III. Regional Framework for TOD Investments

Metro’s TOD Program makes small, but highly strategic grants to private developers to promote high quality urban development in transit rich areas. To help ensure that TOD program investments are well targeted to meet program goals as well as broader regional land use and mobility goals, CTOD and Metro TOD Program staff have developed a TOD typology and investment framework. This typology has been developed specifically for Metro’s TOD Program as a tool to guide the types and timing of program investments based on the readiness of transit communities to support urban development that promotes transit ridership and non-auto mobility. The typology allows transit communities to be clustered based on a range of conditions related to transit orientation and market strength, and each cluster is connected to a particular type of appropriate investments to maximize TOD potential.

The TOD typology is a powerful tool to help Metro TOD Program staff to prioritize where and when to make investments, determine the types of investments that are appropriate in varying transit communities, and guide the timing and scale of those investments. The TOD typology is also a dynamic tool, backed by regional data that will be updated over time, allowing the designations for specific station types and corridors to evolve. Although the TOD typology and investment framework is specifically intended to provide direction to the TOD Program, it is important to note that the TOD Program should be considered as only one component of a comprehensive package of TOD implementation tools that Metro and other regional stakeholders can deploy. Achieving Portland’s full TOD potential will require the coordination and involvement of many public and private entities beyond Metro.

The typology is not intended as a tool to evaluate specific decisions related to individual development projects or acquisition of land once Metro staff have determined that those activities are appropriate in the given station area. Recommendations for the evaluation system at the project scale are provided in Chapter IV along with recommendations for other program activities.

What is a Typology?

Figure 15: The Baltimore Typology and TOD Strategic Plan evaluated development and demographic characteristics to define future investment priorities.
Figure 15: The Baltimore Typology and TOD Strategic Plan evaluated development and demographic characteristics to define future investment priorities.
Click to enlarge

Many cities and regions around the nation have recently turned to typologies as a key tool for structuring short- and long-term investments in transit communities. A TOD typology provides a means of classifying and differentiating the many transit rich communities throughout the region by grouping them based on key shared characteristics. Typologies have seen a variety of uses in different regions. Denver developed a TOD typology to provide a vision for the density and land use mix that would be appropriate in each of the city’s existing and planned light rail station areas. The typology was a guide for subsequent detailed station area planning studies. In Baltimore, a typology was developed to identify and assign station area investment needs to a broad range of TOD actors and stakeholders including affordable housing developers, the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore and its surrounding counties, and non-profit and philanthropic groups. This typology was folded into a broader TOD Strategic Plan that has enabled Baltimore to more systematically fund transit-supportive projects, rather than continuing the historic practice of investing in a less effective, piecemeal fashion.

Investment Framework Overview

To prioritize station areas for investment in TOD, this framework evaluates the current physical, economic, and demographic characteristics of transit communities throughout the region. The TOD Investment Framework has two primary components:

  • The place types divide the transit communities into nine categories that connect the market and urban form characteristics of each area.
  • Similar place types are grouped into clusters to offer a general overview of the types of actions appropriate for each. This also allows new programs or activities to be introduced where appropriate to maximize future TOD potential.

The framework is then used to make recommendations on the phasing of investment activities and a description of how these investments can be made.

Typology: Market Strength and Transit Orientation

The typology divides transit communities into nine distinct types based on two key variables: relative market strength, and transit orientation. These variables were chosen to capture development potential and transit supportiveness through modeling market and urban form characteristics. Most of the TOD Program’s strategies are intended to work in areas where small programmatic investments can catalyze a much more significant transformation in terms of development activity, travel behavior, community support, and/or physical transformation of a district. To be effectively catalytic, the program’s investments are best suited for those transit communities with some existing local strengths.

Market Strength

The strength of the real estate market in a particular transit community is a significant determinant of the type of investment that might be made by the TOD Program. It is difficult for the TOD Program to catalyze private development in an area with limited or no existing market activity. Conversely, an area with strong market activity may not need the same level of intervention to attract development or encourage desired building types. Emerging areas that have some market strength, but few successful urban, mixed use buildings, on the other hand, may be ideal candidates for TOD Program investment. Here, program intervention can help to push a ripening market and escalate development intensity and quality since higher density mixed-use building types cost significantly more to build on a per square foot basis.

The market strength component of the typology is determined using data on residential (including mixed use) and commercial real estate sales by square foot from around the region.14 This is a common measure of market strength that offers a uniform data source for the entire region. This measure uses all real estate transactions that occurred between 2000 and 2010 for residential and mixed-use (residential/commercial) land uses. This decade-long time frame enables the sales transactions to span several market cycles, offering a more normalized, long-range look at performance. The typology divides market strength into three categories: Limited, Emerging and Stronger. The division between each category is based on natural breaks in the sales data.

  • Limited: these areas have weaker market conditions and lack the sales values necessary to support new compact and/or mixed use development. TOD Program investments in these areas, thus, are less likely to catalyze additional private development and should be used only on a limited basis. Emphasis on visioning and planning is more appropriate to begin to develop physical and regulatory conditions that could influence future private development interest.
  • Emerging: these are areas that have limited to moderate real estate market conditions and where intensive building types are generally not supported in the near-term. Although they may lack immediate market support for TOD, emerging areas may be ideally suited for catalytic TOD Program investments to enhance local market strength. These areas represent a “sweet spot” for TOD program investment, since land and development costs are not elevated (as in Stronger market areas) and small investments may catalyze further market investment by creating market comparables.
  • Stronger: these are areas where market conditions are beginning to support higher density mixed use development and infill. Since the markets of these areas are already ripe or ripening, TOD Program investments should focus on improving urban living infrastructure (amenities), developing prototype developments for the region and funding more “aggressive” (e.g. more significant increase in density compared to recent development in the area) TOD projects. Low- to moderate-income housing development in these areas may be more challenging due to high land prices, so strong market areas may be an appropriate place for Metro TOD program to support affordable and workforce housing projects.

This approach is not predictive of the financial feasibility of new development in any given category, but rather it provides a relative sense of how any individual area performs relative to the region. Because of its market strength, downtown Portland is excluded from this analysis. A closer look at the areas falling in each category, however, shows that generally there is limited new market-rate development occurring in areas with limited market strength, while emerging and stronger market areas are witnessing some new infill, redevelopment and adaptive reuse activity. Market rate projects in emerging areas are relatively lower density (and a lower cost to build) than those projects being built in stronger market areas. Generally, stronger market areas tend to be closer to the core of the city of Portland and concentrated along the city’s key corridors. A handful of outlying station areas and corridors, often close to historic centers, also fall into the stronger and emerging market categories.

Transit Orientation

While the market strength metric provides a rough measure of compact development feasibility based on local real estate conditions, it does not offer any indication of how supportive the surrounding physical environment is for transit supportive uses, including higher density development with lower parking ratios. Research has shown that a few key measures can strongly predict the readiness of an area to support walkable, mixed-use development and to allow residents to live a transit lifestyle that includes less reliance on a personal automobile. The transit orientation measure is a composite of these important elements of TOD-supportive physical form:

The 5 “P’s” of Transit Orientation

Figure 16: The 5 "P's" of Transit Orientation.
Figure 16: The 5 “P’s” of Transit Orientation
Click to enlarge

Traditionally, true TOD has been said to possess the 3 “D’s” of density, diversity (e.g. mix of uses, age cohorts, income groups), and design (pedestrian scale and orientation). For the purposes of better capturing “urban character” in a composite measure, a more holistic view of the transit friendliness of transit communities is proposed here. The 5 “P’s” used for this analysis are as follows:

  • People: The number of residents and workers in an area has a direct correlation with reduced auto trips15;
  • Places: Areas with commercial urban amenities such as restaurants, grocers, and specialty retail not only allow residents to complete daily activities without getting in a car, but they also improve the likelihood of higher density development by increasing residential land values16;
  • Physical Form: Small block sizes promote more compact development and walkability17;
  • Performance: High quality, frequent bus and rail service makes public transportation a more reliable means of getting around and can be correlated to less driving.
  • Pedestrian/Bicycle Connectivity: Access to sidewalks and low stress bikeways encourages many more people to walk or cycle to transit and neighborhood destinations.

Some locations may be strong on one or more of the five ‘P’s but weaker on the others. Figure 17 shows thre different station areas evaluated based on their ‘P’s. It is useful to look at both the composite score for each station area, as well as the factors in which each is strong or weak. Relative to station areas outside of downtown Portland, the Merlo Road station area scores low on every dimension of the 5 ‘P’s, while the Hollywood Station has a much higher overall score. However, even in the Hollywood station area, there is room for continued improvement.

Figure 17: These three station areas demonstrate very different outcomes of evaluating the 5 'P's for specific locations.
Figure 17: These three station areas demonstrate very different outcomes of evaluating the 5 ‘P’s for specific locations.
Click to enlarge

Transit Orientation Scores

Figure 18: Composite transit orientation map for the region.
Figure 18: Composite transit orientation map for the region
Click to enlarge

Figure 19: Transit Orientation Score in 3D, as viewed from the southeast.
Figure 19: Transit Orientation Score in 3D, as viewed from the southeast
Click to enlarge

Figure 18 is the composite, or Transit Orientation Score, map of the 5 P’s for the region. The region’s diversity is reflected in the range of scores, from “transit oriented” areas with a strong combination of the five factors delineated above to “transit adjacent” communities where transit service is or would not be supported by the surrounding built environment. Figure 19 shows the Transit Orientation Score in 3D, which more clearly displaces the relative readiness of different areas to support transit-oriented development.

  • Transit Oriented: Areas that are most likely to support a transit lifestyle. Describes more densely populated areas served by high quality rail and/or bus transit, good to excellent pedestrian/bicycle connections, a finer grain of blocks, and a supportive mix of retail and service amenities.
  • Transit Related: Areas that possess some, but not all, of the components of TOD. Generally describes moderately populated areas served by higher quality transit, a good or improving pedestrian/bicycle network, and some mix of neighborhood supportive retail and service amenities.
  • Transit Adjacent: Non-transit areas or areas proximate to quality transit without possessing the urban character that would best support it. Generally describes low to moderately populated areas perhaps within walking distances of higher quality rail stations or bus stops, but lack a combination of the street connectivity, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and urban amenities to more fully support the level of transit service.

Note that transit communities that score well are not limited to close-in Portland neighborhoods. Many outlying transit communities, especially those in or near the historic downtowns of suburban communities, also exhibit strong blends of the 5 P’s.

Combining Transit Orientation with Market Strength

While some transit communities enjoy both strong market activity and transit orientation, others may be strong on one measure but moderate or limited on the other. The performance of each transit community against these measures has implications for the types and timing of TOD Program investments. Figure 20 overlays stronger market activity (real estate sales per square foot > $200) and transit orientation scores for the region’s transit communities. The overlay of transit orientation and market strength lays the foundation for the TOD Program’s investment typology, illustrated in Figure 21.

Figure 20: Overlay of market strength and transit orientation.
Figure 20: Overlay of market strength and transit orientation
Click to enlarge
Figure 21: TOD Station Area Place Types.
Figure 21: TOD Station Area Place Types
Click to enlarge

Using the Typology to Define TOD Program Investments

Figure 22: TOD Place Type Clusters.
Figure 22: TOD Place Type Clusters
Click to enlarge

The nine place types provide the first step in an investment strategy for the Metro TOD Program. However, many of the place types face similar challenges, and clusters of place types would benefit from similar investment strategies. To address this, the place types are grouped in three clusters that are commonly positioned for investments and implementation actions that could be administered by the TOD Program. The place type clusters are described in Figure 22. Each of the clusters is described below and illustrated with case examples from existing stations and corridors in the Portland region.

Plan and Partner Cluster

Plan and Partner transit communities are currently the lowest priority areas for direct investments in new developments, since these areas lack many of the key market and physical features needed to ensure that Metro TOD Program investments will leverage further investment or catalyze an emerging market. However, these are areas where the region has made important transit investments and long range planning is needed to ensure that the full value of these investments is captured in the future.

Place Types Included: Transit Related (Limited), Transit Adjacent (Limited), Transit Adjacent (Emerging)

Broad Investment Approach: Participate in station area and corridor planning efforts as they occur; work with local governments to encourage this type of planning; offer connections between local governments who have identified infrastructure or other non-development investments needed to support TOD, and other entities who may be able to help fund such needs.

Figure 23: Map of Plan & Partner stations and corridors.
Figure 23: Map of Plan & Partner stations and corridors
Click to enlarge
Figure 24: Plan & Partner place types and identified stations.
Figure 24: Plan & Partner place types and identified stations
Click to enlarge

Plan & Partner in a Corridor Segment: Middle Barbur (area outside of Downtown to Hwy 217)

Barbur Boulevard is a major arterial and part of historic interstate Highway 99, providing connections between downtown Portland, SW Portland neighborhoods and neighboring communities. Frequent bus route 12 serves this corridor. Barbur is a primary thoroughfare typified by automobile-oriented land uses. The central portion of the corridor is identified as a Plan and Partner area in the TOD typology. The well-established neighborhoods lining the corridor are characterized by large setbacks and streets designed for high speeds and low connectivity. Pedestrian access is limited due to a disconnected street grid and barriers such as I-5—which runs parallel to the corridor—and gaps in the sidewalk network. In order to elevate Barbur Boulevard to a walkable and well-served transit neighborhood, long-range corridor planning must integrate a more intense and efficient use of developable land with the transportation investments planned for the corridor—most notably high capacity transit. Being designated a transit corridor of regional significance, ODOT, the City of Portland, local residents, and businesses must take part in a visioning process to determine whether the primary land use and transportation goals surround mobility or access and placemaking. Metro’s key roles in the short term are planning support, providing technical assistance in association with upcoming corridor planning, and potentially funding station area planning.

Plan & Partner in a Station Area: Green Line + Westside + Eastside Commuter Stations

Clackamas Town Center Transit Center on the MAX Green Line, identified as a Plan and Partner area in the TOD typology, is an example of a Transit Adjacent commuter station. Clackamas is supplemented by 10 local feeder routes and a 750-space parking structure. Despite the station’s presence within the Clackamas Regional Center, a key regional shopping and employment center, pedestrian connections are limited due to its location next to I-205, low street connectivity, large surface parking lots and a general lack of land use orientation toward the station. Station area planning must occur in order to better integrate transit with existing and future development. Strategic partnerships between Metro, Trimet, and land owners is a critical element of leveraging catalytic mixed use and residential development within walking distance of the station. In the short term, Metro’s key roles could include technical assistance, planning support and offering dedicated funding for future station area planning efforts, as well as engaging and connecting local public and private actors with information and support.

Catalyze & Connect Cluster

Catalyze & Connect transit communities are areas demonstrating either a strong transit orientation but limited market support or transit related urban form and emerging market support. Theoretically, this cluster could also include stronger markets with transit adjacent characteristics, but in practice, no stations or corridor currently exhibit this condition.

Place Types Included: Transit Oriented (Limited), Transit Related (Emerging), Transit Adjacent (Stronger).

Broad Investment Approach: These areas offer some physical and/or market foundation for supporting transit oriented development, but are not yet able to achieve TOD building types given their current market or physical context. Projects that help to catalyze future private development, and increase activity levels through density and/or urban living infrastructure are appropriate. There is also opportunity to work with local and regional jurisdictions to develop infrastructure that enhances the pedestrian orientation of the street network and provides better connectivity for all modes. The TOD Program does not make infrastructure investments, but can help identify key improvements and work with regional partners to advance those projects.

Figure 25: Map of Catalyze & Connect stations and corridors.
Figure 25: Map of Catalyze & Connect stations and corridors
Click to enlarge
Figure 26: Catalyze & Connect place types and identified stations.
Figure 26: Catalyze & Connect place types and identified stations
Click to enlarge

Catalyze & Connect a Corridor Segment: SE Foster Rd.

SE Foster Road is a classic automobile-oriented arterial connecting outer SE Portland and the historic Lents neighborhood with downtown Portland and the Powell, Division, and Hawthorne commercial corridor districts. Foster is served by frequent bus route 14. The corridor segments between Lents and Powell Blvd. are identified as a Catalyze and Connect corridor in the TOD typology. Land uses and transportation infrastructure are almost exclusively oriented toward automobile use although various pockets of medium density mixed use land uses occur. Although street connectivity in the residential neighborhoods surrounding Foster is relatively high, the current streetscape design and land uses along Foster do not promote a walkable, urban lifestyle. In the short-term, Metro could promote workforce housing development and provide technical support with implementation studies. Considering the amount of underutilized and vacant land parcels and lower market value, Metro could invest in market rate medium-density TOD projects as away to catalyze further investment.

Catalyze & Connect a Station Area: Hillsboro Central

The Hillsboro Central is a station area served by MAX Blue Line offering a convenient transit connection to downtown Hillsboro, Beaverton, and downtown Portland. The station area is well served by local retail, a walkable street grid, and multiple civic and institutional land uses. Within the TOD typology, Hillsboro Central is a Catalyze and Connect area. Hillsboro Central is relative well-oriented toward transit, yet the market for TOD is immature at present. Land uses are currently low density in nature which creates a barrier in catalyzing a meaningful connection to transit. A catalytic development project is a crucial step in encouraging TOD investments into the future. Metro’s role in the short term could be to provide implementation support, invest in market rate TOD projects, and offer financial support to develop workforce housing.

Infill & Enhance Cluster

Infill & enhance transit communities are the most “TOD ready” in the region outside of downtown Portland. Some of these areas may need little support from Metro to support the market investment in quality TOD, but others areas are transforming more slowly and should be top priorities for catalytic investments.

General Characteristics: strong urban character including medium to higher densities, a mix of activities, quality urban form and transportation options combined with moderate to stronger market strength. The private market may support infill and moderate density mixed-use, but may not be able to meet the aspirations or potential for transit rich station and corridor communities.

Place Types Included: Transit Oriented (Emerging), Transit Oriented (Stronger), Transit Related (Stronger)

Broad Investment Approach: Promote more intensive infill development, and enhancement of local services and amenities. Given their existing pedestrian- and bicycle-oriented environments, significant changes to the street network are not always needed in these areas, but enhancement of local goods and services, and placemaking via urban living infrastructure development could help maximize local TOD potential and catalyze further private market investment. In general, the TOD Program will likely make more limited investments in these areas, except in the case of important strategic opportunities that may include investments in prototypical projects, Urban Living Infrastructure or workforce/affordable housing.

Figure 27: Map of Infill & Enhance stations and corridors.
Figure 27: Map of Infill & Enhance stations and corridors
Click to enlarge
Figure 28: Infill & Enhance place types and identified stations.
Figure 28: Infill & Enhance place types and identified stations
Click to enlarge

Infill & Enhance a Station Area: Hollywood Transit Center

Hollywood Transit Center is a key transit facility served by the MAX Blue, Red, and Green Lines and connecting local bus service (Routes 12, 66, 75, and 77). The Hollywood station area is categorized as an Infill & Enhance TOD typology. Hollywood currently offers the density, land use diversity, pedestrian infrastructure, and regional transportation assets of an urban district. In order to enhance the station area, several key actions must be taken. High-density infill is slowly occurring with several larger scale mixed-use projects, although the connections to the Transit Center are negligible. Similarly, I-84 and Sandy Blvd. are significant barriers to station access. Thus, Metro’s role in the short-term could be to promote seamless integration of high density development within and oriented toward the station by acquiring development parcels, investing in more aggressive building types, and aiding the integration of urban living infrastructure along Sandy, Broadway, and streets that feed into the station.

Infill & Enhance a Corridor Segment: Inner Division

The inner Division Street corridor, categorized as an Infill & Enhance area in the TOD typology, is a relatively dense commercial corridor supported by medium-density small lot residential development. Division is served by frequent service route 4, which connects SE neighborhoods with downtown Portland and Gresham Transit Center. Although it serves as a key east-west traffic street, Division is becoming more urban in nature as adjacent neighborhoods use the corridor as a walkable outlet for retail and vital services. This is enabled by the inner Division neighborhood’s dense network of local streets, bicycle boulevards and many pedestrian improvements along the corridor. High-density, mixed-use infill development is already underway which creates an opportunity to leverage an impending wave of TOD along Division. Metro’s key roles in the short-term could be to facilitate placemaking and good urban design, promote a mix of land uses and income groups, and push for higher densities given the amenity richness of the corridor.

TOD Investment Strategies and Phasing

Figure 29: Composite TOD cluster types.
Figure 29: Composite TOD cluster types
Click to enlarge

Overlaying all of the place types and clusters shows the mosaic of conditions throughout the region (see Figure 29). Using the TOD Typology and Framework as a guide, this suggests that different investment tools and strategies, as well as different phasing of investments will be needed in different locations.

Each given place type will require a different mix of actions to maximize future TOD potential, ranging from technical support and visioning, to significant infrastructure investments, to station area planning, and more detailed implementation efforts. With the right set of activities and investments, any of the transit communities could support TOD, but some are more likely to support market-rate TOD sooner than others.

The three clusters roughly correspond with three stages of potential TOD readiness:

  • Infill and Enhance place types offer short-term TOD opportunities, in that they have the market and physical conditions to support TOD today. But to make these places the best that they can be, public agencies might pursue a range of activities that enhance local amenities and push for continued reduction in auto dependence.
  • Catalyze and Connect place types offer mid-term TOD opportunities, in that they might support certain types of development today and offer some opportunity, but to fully maximize TOD opportunities specifically, certain interventions are needed.
  • Plan and Partner place types offer long-term TOD opportunities. To truly bring these areas to a place where they can support TOD, these areas require significant interventions which are likely to take longer to achieve.

The TOD Typology and Framework methodology means that over time, individual transit communities should be able to enhance their performance on both the market and urban character measures by pursuing a variety of activities related to planning, revitalization, and access improvements. As this process occurs, individual transit communities would be reclassified into new place types and clusters. However not all of the activities needed to promote TOD fall within the work plan of the TOD Program specifically. Ideally, in the long term this typology could offer an organizing framework around which public agencies in the region coordinate the full range of TOD investments.

Using the TOD Framework to Identify Investment Strategies

The TOD Program has a role to play in each of the nine place types, although that role varies from involvement of program staff in technical assistance on planning efforts, to direct investment in development projects. Figure 30 shows how the TOD Program can use the nine place type categories to determine which strategies are appropriate in each of the nine place types, and Figure 31, on the following pages, describes each investment approach in detail.

In addition, the TOD Typology and Framework helps Metro TOD Program staff make decisions about three key aspects of program investments:

  • Investment Phasing
  • Partnerships
  • Conditional Investments

Individual transit communities can move from one place type to another as local market strength changes, or as activity levels increase and local infrastructure improvements enhance transit orientation. The place types offer a way to gauge what types of TOD Program investments make sense when local conditions in an area shift. Moreover, significant financial investment by the TOD Program will generally be directed to locations with local government support (incentives, regulatory, etc) for TOD principles, so that program investments are best leveraged.. Therefore, policy and political changes, or improvements in local planning efforts, can open up areas to new types of investments from the TOD Program. The TOD typology also provides guidance to Metro and local jurisdictions about phasing of investments, including short-, medium-, and long-term actions.


To optimize the project-specific investment strategies of the TOD Program, these activities must be complemented with planning, community outreach, development incentives, and infrastructure development activities from other local jurisdictions, agencies, and Metro Programs. Figures 32 and 33 identify strategies where the TOD Program can play a supporting role in long-range planning for infrastructure and land use regulation, and not just where the TOD Program will take a lead role in making direct investments in catalyst projects or ULIs. While the Metro TOD Program is organized around providing small catalytic investments in market ready areas, it should also play an important role in building support and regulatory conditions that support low-trip generation development around transit stations and in transit corridors. Building partnerships with local jurisdictions throughout the region should continue to be a critical focus of program activities as well as continued coordination with Metro programs that support TOD program objectives, including: Long Range Planning, Nature and Neighborhoods, Corridor Planning, and the Regional Travel Options Program.

Conditional Investments

While the TOD Framework creates a general guide for the types of investments that are appropriate in each station area and corridor segment, certain types of investments need to be based on the local conditions in an individual station area or corridor segment. Investments in some aspects of TOD implementation, including affordable housing development, land acquisition, mixed-use and urban living infrastructure, and employment uses may need to be evaluated against local market conditions and truly supportive local partners, as evidenced by leveraging of local funds through direct contributions, abatements, SDC credits or discounts, tax increment financing, reduced permitting fees, or other actions.

Guide to Implementation Matrices

The following matrices show the universe of activities that the TOD Program currently invests in, and could more substantially invest in given additional funding in the future. To differentiate between activities that are core to the Program, activities that are more secondary to the program, and activities where the program staff only play a supportive role to other agencies, each of the matrices uses the following key:

  • Bold Text: Current core activities of the TOD Program
  • Regular Text: Activities of the TOD Program, but do not take as intensive a role in program staff time or resources as core activities
  • Italicized Text: Activities that the TOD Program may participate in, but more peripherally, and on an as-needed basis.

Additionally, Figure 30 describes whether the activities identified would be (“X”) critical in transit communities falling in the different place types, (“C”) conditional depending on whether the unique characteristics of the station area or proposed project are appropriate, or (“O”) areas of core focus for other agencies or Metro programs, but where the TOD Program would play a supporting role.

This guide is repeated within each of the Figures 30 and 31 as well.

Current TOD Investment Needs

The TOD Framework can be a tool to identify the aggregate investment needs based on the place type clusters and the identified TOD investment activities on previous pages. Figure 32 shows the share of 55 non-central city station areas that are likely to most immediately need each type of investment activity based on the TOD Framework. Many station may have a need for the below type of investments (e.g. all station areas could use more equitable TOD given the severe affordable housing shortage facing the region), the below table only identifies those areas where the strategies are most pressing and/or should be a TOD Program priority (e.g. equitable TOD is focused in stronger market areas where it might be prohibitively expensive without the program).

Figure 32: Station Areas Needing Different Investments/Activities to Spur TOD 18



Longer-Term Strategies


Shorter-Term Strategies

Investment Strategies

Education/ Technical Assistance/ Resource Provision

Infrastructure & Public Amenity Improvements

Station Area Planning

Land Acquisition

Implementation & Pre-development Studies

Catalytic Market-Rate TOD Project

Equitable TOD

Urban Living Infrastructure

Employment Uses

Number of Station Areas out of 55 Total

Approx 75% of station areas

84% of station areas

84% of station areas

40% of station areas

66% of station areas

71% of station areas

51% of station areas

35% of station areas

40% of station areas


Figure 33:Distribution of most needed investments/activities to spur TOD, across non-core station areas
Click to enlarge

Figure 33 shows the distribution of the different potential activities that would be needed to support TOD across the 55 non-core station areas. The majority of stations require investments in planning, infrastructure, or education of community members as a next step in supporting TOD. This figure shows that the types of investments that are core activities of the TOD Program – namely, direct investment in higher intensity real estate projects, and local implementation studies - are really only appropriate in half of the station areas considered in this plan. Even then, the TOD Program will not be the only entity with the ability or responsibility to pursue these activities.

Based on this analysis, the greatest need is for station area planning and infrastructure or other public amenity investments (i.e. utilities upgrades to support higher density development, or access improvements such as sidewalks and bikeways). Neither of these two activities/improvements is currently an activity of the TOD Program, but instead are more a focus of local jurisdictions. Public amenity and access enhancements, like the Gresham Civic MAX Station, are led by the TOD Program only as other funding sources for TOD improvements arise.

The second most common group of recommended activities or improvements includes educational/technical assistance/resource provision, followed by investments in catalytic market-rate TOD projects, and implementation/predevelopment studies (i.e. market and development feasibility studies and financing strategies). All of these activities can currently be funded or performed by the Program, although much of the Program’s implementation work has occurred through the Development Opportunity Find, which only has a temporary, two-year funding source and a limited focus on downtowns and centers.

A smaller share of station areas have immediate needs for investments in equitable TOD, land acquisition and employment uses, and urban living infrastructure to enhance their TOD potential. Equitable TOD in this case focuses on development of lower-income, workforce and mixed-income housing in station areas where such development would otherwise be priced out (i.e. stronger market place types). In addition to market-rate TOD and implementation studies, these investments represent the core activities of the TOD Program.

Figure 30 and Figure 31

Figure 30: TOD investment strategies and TOD place types

Figure 32
Click to enlarge

Figure 31: TOD Program investment strategies




TOD Program Involvement


Participate in Community Visioning/Outreach

Play an ongoing role in supporting planning efforts or other advisory committees working to enhance transit-rich communities.

Program staff play a support role to other agencies

TOD Program staff regularly participate in planning meetings throughout the region, and serve on planning/technical advisory committees

Connect Local Government Partners with Infrastructure, Community Development Partners

Act as a clearinghouse for information on funding sources or programs that engaged local governments can apply for. Link local government staff to other Metro programs that are more appropriate to fulfill their station area or corridor planning and infrastructure needs. As possible, identify grant opportunities for candidate localities.

Program staff play a support role to other agencies


Provide Technical Assistance with Planning Efforts

Offer data, development expertise, or key contacts as part of station area and corridor planning

Program staff play a support role to other agencies


Bank Land

Acquisition of land in order to hold critical parcels of land until the market can support more intensive development.

Financial commitment from TOD Program, conditional upon appropriate market conditions (see "Land Banking" section).

The TOD Program has purchased a site in downtown Hillsboro with the intent of ultimately catalyzing reinvestment through new development.

Allocate Funding for Station Area Planning

Allocate station area planning grants to local governments who demonstrate a support for TOD.

This program does not currently exist as part of the TOD Program, but would be an appropriate expansion area. Refer to the "Funding Strategies" chapter for more information.

Similar programs exist at other Metropolitan Planning Organizations, including MTC in the San Francisco Bay Area, DRCOG in Denver, and the Met Council in the Twin Cities, MN.

Support Implementation Studies

Offer supportive analysis at the local or regional scale to provide critical information and analysis for enhancing region-wide TOD opportunities.

The TOD Program's Development Center funds and directs these types of studies

The Development Center recently sponsored a "walk audit" to gauge the true walkability of the region's neighborhoods. This type of research can help local governments and Metro to measure and track performance over time.

Invest in Market-Rate TOD Building Types

Invest in private development in order to encourage introduction of TOD building types to a community. This strategy involves investing in more "conventional" TOD building types, which are moderate to higher densities, to create market comparables for private investment.

Financial commitment from TOD Program, as well as involvement and endorsement from program staff in entitlements process. Conditional upon cost effectiveness, and support from local government.

The TOD Program invested in The Crossings, a mixed-use pedestrian oriented development in Gresham. The program helped assume some of the risk of building taller, and adding ground floor retail in a market where these concepts were untested.

Invest in Workforce Housing Development

Promote development of workforce housing to introduce this much needed product type to the market, provided the design and density of this housing is appropriate to TOD.

Financial commitment from TOD Program, conditional upon cost effectiveness and support from local government.

Center Commons, near the NE 60th Light Rail station, provides both affordable and market rate housing. Market rate housing was made available to first time homebuyers

Invest in Affordable Housing Development

Invest in affordable housing development in transit oriented areas with emerging or strong markets. Intent can be to push developers to build TOD product types, or to provide moderate and lower income households the ability to live in Portland's stronger market TOD areas.

Financial commitment from TOD Program, conditional upon appropriate local context, cost effectiveness, and support from local government.


Assemble Parcels

Acquisition of land in order to assist with parcel assembly that facilitates development. Similar programs elsewhere also acquire land to promote affordable housing.

Financial commitment from TOD Program, conditional upon appropriate market conditions (see "Land Banking" section). Area of potential future expansion for program. Note that most acquisition program budgets around the country are 2 to 6 times larger than the TOD Program as a whole.



Bold: Current core activities of the TOD Program Italic: Current secondary activities of the TOD Program