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April 2014

Four development ideas Boston should steal

Paul McMorrow | Boston Globe

FOR THE past 20 years, development in Boston has happened in a disjointed, unpredictable manner. Mayor Marty Walsh took office promising to smooth out construction approvals for both developers and residents. Boston has a lot of catching up to do on this front, and Walsh’s team should start by looking outside City Hall. Here are four good ideas from other cities that Boston planners should steal.

■ Make upzoning easy. Boston isn’t Houston. It can’t grow by loosening its belt and spilling outward. If Boston is going to keep growing, that growth will have to come around subway nodes. Transit enables developers to build far more densely than they would be able to in, say, West Roxbury. But for every Jackson Square or Downtown Crossing, where developers have successfully harnessed subway access to launch transformative housing developments, there’s an Andrew Square or a Forest Hills or a North Station, where residents have pushed for development parameters that minimize or ignore the subway stop next door.

Chicago successfully linked transit to development across the city in one swoop. Chicago’s transit-oriented zoning gives automatic height and density bonuses to new developments close to any subway stop. The zoning bonuses reward larger developments on main streets, and limit incursions onto smaller side streets. And by kicking in automatically, upzoning around transit means that the easiest building to construct is the type of building the city most wants to promote. Read more

In NYC, a $185M tunnel that leads nowhere, for now

Verena Dobnik | Yahoo Finance

NEW YORK (AP) — Taking shape on Manhattan’s West Side is a $185 million, federally funded tunnel that leads to nowhere, for now. The 800-foot-long, 35-foot-deep concrete trench could someday lead to two new commuter rail tunnels under the Hudson River to New Jersey, if the billions needed to build them ever materialize.

The access tunnel is being built now because the massive Hudson Yards development with six skyscrapers, the tallest being 80 stories, will soon be built on top of it. Trying to dig such a huge trench through the bedrock after those buildings are completed, officials say, would be an
engineering and financial nightmare.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., was among the lawmakers who pushed Congress to approve Superstorm Sandy relief money for the planned flood-resistant access tunnel, calling it mitigation to protect infrastructure from future storms. But he argued it would have to be built now because the skyscraper developers could not be delayed indefinitely. Read more

Transit Oriented Development is the key to better cities

Lloyd Alter | Urban Design

For years, city builders have called for Transit Adjacent development, piling density on top of subway stations and at transit nodes. Now the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy has introduced a far more sophisticated concept of TransitOriented Development (TOD) and a TOD standard to promote it.

TOD implies high quality, thoughtful planning and design of land use and built forms to support, facilitate and prioritize not only the use of transit, but the most basic modes of transport, walking and cycling.

This is a very different thing from what we are used to. It focuses on developing communities that push away from car-centric city forms, towards an efficient walking, cycling and transit city.

The TOD Standard sums up the new priorities for contemporary urban development. They reflect a fundamental shift from the old, unsustainable paradigm of car-oriented urbanism toward a new paradigm where urban forms and land uses are closely integrated with efficient, low-impact, and people-oriented urban travel modes: walking, cycling, and transit. Read more

Orlando Health to redo site near SunRail station

Anjali Fluker | Orlando Business Journal

The region is gearing up for the start of SunRail commuter rail service this week— and Orlando Health has plans in the works for a small retail strip just across the street from the Orlando Health/Amtrak station in the Downtown South district.

Karl Hodges, vice president of business development for Orlando Health, said the hospital system is in the “exploration and planning stages” of redeveloping nearly 10,000 square feet of old commercial space on Sligh Boulevard that faces the commuter rail station. Read more

How Daylighting the Saw Mill River Helped Yonkers Become a Mixed-Use, Multimodal Hub

Madeline Marvar | Mobilizing the Region

Downtown Yonkers has undergone a dramatic change in the last decade thanks largely to the inspiring success story of the Saw Mill River Daylighting campaign, a project which was presented last week at GreenHomeNYC’s April Forum.

In the 1920s, the Army Corps of Engineers redirected a large portion of the Saw Mill River into underground flumes as part of a sanitation and flooding mitigation effort, where it lay hidden from sight for nearly a century. It wasn’t until the 1990s that anyone began to consider the potential for unburying the river, though the idea at the time seemed too massive an undertaking, especially given the hazardous pollution levels from illegal dumping in nearby industrial areas. Read more

A Radical Approach to Adding Density in New York’s Outer Boroughs

Jenny Xie | Atlantic Cities

 

The urban planning community is constantly touting the benefits of building dense communities around public transportation. But according to designers Chad Kellogg and Matt Bowles, few solutions have been ambitious enough to do the whole Transit-Oriented Development idea justice. So they came up with their own.
Behold the Urban Alloy Towers, a proposal to take over spaces immediately surrounding transportation infrastructure like elevated train lines and highways.
To develop their concept, the pair picked the intersection of the Long Island Railroad and MTA 7 Train in the New York City borough of Queens as their test site. According to the project description, this intervention is an opportunity to “draw the energy of Manhattan out into the four other boroughs without disrupting existing land use.” Read More

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