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December 2013

Properties near metro stations can be turned commercial soon

Koride Mahesh | TNN

HYDERABAD: Land owners having properties within 300 metres of the proposed Hyderabad metro rail stations would soon be able to utilize their properties as per the new guidelines on Transit Oriented Development (TOD) prepared by the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA).

Under the new rules, owners can use their property for developing malls, office spaces, hotels, restaurants, service apartments, hospitals, health clubs, high street retail business, entertainment zones or hostels, apart from residential purpose. Officials said 19 locations have been identified for such development – Miyapur, Kukatpally, Balanagar, Moosapet, Bharatnagar, Ameerpet, Punjagutta, Erramanzil, Khairatabad, Nampally, Nagole/Uppal, Tarnaka, Mettuguda, Parade Grounds, Rasoolpura, Hitec City, Raidurg, LB Nagar and Moosarambagh.

The guidelines have been prepared by the urban development authorities with the help of M/s Jones Lang Lasalle Property Consultants (India). Interestingly, the HMDA itself has asked the consultant to prepare a model development project for commercial exploitation of their land at Balanagar and surrounding areas.

Sources said the locations have been finalized based on parameters like densification, scope for redevelopment, pedestrian facility, parking space, access to transit stations and multi-modal transportation. “The aim of TOD is mainly to make use of public transportation and discourage personal vehicles. The areas would have wider and uniform footpath and the buildings should have minimum six metres frontage. Parking space is very limited and more parking fee would be charged to discourage personal vehicles. The areas are well connected to different modes of travel like bus, metro rail and MMTS stations,” an HMDA official said. The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had already prepared TOD near the metro stations. Similarly, New Raipur also came up with similar rules recently. {….}

Developer shows interest in former Meriden-Wallingford hospital building

Dan Brechlin | Record-Journal

MERIDEN — A company chosen to build a $500 million transit-oriented development project in Stamford has shown interest in redeveloping the city-owned Meriden-Wallingford Hospital building on Cook Avenue.

The city bid $1.3 million for the vacant seven-story building at a foreclosure auction in October. Since the 1990s, the building has been mostly empty.

City Manager Lawrence J. Kendzior notified city councilors in an email late last week that Stamford-based JHM Group had some interest in developing the 7.1-acre property, which includes a parking garage. JHM Group believes the old hospital could become housing and medical offices or treatment centers for the elderly.

“Of course it would not be the entire facility because there are parts that can’t practically be used,” Kendzior said Monday. Of JHM, he said “that’s a major, major developer. They have a great deal of experience and a great deal of expertise. The question will be whether things can be worked out and put together.” {….}

‘Walkable’ downtowns are in demand

Kathleen Lynn | NorthJersey.com

“People … want to live, work and play in walkable places,” Speck says. “You want to first become a place where people want to be.”

“The person most likely to want to move into downtown is the person most likely to want to get around by bike,” Speck says. “A robust biking population is a good thing.”

After decades when suburban home construction sprawled across the American landscape, many homebuyers and renters — especially younger people — now yearn for tightly woven neighborhoods where you can get to the supermarket, school or library on your own two feet.

Urban planner Jeff Speck says walkable downtowns are one of the best measures of a community's vitality. Pedestrians walking in Ridgewood's downtown last Thursday.

These pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented places are also popular with policymakers because they reduce the greenhouse gases produced by c

ars. In New Jersey, planners are encouraging development along commuter train lines, and builders are focusing on multifamily buildings in established neighborhoods.

Jeff Speck, a Washington-based writer and city planner, says these neighborhoods are necessary if towns and cities want to attract the kind of young, creative workers who make a place vital.

“Get walkability right and so much of the rest will follow,” says Speck, who has worked with hundreds of mayors at the Mayors’ Institute on City Design at the National Endowment for the Arts. Speck’s book, “Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time” is newly available in paperback (North Point Press, $16). {….}

Photo courtesy of Chris Monroe | Special to the Record

Build it, even though they won’t come

Joel Kotkin | Orange County Register

The recent decision by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Allan J. Goodman to reject as “fatally flawed” the densification plans for downtown Hollywood could shake the foundations of California’s “smart growth” planning clerisy. By dismissing Los Angeles’ Hollywood plan, the judge also assaulted the logic behind plans throughout the region to construct substantial high-rise development in “transit-oriented developments” adjacent to rail stations.

In particular, the judge excoriated the buoyant population-growth projections used to justify the plan, a rationalization for major densification elsewhere in the state. The mythology is that people are still flocking to Los Angeles, and particularly, to dense urban areas, creating a demand for high-end, high-rise housing.

The Hollywood plan rested on city estimates provided by the Southern California Association of Governments, which estimated that Hollywood’s population was 200,000 in 2000 and 224,000 in 2005, and would thus rise to 250,000 by 2030. All this despite the fact that, according to the census, Hollywood’s population over the past decade has actually declined, from 213,000 in 1990 to 198,000 today. Not one to mince words, Judge Goodman described SCAG’s estimates as “entirely discredited.” {….}

American cities work to make transit attractive

Chelsea Jordan | Cecil Daily

BALTIMORE — In Portland, Ore., public transportation is a huge part of the urban life, with 80 percent of adults in the area riding TriMet, which runs Portland’s transit system, according to TriMet figures.

Among their riders, 84 percent are “choice” riders, meaning they choose public transit over such transportation as driving their own cars.

What Portland offers its 603,000 residents — light rail, commuter rail, streetcars and buses — isn’t that different from systems in Baltimore.Transit

What makes Portland’s system so effective is its seamlessness and accessibility, says Katherine Hunter-Zaworski, a civil and construction engineering professor at Oregon State University.

“It’s just so easy. Things interface so nicely,” says Hunter-Zaworski, who has worked with TriMet on technology development. “The other thing about Portland transit is that, if you happen to be a wheelchair user or somebody with a disability, it is really quite easy to get around.”

Hunter-Zaworski, who is a director for the National Center for Accessible Transportation, says that West Coast systems have a cooperative and collaborative atmosphere that has encouraged more innovative and accessible transportation for all riders. {….}

Urban High: Rail Lets Honolulu Grow Up

PF Bentley | Honolulu Civil Beat

Taller buildings aren’t just coming to Kakaako, and that’s mostly thanks to rail.

New city plans call for increasing building height limits around future rail stations as a means to spur development.

In fact, some areas could see buildings as tall as 450 feet, or about 100 feet taller than the maximum current city zoning laws allow.

It’s part of Honolulu’s push for transit-oriented development, a planning principle that seeks to gentrify neighborhoods, increase density and make communities more pedestrian-friendly.

Honolulu is in the process of developing new planning and zoning rules specifically for transit-oriented development, or TOD, as it is commonly referred.

But these rules won’t be completed for more than a year, and developers are getting antsy. {….}

Report offers ideas on encouraging growth along Rte. 9

Brian Benson | The MetroWest Daily News

MA – Local leaders say they are looking at recommendations outlined in a recent  study on how to accommodate growth along the Rte. 9 corridor while limiting the  amount of new traffic on the busy road.

“Everyone in town knows Rte. 9 is a traffic challenge and it filters out  into the neighborhoods,” said Southborough Planning Board Chairman Don  Morris.

The Rte. 9 MetroWest Smart Growth Plan encourages planners to think about  supporting a mix of commercial and residential uses, improving pedestrian access  and boosting public transportation. The study, which covers the thoroughfare  between Southborough and Wellesley, represents the culmination of a series of  public meetings and outreach with town officials and other stakeholders.

It looks at placing buildings closer to the road so the area feels more  pedestrian-friendly; fostering denser, compact projects; improving sidewalks,  crosswalks and medians and allowing for bus shelters in projects.

The study also recommends reducing the number of curb cuts on Rte. 9 and  improving connections between parcels. Open space should be preserved, including  wetlands, wildlife habitat and opportunities for trails, gardens and  recreational space.

The study presented conceptual visualizations, showing what the  recommendations could look like. The visualizations include an enhanced  pedestrian bridge across Rte. 9 by Framingham State and development of buildings  over the road in the Golden Triangle area. {….}

Sustainable suburbia?

Peter Meredith | The Daily Record

Most of the 17 “sustainable communities” designated this week by the Maryland Department of Planning are towns or cities or county seats — Snow Hill, Thurmont and Towson, for example. One exception: 50 square miles of Montgomery County that take in portions of nine incorporated areas.

Silver Spring

To qualify for the moniker, communities must persuade the state they’re green. But they also win points for promoting small business, affordable housing and public transportation.

Small business retention and transit-oriented development at the Wheaton and White Flint metro stations are two strategies that found favor. Another is turning portions of Route 355 into a walkable urban boulevard. The county’s three largest municipalities — Rockville, Gaithersburg and Takoma Park — are looking at redeveloping underused commercial properties, maintaining a mix of housing, small business retention and environmental sustainability.

Snow Hill, the county seat of Worcester County, has humbler goals. One priority: attracting a grocery store to town.

Transit-oriented housing proposed – San Marcos could get a second large project along Sprinter line

David Garrick | U-T San Diego

San Diego — A second mixed-use housing project — this one featuring 416 apartments, retail space and a park — is being proposed along the Sprinter line in San Marcos, bolstering the city’s efforts to concentrate new housing near existing transportation corridors.

The project, which the City Council is scheduled to discuss and possibly approve Jan. 14, would be built just east of 370-unit Palomar Station, the first transit-oriented housing on the 22-mile Sprinter rail line.

“We’re glad to be among the first cities on the Highway 78 corridor to embrace this concept,” Assistant City Manager Lydia Romero said Monday. “This project will help transform the area from industrial to a walkable, livable vibrant community.”

Like Palomar Station, which has been under construction since spring, the new project would include retail stores in addition to housing to encourage residents to shop where they live. It would be built just south of state Route 78 on 12 acres of former industrial land near Palomar College and the Las Posas Road shopping district. {….}

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