New TODs Face Competition, Parking Issues

Recent transit-oriented developments in Maryland have mixed success. Demographics are on their side, but lack of parking and fierce competition make retail a significant challenge.

Katherine Shaver and Miranda S. Spivack write, "Developers want to capitalize on the demand for housing from people without children and draw suburbanites to walkable communities where they can live, work and socialize. Local governments see town centers as a form of suburban renewal -- a way to make over aging downtowns, diversify tax bases and reduce traffic congestion -- and some are providing developers with incentives to help make it happen.

But planners say that does not guarantee success."

Full Story: It takes more than stores to build a winning town center



TOD's can be oversized, and lack character or local businesses

TOD's and even conventional developments are often built overscaled.

There is a new traditional shopping center here that has been unable to find tenants for a quarter of it's store spaces- they've been sitting vacant for over a year. The builder tore down a historic building and five acres of woods so the shopping center could be as large as it is.

Meanwhile, TOD's in the greater region are often mega-scaled mixed use developments that are entirely out of character with the small boroughs and townships that surround them in rural suburbia. This is unacceptable.

It is in everyone's best interest to scale back on the size of these projects.

Also, communities can require or push for at least a certain percentage of the businesses be locally-owned, to keep money in the community and avoid the homogeneity created by chain stores.

TOD's should also be used as opportunities to employ local quality builders, including those who build green.

However, I think it's much easier to find a quality, walkable community in our old downtowns.

You mean to tell me that, in

You mean to tell me that, in the middle of a major recession, it might take more than three years for a sea change to take place in a town's consumer habits and living preferences? I'm shocked.

Seriously, give it time. I'll wager it took more than three years for Copenhagen to become what it is, too.

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