STEEL FRAMING ALLIANCE | FRAMEWORK ONLINE
October 1, 2008
FROM THE FIELD
 
Bright Future for Transit-Oriented Multifamily Developments in California

By Todd Setter, SFA Market Development Representative – West Coast

Changing tastes of Gen X, Gen Y and Baby Boomers, rising gas prices, and bumper-to-bumper commutes are all factors that are driving an increased focus on transit-oriented developments, according to a panel that convened on Thursday at the Multi-Housing World Conference in Denver, Col.

Since the popularity of suburban development in post-World War II America, today’s younger generation, and some Baby Boomers, are turning their backs on suburban sprawl.

“In Southern California, it used to be ‘drive until you qualify’ [for a house that is affordable],” he said. “But, it’s a waste of time to sit in traffic two, three, four hours a day.”

But mass transit is gaining ground in car-centric Los Angeles, Vasquez said, noting that ridership is up over 25 percent from last year. His firm is designing MTA Headquarter Towers in Los Angeles, an effort designed to rejuvenate the Union Station area as a transportation hub and to tie the Central Business District to growing East Los Angeles.

Many times, sustainability is a key selling point for these projects, according to William Kreager, principal at Mithun. His firm designed Mosler Lofts in Seattle, a 203-unit apartment complex in Seattle that features sustainable elements such as stormwater collection. Still, building green doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, Kreager claimed. To gain LEED certification, building a dense project gives a developer a good head start to achieve that standard.

Of course, transit-oriented developments can pose challenges. Rick Williams, founding partner of Van Meter Williams Pollock, which is designing a transit-oriented development outside of Honolulu, Hawaii, to be built around a rail transit system, said complications arise from residents who prefer less dense communities.

“Many of them favor development types that are seen in the Orient and Japan, that are one- or two-story buildings rather than four- or five-story towers,” Williams said.

And developers and lenders still cling to some outdated ideas when working on transit-oriented developments, said Brian O’Looney, associate principal of Torti Gallas and Partners, architect of three transit-oriented developments in and around Washington, D.C. Lenders require, and developers are building, the number of parking spaces needed in a typical development, rather than a transit-oriented development, thus needlessly increasing construction costs. tsetter@steelframing.org

Source: Steel Framing Alliance, September 2008

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Brought to you by the Steel Framing Alliance (SFA) on the first Wednesday of each month, Framework Online arms you with the latest news and commentary on the steel framing and construction industries. In addition to industry headlines, trends and project profiles, Framework Online provides information and ideas that will better enable members to increase their participation in the residential and commercial construction markets.