Housing Complex

Streetcar Study: Could We Get the System For Free?

Just one of the many exciting diagrams in this exciting study!

Finally, finally the Office of Planning has released the full results of their streetcar land use study, which details the projected effects on all 37 miles of the system that's been planned so far (I've been asking for it since a short version dropped last May). I'm still digesting the whole thing, which goes into a bit more detail about how the different routes would tie in to their neighborhoods—kind of an answer to the Committee of 100's evaluation of the whole system.

Perhaps the most important part, given that nothing happens without money, is the analysis of how the system might get paid for. According to consulting firm Goody Clancy's analysis, benefits from real estate investment spurred by the streetcar would cover 40 to 60 percent of the $1.5 billion construction cost.

Here's the breakdown: Anticipating between 5 and 7 percent appreciation in property values along the streetcar corridors, tax increment financing districts could support the sale of $300 to $400 million in bonds. Then, they figure on between $5 billion and $8 billion in streetcar-spurred development over ten years, half the tax value of which could allow the sale of another $300 million to $500 million worth of bonds.

Alternatively, you could just ask local property owners and business improvement districts to kick in the money up front, since streetcar routes would increase the value of some properties by $20 to $40 per developable square foot.

Add that to the potential of up to 50 percent funding from the federal government, and we've got ourselves a streetcar system for basically free!

If only it were that simple.

Disappointingly, the "next steps" section doesn't really talk about what should happen next, like a new agency for planning purposes, or a citizen advisory commission. But considering some bumps in the road lately, if this 71-page infomercial for all the streetcar's benefits can keep the momentum rolling, it will have done its job.

Office of Planning director Harriet Tregoning will talk about the study tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. at the National Building Museum.

[scribd id=79270384 key=key-p8j3rfk1udef9sqnqvx mode=list]

  • good!

    I'm kind of tired of listening to OP saying that streetcar will pay for itself - it will not. I am not opposed to it but all this economic development mantra is just BS! pure BS - no affordable housing, no equality, no good schools, should I continue?

    Sadly this city has turned into a city for 1%ers, I used to live here - no more, refuse to pay more than 50% of my salary on a dream that is not working.

  • Ward 7 Rez

    @good! Improved transit will obviously lead to economic development: just look at what the green line has done. The city is gentrifying of course, but I don't think the 1% ride streetcars or use other public transit very often. Better services and less poverty in the District are good things!

  • Scott

    By no means should projects that champion livability and services that might occasionally be used by people with means be pursued.

    Heaven forbid the city ever got more affordable housing, equality and good schools [things that tend to surface when services improve]. Whatever would you complain about?

  • DC Guy

    Where is the part of the system that goes into Ward 3?

  • 321


    right next to the area in ward 3 that is economically depressed and needs revitalization. you know the area? right next to the meth clinic and homeless shelter.