Transitway Development and Commercial Gentrification

Principal Investigator(s):

Yingling Fan, Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs


  • Noah Wexler, Research Assistant, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project summary:

Although public transitway investment typically benefits regional economies in aggregate, affordable housing advocates and small business communities have concerns about transit-induced gentrification along affected corridors. Upswings in land value along new transit corri-dors may burden low-income residents and small businesses through increasing residential and retail rental payments. In theoretical terms, transit increases the rent gap--the difference be-tween a land parcel's current rent value and its possible rent value. Thus, there is more incen-tive for developers to fill the rent gap by retooling existing land for more efficient rent extrac-tion. Given the increasingly entrepreneurial nature of urban governance, it is important to in-vestigate which specific policies have negative--and often unintended--consequences on vul-nerable communities.

This project will investigate the effects of transitway development between 2000 and 2019 on businesses along transit corridors in the Twin Cities metropolitan region. Specifically, re-searchers will analyze indicators for commercial gentrification along the following "treated" corridors, including the Blue Line Light Rail Transit/Hiawatha (LRT) corridor (opened in 2004), the Green Line LRT corridor (opened in 2014), and the A Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor (opened in 2016). The research team will examine the effect of transitway development on several indicators for commercial gentrification using difference-in-differences models. Addi-tionally, researchers will identify "at-risk" corridors for transit-induced commercial gentrifica-tion along planned corridors in the region.

Project details:

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