You Invest in Rail to Get the Dense Development

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Here’s an important lesson from the Charlotte Observer: rail is a real estate development tool. You make public investments in rail if you’re prepared to allow a lot more population density near train stations, and not otherwise. What profitable rail lines all have in common is that the areas they serve have sufficient population density to support high ridership. Building rail out into low density areas only to let people waste the valuable land around rail stations on Park-n-Rides (ala SEPTA and Amtrak) is fiscal insanity:

Apartments are sprouting at a rapid clip along Charlotte’s Lynx Blue Line in South End, as developers look to cash in on a booming rental market and cater to young professionals who want to live near uptown.

While commercial development across the region is seeing slow growth at best, the South End neighborhood has seen a spurt of new activity this year with more than $200 million worth of new construction being announced. Apartments near the Lynx line are powering the growth [...]

“(Developers) can get a huge premium being next to mass transit.”

Apartments near mass transit in Charlotte rent for an average $982 a month, compared with an overall city average of $638 a month, CoStar research shows.

Nationally, 65 percent of apartments built in metropolitan cities are within walking distance of mass transit.

“A renter is looking for convenience and lifestyle, and part of that equation is light rail,” said developer Stuart Proffitt, whose firm, Proffitt Dixon Partners, is building Fountains at South End, a 208-unit complex at the New Bern station.

 

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