The same development patterns used in the design of sustainable neighborhoods should apply to Transit Villages: an identifiable public space should be adjacent to a transit station; a defined commercial core should occupy its center; a horizontal as well as a vertical mix of land uses should be present at walking distance; a variety of craftsmanship, building types and unit sizes should encompass its residential repertoire; a network of shaded sidewalks, small streets and service roads should encourage a pedestrian friendly territory; and, most importantly, a diversity of cultures and social layers should promote community cohesion, freedom and education. In fact, young households, retirees, childless couples, and in-migrants from foreign countries or other suburban areas are welcoming candidates for this paradigm shift. To the extent that governments capitalize on these untapped territories, Transit Villages can often offer an alternative to living and working in automobile-dependant suburban environments. But, before diving into the depths of these long term investments, the following ten issues must be taken into consideration:
1. Transit Villages require a long term commitment and a supportive political will from its neighboring residents.
3. Land needs to be assembled for a development of sufficient size -40-80 acres.
8. Fast-tracking review and approval policies are fundamental.
9. Development risk shall be underwritten by local governments –typically, these developments have a front end revenue advantage of 6.5% over their competitors.
10. Direct financial participation in the form of tax-exempt bonds, low interest loans, loan guarantees, etc. is required from the Public Sector.
Obviously, a Transit Village must be based upon a detailed master plan supported by local residents, staff and elected officials. As a consequence, Transit Villages must promote what in our professional jargon is called the three (3) D’s: DENSITY, DIVERSITY AND DESIGN.
1. Density: higher densities and compact patterns of development should lead to higher rates of transit riding. In typical suburban stations a density of 24-36 du/ac is still acceptable – 3 to 5 story townhouses and walk up apartments.
2. Diversity: a mix of uses should encourage people to walk while promoting resource efficiency. At the same time a variety of building types and unit sizes should guarantee a vital community of place.
3. Design and Detail: attention to light-imprint design details is vital for its differentiation, sustainability and beauty.