The Murphy administration wants to gauge how it can spur development in the neighborhoods surrounding some of the state’s largest train stations, typically known as transit-oriented development.
Under a memorandum of understanding between NJ Transit and the Economic Development Authority, the two state agencies will look at “ways to work with municipalities and business leaders to finance redevelopment” in “underutilized” properties, in ways that will generate revenue for local governments and boost “pedestrian accessibility.”
Tuesday’s MOU will focus on the state’s largest train stations – Newark Penn Station, Trenton, MetroPark in Edison and Jersey City – according to Gov. Phil Murphy, who made the announcement earlier in the day at Rowan University.
“This has never been done before between the EDA on the one hand, NJ Transit on the other,” Murphy added. “And any economic development textbook you read will tell you, you get your transit centers hitting on all the cylinders, you’re going to have big economic development as a result.”
Over the years, the state has employed a myriad of ways to spur economic development around major train stations.
In 2008 the state unveiled the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit, which offers tax breaks to developers and businesses for projects of at least $50 million and within half a mile of a NJ Transit, PATH, PATCO or light rail station in East Orange, Elizabeth, Hoboken, Jersey City, Newark, Paterson and Trenton – expanded to within one mile of any such station in Camden.
But that program expired in 2013 and gave way to Grow New Jersey corporate tax breaks – now also expired – which kept the eight Urban Transit Zones and offered bonuses for those locations, adding Bridgeton, Mount Holly, Salem and West New York to the list.
Meanwhile, NJ Transit and the Department of Transportation jointly oversee the Transit Village Program unveiled in 1999 to encourage more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly neighborhoods, as well as mixed-use developments within half a mile of train station.
The goal is to cut down on driving and boost local economies by inviting people to walk or bike to local shops and businesses.
Local municipalities that apply for and earn the “Transit Village” status are eligible for a host of state funds and are put in the front of the line for other dollars they may have been seeking.