Rails to Real Estate?

Center for Transit Oriented Development released a study for FTA this month Rails to Real Estate which identifies development that is near new transit lines including Hiawatha in Minneapolis, Southeast Corridor in Denver and Blue Line in Charlotte.
My sense is they are attributing a lot of development to Hiawatha that occurred in downtown Minneapolis more or less independent of Hiawatha. While we cannot strictly speaking run two worlds, one with and one without Hiawatha, the development of real estate in the Mill District or the North Loop e.g. is not really attributable to the LRT. To say the line experienced a “tremendous amount of growth” is really quite misleading. The area experienced some growth, and a line happened to be built during that time.
The authors later admit “While the light rail was not a major factor stimulating development in these two downtowns, improved access to downtown entertainment and cultural amenities were an important factor making nearby station areas newly connected to the downtown attractive places for development.”
If there were depopulation along the line or a loss of jobs in Minneapolis, the authors would not have said “the line” lost population or employment. Correlation is not causation.
The projects along Hiawatha Avenue are more convincing cases, though there are many fewer of them, and some of them involved public subsidy.

2 thoughts on “Rails to Real Estate?”

  1. Some of the earliest development I noticed was along the former Milwaukee Road rail corridor leading to the old depot (now a hotel). The Hiawatha LRT effectively blocked the rail corridor, meaning that it would be impossible to rebuild the intercity rails without tearing stuff down.
    I’ve wondered if there had been development restrictions on the old right-of-way before the LRT went in, but I don’t have any information on it.

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