Mixed Housing Options Can Lower Traffic And Blend With The Neighborhood, While Increasing Efficiency, Accessibility, And Open Space
The ARISE plan includes a mix of housing styles and ownership structures and emphasizes smart use of density to meet ARISE’s broader objective of creating livable and accessible mixed-use communities.
The ARISE scenario achieves an estimated density of about 8,800 people per square mile, which is just over twice as dense as Highland Park surrounding the site and is significantly denser than many residential neighborhoods in the twin cities. With this gradient of density, half the site has the potential to become active open space.
Smart use of Density
By emphasizing high density housing units, such as apartments and condos, the ARISE design maximizes resource use efficiencies and affordability of living, while allowing space for a diverse kinds of value creation on site.
Higher density housing reduces energy and water utility production costs due to efficient utility infrastructure, enables low carbon transit options that thrive on the proximity of amenities, such as pedestrian and bike transit, while concentrating ridership to make stops for mass transit practical, thus promoting another carbon efficient transit option. While lowering environmental impact, higher density housing will increase affordability of living and working onsite, by decreasing transit distance between destinations. Additionally, while the compact design of the residences increases the number of residents contributing to the tax base, the ARISE plan also includes a mix of affordable high density and more expensive low density housing to further establish a strong tax base, the estimates of which have already been shown to be competitive with other scenarios envisioned by the City. An additional benefit of a compact residential design is allowing more space for amenities, such as mass transit, extensive active green space, and a central water feature created from the hidden stream on site which will be “daylighted.”
Affordable housing, according to ARISE’s calculations that account for merit of housing assistance awarded by the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, is that priced under 30% of a resident’s gross income, when the gross income is 60% or less of the median income. Between 2007 and 2011, the average median income in Twin Cities households was $46,700 (U.S. Census Bureau). Though resident employees of the onsite manufacturing would earn nearly that, they may initially need affordable housing to get established, while other residents may continue to need subsidized housing.
The suggested creation of affordable housing caters to the greater communities needs. In 2006, the Metropolitan Council’s “Summary Report: Determining Affordable Housing Need in the Twin Cities 2011- 2020” forecasted that 2,625 new affordable housing units would need to be constructed in order to meet demand for affordable housing in Saint Paul. This projection is conservative, as it does not consider the need for replacing sub-standard units, and assumes that the private market will accommodate a large part of demand. The Ford Site has the potential to relieve some of this housing demand.
The substantial tax base generated by higher densities and a diverse housing stock has made affordable housing a realistic possibility at this site. Additionally, the pre-existing features and amenities of the Highland Park neighborhood, and what we hope to add with the redeveloped Ford Site, suggest a viable environment for mixed income housing.
Pre-Existing Neighborhood Features
Although the ARISE site plan will include space devoted to civic and commercial functions, the pre-existing commercial space on Ford Parkway and close proximity of amenities, such as a grocery store and a school, will be able to subsidize new residents’ needs, helping ensure a livable and accessible community. These features, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods character, built up by a long history of investment in the livability of the space with revenue from a middle to upper class housing stock, will attract a multitude of residents with different backgrounds.
How Affordable Housing Supplements ARISE’s Vision for the Ford Site
Affordable housing is a key piece of the ARISE development plan for the Ford Site and interfaces with the other development components.
A. On-Site Employment
The location of affordable housing should take into consideration the location of low wage jobs. ARISE has projected that the planned re-industrialization of the Ford site will generate around 3,133 jobs. The median income for these jobs is expected to be around $45,450, falling below the median gross income for families in the Twin Cities (value accounts for inflation from 2008 to 2013; US Inflation Calculator). In the case that this salary is the sole source of income for a family, they may be eligible for affordable housing. It is important that the site be an accessible place to live, especially for those who work on site.
B. Transit Oriented Development
In many cases “affordable housing” is no longer affordable once transportation costs are factored in. The density built into our housing design will help meet thresholds to support nearby public transit, while the transit infrastructure and integrated zoning will promote diverse and efficient forms of transportation, especially by bike and foot. This plan, along with the fact that the site can double as a residential and work place, will cut down on transit costs tremendously.
Unlike many mixed income housing developments, ARISE is dedicated to build and continue fostering a cohesive community. In the ARISE design, recreational and practical civic spaces onsite will provide ample opportunities for resident interaction. More importantly, in the ARISE approach, soliciting feedback from the broader community and consulting local groups and experts knowledgeable about effective implementation of community development concepts will involve the Twin Cities communities in creating a livable and vibrant space that is an extension of the existing ones. After the bid is won, ARISE will continue to involve these partners to facilitate the natural development of a rich community onsite.