America’s Largest Urban Cores

Wendell Cox | Huffington Post

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Bicyclists make their way through Salt Lake City traffic. Officials are pushing to promote more walking and biking as the Wasatch Front population is predicted to double in coming decades.America’s cities (metropolitan areas) changed radically since the dawn of World War II. At that point, cities were dominated by their core municipalities (central cities), around which people traveled much greater percentages by transit and lived in much higher densities. Automobile oriented suburbanization had increased rapidly in the 1920s, but was slowed by the economic upheavals of the 1930s.

After World War II, suburban house building expanded and automobile ownership became near universal. Automobile ownership has expanded so much that the percentage of low income workers using cars to get to work is nearly the same as the overall population.

Classifying Urban Cores, Suburbs & Exurbs

The latest data, for 2011 (from the 2009-2013 American Community Survey) indicates that 15% of the population lives in the urban cores of the 52 major metropolitan areas (those with more than 1 million population). The urban core is defined by urban development and lifestyles similar to those that prevailed before the start of World War II. Read more

 

Pittsburg: Transit-friendly development near BART in the city’s plans

Sam Richards | marinij.com News

 

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Bicyclists make their way through Salt Lake City traffic. Officials are pushing to promote more walking and biking as the Wasatch Front population is predicted to double in coming decades.The city is on board with the regional trend toward transit-friendly housing, as plans call for such development adjacent to the existing Pittsburg-Bay Point BART station and to a planned eBART “Pittsburg Center” station at Railroad Avenue and Highway 4.

The latest in-progress update of the “housing element” of Pittsburg’s general plan includes those developments clustered around BART. Building homes close to mass transit is called for under Plan Bay Area, a combined transportation/housing strategy approved in 2013 by the Association of Bay Area Governments executive board and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

The city in 2009 rezoned land near Railroad Avenue and Highway 4, and near Highway 4 and Bailey Road, for high-density housing (apartments and/or condominiums).

“A lot of the planning is geared toward encouraging development in the … areas near the BART stations,” said Kristin Pollot, Pittsburg’s planning manager.

The diesel-powered “eBART” trains will meet the standard electric-powered trains at the Pittsburg-Bay Point station and operate 10 miles east to the planned Hillcrest Avenue station in Antioch. The eBART “phase two” would one day bring trains as far southeast as Discovery Bay/Byron. Read more

Public-Private Partnerships Key to Transit Planning

Residential, retail development should be fostered near bus and train lines

Lee D. Hoffman | The Connecticut Law Tribune

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Bicyclists make their way through Salt Lake City traffic. Officials are pushing to promote more walking and biking as the Wasatch Front population is predicted to double in coming decades.When Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced his 30-year, $100 billion transportation plan for Connecticut, he gave the state a long overdue dose of Lipitor in an attempt to unclog the state’s constricted transportation arteries. While some may dispute the need for tolls or the propriety of the costs of the plan, there is no disputing that the governor has developed a transportation program whose breadth and scope has never before been seen in the region. In the wake of such a massive undertaking, it is time for the rest of Connecticut to follow his lead when it comes to transit-oriented development (TOD).

Starting in the 1950s and 1960s, much of the development that occurred was suburban-urban development, whereby individuals would work in cities, but live in the suburbs and commute to work. Recently, however, planners have noticed that individuals are dissatisfied with long commutes to work, and according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, demand for housing in transit zones is expected to double over the next 15 years. Along with housing, TOD calls for the development of retail and commercial spaces near such transit zones, to allow residents to easily get to restaurants and stores near where they live and work. By encouraging development along transit zones, TOD advocates hope to create more dense, livable and walkable communities. For TOD to be successful, however, it needs more than an infusion of state money; TOD also requires private investment.

Connecticut has already taken steps to foster TOD development. Before the governor announced his new plan, the CTFastrak bus line was well underway, as were plans for a new commuter rail line stretching from New Haven to Springfield. Last year, the state created a $15 million Transit Oriented Development Pre-Development and Acquisition Fund to provide financing and to encourage TOD along the paths of those two projects. Just last week, Malloy announced the appointment of Scott Jackson, the mayor of Hamden, as the undersecretary for intergovernmental policy. In that role, Jackson will be responsible for coordinating between state and municipal efforts (and funding) for a variety of projects, including TOD. Read more

 

As Development Devours Greenery, ‘Park Scores’ Could be Key

Michael Kahn | Atlanta Curbed

[Midtown's "backyard," Piedmont Park. Image via New Yatlanta.]

[Midtown’s “backyard,” Piedmont Park. Image via New Yatlanta.]

With a surge of intown development in the last few years, many have praised the densification and urbanization of the Big Peach, or have at least awarded golf claps to its baby steps. Transit-oriented developments have become all the rage, as mixed-use centers spring up or are proposed along MARTA lines. But in an article in the Saporta Report, the question is posed of how, as the city grows denser, can we enhance access to parks, even as trends point toward developing land? Could the answer be so-called park-oriented development? The seemingly incongruous ideas of allotting space for development and creating more park space, the website posits, have to be addressed as more people forgo suburban sprawl in favor of the urban jungle. But it’s more complex than that.

By now we’re all familiar with the concept of the Walk Score. On a scale of 0 (Forsyth County) to 100 (Midtown, above a restaurant and next door to Publix), the scores tell you pretty quickly how easy it is to walk to important things in a neighborhood like bars, restaurants, bars, shopping and bars. Read more

 

Atlanta Called Out for Urban Sprawl

The report reveals implementing smarter urban growth policies on a global scale could reduce urban infrastructure capital requirements by more than $3 trillion over the next 15 years
Jennifer LeClaire | GlobeSt.com

[Midtown's "backyard," Piedmont Park. Image via New Yatlanta.]

[Midtown’s “backyard,” Piedmont Park. Image via New Yatlanta.]

Would you believe urban sprawl costs the American economy over $1 trillion a year? That’s according to a new study from the New Climate Economy—and Atlanta is a huge culprit.

That $1 trillion includes costs from greater spending on infrastructure, public service delivery and transportation. The study also finds that Americans living in sprawled communities directly bear an astounding $625 billion in extra costs.

“Smart growth is not anti-suburb,” says Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, lead author of theAnalysis of Public Policies that Unintentionally Encourage and SubsidizeSprawl. “Instead, it ensures that diverse housing options are available and incentivizes households to choose the most resource-efficient options that meet their needs. We are now seeing growth in demand by Millennials and the elderly for affordable, compact housing in accessible and multimodal neighborhoods.”

One study finding shows that sprawl increases the distance between homes, businesses, services and jobs, which raises the cost of providing infrastructure and public services by at least 10% and up to 40%. The report reveals implementing smarter urban growth policies on a global scale could reduce urban infrastructure capital requirements by more than $3 trillion over the next 15 years.

“For a real-world example of sprawl versus smart growth, compare Atlanta and Barcelona,” says Helen Mountford, global program director for the New Climate Economy. “Both cities have approximately the same population and the same level of wealth per person, but Atlanta takes up over 11 times as much land and produces six times the transport-related carbon emissions per person as Barcelona.” Read more

Wonderland Ballroom on The Market

Seth Daniel | Revere Journal

Owners of the Wonderland Ballroom have retained a broker and are marketing the property actively, with residential transit-oriented development as a focus.

TR Advisors of Boston has been retained as the broker for the Wonderland Ballroom site, as plans for the once-talked-about 196-room hotel for the site have been abandoned.

“Our thinking really is in terms of this being a residential model property and the c to the MBTA rapid transit Blue Line to provide an ease of living that doesn’t creep into the current Boston rental rates that folks are paying,” said Phil Jean of TR Advisors. “Part of the additional value is that you are at beautiful Revere Beach and development is coming now on the Beach side of the property and also across the street the Wonderland Dog Track is in a Master Planning process or will soon be undergoing that process. In our view, the Ballroom property, given its situation and proximity to the MBTA site, affords it a very unique and exciting development opportunity.” Read more

 

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