TRANSPORTATION: STREETCARS : UNITED STATES: CITIES: CINCINNATI, OHIO : URBAN DEVELOPMENT: A Deeper Look at the Courier's Big Streetcar Project
David P. Dillard
TRANSPORTATION: STREETCARS :
UNITED STATES: CITIES: CINCINNATI, OHIO :
A Deeper Look at the Courier's Big Streetcar Project
December 30, 2016, 11:04am EST
Updated December 30, 2016, 11:12am EST
A shorter URL for the above link:
Its a question that has bugged me for years as Ive written about the most-divisive political topic in the citys recent history, the Cincinnati streetcar. The city has seen hundreds of millions in development in its basin downtown and Over-the-Rhine over the past decade-plus, with much of it happening as the city has been planning and building the streetcar project.
But how much of it was actually because of the streetcar?
The first part would be time-consuming but somewhat simple. Everyone who asks the city for a building permit has to state the cost of the project in order for the city to charge its fees. We looked at all of the properties directly on the line, checked to see who had received permits and added up the investments they made at least $160 million since 2012.
The figure isnt perfect. It doesnt include costs like property acquisition or lawyers or things that dont require permits, such as buying furniture. But using the building permit numbers guaranteed we would be conservative, and it ensured an apples-to-apples comparison amongst the different projects. One project couldnt throw in its real estate brokers fee while another did not.
We did not expect to have much success with the second part of the story. The streetcar project has been a political hot potato for so long that people have been reluctant to talk about it at all, let alone admit that it played a role in how they thought about their project.
We were wrong. Dozens of building owners, developers and lessees were willing to talk with us and be candid about whether the streetcar influenced their decision-making. Asking people allowed us to get a good sample of who was simply renovating a bathroom they would have overhauled anyway and who actively thought of the streetcar as they developed a project. The story contains a full accounting of the property owners who told us the streetcar as a factor in their development decisions, their rating for how much of a factor it was and the value of their investments. There's even a searchable database of all of the responses we received that you can check out here.
Our story probably will not settle the debate once and for all. Because of time and workload constraints, our examination and our numbers do not include projects that are not directly on the line. That means if a developer on Sycamore Street built something because a streetcar stop was just a block away on Main Street, that project is not included in our research. Because of that, Grandin Properties CEO Peg Wyant bluntly told me that we are low-balling the overall investment traceable to the streetcar line. So we made it clear in the story the parameters of our research it is a sampling and its limitations.
Others might quibble with the fact that we let people self-rate the streetcar factor for their projects and argue that property owners who are streetcar supporters will overstate the projects importance in their decision making. But mind-reading, unfortunately, is beyond our journalistic ability, and given the broad sample we collected, those with anti-streetcar bias also are included.
The complete article may be read at the URL above.
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