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14 Impacts on New Development ized on the appeal of the streetcar by incorporating streetcar themes into their businesses. The redevelopment of the HarborPark area has produced new multifamily condominiums and townhouses, a new natural history and art museum, a new Civil War museum, green Savannah, Georgia space, and a two-tiered water-edge pathway around the har- bor. The Kenosha Harbor also supports two newly enhanced Savannah is a coastal city of approximately 130,000 resi- marinas and 0.25 mi of new public promenade with lighting, dents, located along the Savannah River, which separates small courtyards, and a public seating area. A bicycle and Georgia and South Carolina. The Port of Savannah is a pedestrian trail links the park to the 250-boat slip marina. major seaport, with the fourth-busiest container terminal in According to the city's community development special- the United States. Savannah is the county seat of Chatham ist, the incentives for high-density residential projects and County, whose population is approximately 250,000. the development of cultural amenities came from the initial infrastructure laid down for the streetcar. Additionally, the Streetcar System specialist reported that as a result of the zoning changes, only 2 of the 13 blocks that make up HarborPark remain undevel- Savannah's River Street Streetcar is the demonstration phase oped. The city is currently offering a reduction in land costs of what is intended to be a larger effort to incorporate exten- for two city-owned undeveloped sites at HarborPark. sion of a streetcar system with downtown master planning to enhance mobility and the competitive position of down- Kenosha's director of transportation, interviewed for this town for offices, retail, and residential uses (see Figure 5). study, commented that the streetcar has supported density Future expanded streetcar service is seen as the best means and helped the rapid sale of HarborPark's initial 400 con- to replace an overlapping and duplicative mix of various dominium units. Several recently completed condominium types of publicly and privately operated buses and shuttles. projects adjacent to the harbor on the streetcar line have expe- Streetcars are seen as being particularly suitable for Savan- rienced slower absorption, however, because of the downturn nah, compared with light rail transit options, because of the in the economy. He credited the streetcar, along with new physical constraints of its historic downtown, with small open space and pedestrian and streetscape improvements, blocks and its lower cost for this smaller city. with helping the city to attract tens of thousands of people for a variety of summer festivals and a lakefront triathlon each year. Even with no zoning changes in the downtown core, the once underutilized Central Business District has experienced New Urbanism inspired development with higher densities. Under the redevelopment plan, the city cut parking require- ments in half for downtown development. It requires no new parking for rehabilitation projects of existing buildings if the footprint is not altered, and requires only off-street park- ing for new buildings. The city currently is discussing the option of reducing parking requirements in the HarborPark area and building city-financed parking garages to alleviate the parking cost burden on developers. Impact on Economic Development FIGURE 5 Savannah streetcar. (Source: John Smatlak.) It is difficult to ascertain the impacts of the streetcar on the The River Street Streetcar commenced operation in downtown's economic development. The city's community February 2009, and runs a single route of approximately 1 development specialist commented that traditional, national mi with seven stops along River Street, the city's primary "main street" anchor tenants have not located downtown, tourism destination. The Streetcar is part of the downtown preferring highway locations, but several locally owned res- department of transportation (DOT) multimodal transporta- taurants and shops, including a wine bar, have opened down- tion system that offers free service. From stops along the town in recent years. In addition, a nine-story condominium streetcar route, riders can catch a DOT Express shuttle bus tower and 60-room hotel have been proposed for develop- to downtown and between downtown parking structures, as ment downtown. In general, the mostly locally owned busi- well as the DOT Savannah Belle ferry to the Savannah Inter- nesses locating downtown have created a niche "hometown national Trade and Conference Center across the Savannah downtown." Businesses such as Trolley Dogs have capital- River.

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15 The streetcar is a restored W-5 1925 Melbourne streetcar having city employees operating vehicles. CAT did not want that is self-propelled, using a biodiesel (B50) electric hybrid its employees to operate the streetcar because it would have system. The restoration was completed because use of an had to create a Rail Division pursuant to FTA rules, and it overhead catenary is not possible with the extensive tree was not prepared to do so. CAT, however, is willing to take canopy that is a character-defining feature of the city. over the route in the future as the streetcar expands and becomes a full system. System Development System Management The River Street route is a demonstration project that estab- lishes the viability of a streetcar. An earlier 2003 study by Since opening, ridership has been running slightly above pro- Chatham Area Transit (CAT), the regional transit operator, jections, with the current projection for the year (partial-year had looked at building a longer 4-mi route that would con- operation since operations commenced in February) approxi- nect the downtown area and River Street. The cost and com- mately 75,000. The peak season for ridership is springtime. plexity of that system, however, lead to Chatham County los- The streetcars do not have air conditioning, and a seasonal ing interest, and it was never built. drop-off in ridership is expected during Savannah's hot, humid summer. The first ridership survey will be conducted The city went on its own with a smaller demonstration at the 6-month anniversary in August; it is believed that "starter" route along River Street because the rail lines were approximately 80% of the ridership is tourists. already in place, and the city was able to buy it from the Nor- folk Southern Railroad (see Figure 6). River Street is part of The system operates Wednesday through Sunday, from a historic district, a tourist destination, and better suited to 12 noon through 7 p.m. Headways are generally every 15 rail than buses because of its cobblestone paving. The goal is min. to start with a system that is a novelty, and then build excite- ment to support a proposal to extend the streetcar throughout System Financing the downtown area. The financing of the River Street streetcar route was through Other goals for the demonstration project include deter- the city's General Fund, involving an expenditure of approxi- mining whether the biodieselelectric hybrid propulsion sys- mately $1.5 million. Ongoing operations for the fare-free ser- tem would work, as well as the right size of streetcar (47-ft vice are funded through the city's parking system (garages, long Melbourne cars or 24-ft long Birney cars). The city now meters, and tickets). believes that the 47-ft long cars cannot make the tight turns in the city's historic downtown, with its 1733 layout featur- Impacts of Streetcar on Built Environment ing small blocks, and will look to use smaller Birney street- cars in the future. Impacts on Existing and New Physical Development The city's Department of Mobility Services is responsible As a recently opened demonstration route in an established for funding the streetcar and contracting with its operators as and successful tourist area, the streetcar has not had an well as operators for other transportation modes in the down- identifiable effect on existing development, nor has it led town and greater downtown areas. The contracted operator to proposals for new development or other job creation and is the Savannah Mobility Management Board (MMB), Inc., investment. Because River Street is in an historic district, an independent nonprofit commercial entity that hires the new development, employment, and investment likely will drivers. The Department of Mobility Services hires mechan- occur through the reuse of existing structures, rather than ics. This structure was created to facilitate funding and avoid extensive development of new buildings. FIGURE 6 Savannah streetcar map.