The URS Transit & Urban Design Studio, working in partnership with the architecture firm Townscape Inc., of Dallas, is leading the TOD planning effort for the corridor. The process has four major components:
1. Constraints and opportunities analysis - The consulting team meets with local municipal staff members, elected officials, stakeholders, neighborhood interests and others to examine challenges and opportunities presented by the station area. This allows all participants to clearly see the realistic possibilities for development and to ensure that a realistic approach is taken on the front end of the process to help manage expectations and not over-promise the potential for TOD in the area. It also allows the project team to see major geographic, infrastructure, political or other issues that could affect development around the station over the long term.
2. Economic analysis- The consulting team conducts an objective economic market assessment of the station area to develop realistic forecasts of development potential for residential, commercial, retail, office and other types of development in the area for the future.
3. TOD Scenario Framework - The project team then develops a variety of development scenarios based on the economic analysis and opportunities/constraints analysis, focusing on both short-term and long-term options and examining low-, medium- and high-intensity scenarios for the local community to review and refine.
4. Final Report - The project team then consolidates all information into a final report that the local jurisdiction can use as a blueprint or starting point for additional analysis and development planning. The report also will recommend implementation strategies, regulatory requirements and other actions the local jurisdiction can take to help facilitate development.
While the project team meets with each jurisdiction in the corridor individually, a corridor-wide implementation workshop is planned at the end of the process. Using the expertise of staff members from Reconnecting America and its Center for Transit-Oriented Development, the project team will review financing and other implementation strategies that local jurisdictions can use to help keep their projects moving forward and provide added publicity to the corridor planning effort.
This corridor-wide approach to TOD planning can be a role model for other communities because it has several advantages for both The T and local jurisdictions.
It has created tremendous goodwill between and among The T and local communities along the corridor. While the major focus has been on station areas in Fort Worth, Grapevine and DFW Airport (the entities currently providing funding for the project), the TOD planning effort has also extended to other communities along the corridor. These cities (Haltom City, North Richland Hills and Colleyville) do not yet have a funding mechanism in place for participation in the project. However, The T is including them in the planning process—and allowing them to use the TOD planning expertise of the consulting team—because it assumes that they will be partners in the project in the near future.
This has greatly enhanced the relationship between The T and the communities all along the corridor.
Corridor communities are active participants in all facets of project planning in addition to their own TOD planning. Their participation in the TOD efforts have made them active partners and advocates for the entire project, further facilitating the ability of The T to keep the rail project moving forward. The TOD planning effort allows local communities and citizens to be more involved in — and have more ownership in — the entire project than they otherwise would have had.
Communities that might not have been able to initiate TOD planning efforts on their own can take advantage of the momentum generated by the services offered by The T. The T’s consultant assistance often provides the impetus for local communities to make TOD planning a high priority where it otherwise might not have existed. After completion of the initial TOD planning, the communities on the corridor can choose to follow up with more detailed projects (comprehensive plan amendments, zoning code changes, detailed development plans) later, if they choose to do so.