Livability Solutions

Maximizing the Impact of Transit Investments: Phoenix, AZ

July 2013

   Host: 

Valley Metro

Source: 

Challenge

Valley Metro requested technical assistance with planning transit-oriented development (TOD) around two end-of-line stations for its light rail: Montebello/19th Avenue and Sycamore/Main Street. Both stations are surrounded by auto-intensive uses such as park-and-ride lots and large footprint discount retailers. Both locations have potential for transit-oriented development.

Valley Metro, in collaboration with Project for Public Spaces and Livability Solutions' designated technical assistance providers (Reconnecting America and Center for Neighborhood Technology) identified three objectives for the requested technical assistance:

  1. Gathering feedback from stakeholders on: a) roles of the two stations in their corridors; b) opportunities and challenges in implementing TOD at each location; c) types of development best suited for each location; and d) tools and strategies best suited for implementing TOD.
  2. Learning best practices from case studies around the country on: a) implementing TOD at stations transitioning from end-of-line to mid-line stations; b) the benefits of corridor planning; and c) incorporating jobs, housing, education, health and other considerations into the TOD planning discussions.
  3. Identifying next steps for the Phoenix TOD Collaborative to achieve its vision of TOD at the two station areas. Lessons learned will be applied to other rail and bus corridors throughout the region.

Process

Prior to the Phoenix site visit and workshop, Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) conducted a webinar for local stakeholders on using the National TOD Database. As part of the webinar, CNT identified several other regions with transit systems comparable to the Phoenix region, and then selected a subset of station areas that were similar in context to the two end-of-line stations.

Reconnecting America (RA) staff traveled to Phoenix, Arizona, to hold the technical assistance workshop. The first day was spent meeting with Valley Metro staff and visiting the Montebello/19th Avenue and Sycamore/Main Street stations. The morning of the second day was spent meeting with consultants retained by Valley Metro and staff from the cities of Mesa, Phoenix and Valley Metro. The remainder of the second day was devoted to the technical assistance workshop on the TOD Implementation Decision-Making Tool. More than 30 stakeholders from local governments, community-based organizations and private consulting companies participated. Reconnecting America staff presented an overview of the benefits of TOD, case studies from other regions, and made recommendations on what Phoenix can do to implement TOD. RA then facilitated a Q&A session.

Following the workshop RA conducted a webinar for local stakeholders on using the Mixed-Income TOD Tool. The purpose of the webinar was to assist Valley Metro and the TOD Working Group with identifying tools and strategies on building mixed-income housing at the two end-of-line station areas.

Outcomes

The cities of Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa have taken action to encourage development near the light rail alignment. More than $8.2B in private and public capital investment has been built near the initial 20-miles of light rail. Another $346M in commercial and residential building is being planned, most of that from private developers.

Valley Metro has created a TOD strategic framework and a TOD prospectus for developers containing information such as rider profiles, neighborhood characteristics, transit connections, and land use.

The City of Mesa and Valley Metro are jointly working with a developer to transform the Main Street/Sycamore park-and-ride site.

"The technical assistance was extremely useful in making the city staff aware of early planning efforts to better support future high capacity transit corridors in the region. City of Phoenix undertook the 'Reinvent Phoenix' program by analyzing existing light rail station areas for context-specific development opportunities through community engagement within their community." Source: local technical assistance coordinator, Valley Metro.