TOD Peer Network connects at the 2017 LOCUS Leadership Summit


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Professionals working on transit-oriented development (TOD) in cities across the country came together this week to exchange ideas, talk strategy, and learn new approaches for creating TOD as part of the 2017 LOCUS Leadership Summit.

The National Resources & Technical Assistance For Transit-Oriented Development project includes a Peer Network of TOD professionals in ​14 cities. They came together in person for the first time this week in conjunction with the Leadership Summit.

The program began on Sunday evening with an informal walking tour of ​the Courthouse and Clarendon areas of ​Arlington, VA. Chris Zimmerman, Vice President for Economic Development at Smart Growth America and project lead for the TOD Technical Assistance project, led the tour. Chris is a former Arlington County ​Board Member who worked extensively on the development along Arlington’s Metrorail corridor​s​ in an area now nationally acclaimed as a model for suburban transformation through TOD.

On Monday, the TOD Peer Network joined the formal program of the LOCUS Leadership Summit, coming together with private real estate developers and public elected leaders from across the country. Together, these three groups discussed some of the most pressing questions related to TOD today, including new roles for public/private partnerships, revitalization without displacement in economically distressed communities, and how federal programs are supporting this work.

Later that morning the TOD Peer Network had a chance to talk with project staff from Smart Growth America and the Federal Transit Administration to provide feedback about what they have gained from the project thus far, what they still need, and how the project could better assist them. That afternoon Network members joined breakout sessions on topics of their choosing related to the Summit’s three themes—Partnerships, Placemaking, and Policy.

Larry Hopper, Planning Manager for EMBARK in Oklahoma, discusses TOD development around the Oklahoma City streetcar during the final session of the Summit’s first day.

On Tuesday, the Summit’s second full day, Peer Network members joined a customized walking tour of development in ​Arlington’s ​Shirlington​ Village​,​ to study an example of compact, mixed-use development in an area not served by rail transit​.

Shirlington is home to one of the region’s only bus transit centers and since many of the Peer Network projects are focused on development near bus rapid transit, it was a natural fit to show how Shirlington has capitalized on bus service to become a bustling main street neighborhood with a Tony-nominated theater, flagship library, dozens of restaurants and cafes, apartments, town homes, and office space all along a beautiful tree-lined boulevard.

That afternoon, Peer Network members joined a field study of Washington DC’s booming H Street NE corridor and Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood, two examples of perhaps some of the most robust transit-oriented development anywhere in the country. The whole day was a portrait of multi-modalism: Network members took an ART bus to Shirlington, a WMATA bus to the Metro, Metro to Union Station (the DC region’s Amtrak/commuter train/private long-distance bus hub), and then rode the H Street NE streetcar—all in a very full six hours.

Throughout the two and a half days of events, we were fascinated to learn more about what Peer Network members are doing, what they have gotten out of their ​participation in the Network, how they are learning from each other, and what they are looking forward to in their work ahead.

On behalf of the staff at Smart Growth America and the Federal Transit Administration, it was fantastic to meet many of our Peer Network members in person and to put faces to the names we’ve seen for so many months. We are looking forward to more work together in the months to come.