Transit-Oriented Development

Transit-Oriented Development

Transit-oriented development (TOD) refers to mixed-income housing; retail; commercial and pedestrian-friendly development  around a public transit station.  When done right, TOD confers a wide range of economic, environmental, and social benefits to a variety of stakeholders. As Boston, Washington D.C. and other cities demonstrate, TOD leverages transit assets by creating housing opportunities;  increasing  access to jobs; and improving the safety and appearance of low-wealth neighborhoods.

RHLS’s TOD Initiative

In 2010,  RHLS assumed management of the Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Initiative which was created by NeighborhoodsNow with the goal of shaping policy and promoting projects  that take advantage of one of Philadelphia’s greatest assets: its public transit system.  Although  the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is the fifth largest regional public transportation network in the United States, development around  transit stations in low- income neighborhoods is stymied by zoning limitations, undesirable land uses, and safety concerns.  While much has been accomplished toward removing these barriers, RHLS continues to collaborate with  local, state and national partners to change policy and the way municipalities approach development in and around transit stations  throughout the region to benefit low-income communities.  

Current Projects

Crime and TOD – RHLS is finalizing a report commissioned by NeighborhoodsNow and funded by the Commonwealth’s Department of Community and Economic Development that examines the relationship between crime — both actual and perceived — and transit.   The report, conducted by Interface Studio, includes: a review of national best practices; examination of actual crime rates at transit stations; analysis of conditions that lead to negative perceptions and  strategies to improve public safety — all with the primary goal of increasing access to transit.  RHLS anticipates release of this report, "Improving Public Safety Through TOD", in late 2010 or early 2011.  

TOD Real Estate Development Projects – In addition to the policy and planning work to unlock the systemic barriers to TOD, RHLS provides technical assistance to community development corporations (CDCs) to complete mixed-income and mixed-used projects.

Reports

New TOD Funding – On April 1, 2010, RHLS held a forum – Creating a Vibrant Region through Transit-Oriented Development – featuring Shelley Poticha, Senior Advisor HUD’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, as the keynote speaker.  Over 100 developers, government officials, planners and non-profits from around the region attended to hear Ms. Poticha and other panelists to discuss HUD’s new federal policies and what Philadelphia and the region can do to be positioned to take advantage of new funding for TOD.  RHLS also commissioned a report from Reconnecting America,   "Current and Federal Funding Opportunities: Equitable Transit-Oriented Development for Philadelphia and the Region", that summarizes these opportunities.  Download Full Report

TOD Zoning – Following up on the Econsult recommendation to create a model TOD zoning classification, NeighborhoodsNow contracted with the nationally-recognized planning team of Farr Associates and Reconnecting America to craft TOD zoning standards to facilitate development at key transit stations. Working with the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and the Zoning Code Commission,  the report  was completed in September 2009 and legislation creating a TOD Zoning Overlay was passed by Philadelphia City Council in December 2009.

TRID Plans – On November 13, 2008, NeighborhoodsNow sponsored a forum to present the City’s first Transit Revitalization Investment Districts (TRID) plans for the 46th and Market Street El and Temple Regional Rail stations. These plans provide implementation and financing strategies to improve access to transit and range from small-scale, low-cost clean and safe improvements to large-scale mixed-use redevelopment projects.  Download  the TRID Value Capture Analysis executive summary presented by Econsult. [86.7K PDF].  Download  the TRID plans’ executive summary presented by Interface Studios. [2.5M PDF]  Download  the full TRID Reports.

Econsult Report – In 2007,  NeighborhoodsNow commissioned one of the nation’s more respected economic research firms —Econsult Corporation to write Transit-oriented Development in Philadelphia: Using a Proven Strategy to Create More Vibrant Livable Neighborhoods. This report examines the barriers to TOD and identifies opportunities for stakeholders to overcome these obstacles. Download the executive summary of the report  [16MB PDF]  Download the final report: first half [1,156K PDF], second half [897K PDF].