Request for Proposals
Transit Revitalization Investment District Study
Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh
Submittal Deadline: 02/25/2014
The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) requests proposals from transportation, economic development and urban planning consultants to author a planning study that examines the feasibility of creating a Transit Revitalization Investment District near the neighborhoods of Homewood and Point Breeze North within the vicinity of the Port Authority of Allegheny County’s Martin Luther King, Jr. East Busway.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Transit Revitalization Investment District (TRID) Act of 2004 provides a financing mechanism for local taxing bodies to encourage Transit Oriented Development at Amtrak and transit stations. The TRID Act has established planning study guidelines for the creation of districts within which the financing mechanism may be applied. The purpose of this project is to conduct the planning studies required to develop a recommendation on the feasibility of establishing a TRID in the vicinity of the Port Authority of Allegheny County’s Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway.
The East Busway is an exclusive, fixed–guideway bus rapid transit (BRT) that extends 9.1 miles from Downtown Pittsburgh through many of Pittsburgh’s most populated eastern neighborhoods, eventually terminating at the Swissvale Park-and-Ride lot. Opened in 1983 and extended in 2003, the East Busway is one of the earliest and most unique forms of BRT projectsin the United States. Average weekday ridership of this 9-mile line is about 24,000 and annual ridership is almost 7,000,000.
Between 1996 and 2008, an estimated $800 million worth of development has occurred along the original East Busway between Downtown Pittsburgh and Wilkinsburg. Additional development has occurred since then and more development is underway. However, the East Busway is located within a rail corridor that has, since its days as the Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line, acted as a significant divide between the City’s wealthiest neighborhoods and the City’s most distressed neighborhoods. This divide has limited the full development potential of the East Busway, especially in those distressed neighborhoods. The railroad portion of the corridor is currently operated by Norfolk Southern.
One of the East Busway’s five stations within the City of Pittsburgh, the East Liberty Station, has begun to bridge that historic divide. In the last decade, development along the East Busway edge has begun to blur the chasm between one of the City’s wealthiest neighborhoods, Shadyside, and East Liberty, a historically distressed neighborhood. With new commerce and new residents the East Busway is now viewed as an asset, not an impediment. In 2012, the City of Pittsburgh received a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER IV program to reconfigure the existing East Liberty Station into a new mixed-use transit center. This multi-modal transit hub will reconfigure the existing station to provide better access to transit, decrease road congestion, encourage economic growth, and bridge two business and residential communities. The center will include 54,000 sq. ft. of retail, more than 350 residential units and a new parking garage. At the end of 2013, a TRID was established, which will help fund several infrastructure projects including the mixed use development.
The East Busway corridor, east of the East Liberty Station, between Larimer and Wilkinsburg, has great economic development potential. The corridor is surrounded by flat, primarily vacant developable land; an intact, compact, and walkable street grid; and is proximate to many of Pittsburgh’s most affluent neighborhoods. This study will start to look at the potential of that corridor with a focus on the Homewood Station. This corridor presents an opportunity to build on the momentum in East Liberty and continue to bridge the divide between wealthy and poor by building on one of Pittsburgh’s greatest assets, the East Busway. The study will look at the feasibility of using transit as a force for revitalization and the financing mechanism of a TRID to jump start that revitalization.
The Homewood Station is located at an important juncture between the Homewood and Point Breeze North neighborhoods. When the East Busway was constructed in the 1980s, it exacerbated the existing railroad barrier between Homewood and North Point Breeze. Today, although South Homewood and Point Breeze North share a .8 mile north/south border, there are only three cross streets that allow vehicle access between the two neighborhoods. For pedestrians crossing the East Busway involves either steps or traveling beneath a poorly lit underpass.
Once a thriving center of African-American culture Homewood has lost 88 percent of its population since 1950. Average real estate sales prices in the neighborhood are less than $20,000, 40 percent of taxable properties are tax delinquent and crime rates are among the highest in the City. A 2011 planning study for the neighborhood, Bridging the Busway, http://apps.pittsburghpa.gov/mayor/BTB_Final_Document.pdf, identified the need to focus on the Homewood Station in order to stimulate revitalization. The study focused on the East Busway as an asset that connects communities rather than divides them.
There are two components to the study area for the Homewood TRID Study. So that planning is not done in isolation, the study will look at existing conditions and planning studies for the East Corridor Area, the East Busway corridor spanning from East Liberty Station to the Wilkinsburg Station. The Primary Study Area will focus on either the half-mile radius surrounding Homewood Station or an appropriate TRID boundary as defined by the TRID Act No. 2004-238.
The major goals of the Homewood TRID study are to:
• Evaluate existing and concurrent studies in the area to form the foundation for the Homewood TRID study;
• Utilize and update the Bridging the Busway study to define requirements for TOD at the Homewood Station and to determine the feasibility of a TRID at this location;
• Integrate the station and site development to bridge the divide between Homewood and Point Breeze North;
• Work with the communities and taxing bodies to determine if the establishment of a TRID is acceptable and what area it should include based on the study results and potential development scenarios; and
• Identify the infrastructure needs to support a Homewood Station TOD.