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Leading experts visited the Lyceum to describe how national trends, local market conditions and demographic shifts are aligning to create significant transit oriented development (TOD) opportunities for Connecticut’s Knowledge Corridor municipalities – if towns and the state coordinate their efforts to move fast and create the types of housing and other development the market is demanding. The June 5 event was co-sponsored by the Partnership for Strong Communities and the Capitol Region Council of Governments, as part of the Sustainable Knowledge Corridor Project, with funding support provided by a HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant. (Click here to watch video of the event)
Sujata Srivastava of Strategic Economics and the Center for Transit Oriented Development, and David McCarthy of Jonathan Rose Companies, jointly completed a market analysis of the Knowledge Corridor municipalities with stations on the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail line and the CTfastrak.
Srivastava offered national context by comparing the Knowledge Corridor with similarly-positioned places elsewhere in the country, of similar size and economic factors – Charlotte, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis and Denver. She showed that based on housing market, income, employment trends and other factors, Connecticut is positioned to perform as well as these other transit-successful places. Based on national experience, she illustrated what are likely to be the “sweet spots” for development with regard to density and parking requirements, as well as the regulatory relief that can help developers tap the market potential.
David McCarthy laid out results of the Knowledge Corridor market analysis, which shows a need for at least 9,000 to 12,000 units of additional housing in the Corridor. This is based on a lack of multifamily housing created the past few decades and a mismatch between larger homes built and shrinking household sizes. He described the potential of using anchor institutions (e.g. hospitals, universities) and zoning changes to stimulate more development near transit stations. He also showed where each municipality falls within four typologies matching market potential to current conditions, which can guide tailored solutions to each place.
David Fink and Shelby Mertes of the Partnership for Strong Communities, and Bruce Hyde of the University of Connecticut’s Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) described untapped market potential in the housing market that can fuel significant mixed-use, mixed-income development around stations. They also described a variety of government tools to help the public benefit fiscally from the growth of areas near transit stations and pay back money borrowed for the infrastructure investments needed to make it all possible.
Stephanie Pollack of Northeastern University’s Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy discussed current demographic shifts that can guide successful TOD, but also noted that “demography is not destiny” and that important policy decisions can alter trends. To counter the argument that “it can’t be done here,” Pollock described other cities that previously had no “transit culture” saw strong use of transit, and more importantly, the growth of neighborhoods around stations. She also noted that this doesn’t only happen in big cities – it can happen in communities of similar size and scale to Connecticut’s cities and towns.