In January, 2008, Economic and Planning Systems, Inc. was hired to conduct the New Mexico Rail Runner Express Transit Oriented Development Market Evaluation (PDF). This evaluation addresses the market potentials for commercial, residential, and mixed use development in each station area.
To better understand these opportunities and the role of Transit Oriented Development (TOD) in the region, the Market Evaluation examined some central questions:
- Balancing national and local analysis, what is the residential and commercial demand in each station area?
- Each community is unique. How do each community's vision, development activity, and residential market conditions shape the potential for TOD?
- Housing has a regional market. What do the demographic and economic trends for the region tell us about TOD opportunities?
- Recognizing the existing built environment, what is the likelihood area residents would purchase housing and commercial building in the TOD style?
Local Lessons for Transit Oriented Development
The built environment in Albuquerque, as in many western U.S cities, is typified by single family-detached homes and automobile-oriented commercial development. At a time when we are experiencing increased road congestion, commute times, travel costs, and a renewed interest in walk able communities, the introduction of commuter rail service presents new opportunities. Recent local experience with mixed-use development offers the following insights to help guide TOD development in the greater Albuquerque region:
- The Albuquerque Area is at a tipping point concerning attached housing. While the overall pool of projects is small, the number of projects and units is picking up.
- Area amenities - such as a coffee shops, delis, and grocery stores and entertainment venues - will help buyers trade-off single family living for an attached home.
- Density is important. Generally, units can be delivered at lower prices in higher density developments.
- Design must be compelling and it appears that projects with a regional flavor do best.
- The most important unit amenity appears to be private open space.
- Price is a fundamental driver. Ideally, a project target is a weighted average between $180,000 and $200,000 per unit.
- Unit size must be controlled to keep low prices. Over-sizing and over-pricing units has been a major factor contributing to slow sales rates of earlier projects.