Need for Project The United States is experiencing a rail renaissance as well as a resurgence of interest in developing neighborhoods to take advantage of their proximity to inter-city rail, commuter rail and urban rail stations. For the first time in years, new inter-city rail service has been initiated in states like Oklahoma, Texas and California and new high-speed rail service is planned in the Midwest, along the Atlantic Coast and on the Pacific Coast. New suburban commuter rail operations are springing up all over the country, and almost one hundred cities are planning rail transit lines or extensions, including virtually every air quality non-attainment area.
Dignitaries participate in groundbreaking at Oakland, California's Fruitvale Transit Village, a Station Foundation grant winner and TOD project on the Bart system in a low income community of color.
These new services present a mandate for station revitalization and an opportunity for mixed-use transit oriented development in the areas surrounding the stations. Such station-oriented development is generally within walking distance of the station, and often includes a mix of housing, retail and office development. Transit-oriented development increases ridership and reduces the need for auto travel, and thus can help both to reduce traffic and improve air quality. At the same time, it takes advantage of the increased traffic around the station to create a climate that is suitable for residential, retail and other forms of mixed-use development. Unfortunately, few transit-oriented development projects have been entirely successful in recent years, partly due to planning and zoning regulations and lending practices that discourage mixed use, walkable development. In addition, many potential developers have had difficulty working with transit agencies and local government to accomplish these innovative projects, and transit agencies have had trouble convincing developers of the market opportunity.
Accordingly, there is a need for information, technical assistance and training for organizations involved in station revitalization and transit-oriented development. The Great American Station Foundation is forming a partnership with The Center for Neighborhood Technology to fill this gap. Over 75 percent of the cities responding to a recent US Conference of Mayors/ Great American Station Foundation survey specifically requested assistance with either financing or partnering strategies. In addition, there may be a need for specialized types of financial assistance, including loans or grants for pre-development activities such as planning and design, land assembly and market feasibility studies.
Project Description In the first eighteen months, the program would seek to undertake five activities: