Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Industrial Land and TOD

As the Portland Example became more prominent, many cities are looking for industrial land to change into mixed use neighborhoods. While that is good and has done a great service for the Pearl District, it seems as if changing all industrial land uses into neighborhoods might not be a good thing.

Given that some industrial lands are still viable as such, pushing out the industry by routing light rail through it can either be good or bad depending on what your goals are for the corridor. Some places such as Oakland might be better served by saving industrial zones to keep jobs and tax base. Of course if there is a station adjacent, what is better for the city and region? Is it that short term tax base or the long term ridership goals of the transit agency? Is it the housing and reduction of VMT through TOD or is it being able to keep vital industry such as shipyards in Oakland's case. Where else are the ships going to go? It's an interesting dichotomy that is only beginning to pop up in planning and land use for these systems.

So how do we figure which industrial uses should be changed over? The Pearl was a railyard that was abandoned and snatched up by developers. It's proximity to downtown made it very valuable after all the details were worked out. Now its the hottest address in the northwest. Minneapolis citizens however are worried that they will run out of industrial land uses unless some of them are protected from rezoning. I want to say that is short sighted and there is plenty of land for industrial uses, the old ones disappeared for a reason, but i'm not sure if i have all the facts to make that claim yet.

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