FROM THE LinkedIn GROUP – REAL ESTATE AND MOBILITY
How the new tax bill will cut infrastructure investment
“The tax cuts will cause muni debt to be more expensive for states and local governments through several mechanisms. Many muni buyers are wealthy individuals, particular retirees. When the top marginal tax rate is cut, the value of debt being tax-free falls. This decline in value from cutting taxes for the top marginal rates will ripple through and make the bonds worth less. This means that new tax-free municipal debt will have to pay higher interest rates to attract capital. Higher interest costs for infrastructure agencies means less money available to build, repair, and upgrade infrastructure.”
A User’s Guide to the Dawn of Robot Driving
“The first robot rides will operate at low speeds, moving cautiously enough even in dense traffic that urban planners may add specifically defined pickup areas and slow lanes for automated vehicles. That will help prevent rear-enders and other similar crashes that result from impatient, inattentive humans. There will also probably be human minders, either on board or monitoring remotely, poised to take control if artificial intelligence needs to be replaced with the biological variety. ”
” With competition already brutal in the ride-hailing sector – Uber lost almost $1.5 billion in 17Q3 – competition looks to get still more intense. Google is planning to employ as many as 24,000 autonomous vehicles, while GM and other big automakers are planning similar offerings. With so many large, deep-pocketed firms fighting hard in the same space, making outsized profits seems impossible. But, services and prices received by users should be outstanding.”
Denver’s first driverless shuttle hits the test track, avoids tumbleweed before possible 2018 launch
“Autonomous vehicles are expected to one day dominate urban streets with most driverless cars operating as taxis at a very low cost — about 30 cents per mile compared with today’s $2 to $3 for taxi rides or 70 cents for those who own their cars, said Tasha Keeney, an analyst with Ark Invest, an investment management firm focused on disruptive innovation.”
If You Hate Driving in the Snow, a Robot Can Now Do It For You
“VTT isn’t the only autonomous car outfit to test in the snow, but since Martii is specifically designed for the purpose, it has a head start; real-world tests began early this past autumn. By comparison, Russian software giant Yandex’s model has hit only private roads, and Google’s Waymo saw snow for the first time just last month.”
Beyond the Bus: ‘Microtransit’ Helps Cities Expand Transportation Services
“The clearest example comes from Los Angeles County, where LA Metro, one of the nation’s largest transportation agencies, announced in October that it would take bids from companies on how to deliver microtransit…One reason microtransit is so attractive is that it allows cities to innovate quickly, says Mark de la Vergne, Detroit’s chief of mobility innovation. Detroit wants to experiment with different types of vehicles, different payment methods and different dispatching systems.”
The Subways Made Them Rich. Is It Time for Them to Pay Up?
At a meeting Wednesday where the board approved construction of 10 miles of new track on Long Island, a board member, Carl Weisbrod, argued that some of the cost should be paid by the real estate development the new service will make possible. The urban planners call it “value capture.” The chairman of the M.T.A., Joseph J. Lhota, replied, “All future projects will take that into account.”
Incentive Height and Design Overlays for River North / 38th & Blake Station Area
Planners have been working with Denver Councilman Albus Brooks, neighbors and property owners at the 38th & Blake transit station to devise a “value-capture” approach to new zoning there. The proposal would allow any project at 38th & Blake to exceed certain heights if it provides specific benefits to the neighborhood such as affordable housing, five times the affordable housing fee, or community-serving uses. Maximum heights still fall within the area plan’s recommendations, and good design matters.
Jump starting the EV revolution will take more quick charging stations, but who will pay for them?
“By 2030, state forecasts call for more than 300,000 electric cars under a moderate adoption scenario and more than 900,000 in an aggressive one, said Christian Williss, director of transportation fuels and technology program at the Colorado Energy Office…One concern is that landlords don’t have an incentive to install charging stations, especially at older multifamily developments…By 2025, RMI predicts electric cars will cost the same or less than gasoline models to purchase, without any incentives…If multiple players build out the recharging network without any coordination, electric-vehicle owners could face a frustrating future of fiefdoms and empty quarters when they travel long distances…Electrification is also coinciding with big advances in autonomous vehicle technology. Vehicles could eventually drive themselves to centralized charging bays at night.”
America Still Loves Cars, But Some Cities Are Starting to Ditch Them
“Still, many individual cities are seeing more of their residents forgo vehicle ownership. Several mid-sized cities recorded notable increases in shares of car-free households when averages from the 2015 and 2016 American Community Surveys are compared with those for 2009 and 2010.”
Curb appeal: This overlooked bit of urban infrastructure becomes a battleground for transportation innovators
“The rise of online retail has caused a sharp uptick in home deliveries — and delivery trucks need a place to unload. Combine that with ride-hailing companies, like Uber and Lyft, car sharing services like ReachNow and car2go, and you see increased competition for a place to pull over, often leading to congestion and illegal maneuvers.”
Hartford Eliminates Parking Minimums Citywide
Without the burden of parking mandates, it was easier for developers to rehab downtown buildings, said Bronin. “There have been some buildings that have been renovated downtown in a much faster and more efficient way by not having to provide as much parking,” she told Streetsblog. “Because of that we felt that it was time to bring that same benefit to developments citywide.”
RTD opened the new Civic Center Station at Broadway/Colfax on December 17 with a modern design, new bus bays, a glass-enclosed terminal, an open public plaza, and better connections than ever before. Civic Center Station serves as one of RTD’s busiest regional bus transit centers with eighteen routes serving an average of 15,000 passengers a day. It provides a turnaround point for the 16th Street Free MallRide and is also the location of the Civic Center Plaza – an integral part of the downtown landscape for more than three decades. Changes to the bus and rail service are scheduled to begin on January 14, 2018, to enhance service to passengers and provide better connections across the communities RTD serves. RTD and the City and County of Denver, in partnership with the Downtown Denver Partnership and Downtown Denver Business Improvement District sponsored the Civic Center Transit District Plan (CCTDP) to establish a long-term vision and identify near-term implementation options for the future of the station area as a revitalized urban transit hub and new downtown anchor. More at:
RTD’s mobile ticketing for day passes is here. Bypass the line, avoid a stop at the ticket vending machine, and stop worrying about having exact change for day passes by using the new RTD Mobile Tickets app on your Apple or Android mobile device. Just download the app, purchase a pass the day you plan to travel, and your phone is your ticket.
The City of Denver, RTD and partners recently released initial redesign concepts for the 16th Street Mall, the heart of downtown Denver. Watch for updated concepts and more detailed plans in 2018.
This fall, the Denver Moves: Transit team identified 19 corridors for proposed for major transit capital investment (e.g., rail, bus rapid transit, etc.) based on stakeholder input and analysis. The team attended several community events and posted an online survey asking the community which of these corridors should be a top priority for Denver. We received over 1,000 responses – with highest overall votes for Colfax Avenue, Colorado Boulevard, Federal Boulevard, Broadway/Lincoln, and Speer Boulevard/Leetsdale Drive. Since then, the team has further analyzed the 19 corridors to identify level of improvements. The recommended improvements will be available for feedback during the community open houses and online survey in January.
The City of Denver reports that Denver International Airport (DEN) will kick off work on the Great Hall Project later this summer. After obtaining City Council and Mayoral approval of the Great Hall Project last August, DEN and the Great Hall Partners (GHP) are working to finalize design so that construction can begin in about six months. Currently, the design is 30 percent complete with work continuing through the winter and spring.
The INC Transportation Committee updates us on transit along East Colfax Avenue. In 2012, the City of Denver began discussing solutions with the public for improving transit, mobility, and accessibility along Colfax. After years of analysis and a robust public outreach process, Denver identified East Colfax as an ideal candidate for Bus Rapid Transit. The community then helped shape the center-running concept, which was identified in 2017. In the current phase, Denver is actively seeking feedback on a draft “preferred alternative”. With input from the public, a more detailed design for BRT and project implementation schedule will be developed this year, with construction anticipated to begin as early as 2020. The General Obligation bond package Denver voters overwhelming passed on November 7 includes $55 million for additional design and initial implementation for BRT on Colfax, as well as more than $20 million for streetscaping improvements and other funds for pedestrian and bike safety enhancements along the corridor.
Confluence Denver suggests you forget everything you thought you knew about low-income housing. In Denver Housing Authority’s redevelopments, modern design elements straight out of Dwell magazine harbor sleek, mixed-income villages, resulting in public housing that’s affordable and forward-thinking.
The University of Denver (DU) recently launched its Campus Master Plan process—a planning effort that will create a blueprint to guide the evolution of the physical and built environment on and around the campus.
This is a unique planning effort in that it will not only examine the campus, but also its edges. The goal is to promote greater interactions with neighboring communities, commercial areas and parks, as well as to improve transportation, pedestrian, and bicycling systems for the entire area. You may have come to one of the kick-off open forums hosted at DU last month, which were attended by community members, students, faculty and staff. Throughout the planning process, DU will continue to work with the community to gather your ideas and vision for the future of the area. After last month’s forums, DU released a survey to gather feedback on priorities for the kinds of spaces and places the community would like on and around campus, as well as ideas to support mobility and sustainability.
Denver City Council Member Paul Kashmann reports that the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is building a new facility by Mile High Stadium (I shall call it that until my last breath), and put its headquarters site at Arkansas Avenue and South Birch Street (12 acres) and the Region I facility at 2100 S. Holly St. (11 acres) for sale. Denver secured the right to negotiate for the purchase of that land with the intention of it being purchased by a private developer that would create uses that are in line with city policies. Last month, Denver forged an agreement with the Kentro Group for the purchase of both sites ($14 million for headquarters; $5.25 million for Region I).
The Region I site is zoned for mixed-use with a maximum 3-story height. Kentro’s current proposal is to build a combination of 160 – 180 3-story walk-up (no elevator) for-sale units, and 50-80 units of senior housing. As these uses are compatible with existing zoning, there will not be a need for the property to be rezoned.
Kentro’s early plans for the Arkansas/Birch site will require a rezoning to allow for a combination of commercial/residential uses – commercial and possibly residential on the western portion of the site, and 150 units of for-rent affordable housing to the east. This plan still has numerous moving parts, and will require a full public process leading to a vote by City Council.
I am excited at the opportunity these projects present, but also starkly aware of the challenges. The main roads that would access these sites – Colorado Boulevard, Evans Avenue., Holly Street. and Florida/Arkansas avenues. are already challenged. I will be looking for assurances that the planned developments complement, rather than overrun the community.
I will be meeting soon with Kentro and our office of Community Planning and Development to discuss the public process and will announce that in short order.
Confluence Denver reports there’s so much construction going on in Denver these days, it’s hard to sort out the good from the bad from the ugly. Well, maybe not the ugly; things are going up fast and we all have our own personal eyesores. But today, we concentrate on the good, thanks to the annual Mayor’s Design Awards for 2017.
The City of Denver reports Demolition of the City Park Golf Course Clubhouse by Year End. The Saunders Construction Design-Build team is set to remove the clubhouse building starting by the end of the year and the work will continue into the first quarter of 2018. Scheduled to reopen in 2019, the City Park Golf Course Redesign project includes an updated 18-hole golf course with, natural landscaping, a new clubhouse and maintenance facility, storm water detention that provides increased flood protection to thousands of homes, and a reforestation program with a net gain of 500 trees. In addition, for the trees being removed, the team is working to reuse/recycle them as mulch, artwork and zoo habitat. The redesign maintains sweeping vistas and park like feel of the course. Construction of the new clubhouse and maintenance facility will start in mid-2018.
Cherry Point Properties reports that Tony’s Market on Broadway is closing, moving to south Denver location. Tony’s will be one of a number of complementary businesses inside Happy Canyon, a 42,000-square-foot food hall that includes a 13,000-square-foot wine and liquor store. There also will be a bakery, a bar, a florist and other shops. The concept is similar to collaborative shopping centers such as The Source, Denver Central Market and Stanley Marketplace.
The City of Denver reports that thousands of Denver residents weighed in on Denveright’s update of Blueprint Denver, calling for quality-of-life infrastructure for all neighborhoods like safe sidewalks, parks and open space, housing options, transit access and much more.
Denver City Council Member Kendra Black and Denverite report that the vacant Kmart property on Evans and Monaco remains a top priority for me to solve for our community. Although it may look like nothing is happening, I want to share with you the actions I have taken to date and my continuing effort.
Behind the scenes, the Mayor and Council Member Black went to New York and met with the property owners to encourage them to sell the property. We shared your and our concerns of the negative impact the vacant store causes the entire community. The owner has not cooperated in a way that supports a sale of the property, so we requested the Denver Urban Renewal Authority (DURA) to conduct a blight study. Unfortunately, that study did not result in an ability to condemn the property. I am unsatisfied with the results of the blight study, so I have requested to meet with DURA to show them evidence of the continuing deterioration of the property.
I’ve been working closely with our Director of Real Estate who is in regular contact with both the property owners and Sears who leases the property. This is a very complicated real estate situation because Sears holds a lease that, with options, has a remaining term of 62 years and they remain current on the lease. Numerous developers have interest in the property, have made offers to both the property owners and Sears, and have proposed redevelopment plans. Unfortunately, the owners and lessee are not willing to accept a market rate offer to sell the property and terminate the lease. As we enter 2018, I want to assure you that I am escalating my efforts to ensure this property sells to a developer that will develop a meaningful project that will benefit the neighborhood and community.
Council Member Black also reports that construction of the Green Box Storage on the site of the former Rockies Inn on Evans & I-25 will begin in mid-2018. It will be a net zero building, meaning the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site.