Rail~Volution conference draws transit leaders to Twin Cities

Frederick Melo | Pioneer Press

Strong transit serves communities well, but there is little incentive for developers to build low-income housing along transit lines.On Sunday afternoon, a NorthStar Commuter Rail train rolled into the St. Paul Union Depot to greet the mayor of Salt Lake City, top administrators from the Boston, Dallas and Denver public transit systems, and some 600 assorted politicians and planners.

So began Rail~Volution, an annual public transit conference that draws industry insiders from across the country. After an opening session on Kellogg Boulevard, the NorthStar train will take conference-goers to Target Field Station in Minneapolis, concluding the first of four days of transit trips, discussions and workshops.

“We’re going to set a record for participants in this conference,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, who has been pressing for Rail~Volution to come to the Twin Cities for the past several years.

The conference, which is celebrating its 20th year, will be based at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, but mobile workshops are drawing more than 1,400 attendees to sites across the metro area.

A session titled “Play Ball!” will take conference-goers along the Green Line to see how Metro Transit’s new light-rail corridor was designed to link the new stadiums of the Minnesota Twins, the Minnesota Vikings, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers and the St. Paul Saints. Read more

On the rise: Tech firms gobbling up real estate in New Jersey

Joshua Burd | NJ Biz

(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.Robert Cortright has built three technology firms in the past 15 years — all focused on the finance sector — and the key ingredients haven’t changed much in that time.

“The most important thing is getting talent,” he said. “And you’ve got to be somewhat close to New York City, especially when you run a financial services technology company.”

As Cortright has proven, you can do all that from New Jersey.

Like his first two businesses, his latest venture is based in and growing in the Garden State. The firm, DriveWealth LLC, recently leased nearly 8,000 square feet of office space in downtown Chatham after relocating from Morristown, a move fueled by the growth of its mobile investing platform and the doubling of its staff since 2012.

The deal is part of a robust, steady stream of leasing activity by tech firms in New Jersey this year. Experts say it’s one of the most active sectors in the state’s office market, driven by changing space needs and the growth of companies of all sizes within the industry.

Just ask Cassidy Turley, the brokerage firm that represented DriveWealth. William O’Keefe, one of the brokers in the deal, said his firm in recent months has “done transactions from as little as 1,300 square feet up to close to 100,000 square feet — and everywhere in between.” Read more

Green incentives a must for developers, says report

Carlito Pablo | Vancouver Online

Strong transit serves communities well, but there is little incentive for developers to build low-income housing along transit lines.

Strong transit serves communities well, but there is little incentive for developers to build low-income housing along transit lines.

Not surprisingly, residents in areas well served by public transit drive less. Driving less means fewer greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions, which is good for a warming planet. But what if there’s a way to boost this benefit to mitigate climate change?

An information item included in the agenda for the meeting on Friday (September 12) of Metro Vancouver’s housing committee gives some direction. It’s a summary of a report with a self-explanatory title: “Why Creating and Preserving Affordable Homes Near Transit Is a Highly Effective Climate Protection Strategy”.

The full report can be found on the website of the two U.S. nonprofits behind it, the California Housing Partnership Corporation and TransForm. The paper cites analysis of data provided by 36,000 households in three types of locations in California: transit-oriented, areas with less frequent transit, and not transit-oriented (those more than a half-mile away from transit or that don’t get as much transit service as the first two categories). Read more

Beefed-Up Transit Essential for Booming Brooklyn

Tobias Salinger | Commercial Observer

The Brooklyn Museum hosted the event.With Brooklyn’s stature in the city’s real estate industry no longer just an emerging trend, top policy makers and power brokers drew attention to transportation issues as critical to continuing real estate development in the world’s hottest borough today at the annual Massey Knakal Realty Services Brooklyn summit at the Brooklyn Museum.

Although many of the borough’s bustling areas already enjoy bus and subway connections, speakers who led off the day-long program referenced new approaches to the city’s parking requirements, potential novel ways to transport commuters between the boroughs and Manhattan and the need to ease congestion on the busy Lexington Avenue subway train. Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s administration checked in at the conference with pledges to beef up transit capacity between the neighborhoods of Brooklyn.

“We have to think about how to knit them together,” said city Economic Development Corporation President Kyle Kimball. “We’re, as part of this new administration, taking a hard look at new ways to move people around.”

The city and Downtown Brooklyn stakeholders need to address the overcrowded 4 and 5 trains currently running between Manhattan and the downtown area “in order to think about long-term growth,” Mr. Kimball added. The calls for increased transit options echo those from research showing that walkable, urban areas served by mass transit command a 206-percent rent premium over driving suburbs in the New York City area, the largest disparity of any metropolitan area in the country, according to a report released this summer by theGeorge Washington University School of Business. Both the attractiveness of transit-oriented development to young people and the nature of the city’s parking mandates for new developments are causing the new administration to examine what the mayor’s housing plan refers to as “stringent” car parking stipulations for new developments, said Alicia Glen, the deputy mayor for housing and economic development. Read more

 

Seattle weighing new tax on builders for affordable housing

Sanjay Bhatt | Seattle Times

The Brooklyn Museum hosted the event.Frustrated with skyrocketing rents that price out modest-wage workers, the Seattle City Council could consider a tax on all new commercial and apartment projects in the city’s denser areas to pay for more affordable housing.

The so-called “linkage fees” would apply to all new offices, hotels, retail stores and labs, as well as apartment projects in areas zoned low-rise and denser. The fees would be phased in over three years.

“I want to make sure this is a city for everyone, from the Ph.D. at the Fred Hutch to the immigrant janitor in an Amazon building,” said Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, chair of the land-use committee that heard a consultant’s recommendations on Tuesday. “The market is just not producing that level of affordability anymore.” Read more

MetroRail is Coming to LAX and the Westside – Time to Focus on Station Design

Ken Alpern | City Watch

Map of winning projects selected by USDOT beginning in February 2010 to receive funding from the TIGER grant program. Click a pin to find out more about the project. Information and project descriptions provided in part by the USDOT, some alterations of descriptions and information by Transportation for America. Find out more from T4 America at http://t4america.org/resources/tigermapAfter talking, listening, debating and arguing about how best to get the expanding MetroRail system to LAX, the Westside and South Bay, we’re now budgeted and en route to building a north-south light rail line to connect the east-west Crenshaw and Green Lines, as well as a tentative LAX People Mover connection to the airport central terminals.  And with the Mid-City heartily weighing in on theirown segment of the light rail line, it’s time for the Westside, LAX and South Bay to weigh in as well.

This Thursday night, on September 18th between 7:15 – 9:00 pm, in the second floor auditorium (Room 200) the West LA Muncipal Building (near the intersection of Santa Monica Blvd. and Corinth Ave.), the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee (co-chaired by yours truly and fellow CityWatch contributor Matthew Hetz) will offer Westchester, Westside and other residents the opportunity to weigh in on the future local stations to benefit their communities.

 

Metro representative JC Lacey will provide a station-by-station update and overview of the future Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail Line, and will provide maps, discuss grade separations, connectivity of the line with bus routes, address native tree or other plantings, station-adjacent developments and any unresolved or ongoing issues. Read more

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