This week a city council panel voted to advance Minneapolis’ plans for a 3.4-mile streetcar line along Nicollet and Central Avenues. The Transportation and Public Works committee’s thumbs up clears the way for a full City Council vote next week. Renderings show preliminary plans for a $200 million streetcar line instead of a bus route. About $60 million of that comes from a state-approved “value capture district,” (similar to TIF funding). The rest will come from funding not yet identified, but could include a transit sales tax. Minneapolis’ move comes alongside streetcar developments in Cincinnati and in Kansas City, among other cities.
Posts tagged with "Streetcars":
White House officials revealed on Sunday that Charlotte, North Carolina Mayor Anthony Foxx will be named President Barack Obama’s next Secretary of the Department of Transportation, replacing outgoing Secretary Ray LaHood. The Charlotte Observer reported that Foxx rose to prominence last year when his city hosted the Democratic National Convention, and has garnered continued attention for his efforts to tackle Charlotte’s transportation challenges, from expanding the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, to extending the city’s light-rail system, and brining street cars to the city-center. The 42-year old Mayor was first elected in 2009, then re-elected in 2011 with 70 percent of the vote. Earlier this month Foxx announced that he would be leaving office at the end of the year to spend more time with his family, though now it appears those plans have changed. If his nomination is confirmed, Foxx will assume his position July 4th.
In recent weeks we've seen a number of important developments in Downtown Los Angeles, like the groundbreaking of the Arquitectonica-designed apartments on Grand Avenue, and the topping out of The Broad next door. The red-hot area continues to make headlines, from the advancement of its upcoming streetcar to the murkiness of its proposed football stadium. •The city's Downtown Streetcar, which last month received funding from a tax on downtown residents, has gotten more good news. According to Curbed LA, LA City Council on March 7 approved an operational plan committing up to $294 million of Measure R transportation tax money to cover the operation and maintenance of the system. The streetcar will travel in a loop along Broadway, Figueroa Street, and other main thoroughfares between the city's Civic Center to its Convention Center. •According to Yahoo Sports, anonymous sources in the NFL have said that AEG and Gensler's Downtown LA stadium (rendered at top) in South Park is looking less and less likely. "The numbers just don't work, no matter how you look at the deal," a "league source" told Yahoo. "It's either too hard for AEG to make money [and pay the debt on the stadium] or too hard for the team. I just can't see a way for it to work." Some have said that the NFL favors a new stadium in Chavez Ravine. Stay tuned. •The LA Times reports that Singapore developer Overseas Union Enterprise has agreed to buy the Pei Cobb Freed-designed, 72-story U.S. Bank Building, the tallest building in California. The developer will be buying the building from MPG Office Trust for $367.5 million. "Its cylindrical design is an inefficient layout for an office building," real estate analyst Jed Reagan of Green Street Advisors told the Times.
The dream of again riding a streetcar in Downtown LA is one step closer to reality. Blogdowntown reports that an environmental review is now underway for two potential routes. The two paths, each four-miles long, were selected as part of the federally-required Alternatives Analysis (AA) process and were recently sent to METRO’s Planning & Programming Committee and Construction Committee. According to a press release from LA Councilmember Jose Huizar’s office, the primary route "proceeds south on Broadway from 1st Street to 11th Street, west to Figueroa Street, north to 7th Street, east to Hill Street, and north, terminating at 1st Street. The route would also include the ability to travel up 1st Street and into Bunker Hill on Grand Avenue as funding becomes available.” The alternate route would travel east on 9th Street instead of on 7th Street. If approved the streetcars would run 18 hours a day, seven days a week, according to blogdowntown, and would service the 500,000 workers and 50,000 residents in the area. The site describes the streetcars’ expected style as sleek and modern, similar to those of Portland and Seattle. Cost estimates for the project are in the area of $110-$125 million, according to published reports. While city sources have raised $10 million so far, a tax on property owners near the route must be passed before federal grants (covering half of the cost) can be requested. Passage of the tax would require two-thirds approval from the area's roughly 7,000 voters. Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc. (LASI), which is heading up the project’s development and fundraising, is a public/private non-profit partnership composed of Downtown LA stakeholders. The formal environmental review and preliminary engineering process is estimated to take about a year, while groundbreaking is planned for 2014 and completion for 2016, according to the Huffington Post. Councilman Huizar’s press release cites an AECOM study estimating that the streetcar "would generate 9,300 new jobs, $1.1 billion in new development, $24.5 million in new annual tourism and consumer spending, and $47 million in new city revenue – all above projections for Downtown’s future without a streetcar.”
Towering Ambition. An amazing exhibition that recreates some of the world's most iconic buildings in miniature is ongoing at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C through September 5th. Design Quarterly has more info on the Lego structures by Adam Reed Tucker (via Notcot) and the NBM has an interview. (There's also a lecture on architectural toys planned this Thursday.) High Hopes. The Atlantic features an Ed Glaeser article on the benefits of building up, detailing the benefits of the skyscraper and acknowledging the "misplaced fear" that planners and preservationists harbor toward the tower. Loop the Loop. In St. Louis, a proposed streetcar line connecting Forest Park with the Delmar Loop is right on track. With an Environmental Impact Study expected any day now, the St. Louis Business Journal says $3 million of a $25 million federal grant will push the project forward. Rich Zip. New York's bronze-clad Seagram Building by Mies van der Rohe has long been a symbol of wealth, but now the Wall Street Journal reports that the 38-story tower, with its own zip code (10152 if you were wondering), is also home to the wealthiest per capita income in the U.S. at $13.9 mil. The General Motors building came in second with an average income of $9.9M.
Green Boom. Blair Kamin takes a look at the sustainability of two billowing icons in Chicago and New York. Studio Gang's Aqua Tower is going for LEED certification while Frank Gehry's New York tower will not seek the USGBC's approval but claims to be green nonetheless. Kamin notes the importance of such moves, saying of Gehry: "What he, in particular, does--or doesn't do--can have enormous influence, not simply on architects but on developers." Trolley Boom. NPR has a piece on the explosion of streetcars across the country with planned or completed systems in over a dozen cities. Bike Boom. Cycling advocate Elly Blue discusses a new study on Grist stating that bikes deserve their own infrastructure independent from autos. And not just a striped bike lane, Blue notes, but separated lanes called "cycle tracks" like one installed along Brooklyn's Prospect Park West. Soane Boom. The Independent reports on a planned renovation to the Sir John Soane Museum in London, that architect's treasure trove of antiquities and architectural memorabilia from across the world. Plans include opening up a new floor that hasn't been open to the public since Soane died in 1837.
On Tuesday, voters in Cincinnati voted to reject Issue 9, a proposed charter amendment that would have made any passenger rail-related spending conditional on ballot approval. The amendment appeared to be an effort to block the proposed Downtown to Uptown streetcar line. Now that the ballot measure has been defeated, the Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that local officials appear poised to announce significant Federal funding to advance the project.
Yesterday, our friends over at Infrastructurist put together this nifty map illustrating the return of the streetcar to American pavement. One thing was conspicuously missing--or rather three things: "our" fair cities New York, LA, and San Francisco. After all, all three have a long tradition of streetcars, and while only one still runs them, albeit for largely touring purposes. Light rail and the like have been tried and proposed, though apparently not at the cost effectiveness of street cars. And there are new subways under construction... oh wait. Which is kind of the point. In an increasingly uncertain (transportation) world, shouldn't every option and ever possibility be on the table? New York, LA, and San Francisco are often heralded for their planning prowess. Well, let them put their money where their mouths are. There's certainly enough of it sloshing around.