Mobility Oriented Development (MOD)
Basics of Mobility Oriented Development (MOD)
Transit-oriented types of development (TOD) have been utilized for many years in larger communities that typically have rail and bus or mass transit options for transportation. St. Augustine has chosen to refer to this general type of development related to potential transit as Mobility Oriented Development (MOD) because of the city’s 2020 Comprehensive Plan update, discussion and implementation of mobility improvements and choices within the city. For example, the complete street transformation of Hypolita Street, Treasury and Spanish Streets downtown, as well as, the availability of e-bikes, dynamic parking pricing, and shuttle services.
In general MOD developments are defined as walkable, compact, mixed-use projects including a mix of residential and commercial uses, higher density, preferably within walking distance to a transit facility. This should include enhanced convenience and safety for walking and bicycling to provide a vibrant livable community.
There are five (5) key principles or characteristics for MOD types of development. They are:
- Walkable, high quality pedestrian environments that integrate streetscaping;
- Higher density closest to transit centers that decrease sprawl and promotes compactness;
- Transit centers are the center of a destination that is a diverse mixed-use development;
- Parking located in proximity to the development and well designed and managed; and
- The community has public transit facilities and services.
Status of the Rail Station
The first issue related to the city’s interest in creating an MOD land use category in the Comprehensive Plan and a zoning district is the fact that there is a State and regional agency proposal to locate a commuter rail station within the city of St. Augustine. Initially there were two (2) locations being considered: one (1) near the intersection of Highway US 1 and King Street, and the second on North US 1 at the FEC Maintenance Building location. During early considerations the location analysis focused on the intersection of Highway US 1 and King Street/West King.
The project is in the Planning stages. Currently, there is a 1 million dollar grant for community outreach and discussion. The agencies are trying to garner as much input as possible over the next year. Additionally, the agencies are working on funding for a PD&E study (Planning, Development and Engineering study) to do a corridor analysis.
The corridor analysis would look at four (4) stops, St. Augustine, Racetrack Road, The Avenues Mall area and downtown Jacksonville. These stops were prioritized out of 16 original locations under consideration. Other considerations include a certain “critical mass” of density to justify the stop and a 1,300-foot distance of straight track to facilitate the train stop and required station location.
The I-95 corridor through the region is reaching its limit of capacity and expansion within right-of-way limits. There is a need for alternative forms of transportation. The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) is actively working on transit options. South and Central Florida are already moving forward with options that include rail. The rail right-of-way is sufficient to accommodate passenger rail along with freight requirements. The reality is that the region can not be reliant on automobiles into the future. It is not sustainable for the long term.
Typical fears related to MOD developments are that a transit/mobility development will take away neighborhood character, cause traffic congestion and lead to gentrification.
Typical benefits demonstrate encouragement of a pedestrian and bicycle friendly environment, support of local businesses, increased property values and combating urban sprawl, and facilitating multimodal needs and creative patterns of land use.
Why is the City of St. Augustine interested in MOD land use?
A primary focus of the city’s updated Comprehensive Plan that is a Plan out to 2040 is the recognition and promotion of compact development within the city including trying to promote a mix of uses to encourage a diverse economy.
Infill development and redevelopment is discussed throughout the plan to encourage compact reuse of properties within the city. Infill development, redevelopment, and revitalization in areas targets growth and reinvestment. The definitions are also included below.
Infill development encourages strategies, tools and programs in areas to optimize infrastructure investments and consume less land, promote an efficient compact pattern of land use and development. This encourages reinvestment in areas and use of existing infrastructure including efficient delivery of quality public services, as well as mobility options.
Redevelopment is the conversion of an existing built property into another use which is ideally a better use of property.
Revitalization means instilling new life and vitality into a community which may include reusing, renovating, improving building facades, streetscaping and using planning tools to leverage local assets. This also includes possibly filling in “gaps” in the streetscape, efficient land use, economic development and utilizing existing infrastructure. Reinvestment in existing areas will hopefully increase the potential to create jobs, and encourage adaptive reuse of underutilized buildings.
Mixed use infill is discussed to specifically encourage efficient live and work opportunities, conduct business, shop dine and socialize, create walkable, and bikable areas, encourage transit, to reduce driving, create greater housing variety and density that can be affordable by lowering transportation costs, and at the same time provide a consistent customer base in an area or neighborhood. The goal is compact, innovative land use management and efficient multimodal transportation systems.
The intent is to encourage transit within a 10-minute walk, which is approximately a quarter mile to a one-third mile radius. The city’s Walkability score is 73 out of 100 for walking and 74 out of 100 for biking. A goal through increased mobility options and efforts would be to promote an improving Walkability score.
Fitting into the Big Picture
As we look at changing demographics and associated real estate desires increasing demand for high quality, compact and walkable communities, promoting planning to sustain a diverse economy, fostering community design we are promoting, development that serves the economy, community, public health, and the environment. This can include vertical and horizontal project designs.
The city is trying to encourage economic development to build on existing assets to leverage local assets to improve quality of life, and a high quality of life providing opportunities to attract and retain talented employees.
A balance of complimentary land uses can attract investment in areas intended for growth, infill development, or redevelopment, including coordinated provision of infrastructure and services that support business investment and market-ready (re)investment.
The concept of “Complete communities” is a new term that the city is uniquely set to recognize and plan ahead in these aspects to promote a healthy and active, sustainable, and inclusive community.
There are five (5) key principles or characteristics of “complete communities”. They are:
- Complete streets
- Efficient land use
- Healthy and livable
- Inclusive and active, and
- Sustainable and resilient
These design principles for communities include, building livable communities, preserving historic resources, respecting local character in new construction, and reducing the impact of vehicles. All principles that are attainable for St. Augustine.
General Benefits of Community Identity
Livable communities are a balance of jobs, homes, services, and amenities. Traditional neighborhoods are compact, pedestrian and bicycle friendly, have quality public space and a variety of uses and building types.
Neighborhoods should create a sense of place, and community identity that encourages social interaction, walking and connectivity, preserve historic resources, reduce impact of cars, and balance the auto with other transportation options.
These are all goals of the city’s Mobility Plan. Including peripheral parking facilities and offering alternative forms of transportation to relieve the stress of vehicles in the downtown.
*Note most of this material was taken from common sources, and based on commonly understood planning definitions. The Complete Communities Toolbox from the state of Delaware was referred to extensively.
This information is prepared by the City of St. Augustine Planning and Building Department to communicate with interested individuals and the citizens of St. Augustine regarding the proposed Comprehensive Plan amendment that creates a land use category in the City’s Comprehensive Plan related to a concept of Mobility Oriented Development, MOD for short.
The city is also proposing to create a compatible zoning district that will be inserted into the city Zoning Code that is a companion to the MOD land use category and outlines the uses and parameters for any proposed development.