TriMet’s joint development program in Portland, OR, helped build the Patton Apartments (above) on land once occupied by the Crown Motel. Photo via SERA Architects.
Developing land owned by transit agencies boosts ridership and supports local economies. So how come more agencies don’t do it?
New guidelines from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) encourage transit agencies to do just that. In guidance issued on August 25, 2014, the FTA came out in support of joint development—cooperation between local transit agencies and real estate developers to make the most of agency-owned land. The new guidance is the first time the FTA has publicly recognized the multiple benefits of such cooperation, which include increased ridership, better transit access for the community, greater revenue for the transit agency, and broader economic development. From the document:
Joint development has already helped many communities create housing, offices, and stores near transit stops. In Portland, OR, for example, transit agency TriMet used joint development to create affordable housing. After construction of a light rail line came in under budget, TriMet used the remaining funds to purchase the old Crown Motel, directly adjacent to the MAX Yellow Line, and worked with a developer to build affordable homes on that land. The project helped more people afford homes near the Yellow Line station, boosted ridership for TriMet, and supported the economy of the broader community at the same time.
The FTA’s new guidance is official encouragement for transit agencies across the country to pursue joint development opportunities. Some transit agencies are already doing this, and some have far to go. The new guidelines show that building homes, offices, and shops near transit stations is something every transit agency can and should be doing.