So when cities come up with extensive plans for the area around a light rail station that won't be there for a few years, what is a developer or city to do? The City of Aurora south of Denver is in that predicament right now. So what are citizens who want good development to do?
One way to go is to bank the land and do something that can be easily be turned when the market changes or when the rail line extension comes. Community land trusts and affordable housing funds could possibly do this or the city could buy it to hold although thats almost like the third way below. Another is to let them develop the junk they were going to, which in the case of Aurora, like Austin, is the much hated Wal-Mart. A third and sometimes unpopular way to go is to provide incentives to make the development pencil. This is what Aurora is thinking about as well.
Bob Watkins, Aurora's director of planning, said Aurora hopes the vacant plot will be developed into "a special place that would be unique and help establish an identity for the city."A big problem is figuring out where that is going to be since engineering on LRT projects and other improvements might take years. This is where developers can take issues into their own hands if they decide to help build these transit lines. Perhaps we'll start seeing more of that soon. So when a piece of land is scoped for future development, better make sure that everything people want is in order (coding, zoning, plans, affordable housing, etc) so you don't get unlucky and stuck with Wal-Mart or providing incentives.
The city is currently trying to develop an incentive package for the project.
"It probably is going to require some kind of incentive package ... I think the time is right. We have things happening with FasTracks, with RTD, everything that's going on," Hogan said.
RTD plans to extend light rail from the Nine Mile Station at Parker Road along I-225 and then swing away from the highway with a station planned at the location.
Update: Here is a map of the area. The line will take an angle and go right.
Update 2: Had the wrong line. Better picture below.