— Where Americans Want To Live: New ULI Report, America In 2013, Explores Housing, Transportation, Community Preferences Survey Suggests Strong Demand for Compact Development | 5/15/2013, Urban Land Institute
Just look at those acres of parking lot above, waiting patiently to be turned into new residences, offices or stores. This is the lot just south of the King Memorial MARTA station, an area particularly ripe for development given the growth of popular spots nearby in recent years.
The transit agency is looking to have lots like this turned into transit-oriented developments, similar to the one built years ago at the Lindbergh Station.
According to a post on Saporta Report, this King Memorial TOD project, along with others near MARTA rail stations, could get started very soon.
Proposed developments at three MARTA stations are so hot that they could start in a matter of months, according to MARTA records.
The proposals involve the stations of Avondale, Chamblee and King Memorial. Each proposal has “advanced to the point of the board’s decision/action and could be put into action this summer or early fall,” records show.
The post includes photos of the available land around the stations.
This is great news — not only that these projects are finally happening after decades of letting prime transit-connected space get wasted as surface parking — but that the properties are so desirable to developers. It’s kind of a dream come true for me: land near MARTA stations has become more valuable as walkable urban growth rather than as storage for cars.
There’s a good post today at Progressive Transit: Why is it so hard to walk to a MARTA station? Good insights and lots of images to illustrate the point that many MARTA stations are, unfortunately, built to be more accessible to cars coming from the road (for park-and-ride use) than to pedestrians coming from the sidewalks.
Here’s a quote:
…in order for stations to be convenient for pedestrians, they need to be located in walkable areas and they need to be designed in such a way that they are easy to approach on foot…For some reason the station designers back in the early days of MARTA thought that we needed giant bunkers and block-sized compounds for transit stations.
Take a look at the photos Progressive Transit includes of some great transit stations in other cities that are built seamlessly into the walkable urban fabric.
Thankfully, the post also points out the stations in Atlanta that are nicely embedded in some of our own walkable areas, like the Peachtree Center one (woot! my neighborhood), below.
As I posted recently, MARTA is looking into having transit oriented developments built around some stations in the near future. Hopefully, the car-centric designs of the past can be retrofitted with more pedestrian-friendly approaches and better connections between rail transit and surrounding developments.
Buckheadview.com continues its great coverage of the controversial Lindbergh area Walmart proposal with a report on the Atlanta City Council’s vote yesterday. The council voted against the bid to change the land use plan for this spot, located very near the Lindbergh MARTA station.
“Atlanta City Council today essentially killed both the land use ordinance and companion zoning paper requesting changes to allow the controversial proposed Walmart anchored mixed-use development in the Lindbergh area of south Buckhead.”
The change to the land use and zoning would have conflicted with the city’s 2011 Comprehensive Development Plan. That plan emphasizes the need for affordable housing near transit and calls for high-density residential to be built on this spot — exactly what is needed near a train station.
Pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use development that includes a high-density residential component would be appropriate too, I think. But the proposal (pictured in the map above) was too oriented toward car use given the train station across the street. In addition to the environmental damage from yet another a mass of asphalt along Peachtree Creek, the large surface parking lot would hinder safe pedestrian connectivity all around.
MARTA’s website has a page on Transit Oriented Development guidelines that points out the importance of designing development near train stations that generates “significant transit ridership” and reduces “the need for a car.” A big surface parking lot works against that.
The developer has the chance to re-submit a plan at any time. I hope they come up with one that’s more appropriately transit oriented and honors the work done by the community and leaders in constructing the Comprehensive Development Plan.
There’s a great post on the Saportat Report today that mentions the potential for growth around some MARTA stations. This quote from the post is by Arthur “Chris” Nelson, director of the Metropolitan Research Center at the University of Utah:
“I’m actually surprised about development around MARTA,” Nelson said about the low density of offices and residences next to stations. “There’s a lot of opportunity around MARTA rail stations for more concentrated development.”
There are some MARTA stations that have a particularly significant potential for walkable growth in the way of transit-oriented development and I’ve included photos here.
Take a look at the unmet potential for pedestrian-focused, mixed-used development adjacent to the Kensington Station, above, and the Indian Creek and Bankhead stations, below.
I understand that these were originally built to be park-and-ride stations, but as the post on Saporta Report points out, trends in housing demographics are changing — how we view the function of our MARTA stations should change with them. Nelson makes note of the key changes:
According to several studies…more and more Americans want to live in walkable communities — places where they can ride bikes or ride transit to get around. But metro Atlanta’s development patterns currently don’t have enough walkable communities to meet demand.
These MARTA stations could potentially provide a great opportunity for meeting that demand for walkable, transit-connected communities.
In the post, Dan Reuter, land use division chief for the Atlanta Regional Commission, says this:
“We have a dozen MARTA stations that need a lot of love and are ready for more urban development around the stations.”
Looking at the photo of what surrounds the Dunwoody Station, below, you can see that even with a station that is nearby commercial and office density, the area immediately surrounding the station is given over to car parking. There’s a lot of potential for a more pedestrian-focused type of development here.