Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2007 Urban Development Spurred by Rail Previous Next
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Mrjoshua
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Username: Mrjoshua

Post Number: 1368
Registered: 03-2005
Posted on Monday, June 11, 2007 - 11:23 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The Little Engine That Could
In many cities, the hottest development is taking place along the train lines
By KEMBA J. DUNHAM
June 11, 2007; Page R3
The Wall Street Journal

In cities across the country, mass-transit lines are the new frontier in urban development.

In dozens of cities -- from Charlotte, N.C., to Denver to Portland, Ore. -- the hottest redevelopment project is happening next to the local train station. Aging transit hubs and stops along new and expanded train lines are being transformed into multi-use developments that offer housing, retailing, restaurants and offices.

http://link.brightcove.com/ser vices/link/bcpid452319854/bcti d987396047
WSJ.com's Paul Lin reports from Naugatuck, Conn., where city officials hope a giant new development based around a unique transit system will breathe life into the economy.

This transit-oriented development, as it's known, is being promoted by local officials and developers as a way to counter sprawl, reduce traffic on the roads and revitalize struggling urban neighborhoods. By some estimates, there are about 100 such developments in the U.S., with 100 more in the pipeline. Reconnecting America, a national nonprofit group that works to spur development around transit stops, forecasts that by 2030 the number of households near transit stations will rise to 16 million, from six million today.

Demographic and lifestyle shifts are among the primary reasons many cities and developers are willing to bet on transit-oriented development. A growing number of households include singles and retiring baby boomers who are opting to live in smaller homes in urban areas.

"I think we have a collision of things going on -- a desire to revitalize our cities connecting with the growth of smaller households that are desiring denser and more-convenient living choices," says William Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association, a nonprofit advocacy group in Washington, D.C. "This isn't to say that the traditional suburb is going away," he says, but there will be more housing built "for this demographic who desire walkable communities with easy access to transportation."

Most successful transit-oriented developments are public-private partnerships. Local governments build or refurbish rail lines and surrounding infrastructure like roads and parking facilities. Private developers then build in the surrounding areas. "There's a lot of research that shows that if the public sector puts money into a transit system, they can expect three to five times that amount in private money" for adjacent development, says Marilee Utter, president of Citiventure Associates LLC, a Denver firm that has worked with a number of cities on development around light-rail systems.

These developments can pay off for cities in several ways. Research shows that the value of commercial and residential properties close to transit stations often rises -- and that translates into higher real-estate tax revenues in that area. Economists from the University of North Texas, for instance, found that between 1997 and 2001, office properties near suburban Dallas Area Rapid Transit stations increased in value 53% more than comparable properties not served by rail. Values of residential properties rose 39% more than a control group not served by rail.

In addition, cities can extract fees from these developments, including levies on the developers, sales taxes from retailers and fees for business licenses and parking. Those funds can be reinvested in the transit system or in the development, or anywhere else in the city.

Plans for Naugatuck

One developer is betting that transit-oriented development can help revive Naugatuck, Conn. Naugatuck, a town of 30,000 people located 70 miles northeast of New York City, was once a thriving industrial center, home to rubber, chemical and candy manufacturers. But over the past 30 years, the town has languished as its biggest industries have moved to other states or offshore. One of the final nails in the coffin was Hershey Co.'s April announcement that it would close its Peter Paul plant, where it churned out Almond Joy and Mounds candy bars.

Now, developer Alex Conroy is planning a $700 million transit-oriented development that will include housing, offices, retailing, hotels and entertainment on 60 acres in downtown Naugatuck. The Conroy Development Co. plans call for rubber-tire trolleys, jitneys and buses to provide connections to the Naugatuck stop on the commuter rail line that runs into New York, so that cars won't be necessary for those working, living and shopping in the development.

Towns like Naugatuck can take some encouragement from the Washington, D.C., suburb of Arlington County, Va., which has transformed its economic base through transit-oriented development. During the 1970s, Arlington was in decline, like many of the suburbs nearest to major cities. In response, the county planned five closely spaced metro stations along its aging commercial corridor, stretching from Rosslyn to Ballston. The plan was for these stations to anchor medium- to high-density, mixed-use development, generally within a quarter mile of each stop.

The project has spurred approximately 40 million square feet of development so far, and the area around each station has an urban feel. From 2002 to 2006, land values in the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor grew 84%, to $4 billion from $2.18 billion, says Dennis Leach, Arlington County's director of transportation. Although the corridor is only two square miles in area -- less than 8% of the county's land area -- it is the source of more than 30% of Arlington's real-estate taxes, he says.

"Arlington's approach to focusing transit-oriented development around its Metrorail stations has been central to the county's economic health," says Mr. Leach. "This approach has allowed Arlington to continue to expand its tax base, expand local services and invest in the conservation of existing neighborhoods."

Challenges Loom

For all their promise, transit-oriented developments can be tough to get off the ground. For one thing, public funding for transit systems and the surrounding infrastructure often is severely limited. Land is more expensive for projects in established communities than it is in low-density areas. The involvement of city governments and transit agencies and sometimes state and even federal officials, as well as representatives of the communities where developments are planned, can make reaching agreements on details difficult and time-consuming.

"It's not that these challenges are insurmountable, but for some places, this is new and takes a more focused effort to really see this idea come to be," says Shelley Poticha, president of Reconnecting America.

Others suggest that some cities clamoring to build extensive development around transit may be misinformed about the potential economic rewards. Ms. Utter of Citiventure says that a lot of cities that are mainly funded by sales taxes are desperate for transit-oriented development because they are betting on a windfall resulting from the retail component. "But there is a great misunderstanding that transit attracts a lot more retail than it actually does," she says. "On the other hand, things like cinema, museums and ballparks really attract riders and generate economic activity."

And in some cities, proponents may have to confront opponents who worry that transit-oriented projects are a recipe for deterioration rather than development. "In many parts of the country, it's the poor, people of color and the young and old" that take public transportation, says Robert Cervero, an urban-planning professor at the University of California at Berkeley. In some places, he says, mass transit carries a stigma that "reflects a deeper racial and class divide that continues to plague American cities."

A few years ago, Mr. Cervero heard an owner of a mixed-use project say that he didn't want tenants who specifically wanted to be located near transit because those tenants tend to attract an undesirable element. This owner not only believed that these patrons would drag down rents, but he also expressed concerns about having to absorb higher costs for security and cleaning the buildings, recalls Mr. Cervero.

"In his mind, transit-oriented development was a deterrent to economic development," he says. "This obviously doesn't hold in global cities like New York where people of all walks of life -- from the Wall Street exec to the cleaning lady -- patronize transit." But it does hold, he says, in some smaller cities "where most well-off folks drive."

--Ms. Dunham is a staff reporter in The Wall Street Journal's New York bureau.

Write to Kemba J. Dunham at kemba.dunham@wsj.com
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Lmichigan
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Post Number: 5629
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 2:31 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

This can't work in Detroit. Detroit is so much different than every other city that similar results wouldn't be possible, blah, blah, blah...*sarcasm*
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Gsgeorge
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Post Number: 151
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 3:02 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Lmich, you had me worried for a sec...
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Lmichigan
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Username: Lmichigan

Post Number: 5630
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 3:17 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Just trying to beat the predictable contrarians to the chase. :-)
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Malcovemagnesia
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Username: Malcovemagnesia

Post Number: 38
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 5:44 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Some transit villages can be really boring.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/ article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/05/30/ BAG7QQ3PBD1.DTL
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Lmichigan
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Username: Lmichigan

Post Number: 5631
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 6:34 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yes, if there is little to nothing there to begin with, and your starting from scratch like much of South San Francisco, a suburb.
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Barnesfoto
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Post Number: 3641
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 9:07 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

"In his mind, transit-oriented development was a deterrent to economic development," he says. "This obviously doesn't hold in global cities like New York where people of all walks of life -- from the Wall Street exec to the cleaning lady -- patronize transit." But it does hold, he says, in some smaller cities "where most well-off folks drive."

Despite the fact that most well-off people in Los Angeles drive, there has been extensive development along the new subway/rail lines, something that makes terrible sense, if anyone has ever been stuck in LA Traffic.
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Aarne_frobom
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Username: Aarne_frobom

Post Number: 57
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 9:22 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

A lot of background information on transit-oriented development can be found at the weblog run by Randal O'Toole of the Thoreau Institute (author of "The Vanishing Automobile and Other Urban Myths"). O'Toole's "Antiplanner" blog is at
www.ti.org/antiplanner/
(If the site looks funny on your computer, look for the heading "Themes" on its menu and click "Plain.")

There is a lot of good reading there on public transit and urban development. O'Toole's point about transit-oriented development is that much of the capital investment attributed to proximity to transit lines is actually a product of subsidies that favor locations at transit stops, or a result of zoning or other regulations that force development at these locations. In cities such as Portland, land-use regulation concentrates development around the trolley lines. Under this scheme, instead of the transportation system serving the customer, the real-estate market and people's lifestyles are being bent to conform to the transit system. However, this is still not enough to generate much transit ridership, as most trips to and from the transit-oriented development will always be by car.
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Iheartthed
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Username: Iheartthed

Post Number: 949
Registered: 04-2006
Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 10:30 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

My comment from another thread that is obviously relevant to the discussion:

Detroit has lost over 150,000 residents in each decade since 1950, exluding the most recent decade completed. In the decade from 1970-1980 it lost slightly over 300,000, but inbetween 1980-1990 it was back down to the 150K-200K range.

So the riots, may have given the exodus a little bump, but it isn't hardly the cause of the population decline. I think Detroit needs to ask itself what happened in the 1950s.

Something to chew on... Population declines (in number of persons) of some large cities between 1950 and 1990:

Philadelphia
1950s - 69093
1960s - 53903
1970s - 260399
1980s - 102633
1990s - 68027

Oakland
1950s - 17027
1960s - 5987
1970s - 22224
1980s - increase of 32905
1990s - increase of 27242

Detroit
1950s - 179424
1960s - 158662
1970s - 308143
1980s - 175365
1990s - 76704 (Lowest drop of all 5 decades)

New York
1950s - 109973
1960s - increase of 112878
1970s - 823223
1980s - increase of 250925
1990s - increase of 685714
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Thejesus
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Post Number: 1386
Registered: 06-2006
Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 10:51 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I don't think that convincing people that a rail is a good thing is going to a problem with the Detroit-AA line...residents of both places and the airport seem to support the idea...

the problem is going to be getting funding for it because the state of Michigan is broke, Detroit is broke and AA is so small...and the feds are less concerned with spurring local development than the state and local governments are...
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Jt1
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Post Number: 9386
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 11:01 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

quote:

the problem is going to be getting funding for it because the state of Michigan is broke, Detroit is broke and AA is so small



But we continue to build new roads for new communities. What a brilliant plan on the part of the State of Michigan.
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Danindc
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Post Number: 2632
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 11:05 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Michigan is only broke because the state did nothing but cut taxes for 12 years under John Engler, and Jenny doesn't have enough spine to face reality. It's no surprise that business and people are leaving, as they get very little for the taxes they pay in Michigan.

Randal O'Toole is one of the most ideological anti-transit "gurus" out there, along with self-appointed expert Wendell Cox. These guys are well-known for distorting and creating data to fit their anti-transit agenda. O'Toole, in particular, uses his home of Portland to give himself an air of credibility. As someone who has seen rapid changes (and rapid rent increases) in a transit-oriented city the past six years, I would say he's full of crap.
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Iheartthed
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Post Number: 951
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 11:21 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

"But we continue to build new roads for new communities. What a brilliant plan on the part of the State of Michigan."

Not to mention that road widening project for I-75. Every community on that corridor should be strongly against that. But, we are talking about metro Detroit...
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Oldredfordette
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Post Number: 1973
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 11:24 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

One of my sisters just moved to Charlotte, NC. First thing she did once she was settled was sell one of her cars. There was no need for two, if her husband needs a car, she can easily get around and vice versa. It's so, smart.

I'll bet every Detroiter on this forum knows someone who just moved down there, and they will all tell you the same thing.
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Danindc
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Post Number: 2633
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 11:31 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

^^^And Charlotte, which has a more sprawling "core city" than Detroit does, is building a new light rail system. Developers have already purchases property adjacent to the under-construction stations.
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Charlottepaul
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Post Number: 1107
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 11:47 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

It's difficult to tell what development in Charlotte is due to the new transit line as there are new developments going in in many places. What is interesting to note though is that where the rail line is going in, those areas are quickly becoming more dense. The new rail line follows South Blvd. south out of downtown. Along South Blvd. one could argue that the density is/was rather suburban, but certainly now that is changing.
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Miketoronto
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 12:37 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I find it funny all these cities pushing transit-oriented development.

Whenever you build a rail line, transit-oriented development will happen next to it, even without regulations.

When Toronto built its subway network in the 1950's and 60's, transit-oriented development went up automatically. Developers knew you should build dense at the stations, and people moved in because it was a choice place to live near great subway service.

That is just how it works when you open up rail lines. And Randal O'Toole does not know what he is talking about. No one is being forced to live the transit lifestyle. The developments near transit stops are expensive because they are choice areas to live, because of the transit.

Take a look at these two pics by clicking on the links.

This is the Yonge-St Clair area of Toronto as the Yonge subway was being built in 1951. As you can see, its mostly houses near Yonge Street with the business.

http://www.toronto.ca/archives/images/yongestreet_before_subway_large.jpg

This is the Yonge St-Clair area in 1973 after the subway had been operating for a while.

http://www.toronto.ca/archives/images/yonge_after_large.jpg

The area in that pic happens to be one of the highest income areas in Toronto. Family incomes are well above the metropolitan average, and transit use is high.

(Message edited by miketoronto on June 12, 2007)
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Danindc
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Post Number: 2634
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 12:40 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

O'Toole's major beef is with Oregon's urban growth boundaries, which are mandated by state law. He claims that by not allowing land to be developed further out, that it drives up land values. Never mind that Portland is the most affordable major city on the West Coast....
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Miketoronto
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 12:44 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The only reason Portland is expensive, is because it is a choice area to live and people love the quality of life out there. There is a reason places like Houston are so cheap. The quality of life is not as good as Portland's.
But O'Toole looks at Portland's growth boundaries as the reason for land price increases.
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Jt1
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Post Number: 9391
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 12:48 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

quote:

Whenever you build a rail line, transit-oriented development will happen next to it, even without regulations.



Which is why so many of our politicians like LBP are against any type of transit. The region has limited dollars and is overdeveloped. Someones gain muct be someone else's loss. Certain areas are willing to fight tooth and nail to make sure that nobody gains from their loss.

In the menatime the entire region will lose.
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Danindc
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Post Number: 2635
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 12:48 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

^^^And if you're a two-earner professional household, Portland isn't really all that expensive compared to most other coastal cities. Most of the Detroiters on the board would tell you that increased real estate values wouldn't be such a bad problem to have as a homeowner.
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Detroitnerd
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 3:18 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Wow, Jt1. That's a good point. I'd go further and say that the suburbs are used to using the city. The city is a place where you will be exploited. Pay higher rent to absentee landlords for a lower quality of life. Or pay higher taxes for less services. Or pay more in insurance for less coverage. And it's flipped in the suburbs. Underneath it all, maybe suburbanites understand this. What they can't understand is that the city can be a PLUS for everybody if it's used as an economic driver for the region.

Maybe you're right, Jt1. Maybe I'm taking the point too far. Still, if suburbanites largely DO feel that way, perhaps they don't understand that it doesn't have to be like that. Perhaps they think that, if the city did have development, we'd beggar their poor suburbs. But there is another alternative: We can be stronger together than we can be by exploiting one another.
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Mackinaw
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Post Number: 2927
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 3:35 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Successful commuter rail will make Dearborn, Wayne, and Romulus much stronger. I see their population increasing, along with visible increases in density. Of course Detroit and Ann Arbor will benefit as well, but for those suburbs it will be development right near the rails in the manner described in the article.
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Danindc
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Post Number: 2636
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 3:42 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

^^^Only problem is, commuter rail doesn't tend to attract the same kind of development that more "urban" modes of transit do. The reasons are as follows:

1. Frequency of transit service is a LOT lower, with several trains per day, instead of several trains per hour.

2. Commuter rail is largely predicated on park-and-ride access. The need to create parking lots and structures takes up the parcels of land closest to the station.

These aren't necessarily hard-and-fast rules--just what tends to happen.
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Detroitnerd
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 3:56 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Commuter rail works best when you have the trains terminate in some central city location (like New York City's Grand Central Terminal) that has multiple transit connections (four subway trains in Grand Central Station underneath the terminal, multiple busses outside, active taxi-stands, many things within walking distance).
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Mackinaw
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Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 2928
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 4:29 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Danindc, that is a correct distinction. We really have no idea what we'll be getting with the Det-A2 link yet. If it will be once or twice and hour all day...or if it will be a bunch in the morning, a bunch at rush hour, and not much in between. Park-and-ride will be important and I have some concerns about the parking in A2. There is a parking lot across the tracks from the station but it is hard to access and a structure will probably be needed on that site in the future. Likewise, while there is plenty of space in New Center as a whole, the actual Amtrak station in Detroit does not have much parking, nor would it be advisable to regularly leave a car there all day. I can envision a nice new parking deck across the street though.
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Detroitnerd
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Post Number: 1024
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 4:34 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

^^What? You'd have to knock down that White Castle drive-thru! You maniac!
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Danindc
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Post Number: 2638
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 4:40 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

quote:

Likewise, while there is plenty of space in New Center as a whole, the actual Amtrak station in Detroit does not have much parking, nor would it be advisable to regularly leave a car there all day. I can envision a nice new parking deck across the street though.



As the "hub" of the system, though, I doubt you would want to put parking at the Detroit station. It kind of defeats the purpose of putting a transit station at that location. In order to promote dense urban development, and use of the commuter rail, a light rail line on Woodward would do well to connect Midtown (and beyond?) to the CBD. Detroitnerd's description of Grand Central Terminal is on the money.

I do think, however, that you could create a dense employment hub around the Detroit station, wherever that would be. In the long term, the current Amshack is going to be horribly insufficient.
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Iheartthed
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Post Number: 954
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 4:50 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

"I do think, however, that you could create a dense employment hub around the Detroit station, wherever that would be. In the long term, the current Amshack is going to be horribly insufficient."

This kinda leads me to believe that in the "master plan" the city expects that a future business district development boom (if one is to ever occur) will be centered around New Center and not downtown.

ETA: Kinda like how midtown Manhattan developed

(Message edited by iheartthed on June 12, 2007)
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Danindc
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Post Number: 2639
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 4:53 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

quote:

This kinda leads me to believe that in the "master plan" the city expects that a future business district development boom (if one is to ever occur) will be centered around New Center and not downtown.



Well, they expected that in the 1920s!

If you connected a regional rail system to a Woodward light rail line, you could have a very successful, very dense, tax-revenue generating, thriving mixed-use corridor along Woodward. In length, it's comparable to the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor in Arlington, Virginia (see above). You could do a LOT between Hart Plaza and WSU!
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Mackinaw
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Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 2931
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 5:08 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Actually, friends, we can't even be sure where the Detroit hub will be.

A SW downtown station is actually a possibility, just not for the demonstration line.

Dan, good point about why you wouldn't need as much parking there; however, I still think a small deck would help. Clearly, most people who arrive there will be picked up by friends. An updated station would also need a little area where taxis and incoming Woodward buses could stop, I believe.

Detroitnerd, that thought crossed my mind. But there is a huge empty block to the north.
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Miketoronto
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Username: Miketoronto

Post Number: 569
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Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - 6:09 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Here is an interesting run down of all the development that has happened along Toronto's Sheppard Subway line, that runs 6KM east from Yonge Street along Sheppard Ave in suburban North York. The whole ride takes about 7min. Sheppard Ave was your typical suburban street with strip malls and houses on it. Now check out the development.

-------------------
North York Development since the subway.

The Sheppard Corridor (not including NYCC) has 11,000 new units approved to date since construction began on the new line. Sheppard/Yonge has 69,000.

The TTC apparently has high hopes for Bessarion Station with Concord Adex planning 5,000 units in the immediate area. Concord is expected to submit a an application for site plan approval of the first two buildings that will combine for a total of about 1,000 units.

Some large pending applications:
100 Parkway Forest Drive - 2,500 condo units proposed
555 Finch Ave W - 7 Buildings with 1,257 units approved for hospital & medical uses
1 Oakburn Cres - 1,195 units proposed in 5 towers (SE of Sheppard & Yonge)
1,35,40 Fountainhead & 470 Sentinel - 8 midrise towers with 1,116 units
2205 Sheppard Ave E - Atria Phase 4 proposal - 914 units + 283,464sq.m. office space
1121 Leslie - residential and office proposal
4759-4789 Yonge - two towers of 37 & 45 stories with 825 units
24 Finch Ave W - 766 units in 31 & 26 story towers
10 Lorraine Dr. - 511 units in two 21s towers
9 Tipett Road - 498 units in midrise buildings

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