There’s been talk about reintroducing a streetcar system with the first line running along Nicollet and Central. A lot of that talk has been conjecture about what benefits it might have over BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) or the existing bus lines on Nicollet. There’s a good article on development and the lack thereof along the Hiawatha Line from NewUrbanNetwork.com.
Also included are lots of graphics such as this one:
Image from Center for Transit-Oriented Development
So why I am bringing up an article on light-rail in a post about streetcars? Note the stops within Downtown Minneapolis; they are spaced much closer together than the sparsely distributed stations once outside of Downtown. While the Hiawatha Line is by and large a light-rail line, the downtown segment is all but in name a streetcar line. That explains why this stretch has attracted the most development by far such as those numerous blocks of dense residential development on 2nd St in the Warehouse District and Washington Ave in the Mill District. For block-by-block revitalization, streetcars are the way to go, as long as the development opportunities are at least a handful of blocks away or a quarter mile, which the Downtown Hiawatha Streetcar Line proves quite nicely.
While Central in my neck of the woods (NE) will benefit nicely it would be even more interesting to see what the next planned line on W Broadway would do to revitalize this most underutilized business district. That’ll be a long wait though, so in the meantime just hop on the train from Target Field to the Metrodome to see how you like riding the streetcar and be sure to walk around a bit from these downtown stations to check out the new developments that have popped up as a result, including the numerous restaurants and bars that are parts of these developments. Then think about all of the potential similarly being tapped into along other proposed future streetcar routes on Lake, Chicago, University, 4th St SE, Hennepin and N Washington, which certainly have their fair share of parking lots that could be put to better use.