Achieving System-Level, Transit-Oriented Jobs-Housing Balance: Perspectives of Twin Cities Developers and Business Leaders


Yingling Fan, Andrew Guthrie

August 2013

Report no. CTS 13-24

Fully realizing the potential of the growing regional transit system will depend in large part on the actions of private-sector real estate developers and employers. With support from the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning grant awarded to the Council by HUD, the EPA and USDOT, researchers from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs conducted a series of conversations with Twin Cities developers and business executives aimed at developing strategies for attracting a wide range of affordable housing choices and living-wage jobs to transit station areas. The research approach centered on in-depth, open-ended interviews with developers and business leaders. Questions focused on primary site selection factors, the role of transportation/transit access in site selection and how that role might change as the regional transitway system matures. Interview transcripts were analyzed through both close readings by the research team and content analysis using the NVivo software package. The research found significant, pent-up demand for transit accessible locations along with significant obstacles to actually selecting them, including automobile-centric development regulations, the lack of zoning allowing TOD's to be built by right, and a need for employers to continue meeting current employees' automotive access needs while preparing for future employees' transit access demands. Policy recommendations include encouraging public-private sector communication, especially with types of developers and employers that demonstrate strong interest in transit access, promoting diverse, walkable neighborhoods in and out of transitway corridors, promoting diverse affordable housing options by allowing consideration of transportation savings possible with transit and accelerating the development of high-quality local and regional transit.

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