Recipient: State of Connecticut: Department of Community & Economic Development, Department of Transportation, Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, Office of Policy & Management
Partner: Local Initiatives Support Corporation
Over $32 million in transit-oriented development (TOD) planning and implementation funding has been invested in more than two dozen communities along CTfastrak, the Hartford Line, Metro North, Shoreline East and the Branch Lines. Essentially, the State has helped build local capacity for TOD activities.
The Department of Economic and Community Development, Connecticut Housing Finance Authority and Local Initiatives Support Corporation created a $15 million TOD Acquisition and Pre-Development Loan Fund to encourage mixed-use residential, retail and commercial development by transit. Nick Lundgren, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Housing said the fund is designed to “get projects started, to reduce the level of risk that’s involved in developing properties, and to make possible those preliminary steps that otherwise would be too great a burden…”
The State of Connecticut has taken a multi-faceted approach to encourage TOD and overcome development challenges. These efforts included: 1) providing grant resources to municipalities for TOD planning and implementation; 2) interagency coordination to ensure successful project delivery; and 3) on-going communication with regional and local partners and private-sector developers about the status of the major infrastructure improvements, as well as the resources available for TOD.
At the urging of Governor Malloy and Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner James Redeker, five state agencies — DOT, the Office of Policy and Management (OPM), and the departments of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), Housing (DOH), and Economic and Community Development (DECD) — formed a TOD Interagency Working group. The goal was to join forces in funding, permitting and other issues to get TOD projects moving.
On the regional and local level, the Corridor Advisory Committee was launched in 2013 to provide the chief elected officials and other interested parties of the cities and towns on the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail line and the CTfastrak rapid transit corridors with a forum to share information and tools for taking full advantage of the transportation investment underway. DOT Commissioner Redeker and his staff attend each of the Committee meetings, providing valuable information to the participants.
Opportunities & Challenges
Over the last decade, realizing that the State’s highways were congested and that traffic delays were affecting the State’s economy and competitiveness, the State of Connecticut embarked on a massive public transportation construction initiative comprising the 9.2-mile CTfastrak bus rapid transit system from New Britain to Hartford, and the 62-mile CTrail Hartford Line from New Haven to Springfield. To date, $1.33 billion has been invested by the State and Federal governments to bring these transportation projects to fruition.
The State identified early on that these transportation investments had the potential to be significant economic development drivers by linking employment centers through TOD around each of the stations.
Outcome & Impact
The positive impacts have been profound. Developer interest was generated around the station areas even before the stations or systems were in place. This is because the State and the municipalities signaled their commitment to this program. Communities have updated their zoning codes to be more development-ready. Significant tracts of under-valued or under-developed land now have a market. New housing and mixed-use buildings have been constructed in several communities within walking distance of the stations or along the feeder bus lines. Historic structures are being repurposed with new investments. Hundreds of millions of dollars in new projects are currently under construction and more are on the drawing boards. There is a new sense of pride in communities that host transit stops.
These new transit areas are attractive to Millennials opting for car-free places to live and work who desire restaurants and walkable locations. They are a key demographic for the state’s economy, as attracting talent is paramount to our business competitiveness. Empty-nesters who are looking for a lifestyle that doesn’t revolve around cars are also attracted to these areas.