G.B. Arrington's blog

G.B. Arrington is a vice president and principal practice leader at PB's PlaceMaking group

What does TOD Stand for: transit-oriented development — or just the same Tired Old Development?

I’ve worked on designing, planning and preparing the way for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) projects around the world. For some reason this particular proposed TOD caught my attention. Maybe because I thought I was an expert and in this case I was caught off guard. Or maybe because TOD advocates have made so much progress collectively and yet there is still so far to go. Probably a bit of both.

Dear Uncle Sam: Transit Design Really Does Matter

Over the past decade more than $75 billion in public dollars has been invested in rail transit. Los Angeles, Seattle and Denver alone are investing an additional $65 billion to expand their systems and enhance the livability of their communities. The federal government will be asked to play a major role in funding each of those systems. Up until now the federal role in major transit investments has largely avoided the question of how we ought to design our transit systems to be good neighbors and leverage livable communities.

The Results Are In: Residential TODs Produce 50% Fewer Car Trips

You drank the Kool-Aid; you know that if you link transit and land use to create transit-oriented development (TOD) the result is fewer car trips and a host of benefits. From Portland to Miami, Boston to Los Angeles, a record number of TODs are being built in the US. Yet most bankers, developers and regulators are drinking from a different cup. As a result the majority of new development adjacent to transit stops in America has been built in a manner oblivious to the fact that a rail stop is nearby.

With transit you can grow better, but not more.

The protesters at Chicago’s Grant Park in 1968 might have been talking about Denver’s multi-billion dollar FasTracks rail expansion while they chanted “the whole world is watching.” With 50+ new transit stations the Denver region has an opportunity no modern American city has been able to realize – to build a regional rail network and link it with land use planning to accommodate growth without diminishing livability.

Part of the conversation in Denver is will FasTracks help the region’s competitiveness and capture more growth than it would otherwise? Or is the best planners can do is to use FasTracks as a tool to grow better by reshaping the growth that is already coming?

“I Want TOD, But I Don’t Want Transit”

Last week I was at an interview for a potential real estate developer client who wanted transit-oriented development (TOD), but weren’t sure he wanted transit. This was a progressive developer who wanted more density, a mix-of uses and walkability. How could it be he wasn’t sure he wanted the planned transit line? Is it possible the developer had it right?