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Joint Public/Private Development

Another way local governments can facilitate affordable housing development is through partnering with affordable housing developers to jointly develop public facilities. Many public facilities – including schools, public parking garages, libraries, and government offices – could be opportunities for mixed-use development with affordable housing. Like land dedication, the joint development of public land can help make affordable housing more financially feasible while overcoming the challenge of limited site availability.

Joint development entails the sharing of resources to produce a likeminded vision. Resources that can be shared in the partnership might include land, financing, knowledge, or another valuable component of the development process. Most often, joint development involves a public agency with access to land that can be put to productive use by a private-sector partner. In exchange for land rights, the private partner must meet the needs of the public. That said, many other variations exit and all can lead to MITOD.

Case Studies

Oakland, California

The Fruitvale Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Station is located south of downtown Oakland, CA in a diverse and vibrant neighborhood. It was once a poverty stricken community with a commercial corridor experiencing 50% vacancy. When BART announced its plans to convert a surface parking lot into a multistory garage in 1991, The Unity Council, a local community development corporation, engaged BART to discuss an alternative that would connect the community’s languishing retail area to the BART station with a public promenade and provide acreage for the development of much needed community service space and affordable housing.

The Unity Council and BART agreed to a land swap, co-developed the garage using Federal Transit Administration funding, and entered into a long-term lease of the former BART parking lot for new development. The Unity Council gathered funding from a variety of sources to develop the garage, a public plaza, a traffic-calmed section of roadway passing through the site, 47 mixed-income housing units, 114,000 square feet of community services space, and 40,000 square feet of retail space. The project lies entirely on BART’s property and required significant joint-efforts to bring to fruition.