Suburbs: Turn Rail Station Parking Lots Into Affordable Communities

The Regional Plan Association, the research, planning, and advocacy organization for the New York metropolitan area, which also spans parts of Connecticut and New Jersey, is advancing a solution to tackle both: transit-oriented development. TOD, as its often called, entails building out affordable, dense, mixed-use developments on nearby land typically owned by the transit agencies, like parking lots, to drive down individual reliance on cars, and to provide low-income people an amenity-rich, walkable neighborhood in which to live. In its new report, RPA lays out the case for TOD in the New York metro area, though the principles are much more broadly applicable: “Good, contextual, transit-oriented development does more that just build homes. It supports the economy with shops, restaurants, jobs, and community facilities, all within walking distance. These don’t just serve the new development, but benefit the surrounding area as well.” And by encircling a major transit hub like a regional rail station with housing , TOD provides a straight, car-free shot into the city center. “We call the report ‘Untapped Potential’ because the opportunities are there,” says Moses Gates, RPA’s Community Planning and Design Director. “The land is there, which is something that is increasingly difficult to find.”

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