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February 2014

Vancouver’s Canada Line Is a Model of Transit-Oriented Development

Frances Bula | The Atlantic Cities

VANCOUVER, Canada — Vancouver’s Canada Line is an international transit model because of the innovative public-private partnership that built, funds and operates it.

But the light rail line is also becoming a model for spurring environmentally responsible growth around stations, where people will ride transit more and drive less. The Canada Line has sparked a development boom unlike anything in the region’s history.

Vancouver's Canada Line Is a Model of Transit-Oriented DevelopmentThe most striking transformation is happening in Richmond, a suburb south of Vancouver. Richmond was a bedroom community for decades. Since the late 1990s, it’s turned into the region’s primary settling point for Chinese immigrants. However, Richmond has still retained the look of a North American suburb, with a highway-like main street pocked with large malls and parking lots on either side.

Now, Richmond is the southern terminus of the Canada Line, with easy transit access to both Vancouver and the international airport. The train runs on an elevated track above the main street, No. 3 Road. Since the rail line opened in 2009, clusters of mid-rise apartment towers have gone up around stations. More are in the works. By 2040, Richmond expects to see 30,000 more people living around the line in its city center, and all the parking lots covered with buildings. {….}

$65M Harvard Square redevelopment to break ground

Thomas Grillo | Boston Business Journal

The ground breaking of 114 Mount Auburn St. and the redevelopment of the Conductor’s Building in Cambridge, Mass., is set for Wednesday, Feb. 19, at 9:30 a.m.

An artist rendering of 114 Mount Auburn St. in Cambridge, Mass.
Courtesy of Elkus Manfredi. An artist rendering of 114 Mount Auburn St. in Cambridge, Mass.

In 2012, Carpenter & Co. bought the Cambridge property to take control of the whole block adjacent to the Charles Hotel it owns. The hotel developer purchased 114-116 Mount Auburn St. in Harvard Square from the Bulfinch Cos. of Newton for $4 million with plans for a major renovation of the historic Conductors Building. A second adjacent parcel was purchased from MBTA in 2007 for $3.2 million in a public bid process.

The developer, Richard Friedman, President and CEO of Carpenter Co., plans to build an eight-story, 70,000-square-foot building that will include a restaurant, retail and office space. The $65 million development will include a new main building that is 100 percent leased to Harvard University on a long-term lease. Occupancy is expected to commence next year. The 5,000-square-foot Conductor’s Building historic renovation will happen simultaneously.

Friedman, who is well-known for the redevelopment of the former Charles Street Jail into theLiberty Hotel, is taking on another complex public-private partnership in the redevelopment of the century old Conductor’s Building, one of the oldest original structures of the Red Line. The new building is the result of a complex design where the building cantilevers over and above the electric transformers that power the Red Line. The project is expected to revitalize what has been a major eyesore and put to productive use an excess MBTA property and beautify a section of Harvard Square.

David Manfredi of Elkus Manfredi of Boston is the architect and the general contractor is Boston-based Tishman Construction.

Transportation Secretary says state working to buy Western Mass. train tracks

Jim Kinney | The Republican

State Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey talked passenger rail, Interstate 91 and the Willimansett Bridge Tuesday in a wide-ranging luncheon hosted by the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce.

The event also featured remarks from state Rep. Joseph Wagner, D-Chicopee.

Davey said he expects all construction on all three projects, including phase one work repairing Interstate 91 near the Interstate 291 ramp, to begin in 2014 if the state Senate passes a pending authorization bill already passed by the House. That $260 million first phase also includes planning for the possibility of rebuilding the 2.5-mile stretch of highway either at or below grade. Doing so would reconnect the city to its waterfront for the first time since the highway was built in the 1960s.

“Frankly, it can allow Springfield to really dream about what it can look like,” Davey said of the project that might cost $400 million or more and take five years. “We are looking at taking down highway overpasses around the state in places like Somerville and Jamaica Plain.”

He said the state is in ongoing talks with MGM Springfield about how a construction project will work with planned casino development in Springfield’s South End. {….}

How L.A.’s Community Organizers are Mobilizing a Transportation Equity Agenda for All

bikemetro.jpg
Photo Multicultural Communities for Mobility

Vanessa Carter | KCET

A leader in California’s urban planning scene, Bill Fulton, once characterized Los Angeles as a “reluctant metropolis” — unwilling to accept that sprawl had hit a wall, unable to see common connections between neighborhoods to create a cohesive region, and unlikely to overcome the social disparities and racial tension that twice produced civil unrest.

But as we witness a paradigm shift in how Angelenos move through the region, how Angelenos understand the interconnectedness of our region, how Angelenos are unifying across difference to fight for a more equitable region, we think that Los Angeles may be reluctant no more.

Talking with 40 advocates and organizations across the Southland, we have seen signs that the once disconnected and dystopian L.A. is fading away. With a new vigor, social justice organizers, policy advocates, government agencies, business leaders, and others are engaging in how to move us more sustainably through our region and, at the same time, how to swell the numbers of those supporting transportation equity. We call that last part movement building.

Last week, as part of this L.A. in Motion series, our director Manuel Pastor explained the “Just Growth” frame — one that is big enough to encompass L.A.’s wide-ranging transportation equity movement — asserting that social inclusion is the key to achieving economic prosperity and sustainability.

This week, we run through the agenda for transportation equity being brought together by our region’s social-movement leaders. How is transportation equity defined? What does it entail? Who are some of the organizations innovating in the different niches of this work? If these questions pique your interest, read on.
What do we mean by Transportation Equity?

As we look ahead to upcoming articles in this series, it may be useful to define what we mean by “transportation equity.” Indeed, this is a difficult concept to define, as it must capture a broad range of issues facing the Southland — from transit-oriented development to bicycles to goods movement (we dig into these and some other issues a little deeper below).

But we believe the following definition does just this by highlighting outcomes (both benefits and burdens for our communities) as well as the importance of public participation in planning processes. In our view, transportation equity means:

  • Equitable access to quality, affordable transportation options and so employment, services, amenities, and cultural destinations;
  • Shared distribution of the benefits and burdens of transportation systems and investments, such as jobs and pollution, respectively; and
  • Partnership in the planning process that results in shared decision-making and more equitable outcomes for disadvantaged communities while strengthening the entire region. {….}

 

State Farm Announces Major Transit Oriented Development; New Jobs

Charlie P. | Peach Pundit

Finalizing what has been rumored for months, State Farm announced this morning that it will build a campus just West of Perimeter Mall, adjacent to the Dunwoody MARTA station. The project will house 8,000 employees, including 3,000 new positions for Georgia. It’s a sign that job growth and renewed interest in development has returned to the Atlanta area.

The project will occupy 17 acres owned and developed by KDC Real Estate Development & Investments and leased to State Farm. The initial buildings will break ground this summer and occupy four acres, with the remaining build-out occurring over the next decade. The total development plan includes 2.2 Million square feet of office space, 100,000 square feet of retail, restaurant, and entertainment space, and a 200 room hotel.

KDC’s Larry Wilson said via press release, “KDC is excited to continue our relationship with State Farm through the creation of a transit oriented development in Dunwoody. This project will provide State Farm’s work force a continued platform for success with direct access to a true live-work-play environment and a MARTA station.”

Access to MARTA is both something companies in congested areas value, as well as something the transit authority is now promoting. Expanding transit further toward homes and businesses is expensive. Creating office space and residential housing around existing MARTA stations is a quicker and much cheaper alternative to booting ridership and reducing the number of cars on the regions roads. {….}

Site seen as key to housing boom

Shawn Regan | Eagle-Tribune

HAVERHILL — The city is positioning the long dormant Ornstein Heel property as the catalyst for a potential residential building boom on the Bradford side of the Merrimack River. City Council recently approved a new waterfront zone giving it less oversight of proposals along the river, making it is easier and potentially more profitable for developers to build projects.

The council retained its authority to review proposals in the waterfront zone, but it can’t reject ones that adhere to new rules aimed at encouraging specific uses and requiring public access to the riverfront. But now, Mayor James Fiorentini wants to give back the council control of the city-owned Ornstein Heel property.

Economic Development Director William Pillsbury said the change back would potentially allow the city to receive more money from the state if the city decides to create a special “transit-oriented” housing development district on the Bradford side of the river. {….}

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