HISTORY OF CARROLLTON’S TRANSIT AND TRANSIT-ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
The City Council’s vision and goals revolve around creating successful transit-oriented development districts that are sustainable and vibrant. Those sustainable districts built anew and/or revitalized around the three Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) light rail stations will build an entire community where the economic development and investment potential will draw individuals and business to Carrollton. Downtown Carrollton has the most potential to drive development at the other stations and across Carrollton. It is poised to once again be the center of Carrollton civic life. Furthermore, the Downtown Carrollton station will be a primary destination and transfer point within the Metroplex.
The purpose of this report is to outline important milestones the City has reached and to provide a historical context to the efforts to transform the City from an aging suburb to a sustainable, convenient and connected city at the center of North Texas life.
Carrollton began a new era with the arrival of railroads in the late 1800s. The City quickly emerged from an agricultural community to a hub of bustling business and professional activity. The Dallas-Wichita Railroad arrived in Carrollton in 1879. By 1908, there were three railroads using Carrollton as a way station. The Cottonbelt and the Katy (MKT) railroads provided passenger service and maintained a depot while the Frisco Railroad only provided freight service. Prior to the 1940s, all significant commerce was by rail. The tracks of all three intersected just north of what is now the Carrollton Town Square. Having three railroads intersect was unique for this part of the country and contributed to Carrollton's early prosperity. With the coming of the railroads, Carrollton developed into a sizable shipping center, particularly for cattle. A depot was established in Carrollton, and daily mail was then available by rail. In 1922, the Texas Interurban Railway, an electric train, began passenger service in Carrollton for transport between Dallas and Denton. The first locomotive to the area was in 1923.
Milestone #1: Passenger Rail Returns to Carrollton
The City has been preparing for the return of passenger rail to Carrollton since 1984. Over the last 26 years, the City has transferred over $336 million of sales tax receipts to DART. This investment is about to blossom with the arrival of the first Green Line train in December 2010. The timeline below outlines important events that have transpired since 1984.
The voter-approved one-cent sales tax takes effect and DART officially begins operations.
DART begins new non-stop express bus service between downtown Dallas and Carrollton.
Carrollton citizens vote to continue membership in DART with a 69% margin.
Carrollton receives connecting bus service with the first phase of the suburban local bus network.
DART begins operations from the new North Carrollton transit center.
Carrollton citizens overwhelmingly vote to continue membership in DART with a 77% margin.
DART completes the Northwest Corridor Major Investment Study (MIS) by selecting the rail routes for light rail service to Carrollton.
The Federal Transit Administration approves a $700-million Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) to kick-start a $2.5-billion expansion that will lead to the doubling of the DART Rail System to 90 miles by 2013. The grant is the largest ever awarded to DART. The FFGA - in which the federal government makes a commitment to fund a transportation project over a number of years - will support a 21-mile northwest/southeast "connector" linking Farmers Branch and the Pleasant Grove section of Dallas. The Carrollton portion of the line is funded with local funding of almost $360 million.
The City of Carrollton hosts a groundbreaking near the site of the future Downtown Carrollton Station, one of three Carrollton stations scheduled to open on the Green Line in December 2010. The other stations are Trinity Mills Station and North Carrollton/Frankford Station. The North Carrollton Station will mark the northern terminus of the Green Line and is planned to serve as a connection with rail service operated by the Denton County Transit Authority.
DART Green Line opens.
Milestone #2: Carrollton Recognizes Transit-Oriented Development as Key to Sustainability
Historically, Carrollton’s growth was fueled by green field development and annexation. The City recognized that to sustain its growth new programs of development and redevelopment were needed now that the City was essentially land-locked with little room for future expansion. Transit-oriented development provides a framework to generate density (increased density = increase ad valorum tax revenue from the same area) within a district served by transit without adversely impacting the surrounding neighborhoods or adversely impacting city services. The following are a series of milestones that formed the base of the TOD Districts.
The City adopted the “Old Downtown Carrollton Plan” in an effort to take advantage of the unique historical and architectural character and significance to the community. The primary goal was to develop a unified and coordinated strategy to identify ways in which Old Downtown can expand its potential as a destination point for tourism in the city; expand and improve the sales and ad valorem tax base and improve and expand the entertainment value of Old Downtown.
The Center for Economic Development and Research at the University of North Texas estimates DART is providing a hefty boost to the North Texas economy, with a total regional impact assessed at $3.7 billion and more than 32,000 jobs through 2003.
The City of Carrollton hires Dennis Wilson and Associates ($258,250) to develop a Renaissance Plan that recognizes the important relationship of the Old Downtown Carrollton area with DART Rail Station planning, the Belt Line Road corridor and the Josey Lane/Belt Line Road commercial district. Key Components of the Renaissance Plan are: a DART Station Area Plan and a Downtown Implementation Plan and Economic/Market Elements.
The Carrollton City Council accepts the Renaissance Plan.
A University of North Texas study shows DART Rail stations add value to nearby properties, particularly residential and office. According to the study, office properties near suburban DART Rail stations increased in value 53% more than comparable properties not served by rail, and values of residential properties rose 39% more than a group of control properties not served by rail.
The Carrollton Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council continue the process of preparing for future development by holding a series of public meetings. On April 19, 2005, the City Council adopted a new Transit Center Zoning District Ordinance.
Schrader and Cline ($51,650) help the City establish a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ- often called a "TIF" or Tax Increment Financing district) to help fund infrastructure improvements needed for future redevelopment around two of Carrollton's three DART light rail transit stations.
The City Council forms a TOD Subcommittee to provide guidance and direction to staff.
The University of North Texas Center for Economic Development and Research releases a study estimating more than $8.1 billion in economic activity from the North Texas region's investment of $4.86 billion to build DART's current 45-mile light rail system and the planned 48-mile expansion.
Over 60 real estate agents attend a Carrollton-sponsored TOD open-house that introduced the agents to development opportunities around the three rail stations and the positive influence transit will have on the community.
City Council adopts ordinance number 3167, creating Carrollton’s first Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone. The zone encompasses 1,047 acres along IH-35E between Crosby Road and Trinity Mills Road.
Milestone #3: Carrollton Prepares for Transit-Oriented Development
Carrollton faces stiff competition in attracting quality mixed-use development in the transit centers. By December 2012, there will be 65 DART Light Rail Stations in North Texas. Our completion includes Dallas (51 stations), Farmers Branch (1 station), Plano (2 stations), Richardson (3 stations), Garland (1 station), Rowlett (1 station), and Irving (6 stations). All of these cities have similar TOD goals as Carrollton. Carrollton realized that to attract development, obstacles to such development must be reduced or eliminated. The streamlined development process and a dedicated TOD manager have set Carrollton apart from its competition. Below are other important steps the City has taken to prepare for new development.
The City completes the $4.34 million purchase of the former Home Depot store at Trinity Mills and Mayes for a TOD project site. This 12.56 acre site, plus other neighboring publicly held parcels, results in over 25 acres of public land available for future development.
The City hires Stainback Public/ Private Real Estate (SPPRE) to provide a variety of services related to the city’s strategic land use and real estate objectives, including recommendations for prioritized land acquisitions. In addition, SPPRE will provide as-needed financial evaluations of TOD developers seeking public incentives/ partnerships. The contract amount is $100,000.
DART gave a presentation to the Carrollton City Council regarding the artistic appearances of the three Carrollton DART LRT Stations. The presentation included the artistic vision statement, as well as discussion of the appearance of the Downtown Carrollton, Trinity Mills and North Carrollton stations.
The Carrollton City Council adopted additions to the General Design Standards for Urban Street Design Standards for the Transit Center Districts. This is the first of many other ordinance revisions needed to fully implement TOD in Carrollton.
The City completes the $2.7 million purchase of the 8.5 acre former Foxworth/ Galbraith lumberyard in Downtown Carrollton for a catalyst project site.
The City Council appoints the first members of the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone board of Directors.
The City enacted an economic incentive package for the transit centers that included participation in public infrastructure improvements and rebate of development fees.
The City Council approved a contract with Development Counselors International (DCI) ($238,000) to provide economic development marketing services for Carrollton’s TOD and to develop a new logo and tag line for the entire City.
The City Council adopted a new brand consisting of a logo and tagline. New Transit Center District Logos were adopted soon after.
City of Carrollton begins the reconstruction of Main Street, Pioneer Park and the parking lot at Broadway and Vandergriff.
Milestone #4: Carrollton Master Plans Transit-Oriented Development
Cities must plan for sustainability – it is not an instantaneous result. Sustainability is a holistic approach to development that has many factors and influences. If developers are the “who,” then to move ahead of its competitors, the City must plan for the “what, where, and when”. In other words, undertake the plans and studies so development can organically happen at the right place and time. Below are the various studies and plans the City has commissioned. Note: Dates are when the project was awarded.
Downtown Carrollton Station Master Plan
Consultant: Jacobs Engineering, formerly Carter and Burgess
Intent: Plan for the development of the Downtown Carrollton rail station and surroundings when the convergence of four passenger rail lines occurs.
Study Cost: $670,000 including $361,452 in federal grant funding.
Major Outcomes: Planned for the ultimate build-out of a multi-platform station; provided a land acquisition prioritization plan for Downtown and Trinity Mills transit centers; identified a logistical need to relocate the Mercer Yard to the east Belt Line industrial area; and planned for growth based on a market study though 2025.
Plan Adopted: Phase 1: December 2008; Phase 2; August 2008
TOD Transportation and Parking Master Plan
Consultant: Jacobs Engineering
Intent: Amend the City’s Transportation Plan to reflect traffic circulation needs in the TOD areas, and develop interim and long-range plans for off-street parking in the Downtown Carrollton Station area.
Study Cost: $259,977
Major Outcomes: Identified the need for a TOD Connector Road; identified the near and long-term parking needs of Downtown Carrollton - including the need for an additional parking lot in Downtown Carrollton by the station opening in 2010; identified and prioritized parking and transportation improvements for the next 30 years
Plan Adopted: May 2008
TOD Drainage Master Plan
Consultant: Nathan Maier Engineers
Intent: Develop a regional storm water master plan for Downtown Carrollton area and the Trinity Mills Station area. Eliminate the need for on-site storm water retention facilities to allow for increased development density.
Study Cost: $223,800
Major Outcomes: Downtown Carrollton storm water facilities are already overburdened. At least 2 regional retention ponds are needed to alleviate current flooding. A portion of the eastern regional retention pond will need to be built during the catalyst development.
Plan Adopted: July 2007
TOD Infrastructure Master Plan
Consultant: Birkhoff, Hendricks & Conway, Inc.
Intent: Develop a long-range plan for infrastructure to support TOD development.
Study Cost: $70,000
Major Outcomes: Future Downtown Carrollton and Trinity Mills transit center development will not adversely affect, nor impose a significant burden on existing City infrastructure (water and sewer); some capital improvements were identified, but will not require major investment.
Plan Adopted: December 2006
Consultant: Townscape, Inc.
Intent: Update the land use plan around the Downtown Carrollton Station and prepare a market demand study for commercial and residential uses in the Downtown Carrollton transit center.
Study Cost: $120,844
Major Outcomes: Updated the Renaissance Initiative to account for all 4 planned passenger rail lines; provide a market-based assessment of future development potential to provide a foundation for rational planning of support infrastructure.
Plan Adopted: January 2008
Carrollton’s TOD Plans were recognized by the Greater Dallas Planning Council with the 2009 Dream Study Award.
Milestone #5: Carrollton Undertakes Catalyst Transit-Oriented Development
Having completed its homework, Carrollton undertook the next step in the TOD plan. The city began actively seeking a development partner for a catalyst project. A catalyst project is that first project that (1) spurs other development to follow; and (2) sets the tone for future development. Acting on advice from experienced TOD developers, the City released a Request for Qualifications rather than a Request for Proposal (RFP). An RFQ is a qualification-based selection rather than a project specific plan which would be needed under an RFP. Below is the time line for the catalyst project.
The City released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for Master (Catalyst) Developer Services. The intent of this RFQ was to select a developer to form a public/ private partnership that would incentivize development around the three DART stations.
The City received four responses to the RFQ: Trammell Crow Company/High Street Residential, Pinnacle AMS Development, Inland America Communities Group, and Prescott Realty Group.
The City empanelled a committee to review each of the four proposals. The review committee was made up of the following members: County of Dallas Director of Planning and Development, DART Director of Economic Development and Planning, and a Carrollton city resident who is a planner in the City of Dallas’ Economic Development Department. After careful review, the committee ranked the respondents and recommended that the TOD Subcommittee interview Inland America and Trammell Crow.
The Council’s TOD Subcommittee interviewed each of the semifinalists. After a presentation and a question and answer period, the TOD Subcommittee determined their choice as Master Developer to be the Trammell Crow Company’s High Street Residential Division.
The City entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Trammell Crow Company/High Street Residential to be the City’s catalyst developer.
The City and Trammell Crow Company/High Street Residential work on conceptual development plans for Downtown Carrollton and Trinity Mills.
Economic recession impacts development. Work on the Trinity Mills catalyst project is deferred.
The City and Trammell Crow Company/High Street Residential agree on terms of the economic incentive and present a Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) to the TOD Subcommittee. The DDA is an economic incentive agreement that provides a framework for the City and TCC High Street to develop the catalyst project in Downtown Carrollton. Key points of the DDA are:
• The City will fund the construction of Vandergriff and Myers streets to the new TOD standard, hike and bike trail between 4th and Vandergriff, utilities (water, sewer, electrical, communications, and storm drains), the public parking garage, and associated design and engineering costs.
• TCC High Street will fund the construction of the residential and retail portions of the project.
• The City will retain ownership of all land including the land under the private development.
• The City will own the entire parking garage and lease back spaces for residential use and make spaces available for public parking.
The DDA financial terms are:
1. City contributions will not exceed $13,233,726 for public infrastructure, public parking garage, and related design and engineering costs.
2. TCC High Street will receive no cash incentive.
3. TCC High Street will pay a ground lease for the land under the buildings with payments of $100,000 annually beginning in year 5 with the first increase beginning in year 10 of 2.5%, with a subsequent adjustment every three years thereafter.
4. TCC High Street will pay to lease spaces in the parking garage for their tenants with payments of $80,000 annually beginning in year 5 with the first increase beginning in year 10 of 2.5%, with a subsequent adjustment every three years thereafter.
5. City will receive a profit participation payment of 7% of the gross margin upon the sale of the buildings.
6. City will waive all municipal fees associated with the project.
The City executed a Disposition and Development Agreement with Trammell Crow Company/ High Street Residential on the Downtown Carrollton Catalyst Development project on the site of the former Foxworth/ Galbraith lumberyard.
Carrollton’s TOD Catalyst Project was featured in the Sunday New York Times under the title: ‘New Rail Lines Spur Urban Revival’.
The City Council amended the DDA to phase the project into two parts. The amendment consisted of:
The City Council approved a second amendment to the DDA. Key components of the amendment are:
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