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DART Rail Attracts Billions in Environmentally Beneficial Development

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART)is leading the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex toward world-class smart growth by reducing the necessity for automobile travel and positively impacting our environmental integrity. Also, transit-oriented development has attracted more than $5.3 billion in private capital to projects have been built, are under construction or are planned near DART light rail stations since 1996.Office properties located within a quarter-mile of a station command an average 13.9 percent higher lease rate.

The latest study from the Center for Economic Development and Research at the University of North Texas examines DART Rail’s positive impact on property development and extends the research to consider the effect on commercial lease rates. Terry L. Clower, Ph.D., director of the Center for Economic Development and Research at the University of North Texas (UNT), states, “Even through difficult economic times, DART has demonstrated its ability to boost the North Texas economy through its daily operations, capital spending and attracting private investment.”

Researchers found that the station area outperformed comparable control locations in each of five major property types. New developments built between 1993 and 2013 in close proximity to light rail totaled more than $1.5 billion in valuation, compared with roughly $600 million in control areas. Of those completed projects, more than $751 million are multifamily residential developments, while office developments total $224 million. Retail developments are worth $393 million, with Mockingbird Station and The Shops at Park Lane the most notable examples. Industrial and single-family properties also were more plentiful near rail stations.

Beyond the property value, estimated tax contributions for development located near DART stations exceed $36 million annually, more than twice the $14 million estimated in the control group areas.“Although we are a young light rail system, transit agencies across the country are looking at our policies and practices to learn how we’ve attracted so much development to our station areas,” says Gary Thomas, DART president and executive director.

Developers have announced plans to build roughly $3.8 billion in projects deliberately located near DART Rail over the next decade. If completed, more than 8,500 multi-family units, as well as several million square feet of office and retail space, will arrive near DART stations, contributing about $91 million in annual real property tax revenues to local jurisdictions.

Nearly all major projects under construction or planned have some residential component. According to the research, multi-family and office property developments are especially suited to station areas, which is consistent with transit-oriented and new urbanism-style developments.

DART Chief Financial Officer David Leininger says, “The positive impact of DART Rail on office construction and lease rates is directly correlated to tenant demand for walkable developments and transit options. Proximity to DART is a marketing advantage for recruiting talent.”


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