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December 2013

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. {….}

Sound Transit, it’s time to pay the piper

Pete Lewis | Auburn Reporter

For years the Board of Sound Transit has relied on overloaded city streets and parking lots to carry the ever-increasing burden of transit riders. From one end of the Sound to the other, evidence is gathering that change is coming, and Sound Transit is woefully behind.

As the region comes out of the Great Recession cities are working to build transit communities along the Sound Transit routes. Cities have had plans on the shelves for a decade and now the developers are on the way. Cities require that development include parking for its tenants but that takes city lots and city owned properties off the books for surplus parking for Sound.

Cities are doing what they have been asked to do by the regional governments and responding rapidly to change. The idea of transit related development has been the hot-button issue with planners and now it is starting to happen.

But transit is not a city issue so much as it is a regional problem and Sound Transit has made little effort to engage with the cities to solve the problem.

Each study by the staff of the transit authority reveals the fact that a majority of the riders using the service live outside city limits. They use the service yet the agency’s model of working with cities is to tell each community that alternative modes of transportation must be worked out by the city. Given the facts found in Sound’s studies the bulk of the transit users don’t live in the immediate city boundaries so the cities have little ability to control the situation. {….}

Thanks to TOD, a Rose will bloom in the Gateway Regional Center

Molly Simas | Oregon Metro

The air of excitement was palpable last week as a row of stakeholders wielding gold shovels lined up for speeches and photos at the groundbreaking of The Rose Apartments.

The mood was festive, with green and orange balloons adorning the lampposts of recently-constructed NE Everett Court, a local street connection built as part of the overall project.

Rose groundbreakingRose developer Gordon Jones kicked off the speeches by referencing the many hurdles the project had to overcome, joking that he thought about re-naming it the Lazarus Project.

Jones began planning for The Rose, a two-building, 90-unit apartment complex, in 2004 – prior to the recession and subsequent housing market crash.

However, against all odds, the project persevered, and The Rose’s navigation of roadblocks posed by the economic and housing downturn was frequently referenced at Wednesday’s event.

“This was a particularly challenging project,” said Justin Douglas, policy manager with the Portland Development Commission, during the ceremony. “But, nine years later, here we are. This is a project that is great for Gateway.”

East Portland’s Gateway area was designated one of nine regional centers by Metro’s 2040 Growth Concept and is one of PDC’s focus urban renewal areas.

By 2015, the Gateway Regional Center is projected to be one of the most accessible locations in the Portland metropolitan area, according to PDC’s website.

The neighborhood is located adjacent to two interstate freeways and at the confluence of three light rail lines, linking Gateway to downtown Portland, other centers and the airport.

Forty percent of The Rose’s units are billed as affordable housing. The development’s target demographics are modest income earners, singles, students, recent immigrants, retirees and ADA populations.

Metro’s Transit-Oriented Development Program contributed $500,000 to the $10.5 million construction cost, plus $40,000 for a plaza.

A unique component of The Rose project is the accompanying street improvements. Jones partnered with the Portland Bureau of Transportation to redesign adjacent NE 97th Ave as a model green street, and construct an entirely new east-west connector, Everett Court.

“One of the big issues in Gateway is the large superblocks, with very few local street connections,” said Andrew Aebi, Local Improvement District administrator with PBOT. “Everett Court will make it easier for people to get around.” {….}

Met Council awards $5.4 million for affordable housing and transit-related development

Joe Kimball | MinnPost

The Metropolitan Council has awarded Liveable Community grants of $5.4 million for transit-oriented development and affordable housing.

The grants will go for projects in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Eagan, Hopkins, Minnetonka, Richfield and Robbinsdale.

The transit-oriented grants, officials say, go to “projects that help promote economic development, housing and jobs along transit corridors, where there is, or will be, transit infrastructure and high-frequency transit service.”

Grants set for present or future light rail transit lines are:

4th Street Infrastructure, Minneapolis — $1 million toward reconstruction of a section of Fourth Street Southeast that will support new development near the 29th Avenue Station on the Green Line.

Anishinabe Bii Gii Wiin, Minneapolis — $1,045,000 for stormwater management improvements, streetscape and sidewalk enhancements that improve connections to the Blue Line, and a transit plaza for buses along Franklin Avenue. {….}

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