We attended today's meeting of the council's Transportation and Environment Committee in the hopes of finding out from DART officials where they stood on the second downtown light-rail alignment and streetcars. Instead, the only thing that jumped out was committee chair Linda Koop's concerns about the lack of development near light-trail stations. Because, if you'll recall, back in July, two University of North Texas economics profs looked into their crystal balls and guesstimated that when all was said and done, the 45-mile Green, Orange and Blue line rail expansion would generate more than $4 billion in economic activity between 2009 and 2014.
But Koop today conceded that development efforts around light-rail stations haven't exactly taken off.
"We haven't been able to capitalize at all on development around the stations -- not at all," she said. DART officials didn't have a quick answer for her concerns. That's because there's no easy fix. Look, for instance, at South Dallas, where a St. Louis developer has been called in by The Real Estate Council to evaluate potential for development along the Green Line; results aren't due till later this year. Meanwhile, as we noted in September, 220 acres of land formerly belonging to the Hunt family near the Bush Turnpike Station at U.S. 75 and the G.B.H. sits empty -- and will for a good, long while.
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Which is why Koop's itching to start talking about the problem now: She's vowed to add the issue to a future agenda: "That's a good discussion for us to have, because now's the time to plan. There's not a lot of money in the coffers for development right now, even in the private sector, but now's the time to plan."