The idea of apartments near train stations and along bus corridors makes perfect sense. Along with greater convenience, a new report released by the Urban Land Institute shows this to be a good move for tax revenues.
The report focused on Washington, DC, and its metro area. It seems applicable for cities elsewhere as well, though.
The report considered 10,000 apartments across the Baltimore–DC region (including in Fairfax, Montgomery, and Anne Arundel counties). The task was simple — to see if units near transit brought in more revenue.
Susan Balding reports from Greater Greater Washington: “In the Washington region, apartments near train stops and bus routes bring in more tax money for cities and counties than apartments farther away from the same resources. If these apartments had been farther away from transportation, the study found, they would have generated less revenue — between $0.77 and $1.35 for every $1 spent.”
There have been opponents of higher-density developments in D.C. and the greater Washington area — as with practically everywhere. But for those worried about burdens on local public schools or other public resources, the study’s findings should ease their concerns.
However, studying these matters is never a simple affair, and other factors could be at play. Balding continues:
“There’s still more to be understood when it comes to the benefits of transit-oriented development as a whole.
“Three of the apartment buildings the study looked at had a median age range of 31 to 40 years (though the fourth in Fairfax County had a younger median age range of 26 to 30 years). It also finds that the median household income per unit in these developments was substantially higher than similar developments located farther from transit.
“This raises a few concerns: Are apartments near transit only affordable for older residents or professionals without kids? Or do older residents simply prefer to live closer to non-car transportation? And if a certain number of apartments in buildings located near transit are set aside for affordable housing, will this affect the money generated for cities and counties?”
These are the questions: How do you make attractive, mixed-use, transit-oriented developments that are also affordable? And if you do, do the economic and tax revenue benefits remain?
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