Denver seeks developer for Civic Center as ‘non-traditional downtown’

Megan Quinn | Broomfield Enterprises

By late 2016, Bay Area commuters will likely begin to see the first of a fleet of futuristic new BART trains barreling from San Francisco through the upper Peninsula, the East Bay and new stations slated to open in the coming years closer to Silicon Valley in Fremont, Milpitas and Northern San Jose.Broomfield might not have a traditional downtown, but it isn’t looking for traditional. Instead leaders wants to turn the city’s existing Civic Center into a downtown-like “gathering space” that would incorporate shops and apartments into a park-like area. Broomfield is seeking a developer for the project, and hopes to receive proposals by Nov. 24.

The plan calls for adding shops, apartments, bike and pedestrian trails to the area surrounding city hall, the library and the auditorium and upgrading Community Park pond, according to the request for proposals. Instead of filling the area with a high-density mix of retail, apartments and restaurants, the Civic Center redevelopment project aims to reflect Broomfield’s sense of community by integrating parks and open space into the plan, said Kevin Standbridge, deputy city and county manager. Broomfield, which started as a small community and grew into a bedroom community, never had a dedicated “downtown” area around which development grew. That’s why the Civic Center project won’t look like the downtown areas of cities such as Fort Collins, Arvada or Lafayette, he said.

“It won’t feel like a traditional downtown, but it will feel like a place people want to go, a place that reflects the community,” he said. The Civic Center area is 61 acres and includes the George Di Ciero City and County Building, the police station, Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library, the Broomfield Auditorium, North Metro Fire Rescue District headquarters, the 9/11 Memorial, the Broomfield Community Center, the ball fields and The Bay Aquatic Park. Read more

 

Twin Cities Economy on the Rise

Ioana Neamt | CP Executive

Charts courtesy of Marcus & Millichap

Chart courtesy of Marcus & Millichap

Minneapolis-St.Paul—The Twin Cities economy seems to have recovered well from the financial crisis that hit the U.S. back in 2008. The Star Tribune reports that economic growth in the Twin Cities was 2.5 percent in 2013, compared to a 1.7 percent national average. Chicago is currently the only Midwestern city with a larger economy than the Twin Cities. All evidence seems to show that the Minneapolis-St. Paul area has become a popular destination for investors, developers and residents alike.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul area benefits from a wide variety of industries, attracting investors and new businesses in sectors such as healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture, education and technology. Some of the largest employers in the area include Target Corp., UnitedHealth Group, Best Buy, the Mayo Clinic, U.S. Bancorp and Cargill.

The Twin Cities’ strong economy and skilled workforce, as well as its diverse range of profitable industries are attracting investors to the metropolitan area, according to a market report by Marcus & Millichap. Major employers in the area such as UnitedHealth Group, Target and Wells Fargo  have already begun expanding their corporate offices.

Furthermore, as many as 42,000 jobs are to be delivered in the area in 2014, including 8,000 new office jobs. There is a growing demand for office space in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, especially in the I-494 Corridor and I-394 Corridor submarkets. Read more

 

A Brighter Future Ahead for MARTA?

Jon Richards | Peach Pundit

By late 2016, Bay Area commuters will likely begin to see the first of a fleet of futuristic new BART trains barreling from San Francisco through the upper Peninsula, the East Bay and new stations slated to open in the coming years closer to Silicon Valley in Fremont, Milpitas and Northern San Jose.Atlanta’s transit agency has had its ups and downs over the years. Originally envisioned to serve the five core Atlanta metro counties, only Fulton and DeKalb voters agreed to pay the penny sales tax that funds its operation. A heavy rail system built in the 1970s and 1980s feels underutilized, especially compared to the continued expansion of Washington D.C.’s Metro system, which was started at about the same time.

Voters refused to support a penny sales tax in a 2012 referendum that would have provided funding for an expansion of MARTA services, including rail to the Emory University / CDC area in DeKalb County. And how many times have you heard the mantra that MARTA is the only major transit system in the country that receives no state funding?

Yet, the tide may be changing. Part of the reason for that, according to a story in Governing Magazine, is the leadership of General Manager Keith Parker.

After taking the helm of the transit agency in December 2012, Parker worked to improve MARTA’s image and implemented cost reductions identified in an audit commissioned by his predecessor, Beverly Scott. Perhaps most importantly, Parker realized that MARTA would need to do some work to improve on its own before going to the Georgia General Assembly and asking for help. Read more

How Can We Better Connect Low-Income People to Opportunity?

Amy Chung | Living Cities

By late 2016, Bay Area commuters will likely begin to see the first of a fleet of futuristic new BART trains barreling from San Francisco through the upper Peninsula, the East Bay and new stations slated to open in the coming years closer to Silicon Valley in Fremont, Milpitas and Northern San Jose.The geography of opportunity today has changed. People often traverse neighborhoods, cities, counties and even regions to access job opportunities and the essential services (e.g., healthcare, childcare, grocery stores, etc.) needed to support themselves and their families. Low-income communities are often disproportionately affected by this dynamic and cut-off from access to opportunity by sheer distance, limited access to public transit or other means of transportation, and by numerous barriers beyond physical mobility, such as lack of broadband access.

Through our Connect work, Living Cities is deepening our understanding of how to address these barriers and increase the number of low-income individuals with affordable access to job opportunities and essential services. We are currently exploring the following strategies:

1. ALIGNING RESOURCES & POLICIES TO ENSURE THAT NEIGHBORHOODS OFFER BETTER ACCESS

So far, much of Living Cities’ work in this space has focused on advancing equitable transit-oriented development (“equitable TOD”). Equitable TOD aims to ensure that all people along transit corridors, including low-income individuals, have the opportunity to affordably access jobs, housing, health clinics, child care, and other essential services.

As part of this work, Living Cities has partnered with the [Low Income Investment Fund and Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise) to explore the state of equitable TOD efforts in several western regions – the Bay Area, Denver, Los Angeles and Seattle. As part of this exploration, we worked with our national and regional partners to host Capital Absorptionworkshops in each region with local leaders from community organizations, philanthropy, developers, lenders, investors and public sector agencies, including transit and housing authorities. These workshops facilitated an open dialogue about participants’ regional vision for equitable TOD and the related resources and policies that together form the “landing pad” for capital investment in support of that vision. Read more

 

Visualizing the futuristic BART trains that are headed for Silicon Valley stations

Lauren Hepler | Silicon Valley Business Journal

By late 2016, Bay Area commuters will likely begin to see the first of a fleet of futuristic new BART trains barreling from San Francisco through the upper Peninsula, the East Bay and new stations slated to open in the coming years closer to Silicon Valley in Fremont, Milpitas and Northern San Jose.

By late 2016, Bay Area commuters will likely begin to see the first of a fleet of futuristic new BART trains barreling from San Francisco through the upper Peninsula, the East Bay and new stations slated to open in the coming years closer to Silicon Valley in Fremont, Milpitas and Northern San Jose.

 

Huge amounts of taxpayer money and the daily commutes of thousands of Silicon Valley workers hang in the balance with the planned expansion of the Bay Area Rapid Transit rail system into the heart of the region’s tech economy.

But for all the finagling it has taken to pull together the billions of dollars required for the initial extension of BART to the South Bay, not much attention has been given to the actual plans for how the system will look once it’s up and running.

Think of a cleaner, faster, quieter system that’s more adaptable to commuting patterns that have shifted drastically in recent years amid rapid economic growth.

The Atlantic CityLab this week took a deep dive into how BART’s $2 billion-plus plan to replace and expand its fleet of 669 train cars will stack up against transit systems in other major cities. The reasons for upgrading the trains — from concerns about cleanliness to loud ambient noise and capacity problems — are plentiful.

The story gets even more interesting (and complicated) when you consider how the new service to Silicon Valley fits into the picture. Panning out to consider the South Bay’s historic lack of efficient, centralized public transit options and perpetual highway gridlock, the stakes for improving the region’s transportation picture get even higher.

Aaron Weinstein, CMO of BART and point person on the redesign project, told me the primary driver for buying the new trains is pretty straightforward. Read more

2 Chicago suburbs may change rules for development near CTA stops

Tracy Swartz | Red Eye Chicago

Two Chicago suburbs may be changing the rules for future developments near their CTA stations so that these developments would be easy to access for pedestrians and public transit riders.

The Regional Transportation Authority, the funding arm for CTA, Metra and the suburban Pace bus system, announced this week it is giving money to Evanston and Forest Park to promote transit-oriented development near CTA stops.

The projects were awarded through the RTA’s annual community planning program, intended to spur economic development near transit. This year, the RTA doled out $810,000 among 16 programs. The money comes from RTA, federal and locally matched funds.

In Evanston, the RTA awarded $25,000 to the city to study whether its zoning ordinance should be changed to allow fewer parking spaces at new developments by the CTA Purple Line and Metra stations.

The city’s goal is to increase the use of public transportation and eliminate unncessary new parking spaces, according to the RTA. Chicago adoped similar rules last year.

Developments “may not need as much parking because people are going to access it via transit,” said Heather Tabbert, RTA’s manager of local planning and programs.

Tabbert said Evanston commuter and street parking would not be affected by the potential changes.

The Purple Line has logged 1.6 million rides this year through June, the most recent CTA data available. The Metra line that serves Evanston, the Union Pacific/North line, has recorded 5.3 million rides this year through July. Read more

 

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