Strategically selling public land near transit


The Lakewood site being auctioned by the GSA has an RTD light rail station right on its doorstep  (Photo: Colorado Real Estate Journal)

Dealing with surplus public property near transit

The process for selling land near transit stations — planned or existing — can be difficult, but many public agencies have developed policies for dealing with surplus property.

As a current example, the General Services Administration (GSA) is set to sell a prime 59-acre vacant property directly adjacent to the Federal Center light rail station in Lakewood, Colorado, along the W Line of Denver’s regional RTD transit system. The prized property is up for auction but the sale and development of the site is facing challenges from the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and a currently paused local housing measure in Lakewood that would limit housing development — especially multifamily housing — within the city.

How do states, municipalities or transit agencies handle this issue of selling or disposing of real estate? In some instances an agency might prefer to sign a long-term lease in order to control the property over the long term. Other factors include policies or laws related to affordable housing provisions or other disposal requirements.

In California, state law requires that affordable housing have a right of first refusal on any publicly owned property that is deemed to be surplusLACMTASound Transit , Jacksonville Transit Authority, and others have specific policies related to the connection between surplus property disposition and transit oriented development.

The disposition of real estate can be a tricky task for a public agency. But done strategically, it can be a positive experience that leads to the development of affordable housing, new employment opportunities, and other community assets.

Recent TOD news

Here are a few things that have been happening this week with TOD projects across the country.

  • The Purple Line in Maryland Breaks Ground – NPR
  • Habitat for Humanity Might Benefit from TOD Density Bonus in Austin – Austin Chronicle
  • El Camino Plan Offers Hope for Affordable Housing – Palo Alto Online
  • Chicago TOD Proponents Learning as They Go – DNA Info
  • Amtrak RFQ Issued for 30th Street Station – Curbed
  • TOD is Not Just for the City – Real Estate Journals