Economic Development Fellowship
Phoenix, AZ
Peer Exchange Panel

Equitable TOD – South Central Light Rail Extension. The City of Phoenix is implementing a voter-approved, 35-year citywide transportation improvement plan which will triple the number of light rail miles in Phoenix by adding 42 miles of high capacity corridors across the city. Phoenix has identified several opportunities and challenges related to cultural, physical, and social preservation of the community that surrounds the South Central light rail extension. The South Central community has a long-standing and strong sense of identity and place throughout the corridor that is embodied in the established neighborhoods and evidenced by families who have lived there for generations. Businesses and residents who fear gentrification are heavily engaged in the project. Phoenix aims to balance and retain the area’s cultural history while enhancing the long-term economic vitality of the South Central Corridor.

In 2016, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded the City of Phoenix a $2 million transit-oriented development (TOD) grant to assist in planning efforts for the South Central light rail extension. The grant has allowed the City to:

  • Develop a proactive, early action business assistance program two years prior to construction.
  • Begin to plan for TOD adjacent to the South Central light rail extension. The intent of TOD is to create safe, convenient, accessible, and comfortable environments for walking, bicycling, and use of high capacity transit.

Working with residents, business owners, property owners, and other community stakeholders, along with a City Council-appointed steering committee, staff will serve as facilitators of the TOD planning process. The planning process will yield a TOD policy plan specific to the South Central corridor, which will serve to attract, guide, and prioritize strategic investments in infrastructure, housing, economic development, and other areas to realize a shared vision for the future. The plan will include actionable strategies for achieving long-range community goals and identify appropriate partners (city, business, or community) for implementation.

The City of Phoenix is seeking to explore effective strategies to:

  • Increase the community’s ownership position in the corridor through an inclusive business resource system that provides financial and educational support to small businesses, entrepreneurs and potential commercial property owners.
  • Support the implementation of a workforce development program as part of the South Central light rail extension project. Long term goal is to increase educational attainment, create quality jobs and provide equitable access to opportunities within high growth sectors, as well as opportunities created by the construction of future extensions.
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