Brightline parent to build residences near two of its South Florida train stations

Erecting residences near its Brightline train stations in South Florida may be one way to ensure a natural pipeline of riders for the new express passenger railway service scheduled to launch later this year.

On Thursday, Brightline parent Florida East Coast Industries, announced plans for multifamily residential properties near two of its South Florida stations, citing the venture as a key component of its transit-oriented developments in South Florida.

The new residential brand Park-Line will debut in 2018 with a 290-unit tower in downtown West Palm Beach, Coral Gables-based FECI said in a news release. That will be followed by 816 units in two towers within its 11-acre mixed-use MiamiCentral development in downtown Miami.

“Park-Line residences are designed for people on the move who want to live and travel smarter,” said Daniel Quintana, FECI’s vice president of development. “Each of the innovative towers in West Palm Beach and Miami will expand residents’ playground and working options by utilizing a vast variety of transit options just steps away from their front door, including our new Brightline train service that will seamlessly connect Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.”

Park-Line Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach will feature studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments for lease. Park-Line Miami will offer on-site studios, as well as one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, FECI said.

Both residential properties will offer a range of amenities including a yoga lawn and fitness center with juice bar, private cabanas, shaded dog parks and pet grooming salon. There will also be an event lawn with movie screen.

At MiamiCentral, residents will find 180,000-square feet of retail space including a food hall called Central Fare, and 300,000 square feet of office space. That residential-office mix is aiming to offer “a live, work and play lifestyle,” FECI said.

FECI is partnering with Dallas, Texas-based real estate developer Lincoln Property Co., to build the residential properties.

Chuck Shallat, an executive vice president of Lincoln Property, said the company “is always seeking opportunities to raise the bar on multi-family living residences and this collaboration with Brightline is a glimpse into the future.”

Brightline’s express intercity train service, slated to launch this fall, will initially operate among the three South Florida stations before extending to Orlando in a later phase.

While FECI didn’t announce any residential projects for its Fort Lauderdale train station, an apartment tower is in the planning stages for land adjacent to its parking garage, and could be built in the future if there’s sufficient market demand, Brightline CEO Dave Howard told the Sun Sentinel in late June.


The Hyperloop Just Completed a Major Test. But the Real Challenges Lie Ahead

Hyperloop One this week announced that it completed the first full-scale test of its high-speed transportation system, a move the company hailed as the burgeoning technology’s “Kitty Hawk moment.”
The test vehicle only reached 70 miles per hour, a tenth of the company’s eventual target speed. But the firm felt assured enough to set another phase of testing for later this year, when they hope to reach 250 miles per hour. Eventually, the system could reach a top speed of 700 miles per hour, nearly the speed of sound.
The Hyperloop’s potential velocity has helped it captivate the public’s imagination ever since Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk popularized the concept in 2012. But the proposed system, a sort of high-speed train that uses aerodynamic pods propelled through a vacuum cylinder, is not just about speed, according to many of the people developing it since Musk open-sourced the idea. It’s about changing how we think about moving people and cargo, a $1.48 trillion industry in the United States alone.
“The implications tie back to the founding vision that we’ve had of turning cities into metro stops, changing the meaning of where you live and where you work, unlocking economic opportunity in areas that might be currently locked away by lack of infrastructure or lack of transportation solutions,” Hyperloop One co-founder Shervin Pishevar told the Verge.
Other companies, like Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and Arrivo, are working on their own designs.
Phillip Plotch, a political science professor and director of the public administration master’s program at Saint Peter’s University, told Fortune that as new transportation technologies have emerged throughout history, they have allowed humans to radically alter the landscape.

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the shift from horse transit to elevated trains and so on have allowed cities to get bigger, meaning people could live a bit further from their jobs. Then cars came along.
“Everything exploded,” said Plotch. “Now you can live 20 miles away and cities can be 1,000 square miles instead of a couple. Hyperloop changes that again because you can live hundreds if not thousands of miles away. You could work in New York City and live in Virginia or Boston.”
Indeed, with companies like Hyperloop One touting nearly supersonic travel speeds, the need to reside close to where you work could be completely eliminated. A trip in a Hyperloop tube from Los Angeles to San Francisco — a six-hour car ride — could take just over 30 minutes at the speeds engineers are promising. States like Colorado and Texas are exploring the technology, watching its development closely to see if they want to invest.
Such a dramatic shift would result in major changes to the local economies’ surrounding hyperloop stations, Plotch said.
“It would be the most valuable real estate in the country. Cities and neighborhoods that don’t have hyperloop will lose out in an economic race,” he said. “All cities compete for jobs, entertainment, tourists, and so on. That’s why every city wants an airport. Train stations. Highways.”
Other experts agree.
“You look at the high speed bullet train in China or other parts of the world — any place there’s a transit hub, they have an economic vitality, economic improvement,” Dane Egli, a senior advisor at the U.S. Department of Energy, told Fortune. Egli added that he, along with the Hyperloop Advanced Research Partnership, which he serves as president, is advocating for President Donald Trump to include hyperloop funding in his proposed $1 trillion infrastructure plan.
“We’ve met with Capitol Hill, staff on the Transportation Infrastructure Committee [of Congress], the Pentagon, Homeland Security, the State Department, Department of Transportation,” Egli said. “They were unanimously excited, unanimously interested. unanimously curious. I’m drafting a letter to [the White House] right now. We have not briefed [Trump] directly, but I hope to do so in the next three to six months. I don’t know if Elon would be there with us.”
Musk served on a council of business leaders advising the President, but recently quit after Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord.
Despite the enthusiasm of Egli and other hyperloop advocates, there are plenty of reasons to remain skeptical. A number of scientists and engineers have described the concept as impractical and expensive. It’s still unclear how traveling in a Hyperloop pod might affect a person physiologically. And miles of new track will have to be laid, a huge logistical challenge that won’t be easily solved. While the potential economic benefits are there for cities willing to embrace the technology, others caution it may not be a wise investment.”[Hyperloop companies] are trying to sell the investors on it. Often times, these things are just a sales pitch. They’re trying to get people excited about the benefits of the the technology. I think states and cities should not bend over backwards without knowing what it means,” said Plotch, before making an analogy to a Simpsons episode in which a traveling salesman convinces Springfield residents to construct a faulty and unnecessary monorail while basic city needs are ignored. “You can lose site of what’s important,” Plotch said, “and end up being a flawed city.”

Second Avenue subway still short $4 billion

There were many details in the recent MTA Capital Program Review Board approval of a $3 billion 2015 – 2019 MTA Five-Year Capital Plan Amendment that increased the total dollars from $29 billion to $32 billion. It included $700 million more for Phase 2 of the Second Avenue subway, but there is still the need of $4.265 billion in total funding for actual construction of Phase 2. The MTA will have to find a minimum of $2.265 billion in local dollars in the next MTA Five-Year 2020 – 2024 Capital Program. This would bring the total local funding commitment up to $4 billion.

Based on past history, the next MTA Five-Year Capital Plan may not be approved until 2021, but the MTA would not risk advertising multibillion construction project bids without secure funding being in place. Any procurement process could take six months to a year. Actual contracts for full construction could end up being awarded in 2022. If Phase 1 took 10 years to complete from the original 2007 contract award to January 2017, Phase 2 might not be completed until 2030 or later.

The MTA hopes to begin construction of the Second Avenue subway Phase 2 in 2019. Don’t count on it. How many years will it take to complete the NEPA environmental review process? Which neighborhood will want to host any entrance for both a platform to support a tunnel boring machine and removal of construction debris? Also, the Second Avenue subway’s Phase 2 will end up competing against many other worthy projects in the next MTA Five-Year 2020 – 2024 Capital Plan.

Going back decades, the city, state and MTA have consistently kicked the can down the road every five years. As a result, coming to a consensus on what to fund in the next Five-Year Capital Program Plan will be even more difficult.