Transformation around Transit

Authored by HGOR Principal, Chris Mutter.

Development around transit promotes densified community focused development, multiple rather than single uses, a pedestrian orientation, and attention to civic uses. Successful development around transit also requires a new form of community building that not only supports and encourages transit use but also transforms the surrounding area into a place that is unique and attractive to people willing to invest there, live there, and visit again and again.

TOD implies high quality, thoughtful planning and design of land use and built forms to support, facilitate and prioritize not only the use of transit, but the most basic modes of transport, walking and cycling. The goal of transit orientated developments is to create vibrant commercial, residential, and business centers, accessible by public transportation that capture the community's unique needs. The many benefits include a higher quality of life with better places to live, work, and play; greater mobility with ease of moving around; increased transit ridership and decreased driving and congestion; reduced car accidents and injuries; reduced household spending on transportation, resulting in more affordable housing; healthier lifestyle with more walking, and less stress; higher, more stable property values; increased foot traffic and customers for area businesses; greatly reduced pollution and environmental depredation; reduced incentive to sprawl, increased incentive for densification; and enhanced ability to maintain economic competitiveness.

In the book, Ten Principles for Successful Development Around Transit the authors provide a checklist for the development of pedestrian-scale communities that will be suitable for public transportation, either now or in the future. They promote successful development, growing transit ridership, and creating livable communities. They suggest that if real estate development is to support transit, the single most important requirement is that it be near transit.  Once that requirement has been met, the 10 principles outlined will help support transit and strengthen both the project and the surrounding community. Suburban gridlock is pushing many growing communities to explore alternatives to the automobile. The availability of options such as commuter rail, light rail, heavy rail, buses, and bus rapid transit will allow people to choose between wrestling with traffic and taking transit. Attractive development around transit can add to the positive aspects of the transit experience.

My work as Principal designing  The Assembly Yards adaptive re-use, 165 acres TOD has reinforced how mixed use zoning and transportation systems work together to shape a community and its residents commute patterns. Through fantastic collaboration of local transportation, community groups, local businesses and the public, well-rounded approaches to transit-oriented development specific to the needs of each community The Assembly Yards Phase I successfully completed in April 2019. Development around the transit system often results in nodes of retail, restaurants, and housing that capture a neighborhood's values and needs. The Assembly Yards strives as a hub focused on transportation and accessibility, since it’s in a strategic location to restitch the fabric of connective transportation options – The Doraville Marta stop, I-285 and I-85 interchange and the Peachtree-DeKalb Airport.

Transit Oriented Development is spreading across America in awareness, theory and in practice. The many benefits of applying the principles of TOD is often said to be the key to better cities and better streets. The TOD Standard reflects a fundamental shift from the old, unsustainable paradigm of
car-oriented urbanism toward a new paradigm where urban forms and land uses are closely integrated with efficient, low-impact, and people-oriented urban travel modes: walking, cycling, and transit. The future of transit-orientated developments’ will responsibly analyze service and promote walkable cities even in neighborhoods where the center may not be needed or desired.