Transit Oriented Development near DART Rail, like CityLine and the continued growth in the Cedars south of downtown Dallas, is driving the North Texas economic boom with more than $7 billion in economic impact from new or planned construction within a quarter mile of rail stations.
Researchers from the Economics Research Group at the University of North Texas, led by Michael Carroll, Ph.D., also determined this activity in 2014 and 2015 generated more than 43,000 jobs resulting in nearly $3 billion in wages, salaries and benefits. A 2014 study from UNT identified $5.3 billion in transit-oriented development near DART Rail stations between 1996 and 2013.
"DART, and the projects around it, will sustain our continued growth," Carroll says. "This very rapid increase in investment and development activity around DART stations reflects the improvement in our regional economy. More important, this proves the wisdom of regional leaders in building a regional transit network like DART."
The regional economic benefit takes many forms. Completed or under construction transit-oriented development near DART stations has already generated $69 million in state and local tax revenue. The study also projects potential spending for planned or proposed developments could produce another $160 million in state and local tax revenue.
"Increased property values and the revenues generated from that is another way Dallas and the other DART cities are benefitting from our investment," Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says. "DART has created new connections to attract developers to fertile areas for investment. We see that transformation in all parts of our city and are excited to see what's next."
Investment paying dividends
The 93-mile light rail system, the nation's longest, was built at a cost of $5.5 billion. The most recent extension, three miles, connecting a renewed Ledbetter Station to the campus of the University of North Texas Dallas, opened Oct. 24.
"This study reminds us transportation is more than a ride from one point to another," DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas says. "Developers see the benefit. That's why they're putting their money into new live/work/play communities close to our stations. The value of those projects significantly exceeds the regional investment in rail and they are changing the face of our region."
A development magnet in good times and bad
Authors of the 2014 study found DART could make substantial contributions to regional economic health even when the area experienced an economic downturn not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. "Even through difficult economic times, DART has demonstrated its ability to boost the North Texas economy through its daily operations, capital spending and attracting private investment," said Terry L. Clower, Ph.D., principal author of the 2014 study and now director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University.
But the authors of the 2016 study believe the regional environment has fully recovered noting, "The region is one of the fastest growing nationwide in terms of population and continues to be the destination for corporate relocations." To prove the point, they identified 11 projects in various stages of development, in all parts of the DART Service Area, with a total economic impact of $5.1 billion for the region. The list of projects includes development of the Dallas High School site near Pearl Station, an expanded Southwest Airlines Training Facility, and Northshore and the Irving Entertainment District in Las Colinas.
North Texas officials cheering DART economic impact
Elected officials in DART Service Area cities see the direct benefit light rail is bringing to their communities. Read what they're saying about the latest economic impact report on DART Rail.
"The DART Green Line to Downtown Carrollton provides fundamental support for our developmental initiatives. The light rail becomes especially useful during large-scale events such our Festival at the Switchyard and helps to meet the goal of merging Carrollton's past and present."
-- Carrollton Mayor Matthew Marchant
"The sky is the limit when it comes to projects in and around the Farmers Branch DART Green Line Station. The Mustang Station multi-family building has completed phase 1 and is getting ready to start on phase 2 while exciting plans are in the works for development of the area around it. In the meantime, 29 patio homes have been built and sold in the station area. We've opened a new Farmers Market directly adjacent to the platform, one of our most beautiful rose gardens, a bird sanctuary and the Farmers Branch Historical Park are all with five minutes on foot. This makes the DART Green Line Station in Farmers Branch a powerful center of activity that will be a huge boost for Farmers Branch."
-- Farmers Branch Mayor Bob Phelps
"The arrival of the DART Blue Line in Downtown Garland in 2002 helped spark new life into our city's core with transit oriented development, increased visibility of our arts venues and historic assets, and new eateries and nightspots in downtown. Our Forest/Jupiter station is also serving as a catalyst for future development opportunities. Garland's roots first developed because of the railroad. It's only fitting that our growth toward the future should be inspired by rail traffic, too!"
-- Garland Mayor Pro Tem Scott LeMay
"Irving was founded in 1903 as a railroad station, and still today, rail continues to drive much of Irving's growth. Everywhere you look in Irving, and particularly in Las Colinas along the DART corridor, you see cranes and construction. The transit oriented development projects, when completed, will have delivered 23 projects that include 15,000 residential units, and nearly 11 million square feet of retail and office space. Additionally, we have much more construction planned along the DART and Trinity Railway Express lines in Irving. So, more than a century after its founding, rail continues to deliver high energy and tremendous interest to our great city."
-- Irving City Councilmember, and former DART Board Chair John Danish
"DART drives the pulse of Downtown Plano and has ignited a true renaissance. As a result, Downtown Plano has emerged as a vibrant destination for shopping, dining and cultural art experiences. The energy is palpable every time the light rail approaches the Downtown Plano DART station and you hear the bells and see the lights at the crossing."
-- Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere
"In July 2002, Richardson became the first city outside of Dallas to welcome DART light rail and today our community benefits from four stations. Since then, access to DART has had a tremendous and positive impact on our community, spurring transit-oriented developments such as the $1.5 billion CityLine project. Through such developments, light rail has clearly helped bring quality jobs, attracted new dining, shopping and entertainment venues, contributed significantly to the city's tax base and fostered dynamic, walkable neighborhoods that enhance Richardson's overall quality of life."
-- Richardson Mayor Paul Voelker
"Rowlett is successfully creating the sustainable, energized and walkable downtown our community has long envisioned. The Downtown Rowlett DART Light Rail Station is very much a part of this vision and is a key element in attracting quality development. For example, Bankhead Brewery Co.'s new brewery and restaurant with an amazing outdoor Biergarten located next to Rowlett's downtown water tower and the $34 million mixed-use Village of Rowlett project, which when completed in 2017 will also house the Rowlett Library, can be directly attributed to the availability of DART light rail!"