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LA Could Bring in Private Partner on Downtown Streetcar

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Good news for the proposed Downtown streetcar: newly-revised cost estimates bring the price of the line down by $55 million, from $327 million to about $270 million, the Los Angeles Times reports (the new numbers come from a draft analysis; the formal report comes out in a few weeks). However, there's still a budget gap, even with the reduced estimate—a local tax assessment is supposed to raise about $85 million from residents and businesses and the Federal Transit Administration could grant the project $75 million. Councilmember Jose Huizar, who's been leading the streetcar effort, now says "the city plans to arrange a public-private partnership" to cover the difference—he didn't elaborate, but that would likely involve corporate branding on the streetcar. And he has more ideas to bring private partners in.

The streetcar line is supposed to loop through Downtown, with an extra spur to Grand Avenue and Bunker Hill built into that $270 million budget. But the spur will probably be dropped—and possibly added in the future—to save the project another $13 million. There's also the issue of a maintenance facility, which could cost about $28 million in Downtown land acquisition. Huizar spokesperson Rick Coca says that amount will also come down.

"It's reasonable to say the city is highly unlikely to purchase a piece of prime real estate in the middle of Downtown and do nothing with it except build our maintenance facility," he writes in an email to Curbed. "We envision an innovative mixed-use, eco-friendly jointly developed facility that will be integrated into the urban fabric."

Coca says they can't negotiate with property owners until the environmental review is finished, and "for now, we have a plug [in] number in there for full acquisition that everyone agrees is very high compared to what we can achieve through joint development. That number will come down significantly—we just aren't at that stage of the project yet to negotiate it."

The line is set to travel on First Street, run south on Broadway, west on Eleventh, north on Figueroa, east on Seventh, and north on Hill. A proposal to move the Seventh Street stretch to Ninth would save another $19 million, but is unlikely as it would skirt restaurant row and the city's busiest subway station. Oh, and the opening? Now forecasted for late 2019.
· Downtown L.A. streetcar line cost estimate is shaved by $55 million [LAT]
· Downtown Streetcar [Curbed LA]