Charlotte, NC — Benefits Cited and Council Approves
A new study by a consultant for the City of Charlotte shows the proposed four-mile streetcar line in the Uptown area would mean significant economic development gains, Charlotte Business Journal reports. City Manager Ron Carlee has proposed a funding strategy to extend the 1.5-mile federally-funded starter by 2.5 miles. After hearing the presentation, the City Council economic development committee voted 3-1 to forward the streetcar extension plan to the full council.
The proposed streetcar line which is newly re-named CityLynx Gold Line would generate notable gains in housing, retail and office development, and hotels, according to a new city-sponsored study. The study was done by BAE, a California planning firm, which was retained in January for $50,000 to estimate the benefits along the extended four mile line.
Over the first 20 years of operation, assuming the 2.5-mile segment opens in five years after the initial stretch, the line would result in an additional 731 apartments and condominiums; 21,800 square feet of retail space; increased office space by 276,729 square feet; and increase hotel rooms by 101 for a total of 389. All this would occur over a corridor extending a half-mile on either side of the line.
If the full four miles of streetcar track are constructed, BAE estimated incremental property tax revenue of $2 million annually in 2020, $1.7 million in 2025 and 2030, and $5.5 million in 2035.
Zoning regulations and neighborhood plans along the streetcar route allow this additional development.
Mayor Anthony Foxx was unable last year to agree with the city council on a financing plan for the $2.5 million expansion of the line, despite a 9-2 democratic majority on the council. Foxx's plan failed by a 6-5 vote. A streetcar opponent, city manager Curt Walton, retired at the end of 2012. His replacement, Ron Carlee, is a supporter and proposed a strategy for funding the $126 million extension.
His plan calls for $63 million to be drawn from some unallocated funds not related to real estate tax. He also is counting on attracting the rest from federal sources.
According to the Charlotte Observer, this new proposal won council support and was approved by a 7-4 margin on May 28. The project can now proceed if federal matching funds can be found, a task that may be helped by former mayor Anthony Foxx's new position as federal Secretary of Transportation.
Despite campaigning hard for the project, Foxx was not part of the council discussion. But the vote is seen as a major victory for Foxx, who said the streetcar is the best way to revitalize neighborhoods that “have been stuck for 40 years.”