New Jersey TOD News
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January 2008
Volume 4, Number 1
Gov. Corzine Signs Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit Act

Governor Jon Corzine has signed the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit Act in an effort to encourage redevelopment and job growth at locations served by transit. Conceived by the Governor’s Office of Economic Growth and passed by the Legislature in December, the statute establishes a tax credit program for qualifying businesses that make capital investments and increase employment around targeted urban rail transit hubs. The act stipulates that a business can qualify for up to $75 million in tax credits (corporate business tax, insurance premium tax or gross income tax liability credits for up to 10 years) to cover the costs of investing in facilities within a designated urban transit hub and which employ at least 250 people. The state Commerce Commission will designate sites that qualify, generally located within a half-mile radius of rail stations. The program targets municipalities that are eligible for urban aid, have at least 30 percent of real property value exempt from property taxes, have property base wealth measured as equalized valuation under $100,000 per capita and have a commuter rail station. Nine municipalities qualify—Camden, East Orange, Elizabeth, Jersey City, Newark, New Brunswick, Paterson, Trenton and Hoboken.

Redevelopment plans for Beverly and Edgewater Park

A planning study and intensive public participation process, sponsored by Burlington County, have produced a proposal to build approximately 200 new residential units and between 25,000- and 30,000 square feet of new commercial space near the Beverly/Edgewater Park RiverLine station. Presented to the public in October, the plan is part of Burlington County’s effort to revitalize communities along the RiverLine/Route 130 corridor.

Transit-oriented development surrounding this station is challenging for two reasons: the site, currently occupied by vacant underutilized buildings, is located in two different municipalities; also, the site is a half-mile distant from each municipality’s downtown. The plan specifically calls for the development of a transit-oriented village with residences to be marketed to aging baby boomers and older couples approaching retirement. The commercial space would likely be used for small cafes, restaurants and retail stores. The residential and commercial space would be built in both Beverly and Edgewater Park. The study will also recommend streetscape improvements to be made along the half-mile section of Cooper Street that connects the station and downtown Beverly in order to encourage people to walk between the downtown and the light rail station.

The process began in September 2006 when representatives from Whitman, Requardt & Associates (WR&A) of Wilmington, DE, an engineering, architecture and planning firm, gathered input from residents and public officials in both communities. Basile Baumann Prost Cole & Associates, an economics and real estate development advisory firm, has also been involved in the process.

“This was a very highly public-driven process,” said Jeff Riegner, of WR&A. “We got some practical stuff, some crazy stuff and some stuff in-between. Residents really want development that is going to build on some of the neat, small-town fabric that Beverly has right now.”

Both Riegner and Mark Remsa, the county’s director of planning and economic development, said the plan has been well received by the public. Because Beverly is only 0.6 square miles, Remsa said the entire community has the potential to be transit-oriented. The Beverly City Council recently adopted a redevelopment plan, which includes many of the zoning and other changes needed to implement the recommendations made in the study. Remsa said the next step is for officials in Edgewater Park to adopt a similar plan for their community.

“You don’t get buy-in from a community unless there is public participation,” Riegner said. “These plans never work unless the community owns them. Although this started as a county effort, I believe this became a town effort by virtue of the participation they had.”

A copy of the presentation, as well as maps and renderings of the area, can be found on the Burlington County Department of Economic Development and Regional Planning website at: www.co.burlington.nj.us/departments/economic

Somerville Plans Move Forward

Somerville has taken another step to develop the 160-acre landfill site near its Raritan Valley train station. In September, the borough approved a new plan for the site that includes 1,200 housing units, office or R&D facilities, a 50-room hotel, cinema, retail and civic space, as well as parking. The plan is the product of Phillips Preiss Shapiro Associates. The borough has issued an RFQ/P seeking parties interested in pursuing the project. Qualifications and Proposals are due by March 14th, 2008.

Redevelopment of the landfill site is one part of Somerville’s efforts to redevelop several neighborhoods proximate to its train station. The Borough has also been working on plans for the Landmark (West Main Street Area) and East End districts; revisions to redevelopment plans for each neighborhood have recently been presented to the planning board. Also as part of its redevelopment efforts, Somerville has recently been accepted into the Main Street New Jersey program—a state initiative that promotes the historic and economic redevelopment of traditional business districts.

For more information, see our July 2007 newsletter or Somerville's Redevelopment website.

Renewed Trenton Station Spurs Redevelopment

With funding from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Trenton has embarked on plans to redevelop the area around its train station, one of the busiest on the Atlantic seaboard and the southern terminus of NJ TRANSIT’s Northeast Corridor commuter operations. The station connects those services with Amtrak intercity service to New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Boston, as well as SEPTA local service to Philadelphia. The station also provides a convenient connection (across the street) to the RiverLine which provides frequent light rail service to Burlington and Camden counties, including connections to PATCO service to Philadelphia. A major renovation of the station has been underway since 2005 with work to be completed by mid-2008. Attention is now being turned to the surrounding area.

Trenton_Station
Trenton Station
Courtesy of dDP

Trenton_station_redevelopment_area
Trenton Station Redevelopment Area

Click to enlarge

The city has received responses to its recently issued RFP for the Trenton Train Station Redevelopment Area. The RFP adopted “TOD-type redevelopment goals” and calls for market feasibility and demand analysis, as well as an urban design component. The plan encourages higher density, mixed-use development adjacent to the station to increase opportunities for employment, strategic parking reductions, retail and entertainment uses as well as a variety of housing types. Bill Valocchi, supervising planner for the City of Trenton, says the development will be “destination-type, high density, mixed-use, and transit-oriented…things that make environmental sense.”

Redevelopment in New Jersey’s capital city is already underway. Recent projects within a half-mile radius of the station include 22 new single family homes in the landmark Mill Hill neighborhood and the conversion of the 12-story Broad Street Bank, Trenton’s first skyscraper, for first floor retail and office space and 124 1- and 2-bedroom rentals. Occupancy is planned for January 2008. Ongoing projects include the Trenton Town Center, a mixed-use complex consisting of retail, office, residential condominiums and structured parking located one-half mile from the train station, and the South Warren Street Revitalization project, the transformation of the former Carousel Cleaner building into a mixed-use residential and retail property.

 
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