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Briefing Report Number 3

Case Studies for

Transit Oriented Development

Prepared for:

Prepared by:

March 2009
This publication made possible by a grant from Living Cities

This document is a short summary of the TOD tools that are used by communities all across the country.
Ten tools have been selected by the Center for Transit Oriented Development and Reconnecting America
to represent the best and most relevant ideas for the Phoenix metropolitan areas in promoting TOD and
ensuring that the investments made over last decade will spur additional development and support for this
growing transit system.

The tools are:

• Livable Communities
• Station Area Planning
• Community Effort
• Right-Sizing Parking
• Shared Parking
• Aesthetic Zoning
• Collaboration (Public Private Partnerships)
• Joint Development
• Land Assembly
• Housing Trust Funds

These tools are a subset of those featured in other products for this project.

Each tool is featured in a 2-page case study. The tool is described with an attention to revealing the
benefits of livable communities and how this can be attained through each strategy or policy. The cases
draw upon location-based application of the tool. This illustrates how the tools are used and what the
expected results were. In some instances, the direct investment to support the tool and the expected results
are highlighted.

In the end, these write-ups give the reader a baseline perspective of what other communities are doing to
support TOD. This information can then be used by staff and decision makers to better understand how
these tools can be used locally.
Keeping affordable housing in the transit-oriented mix

ood transit-oriented development majority of US households used to be
can provide all the benefits families with both a mom and dad and
associated with livable more than one child, this demographic
communities: a mix of uses
that makes it possible to
get around without a car, a
greater mix of housing types
and transportation choices, an
increased sense of community
among residents, a heightened
sense of place.
This kind of
Local development
jurisdictions produces lower
control greenhouse gas
multiple emissions (a
recent study by
pools of the Center for
funding that Transit-Oriented
can be used Development
shows that TOD
to support
produces 43 percent less group now comprises just 25 percent of
affordable emissions than conventional households and it is shrinking. More and
and mixed- suburban development, more households are childless or headed
income www.reconnectingamerica. by single parents, and single adults
org), it promotes walking comprise 41 percent of households. The
housing in and biking and more demographic groups that are increasing
transit zones active lifestyles, and it in size – households that are smaller,
creates value for property older and more ethnically diverse – are
owners, businesses, local governments, the same demographic groups that have
transit agencies and residents. This historically shown a preference for higher
is development that responds to the density housing near transit.
concerns of the 21st century because it’s Today many people want a “room with
more environmentally and economically a view” within walking distance of coffee,
sustainable. And it provides a restaurants, yoga, a dog park, art, film
convenient, affordable and active lifestyle and culture. Lifestyles are changing,
for people of all ages, including those and convenience and affordability are
who don’t drive. paramount considerations. Research
Increasingly Americans are showing a by the Center for Transit-Oriented
preference for more compact, walkable, Development shows that by 2030 nearly
mixed-use communities over typical a quarter of all US households looking
suburban development, in part because to rent or to buy are likely to want
traffic is so bad that no one wants higher-density housing near transit. The
to spend time commuting. But the Urban Land Institute has also noted
changing housing market has as much the changing real estate market: ULI’s
to do with demographics: While the vast annual “Emerging Trends in Real Estate”

The Rosslyn Ballston Corridor in Arlington, VA, illustrates how TOD can accommodate tre-
mendous development in a livable community that provides benefits to both new and existing
residents. This was a declining low-density commercial corridor 30 years ago when the local
government decided to focus development around five closely spaced rail stations. Despite the
enormous amount of development that has occurred, single-family neighborhoods have been
preserved just a short walk away.

report has ranked locations near transit the enormous amount of development
as a best bet for investors five years in a that has occurred, single-family
row. neighborhoods have been preserved just
Moreover, transit is proven to a short walk away, and there has been
generate value that can be captured only a modest increase in traffic. The
and reinvested in communities because
it concentrates development and .
overall results have been extraordinary:
The assessed value of land around
business activity and the tax base in stations increased 81 percent in 10
a way that allows for focused value
. years;
capture strategies. Tried and true value
capture strategies include: property . 8 percent of county land generates
33 percent of county revenues –
and sales taxes, real estate lease and allowing Arlington to have the lowest
sales revenues, farebox revenues, fees
on everything from parking to business . property tax in Northern Virginia;
50 percent of residents take transit
licenses, joint development, special to work; 73 percent walk to stations.
assessment districts and public-private Shifting demographics and the
partnerships. changing real estate market have
The Rosslyn Ballston Corridor in opened up an unprecedented window
Arlington, VA, illustrates how TOD can of opportunity to channel growth into
accommodate tremendous development livable communities near transit. This
in a livable community that provides opportunity should be exploited since
benefits to both new and existing it is increasingly clear that one of
residents. This was a declining low- the most sustainable, low-cost, long-
density commercial corridor 30 years ago term solutions to a host of pending
when the local government decided to problems – including climate change and
focus development around five closely dependence on foreign oil -- is public-
spaced rail stations, working with private investment in neighborhoods
residents and the private sector. Despite where people don’t have to drive.

Getting the most out of transit-oriented development

tation area plans are conceptual should be involved in determining
or specific plans for the areas what public infrastructure is needed,
around transit stations or along the desired mix of uses, whether there
transit corridors. There is
some variation in what these
plans contain, but they all
lay out the basics, including
zoning, design standards,
parking requirements and
information about transit
access and bike and
circulation. The
Detailed most effective
station area plans have a
plans help clear time frame
and strategy for
leverage the implementation,
potential such as an The neighborhood surrounding Highlands Garden Village, a mixed-in-
of transit- investment or come, mixed-use urban infill project near downtown Denver, provided
oriented infrastructure significant input on the project design, greatly enhancing its success.
development plan that has clearly should be public space and what kind,
identified funding as well as other design considerations.
sources. Station area plans work best In some cases plans may be advanced
for encouraging TOD when there are enough to allow for “by-right” zoning
significant development opportunities that can greatly expedite the time it
such as a large surface parking lot or takes to move from project conception to
other underutilized land; they are far construction.
less useful for development of a limited The developer of Mission Meridian
scope. Detailed station area planning Village in South Pasadena, just north
efforts are especially important for high- of downtown Los Angeles, solicited the
priority sites. input of residents before building what
was a relatively high-density mixed-
VISIONING NEW STATIONS use TOD project in a historic single-
family neighborhood that had long
Station area plans that are based on a resisted development. By cultivating
visioning process with community input their interest, input and enthusiasm he
can help set standards and expectations succeeded in getting their support for
before projects are proposed, smoothing what became a catalytic and immensely
the way for the approval of appropriate popular development that activated
development. This certainty and and improved the entire neighborhood.
predictability can help ensure that Similarly, the neighborhood surrounding
projects will be approved without delay Highlands Garden Village, a mixed-
or community opposition ̶ both of which income, mixed-use urban infill project
increase risk and result in increased near downtown Denver, provided
development costs. The community significant input on the project design,

The developer of Mis-
sion Meridian Village in
South Pasadena solicited
the input of residents
before building what was
a relatively high-density
mixed-use TOD project
in a historic single-family
neighborhood. By cultivat-
ing their interest, input
and enthusiasm he suc-
ceeded in getting their
support for what became
a catalytic and immensely
popular development that
activated and improved
the entire neighborhood.

greatly enhancing its success. In both of affordability. A “floating” TOD overlay

instances community input resulted in zone offers more flexibility; it can be
a design that located new single-family applied when the opportunity arises
homes on the sides of the development instead of pre-zoning the site before the
that faced existing single-family homes, market is ready – which can cause land
with more density and commercial speculation and higher costs, as well as
space facing the commercial streets. difficulties for existing property owners.
The result was a truly sensitive design
Transit agencies and cities should
that integrated significant density a into
consider the corridor as well as
single-family neighborhood.
the station area, and balance
Some elements of station area
plans may be proscriptive, such as overall considerations about system
prohibitions on auto-oriented retail, or performance with each station area
prescriptive, such as a provision that plan. Considering the corridor as well as
50 percent of groundfloor space should the station allows local governments to
be devoted to retail. Other elements identify those stations that should serve
can be “permissive.” For example, as parking lots for commuters, and those
the developer may have the option that should be developed as high-activity
of providing a certain feature, but it nodes. Parking ratios can be reduced as
is not required. The challenge lies in neighborhoods near stations develop. At
finding the right balance between what BART’s Fruitvale station in Oakland, for
is optional and what is required with example, parking was reduced to allow
the goal of ensuring that the plan will for a higher density, mixed-use, mixed-
result in a successful project, but not income transit village that was developed
scare developers away. Planners and
by a local community organization. The
policymakers should be careful not to let
lower parking requirements reduced
perfection get in the way of the good.
While some plans are custom- development costs, which reduced
designed for specific stations, a “transit the cost of housing and commercial
district” or “transit village” overlay zone space, resulting in a vibrant mixed-use
can be applied more generally to ensure pedestrian corridor with high-quality
that plans or projects near stations meet public space and plazas leading from
certain criteria including a mix of uses, the BART station to Fruitvale’s nearby
a pedestrian orientation, or a standard commercial center.

Following the lead of community-based organizations

ommunity development land around the station, building or
corporations (CDC) can use rehabilitating 1,000 housing units and a
transit-oriented development to new “green” station building that houses
bring about comprehensive
and lasting revitalization in
neighborhoods and increase
affordability because families
that use transit spend less
money on transportation.
Community development
corporations can
play an especially
Community important role in
Development neighborhoods
Corporations that have been
bypassed by the
play an market and that
important aren’t a high
role in priority for local
neighborhoods governments or
transit agencies
bypassed by by initiating
the market The Dudley Village project developed by the Dorchester Bay
projects that
Economic Development Corporation in Boston will bring 50
will benefit the afforable housing units to Roxbury.
Community support for a
CDC’s efforts can go a long way toward a child care center and retail, creating a
convincing lenders to invest in and comprehensive mixed-use development.
retailers to move into a community. It The cities of Chicago and San Diego were
may be possible, for example, to attract both supportive of these developments
an otherwise reluctant vendor, such as but had prioritized development in
a grocery store, if community members neighborhoods where it was easier to
say they will support the store. attract developers. Bethel New Life had
to buy land, develop the housing and
TOD success stories negotiate with the city, developers and
the transit agency in order to realize their
There are many TOD success stories vision. Financing came together through
involving CDCs: San Diego’s transit- a combination of loans, grants, tax
oriented Barrio Logan neighborhood credits to make the deal work.
was developed by a community services Similarly, four CDCs have come
organization, as was the Lake-Pulaski together in Boston to build mixed-
neighborhood in Chicago, where a CDC income transit-oriented projects along
named Bethel New Life made an El the Fairmount commuter rail line to help
station the anchor for its revitalization ensure that gentrification doesn’t displace
efforts. Beginning with $10,000 raised current residents. The combination of a
from a church congregation, Bethel New strong housing market and improvements
Life has since assembled and brokered to the commuter rail line -- including

better service and new infill stations
-- had prompted developers to build
market-rate housing in what had
been high-poverty transit-dependent
neighborhoods. The four CDCs
mobilized support for the transit
improvements, raised funds for
planning and development capacity,
and are developing projects near the
new stations that provide affordable
units and economic development
opportunities for lower-income
Perhaps the most famous
example of a CDC-led TOD effort
is the Fruitvale BART (Bay Area
Rapid Transit) station near Oakland,
California. This large mixed-use
mixed-income TOD project grew
out of community resistance to
BART’s plan to build a parking
garage between the BART station
and the Latino neighborhood’s
commercial center, which the
community worried would hasten
the decline of the already distressed
neighborhood. BART withdrew the
plan and agreed to work with the
neighborhood on an alternative.
The Spanish-speaking Unity Council,
which had led the opposition,
became the developer, working
The Fruitvale BART station in Oakland, a large mixed-
with a variety of federal and local
income TOD project, grew out of community resistance
partners to build the project. Fifteen to BART’s plan to build a parking garage between the
years later, the Fruitvale “transit BART station and the Latino neighborhood’s com-
village” links the commercial center mercial center, which the community worried would
and BART station with a pedestrian hasten the decline of the already distressed neighbor-
corridor and plazas lined with shops, hood. The Spanish-speaking Unity Council became
offices, apartments and community the developer, working with a variety of federal and
services – the village includes a local partners to build the project.
clinic, child development center,
senior center and library.
All of these examples illustrate how TOD neighborhood. There are also some
can be used to catalyze neighborhood lessons learned: In each of the examples
revitalization, ensure affordability, discussed above there were effective
leverage public and private investment, public-private-nonprofit partnerships,
provide more choices for residents, effective leadership, public involvement,
increase transit ridership, reduce traffic creative financing, quality design and
and pollution, and enhance the economic construction and -- perhaps most
and environmental sustainability of a importantly -- perseverance.

Taking advantage of transit-oriented development

arking mandates crafted for
single land uses overestimate the
parking needs of development
near transit and undermine opportunities
for higher-value uses. Providing parking
is expensive – estimated to cost from
$20,000 to $40,000 per space in a
parking structure and as much as
$60,000 or more per space in high-value
real estate markets like San Francisco.
Because parking requirements can
drive the budget for TOD
projects, parking becomes
a key factor in determining
in transit- real estate prices.
oriented Local parking standards
developments are usually set in
accordance with the
produces as Institute of Transportation
much as 50 Engineers trip generation across pneumatic tubes stretched
percent less and parking forecasts. across the driveways of 17 transit-
traffic than The ITE model, however, oriented housing projects in Philadelphia,
is based on suburban Washington D.C., the San Francisco Bay
conventional examples where parking Area, and in Portland, OR. The research
developments is typically inexpensive was intended to provide guidance for an
and plentiful, and update of the ITE trip generation and
because surrounding parking generation rates.
low-density uses make travel by car
necessary. The Center for Transit ECONOMICS OF PARKING
Oriented Development’s database of
transit systems and TOD shows that, Reducing parking requirements can
in contrast, homeowners in walkable increase the feasibility of mixed-income
communities with a mix of uses and and mixed-use development, and from
good transit access own 43 percent a design perspective largely determines
fewer cars than those who live in if there is space for retail, childcare or
suburban communities. other nonresidential uses. Consider, for
There’s increasing proof that TOD example, a one-acre parcel zoned for up
projects generate less traffic. The to 100 units of residential development.
Transit Cooperative Research Program A parking requirement of two spaces
(TCRP) released new research in 2008 for each residential unit would consume
by PB PlaceMaking, Robert Cervero of 320-350 square feet per space at a
UC-Berkeley, the Urban Land Institute cost of $20,000 to $40,000 per space.
and the Center for TOD that shows that Reducing the requirement to 1:1 would
transit-oriented housing produces just allow the project to save as much as
half as many car trips as conventional $2 million. By reducing the parking
suburban development. The study requirement to 0.75:1, enough ground
counted the number of cars driving floor space would be available to allow

Higher-densities in transit-oriented developments are often not enough to make them pencil out.
The lower line shows that a developer would require subsidies in order reach densities of more
than 35 units per acre and 25 units per acre would be the optimal density. But if the higher rents
a project near transit can demand and the lower development costs from reduced parking are
added to the equation, the site’s profitable maximum moves to the 90 units per acre range.

for a childcare center and 10,000 square can be passed on to consumers in the
feet of retail. form of more affordable housing. Lower
Similarly, the TCRP study showed parking ratios will help promote transit
that under the right conditions lowering ridership. And less parking will mean
residential parking ratios by 50 percent that TOD projects are more compact and
for TOD projects near high-quality transit sustainable.
service could provide for increases in In Evanston, IL, for example, recent
residential density of between 20 to 33 multifamily residential developments
percent and a savings to the developer included a minimum of 1.25 spaces for
ranging from 5 to 36 percent. The housing units that are one bedroom or
TCRP research suggests that reducing smaller and 2 spaces per unit for three
residential parking ratios for TOD makes or more bedrooms. But an onsite survey
sense and would help these projects to determine whether all these parking
realize the expected community benefits spaces were actually used found an
by limiting traffic, encouraging walking actual parking demand of 0.8 spaces
and biking and transit use, making to 1.18 spaces per unit. As a result,
TOD housing prices more affordable Evanston planners proposed reducing
by limiting project costs, and providing parking requirements and shifting from
room for higher-value uses. a per-bedroom rule to a per-square-foot
rule that will range from one parking
COUNTING TOD TRIPS space for an 800 square-foot-unit to 1.5
spaces for 1,500 square feet or more.
In addition, neighborhoods may be
more likely to support density near For more information see: Parking
transit if they understand that TOD Spaces/Community Places: Finding the
produces fewer trips than conventional Balance through Smart Growth Solutions.
development. The savings to developers

Making parking work 24/7 in mixed-use districts

arking policy is every bit as provide private off-street parking,
important to creating vibrant, thereby allowing each public space to
pedestrian-friendly mixed-use serve many users and destinations. It is
districts as streetscapes, parks and high- estimated that 100 public parking spaces
quality public space,
because it largely
determines whether
a neighborhood is
compact and walkable.
Shared parking is a
valuable tool because
it provides for a more
cost-efficient use of
parking resources, and
frees up
Shared land for
parking is value uses, WEEKDAY EVENING WEEKEND
most effective creative site Shared parking works best with multiple destinations with different peak
when land planning parking demand periods.

uses have and

significantly – all of which will enhance can be the equivalent of 150 to 250
different the vibrancy, appeal and private parking spaces, and developers
peak parking value of the development. or building owners can be asked to
characteristics Shared parking is a pay in-lieu fees to fund construction of
parking management policy these public parking facilities. On-street
that allows for parking parking is also easy to share since it’s
spaces to be shared by more than one so visible and convenient, but in order
user, since most parking spaces are to make this work the on-street parking
only used some of the time and many must be managed for maximum use,
parking facilities include many unused particularly in busy commercial centers,
spaces with patterns of usage that by limiting the time to two hours or less,
follow predictable daily, weekly and or applying short-term pricing. Parking
annual cycles. For example, an office can also be shared among a group of
complex can efficiently share parking employees or residents: For example,
facilities with restaurants or theaters, 100 employees or residents can usually
since offices require maximum parking share 60-80 spaces since not all
during weekdays, while restaurants and employees will drive to work at one time.
theaters require maximum parking in
the evenings and weekends. As a result, AGREEING TO SHARE PARKING
it is estimated that the total amount of
parking can be reduced 40-60 percent. Shared parking is typically
One of the best ways to provide implemented by municipal governments,
shared parking is to build shared parking with sharing arrangements made
facilities rather than having each building between individual facility developers

The seven-story Gaia
complex in downtown
Berkeley, less than a
block from the Berkeley
BART station and the
University of California-
Berkeley campus, was
allowed a height bonus
in exchange for providing
a performance and arts
space. In addition to the
cultural space, there is a
cafe on the ground floor,
a rooftop garden and a
solarium as common ar-
eas. The 91-unit project
has 42 spaces in parking
lifts along with space for
car sharing and bike stor-
age facilities.

and managers. Some local would have required a proposed 162-

jurisdictions incorporate language in room downtown hotel to provide
local ordinances to permit and even 302 spaces, costing an estimated
encourage shared parking. These $4.83 million, making the project
jurisdictions allow shared parking to financially infeasible. In the interest
meet minimum parking requirements of encouraging urban revitalization
for uses located in the same building the city agreed to lower the parking
and also permit off-site shared requirements to 218 and allow
parking arrangements to meet on-site the developer to pay in-lieu fees
requirements for complementary uses of $3,000 per space for a quarter
within a defined area. These location of these spaces plus an additional
requirements are typically based on $50 per space per month to cover
acceptable walking distances. San parking operating and maintenance
Diego’s municipal code, for example, expenditures. The revised parking
states that shared parking facilities requirements provided a savings of
must be located within 600 feet of the more than $2 million to the developer
uses served, while Eugene, Oregon, and has facilitated the revitalization
and Los Angeles both allow for 1,320 of the surrounding area, increased
and 1,500 feet, respectively. pedestrian traffic, generated
approximately $300,000 in property
IN-LIEU PARKING FEES tax revenues and helps to support
Long Beach’s downtown.
The city of Long Beach recognizes
that parking is expensive and
consumes valuable land, and allows
for shared parking and in-lieu
parking fees. For example, the city’s
minimum parking requirements

Emphasizing form over use to create human-scale places

ost U.S. cities regulate conventional codes, focus on the
development through architectural and urban “form” of the
conventional or Euclidean built environment, and regulate key
zoning, the primary purpose of aspects such as building heights and
which is to segregate
incompatible land uses
and accommodate the
movement and storage of
vehicles. But these codes
date back to concerns
about the industrialization
of American cities at the
turn of the
Physical form last century
and aren’t as
and beauty relevant to
of a city are the economic
defined by realities of
cities today.
the sum of its Demographics One of the earliest codes was created for the new town of Seaside,
public spaces in America Florida, in the 1990s. It was subsequently recognized as one of the most
are changing. important planning efforts of the post-World War II era.
the family was the major
demographic group in the 1950s, making setbacks, windows and doors, the street
the suburban single family home popular, and sidewalks. The intent is to get all
singles and “non-family” households of these elements to work together to
(single-parents, empty nesters, friends create a desirable public realm and allow
living together) have become the new for the complexity, diversity and flexibility
majority. These households are much that can create dynamic and vibrant
more interested in multi-family housing neighborhoods.
types -- including the loft and live-work
space and condo – in lively mixed-use FLEXIBILITY IN CODES
neighborhoods that are walkable.
Mixed-use zoning has become popular Form-based codes are much more
as a result, and mixed-use districts user-friendly than the typically complex
are often overlaid on the conventional and oft-amended conventional codes,
zoning grid through creation of which are composed of lengthy text
special zones or districts. But this is a and numerical descriptions. Form-
makeshift strategy and doesn’t change based codes, in contrast, use charts
the underlying requirements of auto- and illustrations with the intent of
dependent planning, and many cities are simplifying the code; they depict desired
instead turning to form-based codes to outcomes through the use of two-
achieve more vibrant and human-scaled and three-dimensional drawings and
neighborhoods. diagrams. Most importantly, form-based
Form-based codes, in contrast to codes allow for much greater flexibility

The former Safeway site on Columbia Pike will include an 188-unit rental apartment build-
ing. Approximately 34,340 square feet of retail and 14,650 square feet of office space will be
included on the ground floor and mezzanine. There will be 408 parking spaces on three below-
ground levels; at least 107 of which are non-reserved and shared for visitors and shoppers.
The project also includes 79 bicycle parking racks. The project is in compliance with the Form
Based Code and consistant with the goals of the Columbia Pike Initiative.

with regard to the uses located in the recognized as one of the most appealing
buildings so that property owners can and important planning efforts of the
adapt to changing market conditions, post-World War II era. Arlington, VA,
and to allow the mix of uses to change adopted an optional form-based code for
over time. They also simplify and Columbia Pike in 1998 that incentivized
streamline the planning process, thereby its use by expediting projects that met
appealing to both cities and developers. code requirements – thereby prompted
Form-based codes focus on the a wave of development. It has been
relationships between building facades lauded as providing for up-front citizen
and the public realm, the form and mass consultation, less regulation, quicker
of buildings in relation to one another, approvals, and for making development
and the scale and types of streets and less expensive (less parking, expedited
blocks. The primary concern is the approvals), which has allowed for the
impact on the public realm or right of construction of more workforce housing.
way, in acknowledgement of the fact Denver is also adopting a form-based
that architectural design, how buildings code to help implement the city’s recent
relate to the street, and walkability are comprehensive plan, which directs
important elements in creating places higher-density development along
that people want to visit -- which is why public transit corridors in the hopes of
form-based codes focus on enforcing promoting ridership.
these elements instead of on restricting


One of the earliest codes was created

for the new town of Seaside, Florida,
in the 1990s and was subsequently

Leveraging public-private partnerships for better results

public-private partnership is a marketing of the finished development,
contractual agreement between advertising its proximity to transit, for
a public agency (federal, state or example. Lenders typically want to be
local) and a private sector entity that “taken out,” or paid off, as quickly as
leverages the skills and assets of both possible by
with the goal of delivering a service or a mortgage.
development for public benefit. Public- If marketing
private partnerships are especially useful helps sell the
for leveraging private investment in units more
transit-oriented development, they are quickly, transit
more flexible than joint access can
development arrangements, help develop-
Melding and they don’t require pub- ers secure
of public licly owned land – though, financing more
and private as with joint development, quickly, lower-
each partner brings some- ing the costs
goods is a thing to the deal. Local gov- at the end
progressive, ernments, for example, can of the proj-
pragmatic help assemble land, rezone ect. This cost
it, and fund environmental savings can
solution to remediation with a grant help subsi-
the practical from the federal govern- dize below-
difficulty of ment. Private investment market-rate Portland’s Pearl District streetcar
getting things can also be leveraged if a units, or pay
local government provides for pedestrian amenities like parks and
done. an in-kind match, in-lieu-of plazas and streetscapes. DART in Dallas
fees, or gap financing. has done a particularly good job of us-
Local governments can be particu- ing transit to market TOD. The agency’s
larly effective in incentivizing the kind of real estate department reaches out to
development they want by working with developers, providing them with a basic
developers to mitigate the four risks as- market analysis for sites near stations,
sociated with in the development pro- including information about demograph-
cess: They can help with entitlement risk ics, land ownership, characteristics of the
by bringing communities to consensus on surrounding communities. Some cities,
a station area plan that creates predict- like Portland, have made infrastructure
ability for both the community and the investments -- including parks, sidewalk
developer, and by expediting the review improvements, and transit stop enhance-
process. They can help with construction ments – to increase the curb appeal and
risk by prioritizing inspection services for marketability of larger developments.
TOD, and by vetting contractors. They Local governments can also help with
can help with financing risk by working predevelopment costs, which are typi-
with local banks to provide lower-cost cally hard to finance, especially if the
mezzanine loans, a type of debt used for land to be developed has to be held
commercial and multifamily construction for several years until it is developable
that is typically very expensive. because of zoning or design issues.
Government can also help with the Local governments can help by provid-

One of the best examples of a successful public-private partnership that used transit to lever-
age large-scale redevelopment is Portland’s Pearl District, a neighborhood built along a street-
car line. The streetcar was built to connect two large parcels of vacant industrial land north
and south of downtown.

ing patient capital from funding sources $3.5 billion in 2008 – helped the city
such as redevelopment funds. They can meet several public goals and objectives,
also provide funding for public parking including accommodating a significant
and therefore become an equity part- number of new housing units within the
ner in the development. Value capture city’s urban growth boundary. The result:
strategies and zoning incentives includ- • 10,000 units of housing, one quarter
ing density bonuses can be used to fund of which is affordable;
affordable housing and infrastructure. • 4.6 million square feet of commer-
One of the best examples of a highly cial space within two blocks of the
successful public-private partnership streetcar;
that used transit to leverage large-scale • Portland’s 20-year housing goal was
redevelopment is Portland’s Pearl Dis- met in just 7 years on one-tenth the
trict, a new neighborhood built along a projected land;
streetcar line. The streetcar was built • A record number of building permits
to connect two large parcels of vacant were issued 7 years in a row;
industrial land north and south of down- Properties closest to the streetcar
town. The city struck a deal with the were developed at 90 percent of permit-
owner of 40 acres: The city would build ted density, compared to 43 percent of
the streetcar past his property and make allowable density at 3 blocks and further
other improvements if he would up-zone away.
his property from 15 dwelling units per The Portland streetcar proved to be a
acre to 125. This was in the early ‘90s, public investment that attracted private
when there was no market for this kind investment that helped the city meet
of development, but today it is the city’s many public goals including affordable
densest and most popular neighbor- housing, very high-quality streetscapes
hood, and at build-out it will be home to and parks and plazas, and which
10,000 residents and 21,000 jobs. The generated a high volume of business
streetcar was subsequently extended to activity for downtown. The streetcar
the second vacant parcel, the South Wa- has been so successful in stimulating
terfront, where an even more ambitious development that there are now at least
redevelopment effort is underway. 60 US cities trying to follow Portland’s
This private investment – an estimated example by building streetcars.

Leveraging agency land to improve TOD prospects

enerally speaking, transit agencies located, or to support additional transit
or cities cannot create transit- investments. Moreover, transit agencies
oriented neighborhoods that have found that joint development is a
generate high ridership and
achieve other public goals
on their own. They aren’t
likely to own enough land
at stations to create truly
catalytic projects, and their
real estate departments
may lack the
The most staff,
common joint resources
development and/or
arrangements sophistication.
are ground many transit
leases and agencies and
operation- cities do enter
cost sharing into joint A tripartite agreement among the MBTA, Massport, and a developer in South
development Boston led to construction of a new underground Silver Line BRT station.
with private
development partners on
publicly owned land to ensure that it is cost-effective way to help ensure higher
built with uses that will support transit ridership – much more so than building
ridership, or development that supports costly parking structures or providing
other public goals including affordability feeder bus service.
and the revitalization of neighborhoods. There are challenges, however. One
Private developers bring their own key issue is the disposition of land. Many
resources, including additional property, transit agencies prefer to lease their
and expertise to joint development land rather than sell it outright, which
projects, which can result in more can have a critical impact on the cost of
successful development. financing. Lenders and equity providers
Research shows that transit can add perceive more risk with deals in which
significant value to land near stations. the land is not permanently secured to
Developing the land maximizes that the real estate improvements they make.
value and can yield significant revenues The cost of joint development is high to
from long-term ground leases, rents or begin with – because of the added time
sales, as well as increased property and and complexity of these projects – and
sales taxes and farebox revenues, and the added cost of financing makes it
provide increased revenues from fees hard to make these projects pencil out.
on everything from parking to business There may also be the thorny question
licenses. All these revenues can be used of providing replacement parking
to fund additional improvements for the for transit users – which has killed
neighborhood in which the station is the financial feasibility of many joint

The Washington (D.C.) Metropolitan Area is, by far, the nation’s leader in transit joint
development. The region presently has some 30 joint development projects, including
such notable air-rights developments (and revenue generators) as this Bethesda station

development projects. With the cost of by the pre-payment of lease revenues

structured parking estimated at between on development planned for 18 acres
$20,000 and $40,000 a space, the around the station. Other project
requirement to replace a large surface partners included the state DOT, the
parking lot with structured parking in council of governments, congestion
order to make room for development can management agency, and the cities of
price most projects out of the box. In Dublin and Pleasanton, which surround
the recognition that joint development the station and owned some of the land.
projects may be the highest and best The Massachusetts Bay Transportation
use for transit agency properties, many Authority has also been selling and
transit agencies that engage in joint leasing land near stations to private
development are abandoning their one- developers, and taking an equity
for-one replacement parking policies interest in the development. At the
for more flexible guidelines that allow Ashmont Square Station, for example,
replacement parking to be moved to the MBTA entered into an agreement
other stations along a corridor. with a developer to build 150 units of
housing on agency land. Proceeds were
JOINT-DEVELOPMENT EXAMPLES used to help fund construction of a new
parking structure with 5,000 spaces
The Washington Metropolitan near the station. MBTA also entered
Area Transit Authority (WMATA), the into an agreement with Massport and
Massachusetts Bay Transportation a private developer to construct a new
Authority, and BART in the San Francisco underground Silver Line BRT station at
Bay Area are among the transit agencies the World Trade Center complex in South
that have aggressively pursued joint Boston, with each each development
development opportunities. In one of partner contributing something to the
the more interesting and complicated deal.
joint development deals, BART’s $70
million West Dublin station is being
built in part with $15 million generated

Packaging a project to leverage development opportunity

and assembly can be a challenge and grants from corporate and family
when developing pedestrian-friendly foundations can be a source of capital
transit-oriented neighborhoods. for land acquisition.
Neighborhoods around
stations are often built-out,
sometimes with transit-
unfriendly uses, there may be
few vacant or underutilized
lots, and sites that are
Local may be small,
governments and not under
can help the control of
package and any one owner.
assemble TOD projects
land for require large
development sites, and large
purposes sites reduce
construction Charlotte’s Scaleybark station is surrounded by large industrial and com-
costs, provide mercial sites that are ready to be redeveloped, making it well suited for
for a more even quality of catalytic TOD projects
building design, and ensure
a phased build-out that
will maximize profits. For all of these There are barriers to land assembly, of
reasons some local governments use course, including the fact that property
their land assembly powers to acquire owners may be unwilling to sell or have
sites and then sell or donate the land unrealistic expectations about what
to the development team. The power their properties are worth, given the
to assemble land provides leverage for speculative rush that can accompany
public agencies, giving them greater the construction of a new transit
say in decisions about the kind of line. Moreover, it takes a long time
development that should be built. to assemble sites and then get them
There are a number of innovative entitled, zoned, platted and approved
land assembly and financing techniques for development, and there are legal
that are being employed, including issues surrounding the use of eminent
making the planning of infrastructure domain. Many developers are not able
investments and land assembly to handle the holding costs of long-term
concurrent. Land acquisition or land- or even medium-term site assembly and
banking funds are being considered in entitlement, which is why the help of
many cities to enable the early purchase public agencies is often necessary.
of land around stations or along Because of these difficulties,
transit corridors while the land is still brownfield sites, underutilized
affordable. Development fees, flexible commercial and industrial sites, and
state transportation and housing funds, redevelopment project areas offer

Philadelphia has the third largest rail system in the United States but stations are dominated
by auto-oriented uses. In addition, the Temple Regional Rail station and elevated rail line
separate Temple University in North Philadelphia from the Asociacion de Puertorriqueos en
Marcha (APM) community, which has long struggled to revitalize after population loss.

some of the best opportunities for able to market the land in accordance
TOD because they make large-scale with neighborhood plans and dispose
development possible. For example, the of the properties without the delays
City of Baltimore was able to offer 30 associated with a more piecemeal
acres for redevelopment as TOD around approach.
the Metro station at Center Square. Land swaps are another option that
These sites link the Metro station to a can help clear the way for development
light rail station surrounded by city and of critical sites near stations. At the
county offices and cultural attractions. Fruitvale BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit)
Land assembly is also a major element station, for example, the developer
of the Atlanta Beltline effort to turn needed to assemble all the parcels of
more than 20 miles of mostly unused land at the site under single ownership.
railroad tracks and adjacent land into an BART owned the land, but couldn’t part
“emerald necklace” of parks, workforce with the property because of a long-
housing and mixed-use development standing policy requiring the agency
on either side of a transit line looping to retain ownership of the land for
around the city. long-term planning. The problem was
addressed through a land swap in which
REDEVELOPMENT AND TRANSIT the developer was awarded a 96-year
lease on the land in return for a parcel
In Philadelphia, land assembly the developer owned behind the transit
has been deemed so important to station as well as several nearby vacant
the stabilization and rebuilding of parcels owned by the City of Oakland.
neighborhoods that the city has This swap gave the developer proprietary
implemented a new approach driven rights to the entire development site
by redevelopment considerations. The without reducing the value of BART’s
city has nearly 60,000 vacant parcels, land assets near the transit station.
but few are large enough to support
significant and catalytic development For more information, see: Tools for
that can spur other projects. So the city Mixed-Income TOD, Douglas Shoemaker
has begun acquiring large quantities of with the Center for Transit Oriented
vacant land, and by holding title will be Development

Preserving affordable housing near transit

ousing trust funds establish a additional resources), loans for
stable and steady source of developers, and/or matching funds used
funding for affordable housing to leverage private investment. One of
outside of the unreliable
political budgetary process,
enabling jurisdictions to
provide developers with
a dependable funding
source. These funds are
typically established by the
city, county or state via
legislation or ordinance.
While there
Socio- are different
economic or procedural
diversity issues that
enhances determine how
community this can be The City of Charlotte purchased property at Scaleybark station,
done in each which is surrounded by large industrial and commercial sites, to
stability and jurisdiction,
ensure that development remains affordable.
sustainability nearly
600 funds have been the appeals of a city-controlled fund is
established in 43 states in the country, that it can be tailored to the particular
generating more than $1.6 billion a needs and opportunities of a community.
year to support housing needs. State Targeting these resources to sites near
housing trust funds are the most transit is especially important because
significant source of money, and are transit-oriented development provides
usually funded with proceeds from the increased affordability. The American
real estate transfer tax or documentary Public Transportation Association
stamp tax. Cities typically use developer estimates that households that live
fees. Counties have a more difficult time near transit and use it can save $9,499
finding a funding source, but they are a year on transportation compared to
well-positioned to provide broad support households that drive (
for affordable housing outside municipal Research by the Center for Transit-
boundaries. Oriented Development shows that
households living in walkable, mixed-use
PURCHASING AFFORDABILITY neighborhoods near transit spend about
16 percent less on transportation than
Housing trust funds are used households that live in conventional
for a variety of purposes, including suburban development (www.
the construction and maintenance For these
of affordable housing, homebuyer reasons, trust funds and well as other
assistance, homeless shelters, gap affordable housing resources should be
financing (for projects where other used around stations and along transit
funding sources leave a gap requiring corridors to preserve existing affordable

housing, to purchase rental properties
for permanent use as affordable housing,
and/or to build new affordable housing.
Charlotte, North Carolina, established
an Affordable Housing Trust Fund
to provide public funding to private
developers in exchange for affordable
units using a competitive bid process.
The City Council set aside $10 million
for the fund in 2001, and voters then
approved another $35 million. The city
has the flexibility to make the funds
available as either a loan or grant for
land acquisition or construction. By 2007
the fund had enabled the construction
or rehabilitation of more than 2,800
units, more than half of which were for
households earning below 30 percent
of area median income. This number
included 223 units of new affordable
ownership housing, more than 900
new multifamily rental units, nearly 600
rehabilitated multifamily rental units, and
more than 1,100 units for households
with special needs. The average subsidy
per unit was less than $14,000 and
sometimes included other affordable Land acquisition funds or land banking funds
housing funds. can also be used to secure sites near transit for
affordable housing or transit-oriented projects
while the land is still affordable. This is espe-
cially important now because changing demo-
graphics in the U.S. are boosting the demand for
Land acquisition funds or land housing in these locations, driving up the price
banking funds can also be used to of real estate near stations.
secure sites near transit for affordable
housing or transit-oriented projects
while the land is still affordable. This funds.
is especially important now because The city of Charlotte has also established
changing demographics in the U.S. – a land acquisition fund to purchase land
households are older, smaller and more near the stations planned along its South
diverse – are boosting the demand for Corridor light rail line to ensure the
housing in these locations, driving up development of mixed-income, mixed-
the price of real estate near stations. use TOD. The City Council capitalized the
Land acquisition or land banking funds fund with an initial grant of $5 million.
can also be used to acquire existing It is jointly managed by Coldwell Banker
housing in order to preserve affordability Commercial, the Charlotte Area Transit
in neighborhoods where gentrification is System, and several city departments.
a threat. The first site, the Scaleybark station
Development fees, flexible state area, was purchased with the help
transportation and housing funds, and of the city’s Housing Trust Fund, and
grants from philanthropic organizations development is required to meet a
are often used to create land acquisition minimum affordable housing threshold.

Produced by Reconnecting America on behalf of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation

In 2007, the city of Phoenix and its partners, Valley Metro Rail and the city of Mesa sought
policy analysis assistance to address how to promote transit oriented development (TOD) along
its newly opened light rail and future extensions given the impact of the passage of Proposition
207 (Private Property Rights Protection Act). Over the course of the past 18 months, the U. S.
Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) lead a group of national experts to help the local
team and its supporters including the Local Initiative Support Corporation and the Sonoran
Institute develop options for encouraging transit oriented development while addressing
Proposition 207.

The project evolved into a discussion of the most appropriate tools and incentives that localities
can use to promote TOD. Four documents were developed as the team’s analysis for this project,
each covering some specific aspect and nuance of these tools and how they will be utilized.

These documents include:

Transit Oriented Development in Phoenix and Mesa: Developing a Policy Toolbox for the Post-
Proposition 207 Environment

Strategic Package of Tools to Transit Oriented Development in Metropolitan Phoenix

Encouraging Transit Oriented Development in Metropolitan Phoenix: Case Studies that Work

Impact of TOD and Smart Growth Incentives on Development in Phoenix

These documents are meant to be used as a whole to create a complete picture of addressing
TOD in Phoenix, but because of the distinct nature of the individual analysis presented, each are
also intended to stand alone as a resource.

Furthermore, these documents are still draft, as they will be presented to stakeholders and a
group of developers and property owners during a two-day work session April 16-17, 2009.
Input from this discussion will be assessed and incorporated to these documents. Finally, a brief
next steps memo (5 to 7 pages) will be delivered to the cities and partners in May 2009 along
with the final documents. This action will complete the project.

For more information and project update please call:

Sandy Zwick
Principal Planner
Light Rail Planning & Development
City of Phoenix/Metro