Streetcar Study Suggests System Could Generate $8 Billion in Development Over Next Decade
Last week the D.C. Department of Planning released the District of Columbia Streetcar Land Use Study, intended to “provide an initial foundation of analysis that the Office of Planning, DDOT and other involved agencies will use to make recommendations regarding the District’s streetcar system.” As the Washington Post points out in their coverage of the study, it suggests that the “37-mile citywide streetcar system could attract up to 7,700 new jobs, raise property values by up to $7 billion and bring in as much as $8 billion in new development over the next decade.”
The study breaks the proposed system down by corridors and gives an overview of each, listing both benefits and challenges. With regards to Georgia Avenue, it lists the following notable indicators:
- Median household income rises along Georgia Avenue from about $35,000 at the corridor’s southern end to about $70,000 at the north, placing it in the upper-middle range of streetcar corridors
- At the southern end of the corridor, with many public housing residents and university students, more than 50% of households earn less than $35,000, and nearly 60% lack a car.
- The corridor is expected to add a large number of households by 2030.
Following are the benefits and challenges related to Georgia Avenue as outlined in the study:
streetcars, traffic, Transportation comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.
Benefits: The streetcar can transform auto-oriented portions of Georgia Avenue NW into more transit-oriented areas with higher-value development and improved access options. Streetcar service would expand the walkable area now concentrated at the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metro station. Similarly, it would make the northern part of the Howard campus, an important employer, more accessible to the Shaw-Howard University Metro station. The streetcar would also amplify Georgia Avenue’s appeal as an office location for creative-economy industries. As households and jobs increase along the corridor in response to the streetcar, thousands of square feet of new neighborhood-oriented retail could be created. These changes would make Georgia Avenue’s neighborhoods more self-sufficient in terms of jobs and services.
Many commercial parcels hold strong potential for infill redevelopment, like the former Curtis Chevrolet
dealership at Peabody Street NW. Such sites could reinforce neighborhood commercial nodes and
attract employers to locations along Georgia Avenue in Brightwood, Manor Park, 16th Street Heights, and
Petworth. The corridor’s marquee opportunity, however, is the Walter Reed campus, where planning has begun to introduce major redevelopment that combines commercial, government, and housing uses over a decade.
Extending the streetcar line north on Georgia Avenue to Silver Spring, instead of ending it at Takoma as now
planned, would open opportunities in this part of the District. The District’s northern neighborhoods would
gain much better transit access to regional job centers and housing. This could, in turn, significantly raise land value and neighborhood connections along Georgia Avenue. Shifting the route would not markedly affect Takoma, because it already has Metro service. Section 4b contains a more detailed explanation of this alternative routing.
Challenges: The biggest design challenge involves integrating the streetcar into the right of way along
Georgia Avenue, a thoroughfare that currently experiences high volumes of bus, motor vehicle, and
pedestrian traffic. Areas now dominated by auto-oriented development will need pedestrian and streetscape improvements.