This report documents real estate development patterns along three recently constructed light rail transit lines in the United States. This topic is important for local planning practitioners, transit agencies, community members and other stakeholders in their efforts to plan for new transit investments and foster transit-oriented development (TOD). Setting realistic expectations about the scale, timing and location of private investment along new transit lines is especially critical where new development is expected to help pay for needed transit improvements, neighborhood amenities, or other community benefits.
The three transit lines examined in this report are the Hiawatha Line in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region, the Southeast Corridor in the Denver region, and the Blue Line in the Charlotte region. The report examines residential and commercial development that occurred within a half-mile of stations along the three lines. Development is evaluated in the context of land use and demographic characteristics of the station areas along the lines at the beginning of the period studied. In particular, the analysis considers development patterns with regard to:
- Proximity to downtowns and other major employment centers;
- The location and extent of vacant or “underutilized” property that might offer opportunities for development or redevelopment;
- Block patterns that influence “walkability”;
- Transit connectivity; and
- Household incomes.
The research is also based on interviews with local planning and transit practitioners and developers about the nature of development activity along each line, and the roles of the public and private sectors in stimulating development. While the analysis considers quantitative information, most of the findings are qualitative in nature. The report considers the relationship between certain land use characteristics and development activity, but the relationships discussed are not meant to imply causality.
About Reconnecting America
“Reconnecting America is a national non-profit organization that is working to integrate transportation systems and the communities they serve, with the goal of generating lasting public and private returns, improving economic and environmental efficiency, and giving consumers more housing and mobility choices.”