Transit Oriented Development (TOD) is rapidly sweeping the nation, especially in the tri-state area, with the creation of exciting and desirable places to live, work, shop, and dine, as well as affording recreational and cultural activities.
TOD, as defined by the Transit Oriented Development Institute, is an exciting and fast growing trend creating vibrant, livable, sustainable communities. It’s the creation of compact, walkable, mixed-use communities often centered around high-quality train systems, ferries and, in certain instances, major roadways— providing more efficient access to shopping and office parks. In certain TODs, these projects make it possible to live a less stressful life without dependence on a car for mobility and survival.
The Regional Planning Association recently reported that population has increased in New Jersey due to the revived growth in its urban centers, around stations along New Jersey Transit lines, and along commercial corridors retro-fitted for mixed-use development. Several cities and train stations have already seen significant growth spurred by transit improvements, TOD programs, and state laws mandating the construction of affordable housing.
Among the many successful TODs that have been built in New Jersey communities are Cranford, Morristown, New Brunswick and Rahway. Currently, more than two dozen communities are in various stages of planning in transit as well as waterfront communities. One of the newest TODs is the Woodmont Metro Luxury Apartments in Metuchen, NJ. A total of 273 luxury apartments are just steps away from the Metuchen train station. The complex includes 12,000 square feet of brand new retail space and other amenities. Attractive rents in the complex offer housing to millennials as well as to empty nesters seeking to downsize—affording the baby boomers the opportunity to reside near friends and relatives.
Another unique community development in New Jersey is being planned by Roseland Residential Trust, a division of Mack-Cali. The company has received approvals from the Millburn Township Planning board for the repurposing of an office building at 233 Canoe Brook Road and portions of Mack-Cali’s 150 JFK Parkway surface parking lot, for a total of 200 apartments (170 market-rate with 15 percent of the units for affordable housing) and a 246-room hotel adjacent to the Mall at Short Hills, a preeminent shopping destination. The residential tower is convenient to major highways, office buildings and retail.
On Long Island, RXR— one of the leading developers of mixed-use community development convenient to ferry service and the Long Island Railroad—is in the initial stages of developing Garvies Point. Garvies Point is a smart growth, mixed-use community located along the shores of Hempstead Harbor in Glen Cove, Long Island. The development will reinvent the Glen Cove waterfront and transform a former Brownfield into a vibrant, active mixed-use community. When completed, the development will include more than 500 condominiums, 500 rental apartments, and 75,000 square feet of commercial retail space, parking spots and marinas. The developer has received site plan approval for the project’s first phase, which includes six buildings of four, five and six stories that will contain rental apartments and about 25,000 square feet of retail space.
One factor that has certainly influenced the growing TOD trend is the increase in the millennial generation’s population. A Destination LI study found that walkable communities offering jobs and housing easily accessible by public transit were big priorities for young people— a demographic seen as crucial to Long Island’s future economy. The revitalization of bus rapid transit, in addition to major TOD projects like Wyandanch Rising and the Ronkonkoma Hub, are aimed at keeping young people on Long Island. Perhaps the largest planned project for the community is the revitalization of Downtown Hempstead, which represents the most important development in the recent history of Long Island. The development team plans to transform Hempstead’s downtown into a vibrant mixed-use, walkable neighborhood providing jobs, tax revenues, mixed-income residential options and a safe and secure environment in and around the downtown.
Significant TOD development is also taking place in Westchester and Fairfield Counties due to their proximity to the Metro North and major highways.
The City of Yonkers and New Rochelle, both offering less than thirty minute trips to Grand Central Station, will be the home of at least two major TODs. This summer, the demolition work began for RXR Larkin Plaza, razing the former Rising Media building at 25 Warburton Avenue in Yonkers. The development will be situated one block from the Metro North train station, and directly across from the Saw Mill River, where residents can walk along the water and visit new restaurants and shops located in 35,000 square feet of retail space. When completed, the development will have -25-and 17-story residential towers with ground level retail space as well as a two-story retail and parking facility for 539 vehicles.
Nearby, construction is underway for National Resources Development, UNO Micro-Unit Apartments at iPark Hudson. The construction project will transform Building 2 at iPark, the former home of Otis Elevator, adding four stories to the existing structure.
RXR and Renaissance Downtowns are the official “Master Developers” of Downtown New Rochelle, in Westchester County. The developer Revitalization Plan will help transform New Rochelle into a center for job generation, featuring affordable housing for young professionals and empty nesters, while providing dining, retail and arts and culture. The development will include 2.2 million square feet of medical and non-medical office space; 5,500 units of residential housing; 1.1 million square feet of retail and restaurant use space, a 300 room hotel, and 2.3 million square feet of student housing, adult care and institutional space.
It is clear that in order for the Metro region to grow and meet the needs of the business community, walkable, mixed-use planned urban communities with convenient transportation and access to major highways is a priority for the needs of the millennial and future generations in the 21st century. The combined efforts of public and private partnerships has and will help the region continue to strive and provide affordable housing, quality retail space, office and healthcare facilities, and recreation for individuals of all ages.