Sunday, August 26, 2007

FasTracks, Englewood City Center, Union Station

The conference got into full swing today, beginning with an introduction from RTD Board Member Lee Kemp and followed by a field trip to Englewood Station, where Harold Stitt gave an overview of the transformation of the Cinderella City shopping center into a mixed-use development and civic center. Following the field trip a poster session in the mezzanine of Union Station offered some insight into what is going on throughout the Denver region to connect transportation investments and land use.

Lee Kemp talked about the crafting of the regional transit vision that resulted in the passage of FasTracks program through a sales tax inititive in 2004 and what it will take to implement the ambitious 12-year, 131-mile rail and bus regional transit expansion plan. Creating a tangible vision, engaging with cities, decision-makers, and the general populace, and sticking with the basics of the plan so that each jurisdiction can be sure to benefit were key ingredients in his recipe for success. So far, rising construction costs have not derailed the program, as each corridor is promised the original budget outlay from the sales tax initiative. The recently opened Southeast Line is 14% over projected ridership already, and RTD seems to be capturing some unanticipated mid-day trips on the line.

At the same time, in response to a question about park-and-ride management and access modes to the stations, Mr. Kemp responded that commuters from the broader region, outside of the FasTracks counties, are using park-and-ride lots, and, because the lots are free, these users are not paying their fair share of the system costs. This made me think about the broader regional issues that go into the coordination of land use and transportation. If the 8-county region in Denver is not large enough to capture the full extent of the "region", what additional policy changes are needed at the state level to limit growth ever outwards towards the Rockies, and, at the same time, what local and regional programs can focus growth into areas that can be better served by transit? Or, should the sales tax boundaries just be moved outward?

The tour of Englewood City Center was an interesting look at a first phase transit-oriented development (TOD) project in the region. Starting over 10 years ago, a dying mall, Cinderella City, was transformed through a public-private partnership into a mix of residential, retail, and civic uses. Three-part engagement among the City, the developers, and the community developed a vision for the reuse of the site, and, after some fits and starts, a completed project including 438 residential units, a Civic Center with city offices, council chambers, and a library, and retail uses, including a Wal-Mart emerged. What exists today is not perfect: there was little street life on a Sunday afternoon, pedestrian crossings throughout the development are hard to find, and the Wal-Mart feels little different than any other, despite a public access easement through the large surface parking lot. Still, there are the makings of success: the Civic Center and public parks provide the opportunity for the whole community to interact, I saw several people walking with Wal-Mart bags to the LRT station, and it was a somewhat muggy Sunday afternoon, what kind of street life did I want? It's not as if there were nobody out and around.

On balance, though, Englewood City Center left me the impression that it is neither fully here, nor fully there. I imagine it can capture a good portion of the commute trips from nearby residents, but for after work activities, these residents will still often feel a need to drive. The local-serving retail is a nice amenity, but the scale of the Wal-Mart makes it feel like an island that will have trouble thriving. There are a lot of reasons for people to bike and walk to the station, but the amount of no-cost park-and-ride capacity means that there are also good reasons not to. What the next stage of the TOD process brings will be of critical importance to the overall project. What happens when RTD no longer needs as much station parking? What happens when Wal-Mart goes the way of the previous retail that brought this change about in the first place? And what happens as a critical mass of residents begin to support the kind of street-level retail that can create a full service neighborhood (restaurants, small shops and food stores, etc)? Where will they locate? When is the next conference?

Finally, the poster session at Union Station gave us an opportunity to understand where the region stands with respect to transit expansion (RTD), regional land use planning (DRCOG), downtown revitalization, TOD market analysis, and more. It also gave us a chance to get a unique angle on the historic station and the great civic room that anchors transit in the region. The efforts throughout the region are remarkable, and transportation and land use coordination seems to have taken on an air of inevitability such that the discussion can now center on what tools can help realize the vision, not whether or not such coordination should be attempted at all.

So much to keep us busy over the next two days.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

[url=http://www.kfarbair.com][img]http://www.kfarbair.com/_images/_photos/photo_big7.jpg[/img][/url]

בית מלון [url=http://www.kfarbair.com]כפר בעיר[/url] - שירות חדרים אנו מספקים שירותי אירוח מיוחדים כמו כן ישנו במקום שירות חדרים הכולל [url=http://www.kfarbair.com/eng/index.html]סעודות רומנטיות[/url] במחירים מפתיעים אשר יוגשו ישירות לחדרכם!

לפרטים נא גשו לעמוד המלון - [url=http://kfarbair.com]כפר בעיר[/url] [url=http://www.kfarbair.com/contact.html][img]http://www.kfarbair.com/_images/apixel.gif[/img][/url]

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I begin on internet with a directory

Anonymous said...

Hi there I am so thrilled I found your weblog, I really found you by error, while I was searching on Aol for something else,
Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say cheers for a fantastic post and a
all round interesting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read it all
at the moment but I have bookmarked it and also added your RSS feeds,
so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the excellent work.



Here is my site: More Information

Anonymous said...

Fine way of explaining, and fastidious paragraph to take information on the
topic of my presentation topic, which i am going to deliver in
institution of higher education.

Also visit my web site :: back sprains and strains treatment

Anonymous said...

It's an remarkable article designed for all the internet users; they will get advantage from it I am sure.

my site - wallinside.com

Anonymous said...

I love what you guys are up too. This type of clever work and
exposure! Keep up the terrific works guys I've incorporated you guys to my own blogroll.

Also visit my webpage golf lessons los angeles

Anonymous said...

I just like the helpful info you supply on
your articles. I will bookmark your blog and take
a look at again right here regularly. I am slightly sure I will
be told many new stuff proper here! Good luck for the following!



Also visit my web page :: Golf Schools Las Vegas

Anonymous said...

No matter if some one searches for his essential thing,
therefore he/she needs to be available that in detail, thus that thing is maintained over
here.

Also visit my website - www.freshwaterslsc.com

Anonymous said...

Very soon this web site will be famous among all blogging
and site-building users, due to it's fastidious articles

Feel free to visit my weblog golf clubs callaway diablo edge

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the page layout
of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or 2 images.
Maybe you could space it out better?

my website ... Orlando Sushi Menu

Anonymous said...

Fabulous, what a webpage it is! This web site provides helpful facts to us, keep it up.


my weblog; http://webfetch.de/search/web?fcoid=417&fcop=topnav&fpid=27&q=sushienorlando.com&ql=&topSearchSubmit.x=1&topSearchSubmit.y=1

Anonymous said...

This is really interesting, You are a very skilled blogger.
I've joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your excellent post. Also, I've shared
your web site in my social networks!

Feel free to visit my web-site: las vegas golf instruction

Anonymous said...

I'm very happy to uncover this web site. I need to to thank you for ones time for this fantastic read!! I definitely really liked every bit of it and I have you book marked to check out new things in your blog.

Review my page: diamondlinks review

Anonymous said...

Hey! I know this is somewhat off topic but I
was wondering if you knew where I could get a captcha
plugin for my comment form? I'm using the same blog platform as yours and I'm having trouble finding
one? Thanks a lot!

my blog post outdoor kitchen appliances austin tx

Anonymous said...

It's an remarkable post designed for all the web visitors; they will take advantage from it I am sure.

Here is my web site - back pain medicine over the counter

Anonymous said...

What's up, all is going perfectly here and ofcourse every one is sharing information, that's truly excellent,
keep up writing.

my web-site; chiropractic supplies australia

Anonymous said...

Hi! Would you mind if I share your blog with my myspace group?

There's a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Thanks

Feel free to surf to my site: refrigerator service - -

Anonymous said...

Nice weblog right here! Also your site lots up very fast!
What web host are you using? Can I am getting your affiliate hyperlink
on your host? I desire my web site loaded up as fast as yours lol

Look into my blog: golf in kissimmee fl

Anonymous said...

I was curious if you ever thought of changing the layout of your website?
Its very well written; I love what youve got
to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or 2 pictures.
Maybe you could space it out better?

Here is my site registered nurse job description (http://fonzation.com)

Anonymous said...

I really like reading an article that can make men and women
think. Also, many thanks for allowing for me to comment!

Have a look at my web blog :: back muscles briefly - crossword ()

Anonymous said...

e cigarettes, e cigarette reviews, electronic cigarettes reviews, electronic cigarette, smokeless cigarettes, e cigarette

Roman lesnar said...

Exactly, you"re very kind of us about comment!. scooter kopen

Jack Men said...

You guys out there are performing a great job. wordpress themes