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Prov. Pushing for Trolley Program that Has Failed in Other Cities

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

 

As Providence looks to obtain federal funding for a streetcar program for the second time in two years, a recent study of the country's use of light rail has showed that rider usage -- or share of regional workers choosing to ride transit to work -- has declined in 4 of the 5 first original cities where "light rail" started over the past 30 year

In an evaluation of census data in an Atlantic Cities piece by transportation analyst Yonah Freemark entitled, "Have U.S. Light Rail Systems Been Worth the Investment?," Freemark wrote that the initial five light rail systems established in the 1980s -- Buffalo, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, and San Jose -- "neither rescued the center cities of their respective regions nor resulted in higher transit use — the dual goals of those first-generation lines."

The current Providence proposal is looking to both parlay public-private partnerships, as well as the opportunities available through the development of I-195 corridor, to secure a TIGER grant, after losing out last year to a competing application for roadwork in Apponaug.

See Providence Streetcar Proposal HERE

Gary Sasse, former Director of Administration and Executive Director of the Rhode Island Expenditure Council, is cautiously optimistic at the potential benefit streetcars would bring to Providence.

"[A] city leader needs to be visionary. A well designed street car system that links Brown, the I-195 project, and downtown could be the type of infrastructure project to help revitalize Providence," said Sasse. "However, the return on investment is dependent on how the street car system is integrated with overall development plans and market needs."

URI Distinguished Professor of Business Edward Mazze took a much different view.

"With the social, educational and economic issues currently facing Providence, now is not the time to build a streetcar system even if federal funds were available," said Mazze. "Providence has a long way to go in attracting new businesses, retaining businesses and making the city welcome for middle and high income individuals and families."

Look Back at Data -- and Forward

 

In his article, Freemark noted that regions that invested in light rail in the 1980s "largely failed to increase the share of workers commuting by transit, or to increase the vitality of their center cities with respect to the surrounding regions."  Freemark, however, went on to ask, "Does this mean we should cease investment in new light rail lines?"

 

Answering his own question, Freemark wrote, "Certainly not; in many cases, rail has provided the essential boost to reinvigorate communities, and in some cases it has also resulted in higher ridership than before: just look at Rosslyn-Ballston in the D.C. region or Kendall Square in the Boston region."

According to the City of Providence's proposal put forth this spring, the streetcar route would encompass 2.5 miles, with a one time cost of $114 million -- of which 34% would come from federal funding -- followed by annual costs of $3 million for the 12 stop line.

The result, says the city, would "spark economic development, create 6,000 new jobs over the next 20 years and 250 construction jobs, increase surrounding property values by $1.1 billion, and attract 1500 new city residents over the next 20 years."

Developer Stever Durkee spoke to the effort put forth by the city to try and secure federal funding for the street car this year, "I think the [TIGER] application is awesome. It's a great application that was put together by Bonne [Nickerson] and her team, with letters of support from Governor on down," said Durkee.

Durkee noted an example of a recently successful light rail program -- in Atlanta, Georgia, that had just gotten coverage in the Atlanta Business Chronicle for its projected positive economic impact in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

"We need it here," said Durkee of a streetcar system in Providence. "it's one of those game changing investments,"

Council Role - and Prospects?

Part of the funding proposal put forth by the city includes TIF bonds, which would account for 47% of the $114 million capital costs.

Providence City Councilman Luis Aponte spoke to the role a TIF -- and what he saw as the difference between last year's and this year's grant application.

"The last time the [TIGER] grant was put together and submitted, it was largely a city push. There's more private and non-profit sector buy-in in this application that helps us show what the added value and impact can be," said Aponte.

"What this means is a conditional infrastructure for undeveloped parcels of I-195, which means they'd become more attractive for development to move people in and out of the hub," said Aponte. "I think the strategy behind this application is to create public sector investment that will spur and incentivize private sector development."

Aponte noted that he thought the application was "strong," and the city should know if they get the funding by the end of the fiscal year. "The TIF ordinance has already been submitted to the Council."

URI's Mazze thought, however, that other matters were more pressing.

"First and foremost, Providence needs funds to fix its transportation system including city streets, highways, bridges and evening street lighting. Second, Providence needs funds to fix its schools and government buildings. And lastly, Providence needs funds for job training and recreational activities for young men and women," said Mazze.

"Many years ago Pittsburgh Pennsylvania built the bridge to nowhere, Providence can build a streetcar system that will only go one way.....out of Providence unless Providence takes care of its current social, educational and economic problems."

 

Related Slideshow: Current Tax Stabilization Agreements in Providence

Prev Next

130 Westminster St.

The Arcade - 103 Westminster St. Associates, LLC

Approval Date: 12/31/2012

Assessed Valuation: $1,826,200

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $44,137

2013 True Tax: $67,113

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $16,742

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2022

Prev Next

122 Fountain St.

Sportsman Inn - HM Ventures, LLC

Approval Date: 4/20/2012

Assessed Valuation: $1,607,800

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $77,010

2013 True Tax: $59,087

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $9,601

Tax Status: Past Due

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2022

Prev Next

244 Oak St. + 33 Magnolia St.

Roger Williams Brewery, LLC

Approval Date: 1/1/2012

Assessed Valuation: $496,800

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: N/A

2013 True Tax: $18,257

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $18,140

Tax Status: Past Due

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2024

Prev Next

1 AT&T Plaza

Hasbro - Empire LaSalle, LLC

Approval Date: 7/1/2012

Assessed Valuation: $25,092,400

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $547,553

2013 True Tax: $922,146

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $47,568

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2024

Prev Next

100 Weybosset St.

Providence G Building - Providence Capital, LLC

Approval Date: 3/20/2012

Assessed Valuation: $2,575,400

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $129,610

2013 True Tax: $94,609

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $32,557

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 7/1/2025

Prev Next

11 Dorrance St.

The Biltmore

Approval Date: 3/15/2012

Assessed Valuation: $20,162,400

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $694,575

2013 True Tax: $740,698

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $124,506

Tax Status: Past Due

End Date of Agreement: 12 Years from Commencement

Prev Next

1 Park Row West

Johnston & Wales University Dorms - Capitol Cove, LLC

Approval Date: 3/11/2005

Amendment Date: 3/8/2010

Assessed Valuation: $2,252,500

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $518,247

2013 True Tax: $82,779

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $968,606

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2023

Prev Next

125 Washington St.

Mercantile Block Assoc., LLC

Approval Date: 11/16/2009

Assessed Valuation: $1,758,000

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $59,851

2013 True Tax: $64,607

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $34,248

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2020

Prev Next

1 Sims Ave.

Milhaus LLC - The Steel Yard

Approval Date: 1/8/2007

Assessed Valuation: $323,400

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: N/A

2013 True Tax: $11,885

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $19,641

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2016

Prev Next

60 Valley St.

60 Valley St. LLC (c/o Armory Revival)

Approval Date: 9/26/2006

Assessed Valuation: $2,797,000

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $14,333

2013 True Tax: $102,790

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $11,730

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2016

Prev Next

160 Niantic Ave.

160 Niantic Ave. Morvco Realty LLC

Approval Date: 5/27/2004

Assessed Valuation: $1,305,300

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $50,612

2013 True Tax: $47,970

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $38,550

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2015

Prev Next

50 Holden St.

Promenade Building Assoc. - The Foundry

Approval Date: 5/17/2004

Assessed Valuation: $4,238,200

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $42,802

2013 True Tax: $155,754

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $104,814

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2015

Prev Next

21 Gordon Ave.

South Providence Development Corp. (Keith Fernandez)

Approval Date: 1/16/2004

Assessed Valuation: $1,042,600

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $5,708

2013 True Tax: $38,316

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $10,984

Tax Status: Past Due

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2016

Prev Next

10 Memorial Blvd.

GTECH Corp. Headquarters

Approval Date: 7/15/2003

Assessed Valuation: $54,767,800

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $236,619

2013 True Tax: $2,012,717

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $1,100,000

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2026

Prev Next

65 Eddy St.

Peerless Lofts

Approval Date: 11/22/2002

Assessed Valuation: $12,843,700

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $80,100

2013 True Tax: $472,006

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $33,407

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2016

Prev Next

235 Promenade St.

Promenade Building Assoc. - The Foundry

Approval Date: 11/22/2002

Assessed Valuation: $15,810,300

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $58,201

2013 True Tax: $581,029

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $30,345

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2015

Prev Next

236 Westminster St.

Alice Building LLC c/o Cornish Associates

Approval Date: 12/28/2001

Assessed Valuation: $3,680,500

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $25,531

2013 True Tax: $135,258

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $13,439

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2014

Prev Next

100 Providence Place

The 903

Approval Date: 12/21/2001

Assessed Valuation: $68,573,700

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $200,000

2013 True Tax: $2,520,083

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $620,474

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2015

Prev Next

95 Chestnut St.

Hacht Development, LLC

Approval Date: 4/15/2012

Assessed Valuation: $3,091,300

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $110,665

2013 True Tax: $113,605

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $20,453

Tax Status: Past Due

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2022

Prev Next

265 Oxford St.

Institute for Non-Violence

Approval Date: 1/1/2012

Assessed Valuation: $1,393,700

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $32,928

2013 True Tax: $51,218

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $1,000

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2021

Prev Next

145 Globe St.

Victory Square - JAG Investment Realty, LLC

Approval Date: 7/18/2011

Assessed Valuation: $7,234,800

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $294,485

2013 True Tax: $265,879

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $252,750

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2013

Prev Next

25 Eagle St.

Butcher Block Mill, LLC

Approval Date: 1/1/2011

Assessed Valuation: $590,500

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $23,469

2013 True Tax: $21,701

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $11,431

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2023

Prev Next

50 Agnes St.

50 Agnes, LLC

Approval Date: 1/1/2012

Assessed Valuation: $521,800

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $21,422

2013 True Tax: $19,176

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $16,807

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2024

Prev Next

103 Dike St.

Music House, LLC - Fete

Approval Date: 1/1/2012

Assessed Valuation: $589,700

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $17,555

2013 True Tax: $21,671

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $5,417

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2024

Prev Next

41 Central St.

Yet Another LLC - Art Recreation Center

Approval Date: 4/16/2007

Assessed Valuation: $287,100

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $12,879

2013 True Tax: $10,551

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $5,862

Tax Status: Past Due

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2024

Prev Next

200 Allens Ave.

200 Allens Ave. LLC (Capstone Properties)

Approval Date: 1/8/2007

Assessed Valuation: $1,834,300

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $74,754

2013 True Tax: $67,411

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $23,537

Tax Status: Past Due

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2016

Prev Next

35 Hylestead St.

65 Pavillion LLC

Approval Date: 8/1/2005

Assessed Valuation: $675,500

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $13,345

2013 True Tax: $24,825

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $9,752

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2016

Prev Next

203 Weybosset St.

Zampalis Realty (Zampalis Realty LLC)

Approval Date: 8/1/2005

Assessed Valuation: $547,900

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $12,565

2013 True Tax: $20,135

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $31,300

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2024

Prev Next

166 Valley St.

Rising Mills Project (166 Valley St. LLC, Struever Bros)

Approval Date: 12/1/2003

Assessed Valuation: $16,749,900

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $91,763

2013 True Tax: $615,559

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $80,535

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2011

Prev Next

100 Exchange St.

Intercontinental Fund IV F/K/A Cap Hill Prop

Approval Date: 1/16/2004

Assessed Valuation: $107,237,400

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $1,888,763

2013 True Tax: $2,910,464

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $1,086,829

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2023

Prev Next

5 Avenue of the Arts

Masonic Temple - RP Providence Owner LLC

Approval Date: 7/15/2003

Assessed Valuation: $45,974,100

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $79,072

2013 True Tax: $1,689,548

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $215,843

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2025

Prev Next

532 Kinsley Ave.

Monahasset Mills LLC

Approval Date: 11/22/2002

Assessed Valuation: $10,857,600

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: N/A

2013 True Tax: N/A

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $12,836

Tax Status: Credit

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2017

Prev Next

210 Westminster St.

Harrisburg Assoc. LLC and Lerner Assoc. LLC

Approval Date: 11/8/2002

Assessed Valuation: $1,188,300

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $19,404

2013 True Tax: $43,670

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $6,349

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2016

Prev Next

220 Westminster St.

Harrisburg Assoc. LLC and Lerner Assoc. LLC

Approval Date: 11/8/2002

Assessed Valuation: $2,004,800

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $10,302

2013 True Tax: $73,676

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $10,302

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2016

Prev Next

100 Fountain St.

Steelwood (Palmer Building) (LAF Realty LLC Inc.)

Approval Date: 4/25/2002

Assessed Valuation: $503,300

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $48,935

2013 True Tax: $18,496

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $22,970

Tax Status: Past Due

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2016

Prev Next

77 Reservoir Ave.

Mashpaug Associates LLC

Approval Date: 11/9/2001

Assessed Valuation: $6,953,300

Actual Tax Prior to TSA: $113,538

2013 True Tax: $255,534

2013 Stabilized Tax Payment: $108,829

Tax Status: Current

End Date of Agreement: 12/31/2015

 
 

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