Oculus - Winter 2011/2012 - (Page 34)

feature Regional Transit: The Next Generation Sustainable growth opportunities flourish around the concepts of Transit-Oriented Development and Airport Cities B Y MA XIN N E RH EA LEIGH TO N , A S S O C . A IA he history of America’s growth as a nation and New York’s economic dominance is inexorably connected to the development of transportation and infrastructure. Cornelius Vanderbilt’s 42nd Street Grand Central Depot – considered an ill-conceived location as a railroad station since it was far removed from what was then the city’s downtown core – became the linchpin for exponential growth. Over the years, the Brooklyn Bridge, the subway, Grand Central Terminal, Penn Station, and the city’s pioneering airport development have all been key to the city’s growth. Inadequate transportation investment today puts the city at a crossroads. Over the last few decades, there has been considerable interest in transit-oriented development (TOD) as it relates to both heavy- and light-rail transit corridors. That interest has expanded in recent years to include development opportunities around a new concept: the Airport City or “Aerotropolis.” The Regional Plan Association (RPA), an independent group formed in 1922 to guide the growth and development of the tri-state New York area, has been doing TOD-related research, advocacy, and demonstration projects for decades. In 1996 the association published A Region at Risk: The Third Regional Plan for the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut Metropolitan Area, which identified 11 regional centers, including Stamford, CT, and Newark, NJ, that “could accommodate intense residential and commercial development with limited impact on our region’s environment and transportation system.” In October 2011, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy approved $5 million for local TOD projects as a way to “promote economic development by connecting transportation to housing and employment centers.” MTA Metro-North Railroad has become a regional leader and advocate for TODs. Senior Director of Business Development, Facilities & Marketing Randall Fleischer likens Grand Central to “New York’s original TOD” because of its innovative structuring of development around the terminal. “Promoting TOD as a way of increasing ridership, supporting more efficient land use, and leveraging public assets to generate revenue reflects the proactive role the railroad plays in encouraging development around its stations,” Fleischer says. In July 2011, a solicitation was initiated in collaboration with the Town of Harrison, NY, for a TOD at Metro-North's Harrison Station. Branded as “It’s Happening in Harrison,” the project is intended to replace three parking lots with a mixed-use development and to improve access to the station. MTA Director of Transit T Oriented Development Robert Paley notes that “communities and developers recognize the enormous value that transit services create, and are coordinating land-use plans and zoning to maximize local transit benefits. MTA has been a committed partner with communities, working to create transit-accessible housing and jobs.” Orienting development around new planned transit stations is an increasingly important sustainable master planning strategy, especially in car-dependent regions. Cooper, Robertson & Partners’ master plan for North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park will make the park a model for TOD by creating a sustainable, pedestrian-friendly environment to support a vibrant, knowledge-based community. It provides for cuttingedge research space, including incubators to nurture start-up companies, supported by retail space, multi-family residential, hotel/conference facilities, and other educational and cultural amenities. Most of the development will be in walking distance of a new station for a commuter rail line that will link Raleigh, Durham, and other area cities. The master plan also includes a range of sustainable design strategies for energy, water, and environmental stewardship. Intermodal/multimodal transfer points at our country’s toptier airports can also impact how communities are developed, according to Mark Strauss, FAIA, senior partner and director of planning at FXFOWLE. “Transit systems linked to airports can expand the concept of the Aerotropolis beyond the immediate boundaries of the metropolitan airport,” he explains. Strauss led the planning effort that explored how to transform downtown Jamaica, Queens, into an Airport City. Anticipating the construction of the AirTrain direct rail link to JFK Airport, “the plan defined opportunities for new public spaces, infrastructure improvements, and development sites for airport-related businesses,” he says. “Many of these have been designed and are being implemented.” These include a new transit plaza to improve connections between the Long Island Rail Road Jamaica Station, the adjacent AirTrain JFK terminal, and NYC bus and subway lines, as well as streetscape improvements and new retail under the Sutphin Boulevard viaduct. Roddy L. Boggus, AIA, director of aviation for the strategic consulting, planning, engineering, and program/construction management firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, agrees that airports need to be better integrated into the transportation system. “Airports are large economic drivers, and airports and cities have to plan together to reap the benefits of what they each bring to the Up, Down, and Sideways 34 Oculus Winter 2011 http://www.naylornetwork.com/arc-nxt

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Winter 2011/2012

First Words
A Word from the Editor
Center for Architecture
One Block Over
Rezoning NYC:
Complete Streets: If Only Mumford Had Lived to See This
Regional Transit: The Next Generation
In Print
102-Year Watch
Last Words
Index to Advertisers

Oculus - Winter 2011/2012