Home » Previous Categories: » Intra-urban location, suburbanization and gentrification

Category Archives: Intra-urban location, suburbanization and gentrification

The Effects of Transit-Oriented Development: A Case Study of MARTA Neighborhoods

A public transit stop, whether it be part of a heavy rail, light rail, bus, or bus rapid transit system, can have a very real impact on its surroundings.  It can revitalize the neighborhood economy by providing new access points for retail, give locals without a car access to new job opportunities in other areas of town, it can reduce crime, it can change the racial makeup of a region.  But much of the literature ignores these statistics, choosing instead to only focus on public transit’s effect on local property values.  In this piece, I explore a case study of 12 Atlanta neighborhoods and how they demographically shifted in the decades after they received railroad transit stations.

Click here to view my presentation

Or click here to view a rough draft of my research

Brian Simel


Bollinger, Christopher R., and Keith R. Ihlanfeldt. “The Impact of Rapid Rail Transit on Economic             Development: The Case of Atlanta’s MARTA.” Journal of Urban Economics 42 (1997): 179-204.        Web. 6 Dec. 2010.

Chen, Joyce, Mark Hamilton, Nick Kindel, Ian Macek, and Meghan Pinch. “Transit Oriented         Development and Cluster Developments.” 1-11. Web. 23 Sept. 2010.    <http://courses.washington.edu>.

Dawson, Christie R. Transit Ridership Report: Third Quarter 2009. Rep. American Public Transportation             Association. Print.

Elliott, Mark. “MARTA Rail and Offices.” Atlanta Business Chronicle 20 Oct. 2010. BizJournals. 20 Oct.       2010. Web. 6 Dec. 2010.

Grass, Gail. “The Estimation of Residential Property Values Around Transit Station Sites in           Washington, D.C.” Journal of Economics and Finance 16.2 (1992): 139-46. SpringerLink. Web. 6      Dec. 2010.

Ihlanfeldt, Keith R. “Rail Transit and Neighborhood Crime: The Case of Atlanta, Georgia.” Southern           Economic Journal 70.2 (2003): 273-94. ProQuest. Web. 6 Dec. 2010.

MARTA Homepage. 2009. Web. 6 Dec. 2010. <http://www.itsmarta.com>.

Niles, John, and Dick Nelson. “Measuring the Success of Transit-Oriented Development: Retail     Market Dynamics and Other Key Determinants.” Proc. of American Planning Association       National Planning Conference. 31 Aug. 2006. Web. 23 Sept. 2010.      <http://www.community-wealth.org/_pdfs/articles-publications/tod/paper-niles-            nelson.pdf>.

O’Toole, Randal. “Defining Success: The Case Against Rail Transit.” Policy Analysis 663 (2010). Cato         Institute, 22 May 2010. Web. 23 Sept. 2010.     <http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1612782>.

Perk, Victoria A., and Martin Catala. Land Use Impacts of Bus Rapid Transit: Effects of BRT Station       Proximity on Property Values along the Pittsburgh Martin Luther King, Jr. East Busway. Rep. no.            FTA-FL-26-7109.2009.6. US Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration,     Dec. 2009. Web. 6 Dec. 2010.

What’s wrong with urban sprawl?

Urban is hip. Bikes, messenger bags, and apartment-sized dogs are in. Increasingly, young, educated professionals are disavowing the suburban dreams of their parents’ generation and moving to city centers.1 This trend embodies a long-held academic suspicion that urban sprawl is both economically wasteful and socially disadvantageous.2 However, despite emerging consensus about the existence and causes of sprawl, its consequences are much less clear and economists have so far failed to fully articulate the reasons why what so many people think they know is true- that sprawl is bad.

Despite this uncertainty, hundreds of ballot measures have been introduced to combat urban sprawl, and a large percentage of them have passed.3 Accurate information about sprawl is all the more important given the huge ethical implications anti-sprawl policy measures; i.e., is it fair to create open space rings around a city because they look and feel good if they drive up real estate prices in the city for everyone, even the poor? This student paper explores the limitations of traditional urban growth models for analyzing sprawl, considers the direction taken by new models, and identifies important areas of future study to help inform these critical policy choices.

What’s Wrong with Sprawl?

1 See The Brookings Institute, The State of Metropolitan America, http://www.brookings.edu/metro/StateOf Metro America.aspx.

2 Thomas Nechyba and Randall Walsh, Urban Economics, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 18, 177–200, at 177 (2004) (hereinafter Nechyba).

3 Nechyba, at 177; Sierra Club, Sprawl: The Dark Side of the American Dream, 1998, http://www.si-erraclub.org/sprawl/report98/report.asp.

Eminent Domain in Urban Areas

© Mike Lester, www.caylecartoons.com

The constitutional issue of eminent domain rose to prominence in national political dialogue after the landmark Supreme Court Case Kelo v. New London in 2005. Once a right reserved for government takings for “public uses,” like highways and schools, Kelo legitimized the government’s right to seize property for the “public good-” specifically economic development.   This broadly expanded the strength of the government power, and many viewed the ruling as a significant step backwards in securing strong property rights in the United States (few savored the idea of their family home being labeled “blighted” so Chicago could build another movie theater or Outback Steakhouse).  While many a paper has been penned on the political ramifications of the court case, few academics have researched the economic and socioeconomic impact the use of eminent domain can have on an urban area.

This literature survey will address the literature we do have- its effectiveness in correcting market inefficiencies (urban renewal and urban sprawl) and whether the usage of eminent domain inherently “targets” a minority or impoverished population.  Miceli and Sirmans pontificate on the holdout problem and urban sprawl, O’Flaherty evaluates the effectiveness of urban renewal on a theoretic level, and Carpenter and Ross examines a racial, economic, and educational bias inherent in eminent domain.


Brueckner, J. (2000). Urban sprawl: diagnosis and remedies. International Regional Science Review, 23(2), Retrieved from doi: 10.1177/016001700761012710

Carpenter, D.M., & Ross, J.K. (2009). Testing O’Connor and Thomas: Does the Use of Eminent Domain Target Poor and Minority Communities?. Urban Studies, 46(11), doi: 10.1177/0042098009342597

Miceli, T.J., & Sirmans, C.F. (2007). The holdout problem, urban sprawl, and eminent domain. Journal of Housing Economics, 16. doi: 10.1016/j.jhe.2007.06.004

O’Flaherty, B. (1994). Land assembly and urban renewal. Regional Science and Urban Economics, 24, 287-300.

Public Transportation and the Spatial Evolution of Chinese Cities

China is urbanizing at a rapid rate. The country is expected to have 926 million city-dwellers by 2025, and over a billion by 2030. This unprecedented scale of urbanization represents a huge strain on local and global resources. It is clear that such development is unsustainable if China follows the US model of city growth. In this paper, I explore how the development of public transportation networks in Chinese metropolises affect their spatial evolution, and how public transport provides a critical tool for sustainable growth

The full document can be found here


Frank, Lawrence D., and Gary Pivo. “Impacts of Mixed Use and Density on Utilization of Three Modes of Travel: Single-Occupant Vehicle, Transit, and Walking.” Transportation Research Record 1466 (1994). Web.

Kenworthy, Jeff, and Gang Hu. “Transport and Urban Form in Chinese Cities.” DISP 0251-3625.151 (2002). Web.

Muller, Peter O. “Transportation and Urban Form: Stages in the Spatial Evolution of the American Metropolis.” The Geography of Urban Transportation. Comp. Susan Hanson. New York: Guilford, 1986. Print.