In my first post on the two potential Southwest Transitway alignments, I discussed the density of population, employment and transit dependent populations along each route. In this post, we’ll explore land use patterns and the mixing of uses along each route and near the stations. Click through for more.
All the data I’m using here comes from the Hennepin County parcel dataset. I’m pretty sure Minneapolis won’t supply me with their existing and future land use information as shapefiles (although I haven’t asked anyone), so I’m limited to what the assessor has to say about land use.
Just Land Use
I created a generalized land use set by combining a number of descriptions the assessor uses into the following categories: Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Public/Other Tax Exempt, Railroad, Utility and Park Board-owned land. I then mapped the land uses within 1/4 mile of each planned station. Vacant parcels within 1/4 mile show up as white.
As you see on the map, the number of different uses, the mixing of uses and the number of individual properties are greater along the 3C alignment. The barriers to accessing the station from all these uses are also fewer along 3C. Both the Penn and Van White stations sit next to freeway viaducts, so I wonder how much access there will be to the station from the other side. The area around Van White station shows a dearth of any land use, save public and park board land. No residential or commercial parcels are within 1/4 mile of this station.
A Mixed Use Ranking
Because we all like a good ranking, the second map in this series attempts to take this land use information and develop a basic measure of mixing, or a mixed use “score”.
To do this, I measured the total residential parcels per acre surrounding each station, then did the same for commercial and industrial. The commercial and industrial totals were added together. Then the residential number was multiplied by this commercial+industrial number to get a total score. I also eliminated the possibility of any stations getting a zero score when the multiplication happened (if you have zero residential parcels you would get zero, for example) by adding the two scores together in that case.
This is supposed to reward areas that had large numbers of both residential and commercial/industrial parcels. However, an area could also score highly if it had a really large number of either residential or commercial/industrial land. I don’t think this is a perfect system, so if you’ve got a better suggestion for a mixed use scoring system, I’d be happy to hear it (and map it).
The big winners here are the downtown stations (4th, 8th, Hennepin and 12th), but Uptown, Lyndale and the Franklin stations also score well. The worst performers? Van White, Penn, Royalston, 8th Street and 21st Street. Four of those belong to one alignment, I’ll let you guess which one.
I think the scores represent the truth on the ground, which is that the greater amount of fine-grained, high density mix of uses is in place along the 3C alignment. According to those who talk about transit, these are the factors you look for when trying to support transit with development, and vice versa.
Higher density and more mixing should also theoretically encourage walking to the stations, perhaps fewer transfers, and therefore be better for building a low-carbon transportation system.
Mapping parts I and II go to 3C.