DensityThe concept of Transit Oriented Development involves granting density bonuses to encourage infill development along mass transit routes.  Theoretically, the increased value of the land due to allowable density will spur development of office, retail, and residential projects with low impact on the urban infrastructure – it is already in place.

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This is not a transit corridor along a BART line in the Bay Area.  It is Fountainhouse in Victorian Square, Sparks NV.  230 apartment/condo units build on approximately 3.1 acres at 75 Dwelling Units per Acre (DUA).  Minimum density in the heart of the Sparks MUD district (formerly TOD) is 24 units per acre.  Sparks has done a phenomenal job creating GUIDELINES that explain the objectives of the MUD/TOD and how to achieve them.

HERE are Reno’s guidelines for the S Virginia Street TOD.  Minimum density of 18 units per acre 1 block either side of SVA, 16 DUA in the rest of Midtown with 30 DUA maximum and 2 story/35′ height maximums.  Does that sound like a real TOD?

One of the largest developable parcels in Midtown is the former Lost City Farms parcel at Center and Moran.  It is just out of the “good” zoning.  At 1.157 acres, only 35 units max can be developed there.  If developed at the same density as Fountainhouse, 85 units would be possible.  If Park Lane Mall was redeveloped to Fountainhouse standards, 3450 units would be possible.

This biggest issue in Midtown isn’t the S Virginia TOD zoning overlay, it is that the Midtown Plan has been applied as an additional overlay stripping away virtually all potential density and vitality.  This hasn’t happened (yet) in the E 4th Street TOD (Brewery District), and it is becoming the Next Big Deal.

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The largest land owner by far in the E 4th Street TOD is the City of Reno.  They need to look East one City to see how to get things done so that the disappointment of Midtown isn’t repeated once again.

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