Riding into form-based territory
Capital MetroRail, the first modern passenger rail system in central Texas, began carrying commuters on 32 miles of track between downtown Austin and the northwest suburb of Leander March 22. The rail service is expected to set off a wave of construction over the next several years. For roughly 2,000 acres near the rail line, Leander adopted a form-based code. Its goal is to bring about an urban, mixed use pattern of development rather than the typical dispersed (and lower-value) suburban mode. It is hoped that the code will generate an extra $1 billion or more in real estate value. Development is yet to occur, but land that was worth 30 to 40 cents a square foot in 2004 had already surpassed $2 a foot by 2008 in response to the code, says Scott Polikov of Gateway Planning Group, consultant on the code.