Earlier this week The Metropolitan Council approved nearly $15.4 million from the Living Community Act (LCA) Advance Transit-Oriented Development Fund. The grant monies were awarded to 17 (28 applied) high density, mixed use development projects along busy transit corridors. The TOD funds are the first to be awarded from a new category of grants within the Livable Communities program to advance Transit-Oriented Development (TOD). According to Met Council, “Awards from the TOD Fund will support development along rail and bus routes that [are] high density, mixed use, near transit stations or bus stops, and designed to be pedestrian friendly.”
The Council anticipates the $15.4 million in investments will help create about 1,000 construction jobs and another 1,000 full-and part-time jobs, 1,246 housing units (including affordable units).
LCA grants have been in place since 1995, and since then, have created over 31,000 living-wage jobs, built thousands of new affordable homes, and added millions of dollars to the local property tax base. Though leveraging billions in other public and private investment, the grants have offered redevelopment options for communities and developers.
The project recipients of the TOD Fund monies include Prospect Park Station (mixed-income rental housing development, including housing for intergenerational residents, designed to be energy efficient, walkable and bike friendly); Lyndale Garden Center in Richfield (a “vibrant” retail town center with connections to high-frequency bus service); two mixed-use buildings along the Central Corridor LRT line near the Hamline Station in St. Paul (will include affordable family and workforce rental housing, retail space and a central plaza on the site of the former Midway Chevrolet), and several grants will support new development along the Central Corridor LRT line for Western suburbs (Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie).
Other funds in the LCA grant program include: Tax Base Revitalization Account (TBRA), the Livable Communities Demonstration Account (LCDA), the Local Housing Incentive Account (LHIA), and the Land Acquisition for Affordable New Development (LAAND).
Through these funds, the Council is an active player financing numerous economic development projects throughout our metro. Last December (2011), the Met Council approved more than $11 million in grants to promote economic development and affordable housing in the region to cities participating in the LCA program. Redevelopments included the Lyndale Garden Center in Richfield, the Schmidt Brewery Brew House and Ford Plant site in St. Paul were a few of the award recipients. Other past projects have included Excelsior and Grand redevelopment in St. Louis Park and the Town Square project in Falcon Heights.
This week’s award decision marks the first round of awards from the fund, which has $32 million available. The Council expects to make additional funding available to eligible communities later this year.
All grants are awarded on a competitive basis. The Council collaborates with Minnesota Housing, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and others to review applications and select projects for award. The Livable Communities Demonstration Account utilizes a panel of 13 industry experts to review and recommend awards.