On Tuesday, April 2, US Congresswoman Kathy Manning had a very pleasant announcement regarding the City of Greensboro: The city has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration’s “Transit-Oriented Development Planning Pilot Program.”

 The money will allow Greensboro to “study strategies for transit-oriented development” around the J. Douglas Galyon Depot –  with the primary aim of exploring ways the surrounding area can be revitalized.

The plan is to use the money to leverage economic opportunities and promote a “diverse range of housing options.”

The Depot is a vital transportation center that serves as the main passenger transfer for Greensboro Transit Agency, as well as a hub for Amtrak, Greyhound and the Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation – better known as PART.

The Depot was built about a century ago as a Southern Railway train terminal.

The Depot, which has recently been remodeled, certainly has an abundance of charms – but much of the downtown area around it clearly needs some added vitality.

Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan said the funding will be a big shot in the arm for those plans.

“Representative Kathy Manning’s support is instrumental in helping achieve the city’s priority to provide an Abundance of Attainable Housing,” the mayor said in a prepared statement Tuesday. “This funding will allow the city to explore a variety of housing and mixed-use development with the depot serving as the connector.”

The April 2 announcement regarding Greensboro was part of a much bigger national announcement regarding similar projects around the country. The federal government announced awards of nearly $18 million for 20 projects across 16 states to support efforts meant to improve access to public transportation.

The grants also help local governments and other organizations plan for transportation projects that connect communities and improve access to transit as well as encourage affordable housing.