In 2012, the city of Santa Rosa approved a plan to guide development practices around the site of the future North Santa Rosa Station, the second of the two Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) stops in the city. The station area is split by Highway 101 and contains a mix of residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional land uses, including the Coddingtown Mall and Santa Rosa Junior College. The goal of the plan is to preserve these current uses, but also to incorporate transit-oriented development practices to provide access to SMART, local bus lines, and contemporary new neighborhoods.
Coddingtown Mall is currently the main anchor point for the neighborhood, but it is one that suffered a significant blow from the recent economic recessions. The SMART station and its future build out is anticipated to revitalize the mall by drawing investors who want to bank on the increased traffic of people, and their desire to live closer to transit. Codding Enterprises has already begun re-branding the mall by modernizing its façades and introducing hip new businesses, such as a B.J’s Brewhouse and Restaurant and Whole Foods Market. And what is currently a swathe of empty parking spaces and vacant land will soon be home to multi-use paths, community gardens, parks, and affordable housing.
An estimated twenty-four daily weekday stops will be made at the North Station, with a daily ridership of 5,050 projected by 2025. The demographic will most likely consist of commuters, either working or going to school in the Bay Area or Santa Rosa. However, the area as a whole will experience a surge of non-motorized transportation traffic, due to users of the SMART multi-use pathway and the continued ridership on Sonoma County Transit and the Santa Rosa CityBus.
Rail transportation is only as good the communities it services. A lonely train platform surrounded by bland architecture and parking lots does not satisfy the appetites of transportation users. However, through intelligent urban design and transit-oriented development, cities can increase transit ridership and the success of livable neighborhoods .
Where does public transportation lie on the list of issues that cities should be addressing?
Credits: Images by Nick Danty. Data linked to sources.