State Farm and Transit Oriented Development

May 16, 2014 16:00 pm

by Eric The Younger · 8 comments

Over the past couple of months I’ve been doing a lot of reading on Transportation issues for work (PolicyBEST). One of the topics that keeps coming up is Transit Oriented Development (TOD). The idea is that growth is centered around a public transportation hub. This hub could be a heavy/light rail stop, a bus rapid transit (BRT) stop, or a streetcar stop. The basic idea is to increase density as you get closer to the transit center and to have mixed use development built around that transit stop.  The goal is to have a lot of options within a half mile of the stop.

This concept has proven to be quite successful in various European countries as well as several developing countries. The BRT systems in Bogota, Colombia and Curitiba, Brazil; are all built on this premise. The city of Copenhagen in Denmark began to encourage similar growth in it’s Five Fingers plan shortly after WWII, and this plan has continued to be updated and improved since. A little bit closer to home there are Denver, Colorado and Arlington, Virginia.

In Atlanta we have a few places that could be argued are TOD: The Lindbergh Center Marta Station, Perimeter Marta Station and the Decatur Marta Station. State Farm’s  announcement to move a regional HQ to the Perimeter area is a big deal because this is going to continue the growth of TOD in the metro area. State Farm chose the site specifically because of it’s access to the MARTA station.

They want their employees to be able to live, work, and play in an area without having to get into a car and drive somewhere else. Concentrating 8000 jobs in the area is going to bring a lot of families to the area as well. The less that these families have to use a car means that there will not be as much of an impact on the already bad traffic in the area. (#ProTip: Avoid it like the plague the day before Mother’s day.)

Why am I writing this now? State Farm started breaking ground on their new facility yesterday. They were even kind enough to release a few renderings of what the area will look like once they are finished. I can’t wait to see what the impact of this is on the local and state wide economy. These are the kinds of jobs we should be attracting to the area.

2014-05-07 state farm parks master plan                        M:201320130373d-7 drawingsd-7-1 revitpdfs2013-11-20 enclos

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Ellynn May 16, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Urban Design Theory on a Friday afternoon…? But the archi-nerds have already started drinking…

Will Durant May 16, 2014 at 4:23 pm

According to the AJC the first building will be 20 levels, 7 of which will be parking decks. At one time I worked in the Resurgens Plaza Building which sits on top of the north end of the Lenox MARTA station. You can walk off of the elevator in the building approximately 50 ft. from the turnstiles. It is 25 levels of which 11 are parking decks. Such is Atlanta.

Eric The Younger May 16, 2014 at 4:48 pm

They have parking decks, but State Farm has publicly stated that they chose the site because of the proximity to MARTA.

blakeage80 May 16, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Having lived in Europe for a few years, I have to say that living in mixed use development is overall depressing for people that are used to having their own space. That being said, let all the young professionals and others who don’t mind it fill those places up.

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 17, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Not only can it be argued that TOD (Transit-Oriented Development) have a positive impact on traffic, but TOD can also be used as an extremely-potent revenue generator when a large urban transit agency like MARTA operates as a largely-privatized profit-making real estate development corporation that builds each of its transit stations as revenue-generating large-scale mixed-use transit-oriented real estate developments.

Hong Kong’s MTR (Mass Transit Railway) is the urban transit agency that has been the most successful in the world at using TOD at its stations and along its transit lines as a massive generator of operating revenue. Hong Kong’s MTR has been so successful to the point that the transit agency is reported to be worth over $250 billion in value.

When utilized correctly, TOD is a tool that can be an extremely-potent generator of operating revenue for a large urban transit agency like the consistently cash-strapped MARTA (and other urban/metro transit systems like GRTA, CCT, GCT, etc).

When utilized correctly and competent, TOD can negate the need for large urban transit systems like MARTA to have to desperately beg similarly severely cash-strapped state and local governments for additional subsidies to continue funding a severely-flawed operating approach.

Needless to say, (along with competent management) revenues from large-scale TODs at transit stations and along transit lines is the critical piece of the transit-funding puzzle that has been missing from a severely cash-strapped large urban transit agency like MARTA during its entire existence. That’s especially with the ability of TODs to help make a large urban transit agency like MARTA become almost completely self-funded.

Will Durant May 17, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Hong Kong = 6,544/km²
Metro Atlanta = 243/km²

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 17, 2014 at 5:44 pm

It’s not necessarily about existing population density as much as it is about using speculative real estate development to ‘manufacture’ an urban transit systems’ own development and population density and generate operating revenue.

It’s basically the same concept that has been used with the road network in metro Atlanta in the post-World War II era, the ‘Build it and they will come’ mantra if you will….Meaning that just like with major roads, people and real estate development will also coalesce around major mass transit lines because they are major modes of transportation that are there to be used by the commuting public.

Development pops up where people and traffic can be guided to it on major roads, transit lines, in cities with major airports and seaports, etc.

Transit lines are major modes of connectivity just like major roads, airports, seaports, etc.

Build it and they will come, not just from all over metro Atlanta, but from all over the world as Atlanta is a major international city/metro that is the site of the world’s busiest airport.

That direct connectivity to the world’s busiest airport by way of high-capacity rail transit (heavy rail transit) is what has helped to boost the value of commercial real estate in major metro Atlanta business districts like Downtown, Midtown, Buckhead and Perimeter Center.

SmyrnaModerate May 18, 2014 at 10:59 am

It does seem like all the more recent large scale employer moves have been to places that are MARTA accessible. theres’s the State Farm move, Coke just moved 2000 employees out of Cobb to downtown to be adjacent to the Peachtree Center MARTA station and NCR is making their rumblings of leaving Gwinnett to move into the city. I can’t remember the last time any employer brought a large number of employees into the Cumberland area (no the Braves don’t count), most of the more recent development has been in the city of Perimeter submarkets.