Apr 1, 2019
“Brockton was really slow to see any reinvestment and then all of a sudden the city has built a tremendous pipeline,” said Ben Forman, director of MassINC’s Gateway Cities Institute, which studies the state’s substantial collection of mid-sized, formerly industrial cities. Brockton has since “leapfrogged” many of the cities it once lagged behind in terms of housing production, according to Forman.
Mar 25, 2019
Rob May, Brockton’s director of economic development and planning, famously offers up his seven-layer dip to anyone with a taste for the city’s downtown.
A 121B Urban Renewal plan forms the base. Then, he mixes in 40Q District Improvement Financing, a 40R Smart Growth Overlay District, a 40V Housing Development Zone and a Transformative Development District. He recently has added an Opportunity Zone for a dash of spice. Apparently, a few stout souls have an appetite for this concoction; a downtown that sat idle for four decades has been steadily drawing private investment.
As a case study for planners and policymakers, May’s seven-layer dip raises two central questions: How do we get other Gateway Cities to make better use of available state and federal development tools? And how do we refine these programs so that form a complementary fabric rather than a conflicting patchwork for cities?
Mar 1, 2019
WGBH News’ Bob Seay sits down with President of Transit Matters, Josh Fairchild, Transportation-Oriented Development Fellow of the Gateway Cities Institute at MassINC, Tracy Corley, and Mayor of Salem, Kim Driscoll, to discuss reliability, fare hikes and the future of the Commuter Rail. Watch it here…
Sep 14, 2018
“The answer is to build housing in cities that can absorb thousands of units of housing and move people to and from these cities efficiently on infrastructure that already exists,” said Benjamin Forman, executive director of the MassINC Gateway Cities Innovation Institute and research director at MassINC.
MassINC, a Boston think tank, and The Research Bureau jointly hosted a presentation and discussion Thursday night on MassINC’s recent study “The Promise and Potential of Transformative Transit-Oriented Development in Gateway Cities.
The 84-page report uses data from Springfield, Fitchburg, Lynn and Worcester to examine the impact of focusing development in transit-oriented districts – areas generally within a half-mile of commuter rail stations – in 13 Gateway Cities.
The report finds that land surrounding commuter rail stations in these cities is generally either vacant or underutilized. In Worcester, for instance, the think tank calculates that the neighborhood could absorb roughly 10 million square feet of added development, 23,505 more residents, and 6,698 additional jobs.
Jun 26, 2018
If you don’t have a car, getting around in western Massachusetts and Connecticut can be tricky. More trains now carry daily passengers between Springfield and Connecticut cities. But the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority is raising bus fares and threatening service cuts. There’s a cycle to this: Low ridership can mean weak economic investment near transit stations. And that means even fewer people ride.
The new study examines this thin four so-called “gateway cities” in Massachusetts: Springfield, Worcester, Lynn and Fitchburg. Ben Forman with MassINC helped to lead the study.
Jun 18, 2018
According to the study, a dozen factory towns around Boston—including other former shoe towns like Haverhill and Lynn, and former textile cities like Lawrence and Lowell—could accommodate well over a 100 million square of additional development within walking distance of existing transit stations. This is sufficient space to house at least a quarter of the population and employment growth projected for the entire state over the next decade. With Boston hugely expensive and bursting at its seams and suburban communities, like the one where I boarded this train, doing everything in their power to keep growth out, these former mill cities represent long-overlooked housing, commercial, and transit opportunities for the Boston metropolitan area.
May 22, 2018
Ultimately, Regional Ballot Initiatives would save money by helping regional planning agencies, city and town governments, and construction contractors budget and plan for local projects ahead of time, instead of waiting on state or federal funds to decide their fate.
The initiatives could also encourage growth in our downtowns: a recently released report by MassINC’s Gateway City Innovation Institute identified Regional Ballot Initiatives as a key way to promote transit-oriented economic development in our state’s mid-sized cities.
When voters are given a choice over raising new revenues, and know exactly where their money will be going, they will fund projects that their communities need.
Apr 27, 2018Large corporations are moving back into the city. To support such a trend — to ensure that employers have easier access to talented workers — we need the state, cities, towns and private developers to embrace transit-oriented development incentives and, once and for all, get on the same track.
Apr 27, 2018
“The interesting thing that we found about Worcester is that the market is strengthening to the point where it can be developed,” said Mr. Forman, citing the CitySquare project as an example. “In Worcester, there’s going to be gaps in some projects, but they’re starting to narrow, to the extent that if we improve the transit service and make the transit service a larger development value,” the development will occur.
Apr 24, 2018The study finds that today, the land surrounding commuter rail stations in these 13 cities tends to be vacant and underutilized. It could potentially house 230,000 residents and 230,000 jobs, which would be an increase of around 140,000 residents and workers.