Monday, September 17, 2012

TOD Q&A from ULI Provides Interesting Insight

Here's a great Q&A by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) entitled, Transit-oriented Development Outlook.

In particular, the following comments are elucidating:
  • There is significant pent-up demand for walkable urban, ideally rail ­transit–oriented development.
  • A disproportionate amount of future development will be transit oriented—fueled by investor interest in TOD, which is at an all-time high.
  • The mixed-use aspect often makes financing more difficult.  
  • [L]enders see proximity to transit as a benefit. But just being adjacent to transit does not necessarily make a project a transit-oriented development.
  • [T]rolley system is an excellent alternative [to light rail.]
  • Bus rapid transit [BRT] is a real unknown.
  • For both commuter rail and bus rapid transit, we don’t yet have documented evidence that they create economic development around transit stations. We do have proof that streetcars, heavy rail, and light rail do. 
  • The fear with BRT is a lack of permanency. If I’m going to develop around a transit stop, I want to be assured that that the transit stop won’t leave.
  • Public/private partnerships are often the way to move projects forward, but the public side has very limited capital availability and thus is pushing more onto the private side.
  • [V]alue capture, based on the idea that if you build a station or transit hub on one parcel, the adjacent parcels will benefit. Tax increment financing, Mello-Roos financing, and other funding mechanisms can accomplish that[.]
  • [H]igh-density walkable urban development is still illegal in most jurisdictions.
  • NIMBY opponents are becoming proponents; they have become YIMBYS—yes in my backyard. This is because in the neighborhoods around walkable urban places, particularly the single-family neighborhoods, the quality of life goes up, which translates into higher price premiums for their houses.
  • We need to put in a new kind of infrastructure, and the federal government is not leading the way.
  • Light-rail systems are expensive to build. Seattle is spending $15 billion on phase two of its light-rail system, and 90 percent of that comes from local taxes. 
  • [A]ssembling the parcels you need for development is a big challenge.
  • [C]hanging the way people live from an auto-centric culture to a culture where people will walk and take high-capacity transit.
For more on rail transit, visit our archives.

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