Friday, November 20, 2009

Excellent choice of words, Decatur Metro

Decatur Metro, while discussing potential plans to build the multi-modal station Downtown, has a link to a DC blog Track Twenty Nine.  Track Twenty Nine has some schematics for how various rail lines could fill the Gulch area, which DM termed "rail porn".  Excellent choice of words - we salute you!

As far as the multi-modal station goes, GDOT is considering building it with the $87M in federal funds slated for the Lovejoy line.  Also mentioned in the AJC article is one of the ideas floating around for how to pay for commuter rail lines:
The project could address the fundamental problem that has dogged the commuter rail line proposal: Mass transit ticket sales rarely pay the full cost of operating the system on an ongoing basis. One idea is to gain a revenue stream for the rail lines by building and renting out office space above the terminal.  DOT, MARTA and other agencies could move into that space, and form a reliable renter base even in a shaky real estate market.
Sounds good, but I think it is much harder in practice to execute.  If you could fill all (or a lot) of the office space with MARTA, GDOT and other government agencies, you could probably get decent cash flow out of the deal, but I'm not sure what it means for the rest of Downtown.  It isn't like government workers are a revitalizing force for urban renewal - they basically go to work, eat lunch, and go home.  So Downtown will get some more sandwich shops.  To be really successful, I'd love to find a way for the multi-modal station to be more of a draw for different businesses.

Also, moving all those government agencies into the buildings would mean they are no longer renting space elsewhere - such as GDOT at One Georgia Center.  Unless you can  actually generate demand for office space, you are just playing shell games.  Maybe the multi-modal CAN generate demand, but I think we should spend some time laying out specifics on how that is going to happen.  New development doesn't magically generate people who want to move into your space (look at all the empty office space in Buckhead).

h/t: obvs. to Decatur Metro

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this. I especially enjoyed the comment about Downtown government workers going to work, eating lunch, and going home.

    You didn't say it specifically, but: For the most part these government workers are not Atlanta residents. (At City Hall, for instance, something like 80% of City of Atlanta employees are not city residents.)

    Add to that: All of these government buildings have their own cafeterias, so the impact of government workers on local, small businesses is minimal.


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