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16 Changes in Future Land Use Plans and Regulations of tourists, downtown workers, students, and local residents drawn to downtown Savannah. The Savannah Development and Renewal Authority (SDRA), in partnership with the city of Savannah and the Streetcars are seen as an effective method to extend tran- Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC), is guiding the sit to lower-income areas to the northeast and northwest of development of a new master plan for downtown Savannah. downtown, providing access by residents to service jobs The plan is undergoing administrative review, with public downtown. The Savannah River Landing project east of release scheduled for mid-2009. downtown is a major 54-acre mixed-use development that would be linked to downtown by streetcar. Redevelopment Expanding the Savannah streetcar system is an integral of public housing surrounding the downtown into mixed- part of planning process to rationalize downtown Savannah's income developments also would be linked by streetcars. transit system, improve downtown mobility, and support redevelopment efforts. For example, CAT currently operates As with River Street, most of the downtown area is in 326 daily buses on lines serving the county that congregate an historic landmark district. This means that new uses, in the downtown area. The Savannah College of Art and and associated investment and new employment, primar- Design, a 7,000-student downtown campus with 70 proper- ily would be achieved through adaptive reuse of existing ties, operates its own shuttle system with 36 buses, which stop structures rather than development of new buildings. The at many of the same locations as CAT buses. These overlap- Downtown Master Plan will encourage streetfront retail and ping services--in an historic downtown with small blocks-- presence, even for larger uses such as hotels, to enhance the have contributed to congestion. The city anticipates that an pedestrian environment and synergies with an expanded expanded streetcar system integrated into a new multimodal streetcar system. terminal will reduce private automobile and bus transit con- gestion in the downtown area. Moreover, according to city staff, streetcars are considered a cost-effective solution for Portland, Oregon downtown mobility, because Savannah is not a large city and cannot support a more expensive light rail system. Oregon's largest city, Portland, is situated at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. Home to 575,000 resi- Based on the 2003 failed effort to develop a streetcar dents, the city is at the center of a metropolitan area with 2.16 system, city staff determined that streetcar planning in million residents, encompassing portions of northwestern Savannah needs to be considered as part of a comprehensive Oregon and southwestern Washington. The streetcar system mobility system, integrating all modes of travel, including in Portland has gained national prominence as an example of wayfinding for pedestrians, and development of an under- a modern transportation system using streetcars. ground parking structure. Streetcar System Impacts--Future Planned Economic Development Portland Streetcar is owned by the city of Portland in part- Expanded streetcar service is seen as an opportunity to pro- nership with TriMet, the regional transit operator, who con- mote economic development. Property owners are interested tributes a portion of operating funding. Portland Streetcar in being on a streetcar stop, and surveys show that residents is managed by the city Office of Transportation, which con- perceive the experience of riding in streetcars as preferable tracts with Portland Streetcar Inc., a private nonprofit orga- to buses. The pending downtown master plan identifies nization, for construction and operation of the system. The the streetcar as a catalyst for economic development, and a streetcar system is not part of the regional MAX light rail means to attract more shoppers, businesses, and investors. system, which links suburban communities more than 30 mi In the future, a streetcar system is seen as an opportunity to apart to each other as well as offering service to the Portland promote Class A office space by linking buildings with off- International Airport and north Portland. site parking structures. Initially announced in 1997, the system commenced Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, the main northsouth operations in 2001, with the initial segment running from route from the core downtown area to the waterfront, his- Good Samaritan Hospital to Portland State University. This torically had streetcar service running down the middle of first segment traversed primarily what was already a rich the street. A study is currently under way, with a Septem- transit zone offering free bus service through downtown ber 2009 completion date, on the cost to extend the street- Portland. Following three additional incremental extensions, car along the median. CAT is currently building a transit streetcars follow a 4-mi continuous loop from Legacy Good hub on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. The hub is also Samaritan Hospital at NW 23rd Avenue to the South Water- envisioned as a connection point for streetcars that would front District, where the system connects with the Portland consolidate public transit downtown, while serving the mix Aerial Tram, to a terminus at SW Lowell and Bond.
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17 The current system has a total of 46 stops, located approxi- System Financing mately every three to four blocks (see Figure 7). Streetcars run approximately every 12 min during most of the day Mon- Financing of the Portland streetcar system has followed a dif- day through Saturday, and less frequently in early mornings, ferent path and used a different mixture of funding sources evenings, and Sundays. Currently, it is free to ride the por- for each segment constructed to date. The first segment, run- tion of the streetcar route traversing the Fareless Square (see ning from the Good Samaritan Hospital to Portland State line of squares on map, which is a large area covering most of University, a length of 2.4 mi, had a total capital cost of $56.9 the downtown area. The Fareless Square predates the street- million in 2000/2001. This cost was financed by a mix of local car and offers free bus and MAX service as well. Tickets for and federal sources. At the local level, the most substantial the streetcar outside of Fareless Square are currently $2.00 for share of capital costs was financed by a municipal parking adults and $1.50 for youth. Transfers from other transportation revenue bond supported by parking fees in the area of the systems are honored. Ridership of the system as of Spring/ streetcar. Additional local mechanisms relied on value cap- Summer 2008 averaged 10,000 riders per day and reached up ture, including an LID and TIF. Major tax-exempt property to 12,600 per day during peak summer weekdays. owners, including Portland State University, pay the LID fee because of the benefits they receive from streetcar service. As summarized in Table 3, funding sources varied as each of the three subsequent, shorter segments was constructed. To date, the streetcar system has been financed by approximately 79% local funds, including 19% contributed by local improvement districts and 21% by tax increment financing (see Table 3). At present, Portland is preparing for its next stage of streetcar system expansion, which will be a new loop con- necting the Pearl District in northwest Portland with areas across the Willamette River east of the downtown core, including the Lloyd District, a major office center. This loop extension will add 3.3 mi of double-tracked lines to the exist- ing streetcar. It will extend from the Pearl District in north- west Portland, crossing the Broadway Bridge, and ending at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in southeast Portland. The project is currently in its construction design phase, with service slated to begin by 2011. Funding sources for this major expansion are shown in Table 4. As anticipated, this extension will rely more extensively on federal funds, with $75 million or just over 51% of the proj- ect funded from this source. Local funding, from a Portland Development Commission LID (most likely a mix of TIF and other sources) will contribute 10% and 19%, respectively. Impacts on the Built Environment Impacts on Existing Physical Development The Portland streetcar system has been analyzed exten- sively, primarily in terms of the amount, density, and tim- ing of development it has stimulated, rather than streetcar impacts on land value. Anecdotally, the initial stage of the system is credited by the operator with stimulating acceler- ated development of condominiums and specialty retail in the Pearl District, an area that was already undergoing some urban revitalization before the streetcar, as part of Portland's FIGURE 7 Portland streetcar map. (Source: Portland urban renewal process. This area garnered substantial press Streetcar, Inc.) in the late 1990s, when a major developer who had promoted the streetcar concept agreed to build higher densities when streetcar funding was finalized.
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18 Table 3 Summary of portland streetcar system funding sources utilized to date Table 4 Sources of funds for planned streetcar extension The survey conducted for this report included an inter- a longstanding and ongoing program to revitalize down- view with staff of the Portland Development Commission, town Portland and to reshape the city as increasingly tran- the city of Portland's agency devoted to economic develop- sit-oriented. Major initiatives, including an extensive light ment and redevelopment of specific areas of Portland des- rail system (also traversing the downtown), the Fareless ignated as URAs. Staff reported that although the Portland Square (free bus, light rail, and streetcar in the downtown), streetcar has been immensely popularized throughout the extensive streetscape improvements, substantial allowable transit field, those engaged in economic development in density, fine-tuned parking regulations, strong design guide- Portland view the streetcar as one of many components of lines and review, and a host of financial incentives offered
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19 by the Portland Development Commission (e.g., land write- In absolute terms, the study notes that the new devel- downs, subsidies for affordable housing, loans and grants opment averaged 5.9 FAR within the one-block area after for economic development, and façade improvements), all 1997, whereas it averaged 6.4 at the three-block distance have contributed to the success of downtown Portland in the after 1997. In other words, although the sites adjacent to areas around the streetcar routes. Staff perspective, shared the streetcar clearly were more densely developed after the by many other planners and economic development prac- streetcar announcement than before, other new development titioners in Portland, is that it is difficult to single out the elsewhere in downtown was still denser in absolute terms streetcar as a key factor in the downtown's success; rather it (owing to the configuration of downtown Portland, many of is one among a host of urban amenities creating the condi- the most newly and densely developed, well-located down- tions for success. town sites are not along the streetcar route). Impacts on New Physical Development Another way to understand the change is that the addition of more than 4 million square ft in densely developed new More complete documentation is available regarding the projects near the streetcar allowed this specific one-block actual new development amounts stimulated by the Portland area to "catch up" with, and thus achieve similar overall streetcar. A 2005 report prepared by E. D. Hovee & Com- density as, more distant downtown blocks that contain Port- pany for Portland Streetcar, Inc., the operators of the Portland land's more concentrated downtown districts (see Table 5). streetcar system, analyzed the new development patterns experienced after the streetcar system was announced in The addition of 4.6 million new square ft of development downtown Portland (8). The study looked at new devel- between and on either side of blocks that separate tracks going opment quantities both before and after 1997, the year the in opposite directions ("one block") dramatically increased streetcar was announced. The geography studied was based this zone's capture of total development activity; before 1997, on the number of blocks from the streetcar track(s), with the these blocks contained 19% of the neighborhoods' existing "one block" distance actually representing three blocks in development, whereas after 1997, the same blocks captured width, as a result of the double streetcar tracks built with a 60% of all new development. This finding suggests that the block in between as well as another block on either side of streetcar attracted a disproportionate share of new develop- the track. ment, shifting the attractiveness of sites adjacent or near to its tracks from moderate to high during the period studied. Hovee's analysis found that between 1997 and 2004, the blocks adjacent to the streetcar attracted more square feet of Local land use policies--such as the UGB surrounding development, and at denser levels, than had been attracted Portland, the construction of other light rail transit systems, to the same locations before the streetcar. For the blocks and the URA process, as well as the ability to invest TIF to adjacent to the streetcar tracks, new development aver- subsidize infrastructure and development projects in these aged 90% of allowable Floor Area Ratio (FAR) post-1997, redevelopment areas--have long encouraged downtown whereas before this time, existing buildings constructed development and redevelopment, including but not limited over the neighborhood's 100-plus-year life had averaged just to the streetcar route. Moreover, while the Hovee study mea- 34% of allowable FAR (the study did not look at the density sured the amount of zoning capacity used by developers of newer development projects alone, before the streetcar before and after a specific year marking the announcement announcement). of the streetcar, other development trends that were present Table 5 Summary of findings from Portland Streetcar Impacts, 2005 (8)