Ald. Tony Zielinski
Press Release

Mayor Barrett Has Begged and Borrowed for His Streetcar – The Taxpayers Are All He Has Left

Statement by Alderman Tony Zielinski

By - Sep 29th, 2017 10:03 am

Mayor Tom Barrett is making much of having “paid” for the downtown streetcar with money begged in grants from the federal government and borrowed in the form of Tax Incremental Financing. He’s even saying that his draconian cuts to public safety have nothing to do with streetcar spending.

But he’s also saying this year’s budget is just a prelude to even more dramatic cuts that will happen over the next three to four years.

So, I call on the media to ask Mayor Barrett some simple, direct questions:

  1. Who will pay to operate the current streetcar when the federal grant money dries up?
  2. Who will pay to build the streetcar extensions, knowing the current administration does not favor transit?
  3. How many City services is the Mayor willing to cut to keep his streetcar dream afloat?
    The public deserves these answers.

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12 thoughts on “Mayor Barrett Has Begged and Borrowed for His Streetcar – The Taxpayers Are All He Has Left”

  1. Michael Schwister says:

    Do you support public transportation alderman? Are you aware that after the initial infrastructure investment this segment of public transportation will be the cheapest segment to maintain and operate? Do you support public investment in government services or do you believe that the only way to solve issues is through austerity? How many police and fire jobs are you willing to sacrifice for corporate welfare? It sounds like you have been spending too much time near the “sort of libertarian” crowd alderman. You’ll have to do better than “what ifs”.

  2. TransitRider says:

    The streetcar has triggered a wave of new construction near its eventual route. (Most other cities with similar, recently-opened streetcar lines have seen similar construction booms.)

    Although the real estate taxes from this new property more than covers the streetcar’s on-going operating subsidy, the City doesn’t plan to use property tax money at all for operations. Instead, it plans to fund the streetcar from parking revenue.

    Even if the streetcar never charged any fare and even if it got no sponsorship or advertising revenue, a 10% increase in City parking revenue (which seems likely given all the new downtown buildings) would more than cover the streetcars entire operating cost forever.

  3. kLM747 says:

    I do not know what decade Tony Z. is living in but it is time for him to accept progress and change coming in this city. The New York Times had a recent article about the transformation of our city with all the new investment and projects taking place. The streetcar is just another investment in the future of this city. Tony Z. can either accept change coming to the city or move on to other endeavors.

  4. Jason TRoll says:

    What is more funny comment 2# a wave of new buildings or #3 that the trolley is a new innovation of progress? On a wave of new buildings, you must be talking about the “coulture” project which is being subsidized by city and federal funding. You leftist cannot turn down public money. #3 Come on really a progressive form of transportation? Is that code for well to do white hipsters having a new mode of transportation. Uber, Lyft, Bublr, a Prius is a progressive ride. Portland is the only know successful street car and that costs the community a lot to subsidize.

  5. TransitRider says:

    Jason, it’s much more than the 44-story Couture. Here is other construction (some brand new, others major renovations of older buildings) that went in after the streetcar route was announced in 2011 (or is going in now):

    • Marriott hotel
    • Hilton Garden Inn hotel
    • Westin hotel
    • Homewood Suites hotel
    • Kimpton Hotel
    • 7Seventy7 (34-story NML residential tower)
    • 1550 N Prospect (27-story residential tower)
    • Buckler Apartments (401 W Michigan)
    • Avenir Apartments (over 100 units)
    • New BMO office tower on Water St
    • 833 E Michigan (18-story office tower)

    All of these (and the Couture) are within 2 blocks (most within 1 block) of the streetcar (Phase 1 [opening 2018] or the Lakeshore route [2019])

    I’m sure this list of new construction isn’t complete. It’s just what comes to mind as I write this after midnight. The only recent major downtown construction project I can think of that’s not within about 2 blocks of the streetcar (Phase 1, Lakeshore, or 4th Street Extension) is the NML office tower.

  6. Troll says:

    7seventy7 is not near the street car zone (three blocks away), Hilton Garden has been there two years, The new BMO office tower, and NML building are being built to attract younger workers, I suppose you can reach and say that younger workers are spoiled and demand the street car. Where is the promised Johnson Controls building? The CEO said he would not put an office tower next to the Coulture with out the street car. No proposal yet. You mention all these hotels that surround the third ward. The third ward is the magnet the trolley.

  7. TransitRider says:

    Jason, unless I am missing something, 7Seventy7 is only 1 block from the streetcar tracks. (7Seventy7 extends to Jackson & Wells; the tracks pass Kilbourn and Wells.)

    Construction of the Hilton Garden Inn started after it was announced that the streetcar would run right past its site on Broadway. The basic streetcar route dates back to at least September, 2009, when there were 3 routes under consideration, 2 of which passed within one block of the Hilton Garden site. By June, 2011, the Broadway route was chosen, and that December Hilton Garden construction began.

    Also, if the catalyst for the new hotels is the Third Ward, not the streetcar, why are most of those new hotels (4 out of 5) located outside the Third Ward, on the other side of I-794?

    Also look at the boost in activity and property value near 4th Street (nowhere near the Third Ward, but right along another Streetcar extension). A new hotel (SpringHill Suites) opened a few months ago on 4th between Wells and Wisconsin), and the Milwaukee Symphony has announced plans to spend $120 million to renovate and move into the long-derelict Warner Grand Theater on Wisconsin between 2nd and 3rd. And suddenly developers are competing for the right to build on a decades-old parking lot at 4th and Wisconsin.

    Finally, the streetcar increased the value of the Grand Avenue. In October 2014, the Grand Avenue was sold for $16.5 million, but sold again just 14 months later for $8.1 million more even as mall occupancy declined. What happened between those two sales? The streetcar got final Common Council approval, that’s what (in January 2015).

  8. Troll says:

    Transit Rider , Come on the street car added value to the Grand Avenue? We had a recession in 2008 and that tanked the Grand Avenue and all of other properties downtown by 2014 we were out of a recession.. The Grand Avenues value is its parking structure and if there is an optimistic chance that the MSO buys 214 W .Wisconsin then the Grand Shopping Center will build a skywalk for the MSO patrons. I believe 214 W. Wisconsin is owned by three separate owners will see what happens. It is really the last fixer upper building on Wisconsin Avenue from the Lake to 3rd St. Will see if the MSO can snag some state tax credits which Walker recently announced will diminsh or if the reduction in credits will stall the project.

  9. Ald. Zielinski,

    In response to your first question, it was announced three weeks ago that Potawatomi will provide $10 million to support streetcar operations.

    http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/2017/10/06/milwaukee-streetcar-gets-10-million-scorporate-sponsor-and-name-hop-presented-potawatomi-hotel-casin/740681001/

  10. Ted Chisholm says:

    The real issue here is Zielinski’s reactionary criminal justice agenda. The streetcar is a convenient straw man, nothing more.

  11. Dragonkat motorsports says:

    ? for Jason Troll, WCD, & Other with R’s in front of their name

    If you hate the streetcar & Tom Barrett that much….WHY DON’T YOU RUN AGAINST HIM!

    If you think you can DO BETTER…..RUN…..or STFU ………..I don’t get it, what is stopping you?????????????????

  12. Maybe King Tony should answer for the failed Sweet Water Organics project in Bay View. This organization shuttered its doors several years ago without meeting the hiring requirements for the $250,000 loan Zielinski advocated for and procured through the Common Council: I am certain the City of Milwaukee was left “holding the bag” for this tremendously stupid idea!!!

    Zielinski has zero vision and couldn’t coach himself out of a corner!!!

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