Eric Jaffe at Atlantic Cities provides a nice article that overviews the project going on in Manhattan over the MTA's West Side Yards. Transit has been operating near the site for more than 100 years and the MTA's rail operations began there in the late 1980's (and didn't have a major impact on transit access). Here's the question: Is it transit value capture?
Related Companies have paid the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the air rights over a large rail yard located in one of the hottest land markets in the world. The Long Island Rail Road trains using the yards, which operate out of Penn Station, provide accessibility benefits to the site--that's in addition to all of the other transport options in the area. But when one talks about transit value capture, one typically talks about capturing the value of new transit access. That's not the case here.
The proposed developments have not been instigated by new transit access. Rather, the development is occurring now that rising land values have finally overcome the tremendous cost of the infrastructure required to bridge over an operating rail yard. This suggests that the transit access in the area did not initially provide enough value lift to make air-rights development profitable--but transit certainly generates some value. Given the market, the MTA is now positioned to finally capture that value.
Yes, this is transit value capture, just not in a form we're used to hearing about.
Ian Carlton is a transportation and land use expert specializing in transit-oriented development (TOD). He helps clients - including transit agencies, planning departments, and landowners - optimize real estate development around transit.
Special thanks to Burt Gregory at Mithun for permission to use the Portland Streetcar image above.