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Streetcar Backers Tout Project's Economic Impact

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, February 08, 2011, at 11:13AM
LA Streetcar Rendering LA Streetcar Inc

Rendering of the proposed L.A. Streetcar project on Figueroa next to Staples Center

Bringing a streetcar back to the streets of Downtown Los Angeles would result in $1.1 billion in new development and 2,100 permanent jobs according to an economic impact study conducted by AECOM and released today by L.A. Streetcar, Inc.

The study, which modeled baseline growth values created by Downtown's ongoing revitalization and then looked at those same numbers with the addition of the streetcar, says that the $125 million streetcar project would stimulate $730 million in new residential construction and $210 in new office construction. Over 25 years, that development would create 7,200 new construction jobs and 2,100 new permanent jobs. Visitors and new residents would spend $24.5 million annually, while the combination of spending and increased property values would create $47 million in new annual revenue for the city.

Before any of that can happen, though, the project must convince Downtown property owners to commit to assessments that would provide a large part of the streetcar's funding.

"We get the voices the ultimately talk about how the last thing we need is new taxes," said AEG CEO Tim Leiweke, who noted that his company wrote checks for nearly $100 million in taxes to the city, county and state this past year. "But, that said, I also understand vision."

Saying that the public sector has its hands full on basic services, Leiweke said that it is up to the private sector to create new economic activity. "We know that the great visions that are going to put people back to work are going to come from a public-private partnership, and I can't think of a better one than this," he said.

Councilwoman Jan Perry agreed. "We're going to have to rely very heavily on the private sector," she said after the event. "When we open our fiscal year with a $350 million deficit, we would be hard-pressed to contribute any significant sum."

Much of the project's initial funding has come from the Community Redevelopment Agency, an entity that could lose its funding under Governor Jerry Brown's proposed state budget.

Still, supporters at Tuesday's event were optimistic. "As we see here today, the numbers show that [the streetcar] is a wonderful economic driver," said Councilman Jose Huizar, whose Bringing Back Broadway movement set up the streetcar non-profit.

The project is currently doing its environmental studies, and hopes to break ground in 2014.

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