Developing a Transit-Oriented Downtown Neighborhood Center

Increasingly people prefer to live in urban centers that are compact, walkable, and have a mix of uses and services— precisely the type of place that transit-oriented development (TOD) creates. Characterized by a mix of uses, more-intense development, and walkable streets within a ½ mile of transit (a typical 10-minute walk), TOD promotes activity around the clock and brings potential riders closer to transit facilities.

To that end, Hollywood leaders have been working with planning and zoning officials to make a new train station and neighborhood center happen in Hollywood. A Hollywood station would be a strategic stop between the major hubs of Aventura and Fort Lauderdale and would be at the center of a larger community including business and housing development.

Residents living in transit-rich neighborhoods spend 16 percent less on transportation than those living in auto-dependent neighborhoods—according to a study by the Center for Transit-Oriented Development—saving an average of $9,500 per household. Since transportation is the second-largest household expense, the reduction in transportation costs effectively increases disposable household income.

Key Characteristics of a Neighborhood Center are:

Low density: Neighborhoods offer single-family attached or detached housing stock, with some multi-family housing units.

A mix of uses: Primarily residential with periodic small-scale local retail uses.

Compact, high quality, pedestrian-oriented environment: Lighting, paving, and secondary access from main road offer safer places for pedestrians.

Active defined center: Community centers, schools, and recreation facilities help to stimulate a pro-active neighborhood.

Managed parking: Angled or parallel on-street parking can help mitigate overflow from parking in the neighborhood and create clear paths to and from retail and residential development.

Urban parks and open space: Larger-scale public space can offer a variety of uses (such as recreation fields, community gardens, picnic amenities, etc.) within a centralized location.

Currently, the demand for transit-oriented urban centers far exceeds the supply: according to a 2011 article in The Atlantic magazine, a third of American households want to live where they can own fewer cars, but less than 10 percent can find housing in these locations.

Downtown Hollywood today

Downtown Hollywood transit-oriented development future vision from the Downtown Hollywood Master Plan.

How the Tri-Rail Coastal Link Fits In

Designed to be a major commuter railroad for the east coast of Florida from Miami to Jupiter, the Tri-Rail Coastal Link service would operate on the Florida East Coast Railroad (FEC) track on Dixie Highway. Tri-Rail and other passenger trains now use the CSX tracks which run near I-95.

The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, the Florida Department Transportation Council and the South Florida and Treasure Coast Regional Planning Councils are working together to develop the Coastal Link service.  They believe the Coastal Link will spur economic development, create jobs, improve regional access and mobility, and provide opportunities for transit-oriented development.

According to the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Downtown Hollywood’s unique character and historic identity will draw people to get off the train at the Hollywood Boulevard Station. The Dixie Highway and Hollywood Boulevard intersection will serve as a formal gateway to Downtown and the Historic Business District in Hollywood, creating a strong pedestrian connection from the transit station to the rest of Downtown.

West of Dixie Highway, a high-intensity mixed-use corridor will be developed to serve the transit station and the nearby residences. East of Dixie Highway (along Hollywood Boulevard toward Young Circle), the historic buildings will be renovated to reinforce its unique historic identity. New infill development will enhance the pedestrian experience, encouraging people to linger and explore the businesses in Downtown Hollywood.

Community Discussion and Input

Hollywood resident Patti Morin wants to be able to travel more throughout South Florida. But she is concerned about the growing amount of traffic and the difficulty of traveling by car in the region. “We need more public transportation in this area,” said Morin.

“The congestion on I-95 is getting worse,”  added local resident Achim Nowak. “It is becoming harder for people to use their cars. I think a new train station would be wonderful for Hollywood.”

Morin and Nowak were among the community stakeholders participating in the Tri-Rail Coastal Link Station Area Master Plan Community Planning Session on Saturday, December 2, at the Fred Lippman Multi-Purpose Center in Hollywood.  Public sentiment at the meeting was leaning toward a downtown location near the Lippman Center.

Dana Little, urban design director for the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, said the meeting offered people an opportunity to give input on their desired train stations for the service’s master plan.  Working together in groups, they presented recommendations which included more green space, housing and business projects and efforts to improve the area. They want a new train station and updated development to surround it.  Most of those who participated believe there is a need for more effective public transportation and an effort to encourage more people to walk or cycle in Hollywood.

Market demand for urban centers is expected to grow as baby boomers age and younger generations embrace a more urban lifestyle that does not include rely on owning a car. According to AARP, by 2030, 20 percent of Americans will be over the age of 65, of which one in five will not drive.

More information is available at http://tri-railcoastallink.com