|We think that most people who
read the newspapers or watch TV already know the answer to the above question.
The Charlotte Trolley and simply the promise of future light rail in the
South Corridor has resulted in over $1 billion dollars in new development,
or redevelopment of deteriorated areas along the line. New development plans
along the corridor are being announced almost weekly. The evidence from
this is so obvious that it is incomprehensible how anyone could dispute
Yet we had two ex-city councilmen, Jackson and Reid, who
some time ago were still trying to tell us that all the development in
South End was going to happen anyway, with or without the Charlotte Trolley.
It appears quite possible we will continue to add hundreds of millions
of additional investment along the corridor in the next few years. Our
two ex-councilmen, and others like them, will probably still be in a state
of denial, saying it was all just a coincidence.
Transit Oriented Development will pay for the cost of
installing light rail several times over, not to mention raising property
values everywhere along its right-of-way. This is not an unusual occurrence,
it has happened in most all of the 25 or more cities across North America
that have built new light rail systems or upgraded existing ones. In some
cities the extent of this development has been greater than in others,
but the common thread in every case is that the cities that built light
rail are better off than before they built these systems.
Let's look at just a couple of examples:
Portland, Oregon's modern streetcar line, a scaled down version of light
rail, has attracted 100 projects worth $2.3 billion in less than 5 years
since it was built. All of that development was within 2 blocks of the
line. There can be no coincidence when this is happening. This development
includes 7,248 housing units and 4.6 million sq. ft. of office and retail.
Proximity to mass transit allowed developers to build fewer parking spaces.
Ridership is more than triple its projections.
Source: USA Today 1/8/07 "cities rediscover allure of streetcars"
In Texas investment in light rail is paying off at a two-to-one
rate. The State of Texas will enjoy more than $8.1 billion in economic
activity, increased tax revenue, and labor income from the region's $4.86
billion investment in the 45 mile DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) light
rail system, and its planned 48 mile extensions, according to a recent
study. Conducted by the University of North Texas Center for Economic
Development and Research, the study also found that DART's annual operating
expenditure of $342 million create additional statewide economic activity
of $500 million each year. By 2014 that activity will jump to $650 million.
What about the effects on development here in Charlotte?
Even though our first light rail line won't open until this November we
can already see big results. The following is the building permit value
of construction in the Center City and within ½ mile of the South
Corridor transit stations:
Source: Center for transportation policy studies / UNC
Charlotte - April 30, 2007
This May (2007) 2 large residential and retail projects
were announced near light rail stations. There was no coincidence about
either of them because the builder said they were being built because
of the light rail stations nearby. One is near Westinghouse Blvd. and
the other near Arrowood. The Westinghouse development could top $350 million
and include 1,400 homes. The developer, Steve Harris, is quoted in the
Charlotte Business Journal as saying "If there are people who think
that mass transit is not the way to go, then they've got their heads in