Building ‘Walkable, Livable’ Transit Centers
Transportation and economic development experts recently came to the State Capitol to present the case for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) and how it could help spark Connecticut’s economy.
TOD is a planning philosophy that focuses on building off of existing transportation infrastructures in order to encourage more development and growth. Specifically, TOD is defined as development that is:
- Within a half-mile of transit station or service
- Located in higher-density (typically urban) areas
- Mixed-use–combining residential, commercial, office and other uses
- “Walkable”—that is, an area friendly to pedestrian traffic
According to the panel, rail transit hubs are especially well suited to TOD implementation.
Citing Stamford’s Transportation Center, the Fairfield Metro Center station and Shoreline East (New Haven) development projects as successful examples of federally-funded TOD, the panel discussed the need to identify other regions and projects that, developed properly, could attract more (and younger) individuals and businesses to Connecticut.
Part of the attraction is creating communities that are easily “walkable” –bringing together housing, businesses, education and transportation in close proximity. together. People-friendly areas would significantly enhance Connecticut's ability to catch the eye of younger and “green-focused” professionals and businesses.
“You've got to create a reason for people to want to live downtown,” said Peter Malkin, chairman of Malkin Properties and its parent Malkin Holding Co., which owns the Empire State Building.
However, the panel also identified several challenges critical to the successful advancement of TOD in the state, such as:
- Promoting existing state resources that could be used to support TOD in relatively smaller Connecticut communities
- Identifying communities that are in the best position to advance TOD projects
- Acquiring the necessary land to make TOD projects viable.
Ultimately, said TOD proponents, Connecticut businesses, lawmakers and residents should work together to identify and prioritize various TOD projects.
In fact, said state officials, the departments of Economic and Community Development, Transportation, and Energy and Environmental Protection are working more closely together, and with municipalities.
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