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DENVER-Developing a TOD, or transit-oriented development, involves a lot more than slapping down a suburban, garden-style apartment complex in front of a light-rail station, says Art Lomenick, a managing director with Trammell Crow Co. He is also president of Trammell Crow’s High Street Residential division, which he created three years ago to pursue more new-urbanism developments.

Lomenick was recently in Denver to tour the two TODs Trammell Crow is developing here, as well as address TODs at an Urban Land Institute half-day conference in Aurora, CO. “Ramping up a mixed-use, transit-oriented development is more complex than a typical development,” Lomenick tells GlobeSt.com. He says he wants to make High Street Residential, which he created three years ago, to become one of the nation’s largest players in TODs.

A TOD takes a great deal of planning upfront and an extremely long-term perspective, he notes. “One thing you have to determine is the geographic reach of the TOD,” he says.

And a developer must look at a TOD not only as what needs to be built today, but how it might evolve over the next 10, 20 or even 100 years. In order to come up with a long-term plan, he says a public-private partnership is needed with local municipalities and/or regional transportation authorities. Indeed, he has passed on auction-type situations, where an owner of the land wants only to unload the property to the highest bidder, and doesn’t care how integrated the development will be.

“Municipalities and regional transportation authorities are really getting on board for transit-development options,” Lomenick tells GlobeSt.com. “And on a parallel track, the idea of developers creating high-density nodes around transportation centers, to me is fantastic. Ten years from now, maybe 20 years from now, I do not have any doubt that TODs are going to become a very important part of development. I see a logical progression toward TODs.”

Especially as gas prices keep rising, more and more people will be seeking ways to drive less, making public transportation more popular, he says.

Many families now need multiple cars, and he says he wouldn’t be surprised that the cost of owning, driving and maintaining cars could even become more expensive than a home mortgage in the near future for many families. But renters or homeowners in TODs who take light rail to work could dramatically cut back on the need to drive, reducing sprawl and pollution, he says, improving the quality of life. TODs have the potential to become “transit villages,” that have offices, grocery stores, movie theaters and even public spaces such as libraries and recreation centers, he says.

Lomenick is no stranger to Denver. In the mid-1990s, while he was with another company, he started a development that became the $80-million Post Uptown Square development on the former St. Luke’s property in the Uptown neighborhood, just east of Denver’s CBD. A number of years ago, he also looked at developing some high-end apartments in the Central Platte Valley with Roger Staubach, but that deal never got off the ground. His two Denver TODs are along the T-Rex Interstate 25 corridor. In the future, Lomenick says, he would love to do TODs along the FasTracks route.

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