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Archive for the ‘TOD’ Category

Austin Mobility featured an article in their newsletter yesterday, describing the ongoing development in the east 5th area — around our MetroRail Plaza Saltillo Station. Check out the Austin Mobility to learn more about local Transit Oriented Development at: http://ow.ly/ealZv or read on:

E. Fifth St. transit oriented development underway

Projects near Plaza Saltillo are moving forward.

The 256-unit Corazon mixed-use project has begun construction, and will feature 9,400 square feet of retail, along with 6,400 square feet of restaurant space.

That project, the first to break ground at the Plaza Saltillo MetroRail station and transit oriented development east of IH-35, is expected to be completed by 2014.

The project is a step towards realizing the vision for Transit Oriented Development on Fifth Street.

Transit Oriented Development, or TOD, is a rapidly growing trend to create compact and walkable communities with high quality design centered around transit, and offering mobility choices.

The TOD vision was created by working with community members to address issues such as connectivity, open space, and design within the realities of economics.

The TODs have a complimentary regulation and zoning framework to facilitate compact and connected development, which is a key part of the Imagine Austin plan, passed by a unanimous City Council this month.

In addition to the private development, Capital Metro is making progress on about 10 acres it hopes to develop under future private-public relationships.

An environmental assessment of the land is close to being completed.

An upcoming report, by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Environmental Protection Agency, will give planners an understanding of what remediation would need to occur to develop the land.

In addition, Capital Metro expects to begin design and engineering later this year to relocate rail along Fourth Street, which will free up land for mixed-use development.

That $5.4 million track project is funded 80 percent by federal funds, with a 20 percent match from Capital Metro.

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Kevin Buchanan wrote a thought-provoking article in the Fort Worthology blog yesterday. He includes a number of examples specific to Fort Worth, but you could substitute Austin development projects and roadways and it would be just as relevant.

Transportation, Development, Priorities
Written by Kevin Buchanan on March 24, 2011

“This transit project’s nothing but a handout to developers!”

Words similar to those are often heard in the United States when cities plan transit projects (it was certainly heard during the discussion around Fort Worth’s own streetcar project). The plan to spend ~$80 million, from the Near Southside and TRV TIFs combined with a federal grant, to build a streetcar linking the districts with Downtown, just as other TIFs spend their money on infrastructure, was seen by some as a handout to developers because one of the stated goals of the project was encouraging higher-density transit-and-pedestrian-oriented mixed-use development. “If these developers want it, they can pay for it!”

So, where are the calls for developers like Cassco or the homebuilders in Cleburne to pay for the nearly $1.5 billion Southwest Parkway, which is undeniably a benefit to projects of theirs like Edwards Ranch (there’s a Whole Foods planned there – but not until the Parkway is built)? Where are the calls for developers like Hillwood to foot the bill for the I-35 widening that will undoubtedly benefit developments like Alliance?

To call a transit project a “handout for developers” and a roadway “necessary public infrastructure” is an enormous double-standard. The reality is that every transportation project is also an economic development project – every transportation project has impacts for development.

Transportation and development/land use are deeply, deeply entwined.

This gets to one of the hearts of the sprawl vs. urbanism debate – the reality that sprawl is not the result of the free market simply choosing a totally car-dependent lifestyle. The invisible hand of government has led the way since WWII, resulting in the built environment we have, and are paying for (in more ways than one), now.

Without hugely subsidized roadways and freeways (the reality being that roads don’t even come close to paying for themselves, as even highway-crazed TxDOT has admitted), there wouldn’t be the sort of car-dependent development we have now. Those same roadways mean that when we do have moderately successful urban places, they’re little pockets surrounded by parking (as seen downtown and on 7th) or choked with excessive car trips. Or, put more simply:

You get the development you design your transportation systems for.

Read the full article by K. Buchanan.

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HUD Regional Administrator C. Donald Babers & Congressman Lloyd Doggett (photo from Envision Central Texas)

HUD Regional Administrator C. Donald Babers & Congressman Lloyd Doggett (photo from Envision Central Texas)

More great news! Just last week, Capital Metro was awarded $2 million in federal grant funds so that we could purchase some new buses. This afternoon, a group of local partners, which includes Capital Metro, was one of only 45 grantees across the country selected to receive $3.7 million in federal funds to develop new regional planning tools. The award was announced today at City Hall. In addition to Congressman Lloyd Doggett, the event was attended by HUD’s regional administrator C. Donald Babers. (more…)

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After a long, hot day planting native trees, shrubs and grasses, Plaza Saltillo looks great!

Capital Metro–with the help of many volunteers, the landscape design dynamo of Ilse Frank, principal of Studio Balcones Landscape + Urbanism, the grant and materials support of Keep Austin Beautiful, the assistance of Austin Parks and Recreation Department and the Austin/Saltillo Sister Cities Association, and the in-kind donations of several local businesses–has been revitalizing Plaza Saltillo over the past several months.

The most recent volunteer day was this past Saturday, June 19th.  Twenty hard working, dedicated volunteers planted about 300 plants in sweltering heat at Plaza Saltillo.   Many thanks to Thistle Cafe for providing lunch and Texas Coffee Traders who supplied coffee.  This work day completed all of the large planting beds and added shade trees, ornamental shade trees, grasses, and native plants. It looks fantastic! Check out the photo gallery on the Friends of Plaza Saltillo Facebook page.

(more…)

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TOD update

Capital Metro’s Manager of Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Lucy Galbraith gave a really interesting presentation this month to the board’s Rail Committee meeting on June 14. It contained a good overview of what TOD is all about. It also included updates for development plans and progress at four stations: Leander, Crestview, MLK Jr., and Plaza Saltillo. Check out her presentation below.

Capital Metro applied for a Livability Grant from the Federal Transit Administration to support TOD at Leander Station, and we should learn any day now how our grant application fared. We asked for $10.9 million to replace the surface parking with a parking garage and to build the streets and infrastructure needed to support TOD.

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UPDATED: Midtown Commons won the Redevelopment category!

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Midtown Commons at Crestview Station is one of eight finalists of the 2010 Envision Central Texas Community Stewardship Awards.

The winners will be announced today at ECT’s annual awards luncheon. I’ll be tweeting via @CapMetroRail from the event should Midtown Commons win all the marbles.

Midtown Commons is a mixed use, transit oriented development, with several styles/sizes of apartments, including live-work units, and then retail space on the ground floor. If you live at Midtown Commons, you can basically walk out your front door and board MetroBus or MetroRail. (more…)

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More MetroRail TOD Coming

A new, exciting development will soon be taking shape along the Red Line.   Next week, Foundation Communities will break ground on the M Station, Austin’s first tax-credit funded, LEED-rated affordable apartment housing development.  The M Station will be right across the street from the MLK, Jr. Station providing access to rail and bus service. (more…)

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Midtown Commons is the first transit oriented development (TOD) along Capital MetroRail’s Red Line. Developed by Trammel Crow, Midtown Commons is a compact, walkable community with a unique mix of residences, retailers and offices centered around transit. The development is located adjacent to Crestview Station and Capital Metro’s busiest bus line, the 1L/1M. Like other TODs, Midtown Commons brings together people, jobs and services with efficient and convenient connections by walking, cycling or transit.

Join Capital Metro at a Rare Magazine event celebrating the grand opening of Midtown Commons tomorrow from 6-9:30 p.m. (RSVP required). Tour the new MetroRail train, listen to music and enter for a chance to win six months free rent.

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Capital Metro has been working with a number of public and private entities to develop the land surrounding the Leander Station, which will be the “end of the line” for the first phase of the MetroRail Red Line when it opens in March. But don’t think “sprawling suburban shopping center” development. Think “walkable community,” a “live, work, and play” development, a transit oriented development (TOD).


TOD is a smart choice because it’s denser, more efficient, and gentler on the environment than traditional developments. It creates a sense of place, a community where people can reduce their dependency on cars. It promotes healthier neighborhoods, too, where people walk and bicycle and get to know their neighbors.

In this kind of economy, it can also be a boon to communities, as national studies have concluded that for every $1 investment in a transit project, the community will yield about $6 in local economic activity.

Here’s some major mileposts in the Leander Station TOD:

* In 2005, the Leander City Council approved the Leander SMART Code, which is the blueprint for TOD development for more than 2,000 acres in northeast Leander.

* Capital Metro’s Leander Park & Ride opened in 2007, giving commuters ample time to “get friendly” with the station site, and with public transportation in general. Ridership on the Express bus routes that serve Leander have experienced sustained growth.

October 2008 photo of the Leander Station.

* Capital Metro has a working agreement with the development group that owns the 80 acres immediately adjacent to the Leander Station. Their land actually surrounds the station on three sides and is planned for a mixed-use TOD. Capital Metro and the developer are working on joint plans for eventual development of the Leander Park & Ride, in concert with the 80-acre TOD. A common land planner will ensure that both projects move forward with a unified approach.

* Road infrastructure surrounding the Leander Station and TOD site are well underway. Delays due to the discovery of an historic ranch house slowed the process of approvals and funding for CR 274, but the concerns have been resolved, and design has begun. CR 273 is under design, and the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization recently issued a $4 million grant for its construction. CR 269 to continue west from 183A to CR 2243 at its intersection with US 183 (at the H-E-B) is now under design.

* A pedestrian/bicycle connection will be under construction soon, from the northwest corner of CR 2243 across US 183 by crosswalk to a sidewalk extending from the northeast corner of the intersection north to the southern end of the MetroRail boarding platform. The connection will be complete before the rail service begins.

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