Streetcars and Development

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Tampa constructed a historic, tourist oriented streetcar system in 2002.  From the Enquirer:

In a central Tampa corridor formerly dominated by deteriorating warehouses, dingy industrial sites and rusting dockside facilities, there now are condominium towers, a waterfront shopping district and four new hotels, two of them downtown high-rises. Since the streetcar line opened in 2002, more than $1.1 billion in residential and retail development has sprouted along its 2.4-mile route, with nearly another $3 billion being planned.

The Tampa system was constructed for $63 million and has contributed to tremendous development.  Upon completion of the planned projects, for every $1 Tampa invested in the streetcar, they will have generated $65 in new development.

“[The Streetcar] may not have been the only reason, but I have no doubt that much of what you see there today wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t built the streetcar,” said former Mayor Dick Greco, who championed the cause and whose name is emblazoned on one of the line’s 10 stations.

Similarly, Bob Abberger, who as Trammell Crow’s senior managing director of Florida development oversaw creation of the Marriott Waterside hotel, the first major project built along the route, said the transit line was “definitely a value-added” that enhanced the hotel’s viability.

Michael Chen, Tampa’s development services manager, points to compelling statistical evidence of the streetcar’s impact. With the exception of an Ikea store that recently opened east of downtown, every other pending development in the city with approved permits or working its way through the zoning process – $2.9 billion in all – falls within two blocks of the streetcar’s existing or planned route, he said.

Larger than Cincinnati in both population and area,  Tampa is 112 square miles.    Two blocks (assuming 400 ft. blocks) from either side of the route and extensions plus two blocks at each end of the line is 0.91 square miles (just slightly larger than Downtown Cincinnati).  The development stemming from the Tampa Streetcar, $4 billion of new or proposed investment in an area about the size of Downtown, is remarkable.

Tampa Streetcar: Cincinnati will NOT be using similar Streetcars
Tampa Streetcar: Cincinnati will NOT be using similar Streetcars

Portland Streetcar
Portland Streetcar: Cincinnati WILL be using similar Streetcars
(a) Rules relating to constructive receipt (1) Plan failures (A) Gross income inclusion

(i) In general If at any time during a taxable year a nonqualified deferred compensation plan—

(I) fails to meet the requirements of paragraphs (2), (3), and (4), or
(II) is not operated in accordance with such requirements,

all compensation deferred under the plan for the taxable year and all preceding taxable years shall be includible in gross income for the taxable year to the extent not subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture and not previously included in gross income.


9 thoughts on “Streetcars and Development

    Ben said:
    August 7, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Creating a vibrant neighborhood out of an abandoned district in the inner city? What a waste of money. I sure hope something like that doesn’t happen in Cincinnati. I don’t like it when companies invest money in my city.

    In all seriousness, isn’t it a bit disingenuous to have a picture of a portland streetcar when you are talking about tampa?

    cincystreetcar said:
    August 7, 2009 at 9:40 am

    Thank you for your comment Ben, I have updated for clarity.

    Mark Miller said:
    August 7, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Why not show the real Tampa Trolley instead of another Portland Pic? There are plenty of photos here.

    Another interesting thing, the line was resurrected by a private operator and recently taken over by the city. Nearby businesses pay a special property tax assessment to support the trolley. They didn’t have a formal ballot on it, but still a majority of those taxed had to approve it. Seattle’s S.L.U.T. has the same arrangement.

    Tampa taxpayers vote on their passenger rail transportation. Why can’t Cincinnati vote too?

    Ben said:
    August 7, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Thanks, part of having a credible argument is about not shying away from the facts and not being misleading. Even if it is something very minor. People looks for the smallest excuse to dismiss your whole argument.

    I love this post though, I did not realize Tampa’s line had been such a success. Where are its ridership numbers in comparison to the projections before it was built?

    Mark Miller said:
    August 7, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Interesting seeing those two streetcars together. Today’s Enquirer says the Tampa streetcar has hardly any ridership, any yet you both say the economic development is through the roof.

    Supposing we get economic development using either kind of car, why would we spend millions more dollars each on those fancy Portland models when the old-time trolleys are just as good at bringing in the bucks? Plus those heritage trolleys fit the character of Over-the-Rhine better than that glitzy modernist stuff.

    The savings is enough to put all our cops back on the street. Isn’t it just a wasteful extravagance?

    Proud Naysayer said:
    August 7, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    The Caption under the Portland streetcar photo makes me laugh…”Portland Streetcar: Cincinnati WILL be using similar Streetcars” How about changing to to “wants to use” but wont because it will most likely get voted down this fall. ANd thank you Mark for noting that Tampa was able to vote on this too.

    John Schneider said:
    August 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Tampa never had the whole city vote on its streetcar any more than the whole City of Cincinnati votes on Downtown Cincinnati Inc.’s annual assessments for its “Clean and Safe” program.

    Nor does the whole City of Cincinnati vote on streetlight assessments for individual neighborhoods.

    No general taxes went up in Tampa or Seattle or anywhere else that has streetcars.

    This is a distinction with a difference.

    Here’s what COAST knows now, which is quite different from what they told the Cincinnati Enquirer’s editorial board last week: No city in the United States has ever amended its city’s constitution to require a vote on each and every rail project when there is no increase in general taxes.

    You could look it up.

    Quimbob said:
    August 10, 2009 at 6:34 am

    “The savings is enough to put all our cops back on the street. ”
    As 138 streetcar conductors ?

    Ancilla said:
    August 10, 2009 at 10:28 am

    “The savings is enough to put all our cops back on the street. Isn’t it just a wasteful extravagance?”

    If only this were true. Too bad Streetcar capital funds can’t be used for paying police officer salaries.

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