Transit Oriented Development (TOD)

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Photo by CLEVELAND CITY PLANNING COMMISSION A transit-oriented development called Aspen Place is being planned by Detroit Shoreway Community Organization nonprofit on the 6000 block of Lorain Avenue in Cleveland.

What is Transit Oriented Development (TOD)?

Transit Oriented development (TOD) promotes a mixture of housing, retail, services, workplaces and open space within walking distance of transit to maximize use of the transit system. By directing compact development to existing developed areas well-served by transit, TOD reduces public infrastructure costs over time and preserves regional open space. Pedestrian- and bike-friendly TOD has numerous public benefits including decreased congestion, a greater range of housing options, fewer emissions, and improved public health by creating walkable neighborhoods that promote physical activity. TOD real estate projects feature reduced parking, increased density, and building orientation toward transit and the pedestrian environment. TOD lowers combined housing and transportation costs by reducing the need to drive and own cars for commuting and daily trips, and promotes economic opportunity by linking residents with employment and service destinations.

NOACA’s Role in Transit-Oriented Development

NOACA is neither a land use jurisdiction nor a transit provider. Most cities and towns in the region have departments of planning and/or community development, which have the most direct day-to-day ability to influence TOD. However, NOACA can advance TOD by acting as a regional advocate; by providing technical assistance and planning support to localities that wish to embrace TOD; and by targeting public investment and development finance incentives toward specific TOD opportunities.

Aging-in-Place with TOD
Only a small percentage of Americans move after they reach retirement age. Over time access to daily needs can be problematic for aging populations. Absent access to affordable travel options, seniors face isolation, reduced quality of life and potential economic hardship. TOD can provide mobility choices for seniors. The Regional TOD Scorecard and Implementation Plan is going to focus on identifying potential policies and programs for location of housing and services for seniors closer to the fixed route transit system to expand transportation choice. This work will be coordinated with NOACA’s 5310 program. 

A No-Growth Region

TOD is generally associated with regions that are growing. Some have grown rapidly and consistently for decades where TOD is embraced as an alternative to continued sprawl. Others, including several older “legacy” markets including Northeast Ohio, with historically transit-oriented development patterns, have maintained at least some growth at the metropolitan level while their central cities have remained flat or resumed modest growth.

TOD in Northeast Ohio
Northeast Ohio is changing. Central cities that were historically the centers of the region are, for the most part, experiencing abandonment. Once dense urban neighborhoods now struggle with high rates of vacancy. Outside of the cities, working farmland and undeveloped landscapes are being converted to new subdivisions, office parks, and shopping centers as people and jobs move to the suburbs. Region-wide, population and employment growth have been flat. The distance between jobs, schools, homes, stores, and parks are increasing, and transportation options are increasingly limited to personal vehicles. However, a portion of the population (i.e. choice riders, millennials and seniors) that want true transportation options have been spurring some recent demand for neighborhoods in the urban core near transit. That demand coupled with the momentum from the work of NOACA and its regional partners has opened up a great opportunity for transit oriented development (TOD) within the region. 

TOD plans communities around public transportation. The planning is specifically formulated to encourage active living for all ages, but can create communities where seniors can “age in place” with a neighborhood focused around convenient and efficient transit and dense mixed-use development can allow for walkable communities.

While TOD most commonly occurs within walking distance of fixed-guideway transit systems, there are areas of Northeast Ohio that are not near a rail stop, but are nonetheless rich with bus, pedestrian and bicycle amenities and land uses that can support the reduced auto dependence commonly associated with TOD.

Funding for transit and transportation infrastructure is a challenge in Northeast Ohio. Therefore it is more important than ever for the region to be highly strategic in making decisions about directing future investments, and ensuring that investments have a catalytic impact on the market for TOD. This effort is one component of a comprehensive TOD implementation strategy that will require the coordination and involvement of many public and private entities throughout the region.

Encouraging TOD in CLE
Are you interested in building transit-oriented development in Cleveland? Learn more in this presentation which was presented to LOCUS in August 2017. Northeast Ohio presents a wealth of opportunities for development and NOACA can advance TOD by acting as a regional advocate. Cleveland specifically is a city with incredible development potential known for its vibrant, walkable downtown, flourishing business district, architecturally attractive neighborhoods, and diversified local economy.

Transit Oriented Development Scorecard and Implementation Plan
One goal from NOACA’s 2015 Strategic Plan is to “Encourage transit oriented development in higher density urban corridors and other higher density areas of the region and retrofitting transit oriented elements in appropriate lower density areas.” To accomplish this NOACA must prioritize investments that can facilitate this kind of output. Moreover, these projects should foster better connectivity throughout the region.

NOACA has completed a Transit Oriented Development Scorecard and Implementation Plan. This project seeks to help increase ridership and promote development in and around the regions transit stations and high performing bus corridors. NOACA also seeks to remove barriers to, and advance incentives for, equitable TOD in Northeast Ohio for all populations, while increasing public understanding and awareness around the benefits of TOD. Equitable TOD combines place-based and people-based approaches to develop solutions that address the needs of all residents.

The Regional TOD Scorecard and Implementation Plan is broken into two phases: 

  1. Phase 1 includes three tasks: the development of the TOD scorecard and typologies, the design of a regional TOD program and the development of an Age in Place Strategy.
  2. Phase 2 consists of the development of an implementation plan for 3 pilot sites that are identified from work in Phase 1 which includes a strategy for public engagement. 
Transit Oriented Development Scorecard and Implementation Plan Materials

Phase 1 – Scorecard and Station Typologies

Phase 2 – Pilot site Implementation Plans

Resource Cites

Smart Growth America
Reconnecting America
Federal Transit Administration 
Center for Neighborhood Technology 
The Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) 
TCRP - Guidelines for Providing Access to Public Transportation Stations 

What’s New with TOD?

Philadelphia council proposes zoning changes to drive transit-oriented development
Aspen Place project moves forward on Cleveland's West Side