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The Orange County Property Appraiser's office is looking at the economic impact SunRail is having.
The Orange County Property Appraiser's office is looking at the economic impact SunRail is having.

The SunRail is turning out to be an economic magnet, with development expected to sprout up around its stations and area businesses already seeing a boon.

That's what the Orange County Property Appraiser's office is finding as it studies the seven depots in its own county.

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The one-year-old system, which has a total of 12 stops and wants to add five more, is already seeing a step up in activity around its stations. There are waiting lists at nearby restaurants and even "pub crawls" from stop to stop.

The Orange County Property Appraiser's office, while early into the study, is keeping an eye on what kind of development will go on around the depots, including residential, commercial, schools and churches.

The study's conclusions could provide leads to developers, drawing them into areas that are starting to see new growth or away from sections that are lagging.

SunRail is "going to definitely have an effect on valuations," said Rick Singh, Orange County property appraiser. "It's a matter of the right real estate at the right place at the right time."

It was Singh's idea to begin the study as a way of keeping tabs on economic development within half mile and mile increments of the commuter line. "If [SunRail] is successful, more development should happen," Singh said.

SunRail "is becoming topical in terms of decision making around employees' commute, which could bring more businesses to those areas it stops," said Joe Vetter, senior vice president with PNC's commercial banking group.

A recent example is a medical technology company near the Mall at Millenia that plans to move because of Interstate 4 congestion, especially as the Ultimate project is under way. The business, which declined to be identified because it is still in contract negotiations, expects to relocate near the Church Street SunRail stop.

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