It is clear that when we’re talking about sustainable development and green building, it is cities and their surrounding communities that need the most attention. Change things there, and we change things everywhere, even if it’s just by example. But, what sorts of developments are currently happening in some of the densest areas of North America, and what trends do they demonstrate when it comes to urban development?
Writer Nick Nelson is here to talk specifically about what’s happening in the New York Tri-State area in terms of residential development, urban planning, and changes that are being made to the way we think of how we live in relation to where we work, play, and shop.
There’s a new acronym being thrown around the world of transit and urban development, TOD. It stands for Transit Oriented Development and, put simply, involves reducing the distances people travel in their daily lives by increasing reliance on usage of mass transit.
TOD focused communities are developments and districts that place housing, office, retail, parks and mixed use spaces all within walking distance of mass transit, with a primary goal of reducing automotive usage. New York City is a prime example of high density mixed with high quality mass transit. Now, the regions surrounding the big city are following its example. New projects are progressing all around the Tri-State Area, with cities receiving an influx of funding for TOD certified projects. On the Metro North Line, several new developments have cropped up.
Hudson Line – Hudson Park & Yonkers Station
Yonkers has made a concerted effort to clean up and improve their urban core. One of the first steps came in 2004, when Metro North committed 43$ million to improve Yonkers Station, which renewed the structure and improved access to the historical station. Nearby, the waterfront was revitalized as well.
In the construction of the commuter friendly Hudson Park apartments a former brownsfield site was cleared and, as part of a larger waterfront plan, the new residential development’s surroundings were transformed into open areas and parks that have helped bring the public back to the riverside. Since 2004, ridership on the Hudson Line from Yonkers Station has increased more than 50%. Not to be outdone, Yonkers is further diving into the TOD scene with the announcement of the new Ridge Hill complex.
New Haven Line – Stamford Transportation Center
Offering access to Amtrak, Greyhound, local buses as well as the Metro North line, Stamford’s aptly named Transportation Center is a busy terminus for mass transit travel. With the station here serving 3,600 Manhattan bound commuters every morning, Stamford is a crucial link for many riders.
The density of ridership in Stamford allows it to be a prime candidate for TOD renewal, and in addition to improving access to transit through methods such as connector bus routes, improved pedestrian access and increased parking, the city has encouraged new construction in the downtown area. New buildings, large and small, and of mixed-usage are rising up to take advantage of the mass transit options available in the urban core. The Harbor Point project is one such TOD development that will place housing and offices within walking distance of the Stamford Transportation Center.
Other cities and towns along Metro North have considered TOD development districts and the pace is likely to grow as the TOD wave has some pretty strong backing amongst policy makers, developers and planners. While there are some drawbacks and criticisms to TOD, the goals of reducing environmental impact, improving transit efficiency, alleviating congestion and renewing infrastructure are likely to prove popular among citizens that are concerned about sustainable growth in cities.
Nick Nielson is a recent graduate who studied Geographic Information Systems at the University of Washington. He enjoys exploring the ways in which communities and systems interact in daily urban life.
Nick wrote this post on behalf of livehudsonpark.com.