A new study commissioned by the Florida Department of Transportation has confirmed what local transit enthusiasts have promised: SunRail is proving to be a good investment.
Property values around the first 12 stations increased by $2.4 billion (63 percent) from 2011-2017, and FDOT estimates that $1.19 billion of that is directly attributable to SunRail. Each station has drawn new development, and most experienced a sharp increase in property values that outpaced their surrounding areas by nearly 23 percent.
The research team from Florida State University first analyzed the property value impact of SunRail in 2015, but at that time, the system had only been operational for two years. Now, with three more years of data, the team determined that property values in the station areas are escalating at a higher rate as the system matures.
In 2016, for example, the station area property values grew at twice the rate as their surrounding neighborhoods. Last year the station area values grew at seven times the rate of the comparable neighborhoods.
"In this way, SunRail has provided promising indications that it may continue to spur development and boost local property values in the coming years," it found.
Investment and appreciation around the stations has generated $18 million in taxable revenue for the local jurisdictions. But higher property values haven't always translated to increased revenues because so much of the property around the two hospital stations is tax exempt.
Like its companion ridership study by MetroPlan Orlando, the property value analysis did not take into account the SunRail's southern extension, which opened this past summer. It also doesn't count new Transit Oriented Development projects until they come on the tax roll, so major projects like Maitland Station Apartments are not included.
The Church Street station area ranked first system wide with a 125-percent increase in property value over the seven-year study period. But that number was buoyed in 2012 by the opening of Amway Center, which accounted for $275 million of the $333 million in new property value for that year.
The overwhelming majority of new value -- 95 percent -- has been centered around the Orange County stations. The five station areas in Seminole and Volusia counties gathered a combined $102.1 million in property values, with a decline of $543 thousand in the Altamonte Springs station area.
The suburban stations, while not experiencing the massive influx of new development seen in downtown Orlando and Winter Park, nevertheless saw "notable shifts in development patterns" away from single family homes to multifamily and mixed-use apartments.