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Thread: Development Rights Transfers for Social Services

  1. #1
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    Development Rights Transfers for Social Services

    I am researching a transfer of development rights situation in my fair city involving a social services conglomorate called "The Village", a public/non-profit partnership.

    The Village, with the help of our city's Community Development Block Grant program, purchased 29 acres to develop a social services hub in the city, including uses like the food bank, family justice center, community action, youth services bureau, etc., along with some ball fields and playgrounds.

    Now that The Village has the property, they are searching for ways to develop the site on a faster schedule than possible using only private donations. As a block grant administrator and long-range planner, I'm looking into the potential to use our Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) provision as a means to get them some money and allow faster project completion. They are currently zoned to allow 18 units/acre (public uses are allowed in all districts). The value of the rights would be enough to build all of the infrastructure and about 6 of the 8 buildings, along with all of the ball fields and playground.

    I believe TDRs were created originally to maintain permanent open space and protect environmental features. I have not heard of cases where TDRs were used for other public purposes, like social services in this case. This particularly appeals because I could see the development rights being transferred into a TOD near our proposed regional rail station, really getting the density up to a level that would support the station and provide a significant boost to our downtown population.

    Has anybody seen TDRs used for this type of purpose, other than environmental or open space preservation? I also appreciate any thoughts you have on benefits/pitfalls of such an arrangement.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  2. #2
    Somewhat related, you might look into what the South End Neighborhood Health Center in Boston did a couple of years ago. The development rights were not transfered, they ended up building a mixed use development with condos over the offices and commercial space.

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