Monday, October 29, 2007

Developers Looking Down The Rails

An article in the Seattle PI Saturday was about developers and light rail. In some situations they aren't waiting for the line to come to build big projects because the market is already there for compact living. But what is interesting is that most of these guys have been snooping around the future station areas looking for other possibly plays. I'm not going to lie and say that these light rail lines don't help developers, but transit opponents complain that its a handout for developers I have to laugh. Mostly because isn't that what their precious roads are for? So that sprawl developers can build on the periphery? Yes.

But the first real surge in activity would come only after voter approval and could be restrained even then because of the transportation project's long timeline, he said. "I'm not necessarily in a position today to buy land I'm going to sit on for seven to 10 years while some massive public works project validates my assumption."

It just costs too much to buy land and hold it for a decade, until light rail comes along, Shapiro said. "Most people have to see that it's really happening. When the construction starts, then everyone takes it more seriously."

Once a light-rail route and station sites are finalized, Johnson said, property values would "really take off."

Transportation leads to access which leads to development. So the argument that its just for developers is really a non-starter because opponents development of choice is just not the development that is environmentally sustainable. And right now with the awareness of climate change, they are losing the war. Haven't you noticed the noise machine turning its volume up to 11? They are getting scared and like a caged animal are attacking with their backs against the wall. Thats when they are most dangerous. Thats also when they get ridiculous and start proposing toll tunnels under cities and super freeway expansions.

So when we are talking about light rail or streetcars and development, don't let anyone get away with the argument that its just a ploy for developers. There are always going to be good developers and bad ones on both sides of the coin. And yes they make a good amount of money, and they take a sizable amount of risk to make it. But if it is between sprawl and compact transit oriented development, I'm in favor of the access transit provides to build the compact stuff. Just don't forget to lower the parking requirements.

1 comment:

Dave said...

It's amazing to watch how developmnent will not only following new tracks being laid but arrived even before the tracks are active.

In this set you'll see a photo with an intersection which is a brand new development in Charlotte and the line doesn't go live until next month!