Long-time bus rider and streetcar proponent, John Schneider, joined Scott Sloan on 700WLW AM last week to discuss the status of the Cincinnati Streetcar project, and how phase one will move forward from here.
The show aired on Thursday, June 27 and John spoke with Scott for about 20 minutes. They discussed everything from financing for the project, ongoing operations, comparisons of the project to other cities, and how the project might change the psychology of the city.
Following the conversation with John, the host then proceeded to discuss the project from a personal level and then took some calls from people with thoughts about the project. The ensuing conversation ranged from everything from the Riverfront Transit Center, stadium sales tax deal, progress in and around the center city, to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
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.