Builders see transit-oriented development (TOD) as one answer to urban sprawl, as populations grow around urban cores. Despite success stories in cities like Houston and Los Angeles, the trend is just in its early stages of reaching smaller-sized cities, as this trend requires an intrinsically detailed level of planning – and even more development capital.

“Millennials and empty nesters want to take advantage of short or no commute times, being in close proximity to work, entertainment and restaurant options and just generally being in a vibrant environment with a sense of place,” Laura Hannusch, a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman said in a recent Globe Street article. “It makes sense that mixed-use, transit-oriented developments would nurture these types of environments, because they provide the critical mass of people necessary to support the amenities, while providing easy access to transportation.  But they can be successful in other places as well, like the CityCenter project in Houston.”

Houston’s Downtown District has a downtown living initiative focused on increasing the number of residential units in downtown Houston. But many cities have already seen TOD take root. In San Francisco Bay Area’s Rapid Transit District is a TOD next to BART’s Fruitvale station. Dallas has a few TOD sites next to several of its DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) stations.

The development of MiamiCentral, a mixed-use complex in downtown Miami, will be connected by the All Aboard Floirda passenger rail line that connects Miami to Orlando and stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Investor capital has spiked in the surrounding area following news of MiamiCentral.

“We have to make this new reality work with the places people live, work and play. Multi-modal, mixed-use density in our traditionally located communities will create the options we all need to deal with traffic. The traffic may not reduce noticeably, but transit options will give people a realistic alternative: live and work near connectivity,” says Jonathan Watts a partner at Killefer Flammang Architects KFA.

Chief Operating Officer of 13th Floor Investments, tells GlobeSt.com the big winners will be developers that are versatile and agile enough to build across asset classes and create large-scale mixed use projects encompassing retail, office, hotel and residential components, according to 13th Floor Investments COO Rey Melendi.



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