A Catalyst for Smart Development

Maine's two largest developments, the $82 million rebuild of the mill's in Saco and the proposed $100 million Thompson Point project are both predicated on access to the Downeaster and good rail service to Boston.

Now grants to upgrade the Vermonter route have sparked interest in development along it's route.

"In towns and cities throughout the 350-mile corridor between New Haven and Montreal, officials . . . are anticipating high-speed commuter and interstate rail. They're now making initial plans to refurbish train stations into retail and office space as the first step toward remaking downtowns as pedestrian-friendly residential, commercial and shopping districts," the Associated Press writes

Throughout the country "Transit Oriented Development" is prospering at a time when housing starts and construction in general are flat.  

Younger folks want the urban lifestyle of being able to walk.  It's more environmentally sustainable and culturally rich.

At the center is the train station.

"It's not just about the train service," said Timothy Brennan, executive director of the Springfield, Mass. Pioneer Valley Planning Commission told the Associated Press. "It's how train service becomes a catalyst for development.

"'The economics of putting housing near transit are undeniable," says David Fink, policy director for the Partnership for Strong Communities, a statewide housing policy organization in Connecticut .
 
"This is truly an economic spinoff for anywhere the train will come through," according to Chris Moskal, the interim chief development officer for Springfield, Mass, quoted by AP.
 
"Melinda Moulton, a developer in Burlington, Vt., secured $1.5 million from federal and state sources to revamp the city's train station, making it accessible to the handicapped, adding space for an artist and renting out space for events such as dinners and fundraisers for nonprofit organizations," writes AP. 

"I've been patiently and arduously trying to get rail back to Burlington," Moulton said.