Screenshot of DVRPC’s Smart Growth Project Database
Transit ridership continues to rise in Greater Philadelphia, and planners and developers are increasingly placing developments nearby public transit. The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), the metropolitan planning organization for Greater Philadelphia and South Jersey, is attempting to track these developments through its Smart Growth Project Database.
The Smart Growth Project database identifies transit-accessible developments — or developments located near rail or bus lines — across the nine-county DVRPC region. This includes Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery, Bucks, and Chester counties in Pennsylvania and Camden, Burlington, Gloucester, and Mercer counties in New Jersey.
The database contains 82 completed, in-progress and proposed developments located near transit. The bulk of the completed projects are within the city of Philadelphia and near Regional Rail lines in Montgomery County.
Out of the 32 proposed projects, there are 14 in South and Central New Jersey. The majority of the proposed developments are nearby New Jersey Transit’s RiverLINE. Only nine of these projects are in Philadelphia, the majority of which straddle either the Market-Frankford Line or the Broad Street Line.
In Delaware County, one of the proposed projects is near the planned Media/Elwyn Line rail extension, which SEPTA recently received funding for. The project would contain a mix of retail and residential properties at the former site of the Franklin Mint in Middletown, around 10 miles from Center City Philadelphia. Many residents have expressed concern that the project would bring congestion to the already busy Baltimore Pike. The rail extension has alleviated some of these tensions.
While the term “transit-oriented development” or “TOD” is often used to describe developments similar to these, DVRPC prefers to use the term “developments near transit.”
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“TOD implies a certain combination of compact development, pedestrian design, and land uses that is not found in some of the projects highlighted,” said Andrew Svekla, the planning and design analyst at DVRPC, who created the content for the database.
The database also includes two additional development classifications, one designated for mixed-use developments and the other for projects that are designed to control sprawl and environmental degradation. Many of the projects designed to control sprawl are located in Bucks and Chester counties.
Svekla said he has received favorable feedback from local governments and fellow planners across Southeastern Pennsylvania and South and Central New Jersey. They “find the site useful because it provides a snapshot of what is going on around the region,” Svekla said.
“We view it as way to better manage growth and development, establish vibrant communities, and help create a modern and diverse transportation system,” Svekla said.-30-
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