santa Rosa offered $3.5 million in federal stimulus funds. "With those combined, that's gone a pretty long way in making up the project gap, although not completely. Developers are still trying to pull together federal new market tax credits," says Nemeth. While nothing has been built yet, developers are considering infrastructure upgrades, including an internal street and some 100-year-old stormwater structure replacement. 

The project is divided into three separate blocks. The southern block will include retail on the ground floor, with offices above. The mid-block is slated to be a retail marketplace on the ground floor, focusing on food and wine grown in Sonoma County, and above, will have approximately three stories of affordable housing. The northern block will include 118 units of residential market rate condominiums.

"The first phase will be the two southern blocks and the mid-block so the affordable housing, office and the garage for retail and the parking structure will come first. The market-rate housing would wait for a few years, until the residential real estate market has recovered a little...the hope is to try to commence phase one within the next three to five years, before the phase two market rate residential comes online," says Nemeth.

The total project cost is $180 million.

[PAGEBREAK]Transforming Tysons Corner

Traffic congestion in Tysons Corner, Va. is such a significant and well-known problem that it has drawn the attention of media outlets as large as the New York Times and National Public Radio (NPR). Currently it's not a walkable area, given that crossing Route 7 or Leesburg Pike, a big road that goes through Tysons, is very difficult. "People understand that Tysons is broken. Everybody would agree that it needs to move in a different direction," says GB Arrington, principal practice leader, VP, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Tysons Corner project.

Tysons Corner's size is attributed to the approximately 120,000 jobs it holds. It provides more employment than downtown Boston, Atlanta or Phoenix, and houses the headquarters for USA Today. "It's the economic engine of Northern Virginia. Every day, 100,000 people come to Tysons to work, and every evening, [they] leave," Arrington says.

There are currently two very large malls in the area, but there's only one grocery store. "It's not a place that works really well for people right now," he adds.

Parsons worked for two-and-a-half years on the Tysons Task Force, a group of 37 people and the board of directors, representing businesses, citizens, elected officials and environmental activists. The plan has been accepted by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, who is developing the zoning and changes to the comprehensive plan to implement it. The U.S. DOT has issued a full-funding grid agreement. "It was very important to elect a board of supervisors that understands...that Tysons is going to grow in a different way, the impact of Tysons [utilizing] the mix of uses, demand management, phasing development, the provision of services and creating governance structures that can make that stuff work," Arrington notes.

Transit is the organizing principle for how growth will occur in Tysons Corner. Ninety-five percent of all growth will be focused within a three-minute walk of four Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) bus stops and three planned circulators, either a bus or a streetcar. "The closer you are to a station, the bigger a building you get, the more your land is worth. By putting uses close to transit, looking at practices from around the U.S. and the world, that's the easiest way to accommodate more [development] with [less] impact," Arrington says.

The project will be a complete redevelopment. "This isn't adding land into Tysons, it redeveloping what's there today," says Arrington. One-hundred-sixty acres of new parks will be added, along with a civic center. There's also a requirement for 20 percent affordable housing and any buildings constructed after 2013 need to be LEED silver-certified.

"It's about making Tysons better, not bigger...the net result is that if the plan is implemented, Tysons will go from a very auto-oriented single-use place to the largest TOD in the U.S.," he adds. The redevelopment is expected to generate tax revenues of $1 billion annually, an increase from the $300 million generated today. 

With the implementation of the plan, there will be 84,000 potential new units, making it a place for activities most of the day and evening, instead of just during work hours.

 


ARRA funds future TOD

Seven Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) TOD projects have been completed, and nine are in negotiations, at a total cost of $2.58 billion.

Last year, BART's MacArthur station TOD project received $35 million in California Proposition 1C funds (affordable housing and TOD funding.)  The San Leandro station TOD project received $25 million, and the South Hayward station received $47 million. "Given the abysmal real estate market, it will be a while before you can start building housing, but in these projects, given their nature and physical expanse, because [they involve] more than just BART land, [they encompass] the concept of building TOD. The infrastructure necessary to support TOD (roadways utilities, parking, etc.) needs to go in first. It's a built-in safety valve at this point. With public money, we've got the next two years covered [for development]," says Jeff Ordway, manager of property development, BART.


 

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