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A Snapshot (and Snapshots) of Transit-Oriented Development

Getting around without a car is possible when housing, work and transportation needs are planned and placed together

  • Stats and facts about Transit-Oriented Development
    Infographic by Manjushree Majhi, AARP Research and Jana Lynott, AARP Public Policy Institute

    Stats and Facts

    The benefits of transit-oriented development span across the lifespan. TOD residents benefit from enhanced transportation and housing choices, greater access to jobs, cleaner air, healthier lifestyles and increased property values. A study of walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods in Northern Virginia found that people ages 75 and older took 20 percent more transit trips per week than their suburban counterparts. More striking was their share of trips by foot: 22 percent compared with 8 percent.

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  • Streetcars, cars, pedestrians, buses and bicycles share the road in Portland, Oregon
    Photo licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

    So Many Options

    Light-rail in Portland, Oregon, offers convenient transportation and is a catalyst for housing, retail, recreation and employment opportunities that benefit people of all ages. This image alone shows people getting around by using the light-rail, buses, cars, bicycles and their own two feet. 

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  • Apartment and office towers near a public plaza in downtown Minneapolis
    Photo by Jana Lynott

    The Funding Can Be Complex

    In the Twin Cities, MetroTransit's Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Funding Guide lists 24 regional funding sources, 16 state funding sources, 8 existing local programs, 12 potential local funding sources, 7 existing and potential public-private programs, and 4 potential federal opportunities. Three core capital programs of the U.S. Department of TransportationNew Starts/Small Starts, TIGER and TIFIA — are used by many cities to pay for underlying transit infrastructure. Minneapolis (pictured) and Saint Paul tapped a variety of funding programs to build transit-oriented neighborhoods around light-rail lines.

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  • A new apartment building along the Atlanta BeltLine
    Photo by Jana Lynott

    A Trail That's Going Places

    Neighborhoods adjacent to Atlanta's BeltLine walk-bike trail are connected to a 22-mile network of pathways and parks that are convenient to housing, workplaces, restaurants and shopping. Greenways and similar byways tend to attract more users when the trail segments connect green settings and areas that have a greater land-use mixture.

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  • New restaurants adjacent to the Atlanta BeltLine
    Photo by Jana Lynott

    New Places to Dine — and Enjoy the Sunshine

    The Atlanta BeltLine story illustrates the complexity as well as the benefits of building transit-oriented development. Numerous stakeholders — including government (local, regional, state and federal) as well as for-profit and nonprofit entities — are typically involved. As of mid-2017, nearly 100 real estate development projects had been completed or begun in the BeltLine planning area. 

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  • A sign promoting a Nutrition Walk on the Atlanta BeltLine
    Photo by Jana Lynott

    Walk and Talk

    City agencies and nonprofit organizations encourage use of the BeltLine trail and parks system by programming arts and fitness activities. One event, the annual Lantern Parade — a glowing procession of light, music and color illuminates the Eastside Trail on the first Saturday after Labor Day each year — drawing participants of all ages outdoors and into the community.

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  • The sign outside Denver's historic Union Station
    Photo by Jana Lynott

    Catch The Train ...

    Historic Union Station and the adjacent RTD (Regional Transportation District) station in Denver have been catalysts for downtown development. The Colorado city's vision and investment in transit-oriented development helped it emerge from the Great Recession positioned for growth.

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  • The waiting area of Denver's historic Union Station features couches and games.
    Photo by Jana Lynott

    ... or Catch a Nap

    Inside Denver's Union Station waiting Amtrak passangers can grab lunch, play table-top shuffleboard, relax on a comfortable couch, or spend the night in an on-site, luxury hotel.

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  • The exterior of the Evans Station Lofts building in Denver.
    Photo courtesy Medici Consulting Group

    Affordability Matters

    Evans Station Lofts in Denver provides 50 affordable apartments to household's earning up to 60 percent of the area's median income. (Denver's latest AMI is $53,637.) Twelve units are reserved for those earning up to 40 percent AMI and seven units for residents earning up to 30 percent AMI. Due to the inadequate supply of affordable housing in the Denver region, the waiting list is long for an affordable rental unit. Evans Station was fully leased within three days of completing construction. It was fully occupied three weeks later.

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  • The exterior of the Park Hill Station apartment building in Denver.
    Photo by Alana Romans, Urban Land Conservancy

    Who Needs to Stop?

    Built by Delwest, a for-profit developer, Park Hill Station opened in 2016, providing 156 one- to three-bedroom affordable housing units in the Denver area. The land had been purchased by the Urban Land Conservancy in anticipation of rising property values near a commuter rail line. ULC works to address displacement and gentrification through what it calls an "in-placement strategy" (using a community land trust model to curb displacement and preserve long-term affordable housing), combined with a collective impact approach that provides a comprehensive, well-aligned multi-sector path toward eventual economic self-sufficiency. 

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  • An exterior view of the Yale Station Apartments in Denver
    Courtesy of Koelbel and Company

    On a Roll

    Also in Denver, Koelbel and Company and Mile High Development worked together to build Yale Station Apartments (pictured) and University Station (seen in the next slide), two affordable, independent-living buildings for older adults.

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  • University Station apartments, Denver, Colorado
    Courtesy of Koelbel and Company

    Living at the University

    The Yale Station and University Station (pictured) apartments are located within a few hundred feet of a regional rail station. The two buildings offer a total of 110 units to residents age 55 and older who have incomes of between 30 and 60 percent of the Denver region's median income. 

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  • A new affordable housing apartment building near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro Station in Washington, D.C.
    Photo by Shannon Guzman

    Better Dwelling in D.C.

    The District of Columbia is addressing its affordability and housing challenges through strategies including low-income housing tax credits, inclusionary zoning, and funding for services to homeless families. Barrow Residential (pictured) is a new affordable housing development located near a DC Metro station. Rents range from about $1,080 to $1,640 (studio through three-bedroom units), which, though pricey, are significantly more affordable than market rates in and around Washington, D.C.  

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  • An infographic listing reasons communities want transit-oriented development.
    Infographic by Manjushree Majhi, AARP Research and Jana Lynott, AARP Public Policy Institute

    Communities Benefit

    Large and small communities nationwide are taking action to foster transit-oriented development. Many are aided by the support of their metropolitan planning organization, regional transit agency, and even state legislature, as well as the private for-profit and nonprofit sectors. To learn more about the breadth of TOD support in the United States (and download the complete infographic shown in part above) visit— Author Jana Lynott, AICP, is a transportation planner and senior strategic policy adviser with the AARP Public Policy Institute

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