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How can cities constructively guide "cataclysmic money"?

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4 comments

  • Charles Marohn

    Rodney, what part of this is still up for debate? Are you just asking how to react to the BRT investment? The people who are "resistant" -- is it just discontent or is there something they can intervene in?

    One of the challenges is that a $300 million investment -- regardless of what it is in -- sounds out of scale to the location. It will be really difficult to work incrementally when you have that kind of money pouring into the site, especially if you have a major corporation looking to purchase 10 acres and build it in their vision. It's also tough to build a lot of resiliency when one corporation is developing the site for themselves. In a macro sense, that is exactly what the legislators are seeking to have happen when they fund this kind of investment.

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  • Rodney Rutherford

    The part now up for debate is the zoning around the station area, balancing opportunity to enable and focus sustainable growth (to reduce the aggregate burden across the region) vs. the risk of allowing too much growth (such that it becomes too much of a localized burden). Either way, I'm more concerned with ensuring that the form of growth best supports the resiliency, vibrancy, and liveability of the area.

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  • Rodney Rutherford

    Searching around a bit, I found some guidance in this article, which I also recall reading in the Strong Towns book. In short, it highlights the importance of considering the ratio of public/infrastructure investment vs. private investment. If we exclude the cost of regional infrastructure (such as a BRT/interchange rebuild), I anticipate that it shouldn't be too difficult to achieve a reasonable private/public investment ratio (roughly between 20:1 and 40:1) in the area that is planned by the city, especially if the city is intentional about managing that ratio.

    I'm curious to hear if anyone finds other useful guidance that cities in similar circumstances should consider.

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  • Rodney Rutherford

    Continuing to answer my own question with resources from Strong Towns, I see more useful guidance in 'Confessions' chapter 9: "Transit is a wealth accelerator when it is used in support of productive development patterns.  ... You must focus on building a productive place, somewhere where people want to be outside of an automobile." The story of Sprinfield's Union Station--and its lack of having a place beyond itself--is especially relevant.

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