From the NY Times:
WANT to know which New Jersey train stations have the most plentiful supply of parking spaces relative to town population? There’s a list for that. Or what about stations in the areas with the greatest number of jobs? There’s a list for that. Or transportation hubs with the densest populations? There’s a list for that as well.
The timing of the study — which maps income, car ownership, employment, housing, commuter activity, downtown amenities and more — is propitious, given the many indicators that the population will continue to consolidate in urban and commuter town centers.
“It’s funny; the timing is working out so well,” said B. Timothy Evans, the research director at NJ Future, a nonprofit research organization that focuses on smart growth. After three years spent “putting this thing together,” he added, it is a stroke of luck that “the interest is exactly in this sector.”
The interest he cited is being evinced first and foremost by home shoppers. Real estate sales are consistently strongest in towns along New Jersey’s main commuter corridors; the economic downturn has not altered that. The latest survey on home prices conducted by the Otteau Valuation Group found that towns along the rail lines with New York City commutes of less than 50 minutes saw real estate values increase by 3.6 percent from 2010 to 2011, as compared with rural New Jersey, the weakest sector, which saw an 8.7 percent drop in home values.
The future, too, looks bright for the commuter corridor, according to another Otteau survey, which found that building permits in rail towns reached 49 percent of the total permits issued from 2009 to 2010, having grown from 24 percent in the 1990s.
Developers seeking to capitalize on this interest in transit hubs have for the last several years seen their enthusiasm and ambitious plans well rewarded by the state. Public financing for transit-oriented developments, once largely directed at municipalities, is today going directly to developers, in the form of tax credits.
New Jersey’s Transit Hub Tax Credit Program has provided nearly $1 billion in tax credits over the last three years to developers and business owners who have initiated sizable projects in nine cities deemed “distressed” and in need of investment.
Bestowed by the state’s Economic Development Authority, the tax credits are available to companies investing more than $50 million in projects within half a mile of one of the designated cities’ transit stations, and generating more than 250 full-time jobs. Commercial enterprises can receive up to 100 percent tax credit on their capital investment, paid out over 10 years, while residential projects can receive up to 35 percent tax credit on the investment, up from the former cap of 20 percent.