Case Studies

​​​​​Attracting new businesses in new industries is one of Virginia Beach’s top priorities.​ Creating a light rail network means more than just moving people. It also draws new jobs and businesses wherever it is built — especially around new stations.

​​​​​Consider Minneapolis-St. Paul. 

In 2014, CNN Money produced a long feature story on light rail called How the Twin Cities Got Transit Right. “Minneapolis' light rail line is creating jobs and driving development in underserved areas,” CNN concluded.

Among CNN’s findings: New senior housing near the Fairfield Avenue station, a new complex of affordable homes near the Hamline station, and a boost to businesses in Cedar-Riverside, a neighborhood where many Vietnamese and Somali immigrants live  “thanks in part to the neighborhood's location as the meeting point for the new Green Line and older Blue Line,” CNN reported.   

Or consider Charlotte. 

In July 2015, the Charlotte Observer published a story under the headline Development Coming Fast to the Blue Line Extension. The Observer noted a “wave of apartments” being built near stations in NoDa, or the North Davidson area, a popular arts district.

“Now, an even bigger wave is coming,” the Observer reported. Up to 800 new residential units are planned near a new station. “The first leg of the Blue Line, which opened in 2007, is widely credited with kicking off the apartment boom that’s spread down South Boulevard,” the Observer wrote.

In a span of just eight years, $1.46 billion of new private development occurred along only half of the line. This increased property values, which in turn increased local tax revenue from $6 million per year to $16 million per year in 2015. In Charlotte, these ne reveneues are then reinvested in schools, roads and public safety.

Or consider Dallas.

With more than 60 stations, Dallas has one of the largest light rail systems in the country, and one of the oldest.

A 2014 report​ from the University of North Texas found light rail has brought a business boom to many areas of Dallas. The study found more than $1.5 billion in new construction within a quarter-mile of stations from 1996, when the light rail system began, to 2013. Another $3.9 billion worth of new projects is planned near light rail stations.

“Light rail services catalyze property development and … close proximity to a light rail station boosts property values,” the researchers wrote.

Or consider Los Angeles.

One year after the Expo Line opened in 2012, there was an explosion of large-scale development projects along the route. 

One $250 million project, called The Lorenzo, offered 913 new apartments for students at the University of Southern California. Another project, called Icon Plaza, houses 250 USC students, with eateries on the first floor. A third project, called Legado Crossing, will offer 115 apartments with stores and restaurants on the ground floor.

Or consider Portland, Ore.

As of 2014, 31 transit-oriented projects were completed along the light rail line, with $528 million invested.

Among the projects were 3,296 residential units and 399,796 square feet of stores and offices. These projects required only 51 acres, thereby preserving farms and forests. If developed conventionally, they would have used 530 acres.

What about Virginia Beach?

090026 cdm 5013.jpgIn March 2015, city staff analyzed the potential economic impact of extending light rail to Town Center. The team based its findings on what happened in other cities with light rail systems.

The group studied every parcel of land within a half-mile of one existing light rail station (Newtown Road) and three proposed stations (Witchduck Road, Kellam Road and Constitution Drive at Town Center).

Their conclus​ion: Virginia Beach would gain roughly $323 million in new real estate taxes alone over the next 30 years, plus about $14 million in new business taxes.

The study details how hundreds of acres around the stations probably will redevelop if light rail is built – bringing new jobs and businesses to Virginia Beach. These include new offices, hotels, stores, restaurants, apartments and condos.

The report lays out scenarios ranging from modest to optimistic, over periods of 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 years.

Read the full report here​​.