The Cincinnati Streetcar has seen a billion dollars of economic development

The streetcar has just hit a milestone, there has been, by my calculations, a billion dollars in investment along the streetcar route. I started keeping a spreadsheet of every news story I saw of a project along the route and projects off the route where developers credited the streetcar for their decision to invest in the urban core.
In 2007, the study which justified the streetcar investment concluded there was a 90% chance the streetcar’s benefits over and above its lifetime costs would total about $187 million, that there was a 10% chance they could be as high as $450 million, and that it would take until 2042 to realize all of these benefits. But look at what’s already happened 23 years ahead of schedule…
Of course, not all of this is on account of the streetcar. The city and 3CDC have also been big drivers of investment. But if you walk along the 3.6 miles of streetcar track, you’ll probably conclude the streetcar had a lot to do with the amazing investment there.
Every time a new restaurant, bar or retail business opens on the line, every time a new residential building is created it reinforces the feedback loop. Yes, it is possible to live car-free in Cincinnati and the only thing you sacrifice is car and gas bills.
The other day a streetcar opponent on twitter mentioned that a business moved from one spot on the streetcar route to another spot on the route, which brings up a very good point.
The streetcar isn't just a good development tool, it is also an anchor to keep businesses in our community instead of moving somewhere cheaper.
Even after a dozen years of streetcar opponents weaponizing it as a wedge issue, the streetcar investment is one of the smartest things our city has ever done. And while the City Hall continues to pursue operational improvements such traffic signal timing to speed it up and hopefully going fare-free to make it easier to board, ride, and spend dollars at local businesses, we are already realizing significant economic benefits.

Economic development
Streetcar development
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