Newly awarded technical assistance will help nine communities make the most of their transit projects

santa-fe-depot
Oklahoma City, OK – and its project restoring the historic Santa Fe depot, above — is one of nine communities selected to receive technical assistance from the Federal Transit Administration and Smart Growth America.

Nine communities working to support development around planned or existing transit projects will get a big boost this year thanks to newly awarded technical assistance from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), in partnership with Smart Growth America.

The National Public Transportation/Transit-Oriented Development Technical Assistance Initiative, which officially launched in December, is a four-year project of FTA in partnership with Smart Growth America to help communities across the country build compact, mixed-use, equitable development around transit stations, with a focus on development in disadvantaged areas.

Nine communities have been awarded the initial round of technical assistance through this project. This assistance will help communities plan for and manage economic development near transit through effective zoning and land use, as well as provide expert advice on preserving affordable housing and securing advantageous commercial development, among other opportunities.

After a competitive process, the communities selected to receive this assistance are:

  • Stamford, CT, which is renovating the Stamford Intermodal Transportation Center Stamford, just south of the city’s downtown and just north of its long-struggling waterfront where a multibillion-dollar transit-oriented development (TOD) transformation is already underway. The city is working to bring together public agencies, businesses, and community groups with interest in the project and identify strategies for funding and public private partnerships to implement the vision.
  • Honolulu, HI, which is supporting inclusive development around eight station areas on the Honolulu Rail Transit Project, a 20-mile, 21-station elevated, light metro system currently under construction. The city is working to better support equitable mixed-use development and affordable rental housing along the line; provide support for existing small businesses; establish a community land trust, land acquisition fund, and TOD fund; develop new models for mixed-use spaces; and gain policy advice and recommendations for implementation.
  • Moline, IL, which is building a multimodal rail hub to help commuters get between Quad Cities and Chicago more easily and efficiently. One particular focus of the project is to make sure the hub serves residents of the low-to-moderate income neighborhood around the station.
  • Louisville, KY and its Transforming Dixie Highway project, a 15-mile, $29 million project that will introduce the first bus rapid transit (BRT) system in the Louisville area. The line will connect downtown, the U.S. Army base at nearby Fort Knox, and major nodes anchored by the YMCA, shopping destinations, and a waterfront park. The city is currently working to more clearly define the TOD nodes and analyze market conditions; develop educational and public engagement plans to bring land owners and developers together; develop strategies and tools for land assembly, financing and incentivizing economic development; identify barriers and solutions to maximize TOD around BRT stations; and identify and create development incentives and/or policies for affordable housing.
  • Kansas City, MO, which is currently planning the Prospect MAX BRT corridor that will connect downtown to south Kansas City and will run through several low-income neighborhoods along the way. The city is currently working to align transit and land­ use decisions; get developers interested in investing in the corridor; understand how to effectively implement the city’s pending TOD policy; and build capacity and involve the community as Prospect MAX moves forward.
  • Oklahoma City, OK, which is working to restore the historic Santa Fe station transit hub and transform it into a regional transit center with offices and retail shops, an expanded Amtrak station, bus depot, and hub for a streetcar, light rail, and commuter rail.
  • San Antonio, TX, which opened Centro Plaza — a transit plaza the size of a full city block in the near west side of downtown — earlier this year. The plaza serves the heart of the city’s original Mexican-American population, and also serves some of the lowest median-income populations in the region. There are many public housing development sites located in these neighborhoods and the city is working to examine TOD opportunities around Centro Plaza, address the connections between many publicly owned properties in the area, and provide an opportunity to connect some of the most culturally rich, and economically poor neighborhoods within downtown.
  • Richmond, VA, which is working to encourage development along a planned 7.6-mile BRT line. The “Pulse” BRT project received a $24.9 million TIGER grant in 2014 and last year, Richmond was named a LadderSTEP city, part of USDOT’s initiative that focuses on revitalization as part of future transportation projects.
  • Lynnwood, WA, a suburb of Seattle, which is working to attract development along a planned extension of the Lynnwood Link light rail line. Lynnwood leaders want to plan for a dense, mixed-use community with affordable options for home buyers and renters, as well as ways to attract new businesses to complement local commercial uses.

“Helping local leaders leverage their transit investments to attract more affordable housing, commercial development, and jobs is a critical priority for the Department,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “We’re also extending ladders of opportunity directly to residents, using strategies that support equitable, appropriate development linked to transit service. In these communities, people will now more easily get to where they need to go without relying solely on cars.”

“This initiative will help these nine communities create stronger neighborhoods around their transit service,” said FTA Senior Advisor Carolyn Flowers. “We all know that an ideal place to develop — or re-develop — is near a transit station. This initiative encourages these cities to get the most value out of their investment dollars by capitalizing on the access that transit provides.”

The technical assistance will range from one-day, targeted workshops to in-depth, multi-day visits. Smart Growth America will deliver the technical assistance in each of the selected communities over the course of the next year.

Congratulations to these successful communities — we look forward to working with all of you. Learn more about this project at TODresources.org.

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