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, December 23, 2015

Quote of the day: when transit is used by choice riders it has the opportunity to reshape land use and real estate development

From that e-thread I mentioned on DC and streetcars, I asked someone originally from Washington State why the Tacoma streetcar hasn't had much effect on improving the Downtown there:
When I last visited traffic in central Tacoma was flying. Under those conditions - cheap or free parking, free-flowing traffic - you're not going to get a lot of choice riders onto transit. If choice riders aren't using transit then developers will pay little attention to transit availability when making development decisions.
That last line is key:
If choice riders aren't using transit then developers will pay little attention to transit availability when making development decisions.
It's in line with the cite (originally from City Blocks) charlie gave on the Old Urbanist blog entry, "The Old(er) Way of City Planning," about the value of the grid, which I will write more about later.

And the 2011 piece, "What matters isn't "transit oriented development": what really matters is compact development and integrating transportation and land use." This piece discusses what I call the preconditions that support revitalization success.

But it comes down to income and demographics at the root.

Revitalization is a lot easier when the place attracts residents and patrons with decent incomes and when it is proximate to already successful places.

Similarly, transit needs to be seen as valuable to "choice riders," that is middle- and higher-income demographics, to be valuable as a "pump primer" in terms of development.

In the thread, someone who works for a state department of transportation made a very good point about the difference between landowner interests and roads vs. transit. He wrote:
I've worked in my position for 5 years and I've learned that building new rail line is more expensive and challenging than what I previously perceived. Once a railroad corridor is abandoned and the land is eased off to adjacent landowners, it becomes nearly impossible to reacquire the corridor to reimplement rail service. 
Conversely, new highway corridors are normally favored by surrounding landowners because they know their land will be much more lucrative with 50,000 and 60,000 and 70,000 cars driving by in everyday, but the same benefit is not borne on landowners adjacent to railroad lines except around station locations. In fact, land around new rail lines become less attractive because railroads carry an industrial, poor part of town cachet with them.

What really needs to change for our transportation to work smarter and work better is US, as in the United States. The day when NFL game advertising is dominated more by bike ads than car ads is the day you'll know that the US has truly turned the corner.

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