Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Quick follow up to the Purple Line piece about creating a Transportation Renewal District and selling bonds to fund equitable development

To clarify, I am talking about creating a TRD and not using the money to fund the transit infrastructure per se, but to fund new development, civic infrastructure, and community improvement programs of various types.

Or to do something like half and half -- half for funding transit infrastructure and the other half for funding related economic and community development projects.

1.  A commenter provided a link to a new report from the Maryland Department of Planning, Models & Guidelines, Volume 29, Tax Increment Financing: User Guide for Maryland Sustainable Community Revitalization, which looks to be an important resource.

2.  But the projects discussed in the report as examples are pretty small.

What I am proposing is a large fund, which would then be used for financing smaller projects, rather than creating a variety of micro-TIF districts for various projects.

3.  The urban renewal district in Portland that I referenced in the previous entry started with about $200 million and with an original footprint of about 10.5 square miles. See "Interstate and beyond: Lessons of history resonate as the city prepares to expand Urban Renewal Area" from Street Roots News.  From the article:
"The Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Area, created in 2000, is the largest urban renewal area in the city, sprawling about 3,800 acres and spanning 10 neighborhoods in North and Northeast Portland. The expansion will increase the roughly $202.8 million in urban renewal funds currently available in ICURA."
Also see "Rose Quarter not part of proposed expansion of Interstate urban renewal district" from the Portland Oregonian.

4.  The idea I propose is to create a companion "Revitalization District" that wraps around the newly created transportation infrastructure, and the provision of big funding to make revitalization happen more quickly, along with the focus on equitable development espoused by the Purple Line Corridor Coalition.

A big lesson from DC is that such districts can help accelerate improvement significantly, whereas in DC proper, it has mostly been trickle down improvements, because such a wrap around revitalization district program was never developed.

This  is why it has taken as much as 30 years to see substantive improvement in areas served by transit stations (some areas are still waiting).

5.  The Wall Street Journal has a story, "Denver Transit Hub Is a Test Case for Funding: Financial Backing Comes From Two Little-Known Federal-Loan Programs," about two US DOT financing programs, the Federal Railroad Administration's Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program (RRIF), and the Transportation Department's Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), which operate similarly to the kind of financing provided by a TRD or URD, but they are used to finance transit construction and infrastructure, not what would be considered spillover projects. 

(TIFIA will be a source of
fundingfinancing for the second phase of the Silver Line in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties in Virginia.  See "Silver Line rail project apparently set to receive $1.9 billion federal loan," Washington Post.)

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At 8:05 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

again, going back to Arlington I'd say the two key factors are the quality of the housing and schools.

In terms of housing quality, not being an expert in that area, it seems as it is pretty poor for the most part but well sized. Middle class for the 20th century -- as opposed to say the working class houses of Petworth or parts of PG county. Potential for reinvestment.

And the schools -- no way I would let my kid near eastern MoCo or PG. Sorry.

At 12:46 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

... I have been meaning to write a post about charter schools. You always mention, correctly, that a big reason for DC's improvement is a significant reduction in crime.

The other is charter schools. (Even though for various reasons I am not a supporter theoretically, but I have no problem with families aiming to achieve the best results for their children.) Charter schools give people an option, a quality option, and a sense that they have more control over the learning options for their children, as opposed to the mostly unsuccessful DCPS version (or Eastern MoCo or PGC generally--although some of the schools in the Rte. 1 corridor are quite decent).

Without the crime reduction and the rise of charter schools, DC would not be experiencing resurgence at all.

At 1:17 PM, Anonymous Alex B. said...

"TIFIA will be a source of funding for the second phase of the Silver Line..."

Not to nitpick the wording, but the difference matters here.

TIFIA is not a funding program, it is a financing program. The funding for the Silver line was (and remains) toll road revenue. The financing terms that TIFIA offers are more generous than would be otherwise available, meaning that tolls won't need to increase as much as before in order to cover the borrowing costs to pay for phase 2.

This is important in the public discussion, because TIFIA gets trotted out there as if it were a replacement to declining federal funding, but it is not. It is not a funding program at all, it is about financing.

At 2:20 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

sloppy, I will correct. If you note the article cited about Denver, they use TIFIA but intend to pay for the $ by the creation of an urban renewal district or TRD.

I was gonna include a short description of how these programs are stalking horses for an infrastructure bank, but I left it out of the discussion.


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