Scouting out the best spot for your next infill project, scattered site development, or master-planned community? If you’re searching for prime turf near public transit that’s likely to hold its property values, the Center for Transit-Oriented Development has a new web-based tool that could come in handy. The online database synthesizes information about more than 4,000 transit zones across the country, including 3,776 existing stations, as well as 833 proposed stations in 47 metropolitan areas.

Maps are a big part of the package, but the calculator does more than confirm the presence of commuter rail, street cars, light rail, bus rapid transit, and ferries. Funded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the database can also be sliced and diced to provide information on density, demographics, employment, and commuting habits of households within a quarter- to half-mile radius of each transit hub. 

Users can manipulate and zoom in on maps of transit corridors, and can generate custom reports that cross-reference data such as household age, income, commuting routes, vehicle ownership, and other criteria.  The database also integrates metrics from the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s Housing and Transportation Affordability Index, which measures the affordability of an area in terms of combined housing and transportation costs. 

The creators of the tool say it will help developers, investors, and city officials make planning decisions around transit nodes. "The Federal Transit Administration's goal is to partner with communities that want to develop smart transportation solutions that will inspire new economic development, reduce congestion and our dependence on oil, and help connect people with work, school, or the doctor's office," said FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan.

A nonprofit based in Chicago, CTOD is a partnership of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Reconnecting America, and Strategic Economics.

"When talking to potential developers, this site will be great to give them detailed reports surrounding station areas, and the same is true for retailers who want to know about foot traffic in the area," said Craig Sklenar, a city planner for Evanston, Ill. "This will help any city develop really good TODs."

Jenny Sullivan is a senior editor covering architecture, design, and community planning for BUILDER.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Chicago, IL.