Affordable Housing, Community Development

Workshop on TOD Draws on Experiences from Neighboring States

 

How can Connecticut create transit-, pedestrian- and business-friendly neighborhoods (a.k.a transit villages)? Connecticut Main Street Center hosted a workshop on June 27th to try and answer this very question. The event, sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT), was attended by state and municipal officials as well as local planners, advocacy groups, and members of private institutions.

Connecticut DOT Commissioner James Redeker gave welcoming remarks as well as offered stories from his prior experience working in NJ Transit and how that experience is helping him to shape Connecticut policy.

The event featured Eric Halvorsen, a Project Manager at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council in Massachusetts, and Vivian Baker, the assistant director of Transit Friendly Land Use & Development in NJ Transit.

Halvorsen offered advice from his experience building transit villages throughout Massachusett’s varied and diverse neighborhoods. He touched on the steps Massachusetts is taking to make the process to fund transit- oriented development (TOD) less onerous, such as the LISC Equitable TOD Accelerator Fund and the CLF Ventures Healthy Neighborhoods Equity Fund. Additionally he presented interesting statistics, such as the fact that while transit in Massachusetts takes up only 5% of the state’s total land area, 37% of the state’s employment opportunities are located near that transit.

Vivian Baker described New Jersey’s efforts to facilitate the creation of the state’s 26 designated transit villages.  New Jersey was once a place with disinvestment in its transit but in the 1990’s the state began to reinvest; according to Baker, that was when New Jersey saw value in investing in TOD. Baker explained that to be designated as a Transit Village, towns have to meet a number of criteria, one of which is a promise of affordability in 20% of new housing units built in the village.

The event wrapped up with interactive discussion groups that focused on answering the question of who in Connecticut should be taking the steps necessary to achieve what Massachusetts and New Jersey have done in regards to supporting and facilitating TOD. 

 
 

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