Although funds for transit programs are competitive in general, Cox Blair said the U.S. departments of Housing and Urban Development, Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency have been very supportive of TOD projects and are working to provide additional grants and resources for the growing number of projects.
One of the most important grants available for TOD projects is HUD’s sustainable regional planning grants, Cox Blair says, because it uses transit as an underlying mechanism for communities of all sizes.
“It’s probably trendier than most people would think,” she says.
A New Look at Growth in Philadelphia
Gary Jastrzab, executive director of the Philadelphia Planning Commission, says that city recently adopted a new zoning code slated to go into effect in August. It’s the first major revision of the code in 50 years and it calls for a city vision for 18 districts and uses TOD development as an overlay in this new plan. While the areas for TOD plans are still being worked out in many parts of the city, he says a number of developments have already gotten off the ground and shown benefits to areas of the city.
The new zoning code will promote density and development incentives in and around major transit stations and in the next three to four years the city will have TOD overlay plans mapped in the districts in order to spur more density.
In the Germantown area of Philadelphia, planners are currently working on TOD plans surrounding a regional rail station in that area in order to promote new development in the area of office and residential units using historic buildings that could be easily converted.
He says Philadelphia’s Planning Commission recently approved redevelopment plans near a subway station at Broad Street and South Street at the edge of the downtown area, which combines residential and commercial units on the ground floor along with underground parking. While past projects contained a ratio of 70 percent parking spaces to residential units, Jastrzab said this project will have half as many because of the access to transit.
While many of the developments near transit areas are private, Jastrzab says those taking place near the Paseo Verde rail station by Temple University have been developed between partnerships with public and private entities, along with community advocate organizations. The university has changed in nature in recent years and developments have been going up on the eastern edge of the campus.
“It’s not an area where we had to do any kind of major rezoning or permitting mainly because it’s adjacent to a regional rail station. Temple has really changed its character in the last 15 years or so of being a regional community school to a school where a lot of residential development is occurring around it, some of it spurred in part due to the private market really kicking in in a major way the past five years or so. We’re seeing a lot of small, infill projects and renovations in and around the eastern boundary of Temple in combination with the station.”
When the national economy collapsed in 2008 Jastrzab says a lot of the development plans in Philadelphia went on hiatus, but planners are beginning to see a lot of activity for new housing and commercial developments and transit will be a strong part of many of the projects as planning moves forward.
He says there has been a lot interest in new residential projects near the city’s center in the past several years because the area is well served by subway and regional rail lines coming into the downtown area.
“At this point the economy seems to be improving here and we’ve seen the city population increase really for the first time in 50 years. The census bureau also said the population as of July 2011 showed another population gain in the past year, so our city center area and a lot of residential areas immediately surrounding are really beginning to see a lot of activity.”