TransFormation Alliance: Promoting equitable transit-oriented development
The Atlanta region is embracing the idea of transit-oriented developments (TOD), which typically include a pedestrian-friendly mix of housing, office and retail or other amenities build around transit stops, such as a MARTA rail station.
An effort is underway to ensure that TOD projects are developed in an equitable fashion that address the needs of the entire community. The goal is to foster mixed-income communities that offer affordable housing options and access to jobs and other amenities, such as fresh, healthy food, for residents of all income levels.
To promote equitable TOD in the Atlanta region, a group of government agencies, businesses and nonprofit groups, including MARTA, ARC and Enterprise Community Partners, came together to create the TransFormation Alliance, with funding provided by the Ford Foundation. Equitable transit-oriented development seeks to achieve:
- Increases in property values without displacing the residents who would most benefit from the increase
- Greater economic opportunity by creating easier access for low and moderate income households
- A balance between return on investment for private investors and equity goals
Livable Centers Initiative: Increasing housing options
ARC’s Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) funds planning studies and transportation projects that help transform communities across the region into vibrant, walkable places where homes, shops and jobs are better connected via sidewalks and bike paths, with improved access to job centers and transit. LCI has helped communities plan for additional housing options near major employment centers, such as Buckhead, Midtown Atlanta and Perimeter Center, as well as smaller cities such as Marietta, Norcross and McDonough.
According to a 2015 survey of LCI communities:
- 67 have revised zoning ordinances to allow for mixed-use development
- More than 46 million square feet of office space has been developed in LCI areas
- More than 17,000 hotel rooms have been built in LCI areas
- 242 mixed-use developments have broken ground
Community Choices program: Technical assistance for local governments
ARC’s Community Choices program provides free technical assistance to local governments, especially those with limited personnel. Since its inception in 2005, ARC has completed 58 Community Choices projects for jurisdictions large and small.
The Community Choices program helped Lithonia conduct an inventory of all residential properties in the city. To accomplish this, ARC developed a web-based tool and trained volunteers to help gather information. Now, Lithonia has a full electronic database and interactive map of its existing housing conditions and a report that outlines the next steps and possible tools the city might use to enhances its housing options.
The inventory was the first step in Lithonia’s participation in the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing program, which also provided support for the inventory.