chapter
6 Pages

Introduction

ByJohn McCarthy

The first chapter by Hale shows how transit infrastructure and facilities play an anchoring role for urban opportunity. This chapter reviews three examples of urban regeneration focused around transit infrastructure and facilities. While the place of mass transit service and infrastructure in urban regeneration is largely accepted, this chapter asserts that transit service levels and the design quality of railway station facilities are key determinants of the ability to deliver significant regeneration outcomes, and therefore merit particular attention. Three Pacific Rim case studies are used here. First, Berkeley, California illustrates the relationship between existing transit service quality and new initiatives for improving housing options. Second, Parramatta, in Sydney’s central-West, illustrates an exemplary urban regeneration programme, repositioning this location from a low-rent location into a major business and activity centre, based on good connections to downtown Sydney and linked to high-quality railway station design and office-based real estate development dynamics. Third, an infrastructure project in Kyoto illustrates a world-class railway station redevelopment that has significantly repositioned the sense of arrival to the

city, and reorganized the relationship between inter-city (and national level) rail services and the urban fabric. Hale shows how these cases illustrate vital aspects of contemporary regeneration, including willingness to prioritize locations that are favoured by sustainable transport infrastructure and service, and (in Kyoto and Parramatta) the importance of high-quality station design. In addition, he shows how both the Parramatta and Berkeley case studies indicate the importance and relevance of well-executed strategic planning and up-zoning to accommodate new development. And in Parramatta and Berkeley particularly, we can observe the importance of street-level urban design initiatives and facilities for pedestrians. In addition, Hale shows the advantages that architectural ‘exceptionalism’ can provide, for instance in the case of the Kyoto Station, which also provides improved amenities for residents and regular commuters. See the contrasting treatment of ‘exceptionalism’ by Broudehoux in Part 6. In terms of overall conclusions, Hale suggests that the apparent ‘obviousness’ from the cases that regeneration should consider retail, residential and office-based opportunities respectively may be misplaced, since also of importance is the fact that each of the cases has applied a coherent and original ‘concept’, identifying relative real estate market strengths and a unique real estate market positioning strategy. The mix of attributes and ideas embodied by these three leading Pacific Rim urban renewal examples are hopefully resonant and informative for regeneration participants worldwide. But so far in mainstream regeneration initiatives, the advantages offered through a sustainable transport foundation would seem not to have been pursued to their fullest. In addition, Hale suggests the cases show that a focus on railway station design and architecture presents a compelling and under-employed regeneration strategy, notwithstanding the arguments for design-led regeneration offered by Punter (2009).