How Has Light Rail Impacted Small Businesses, Artists In Other Cities?

Published: Thursday, June 28, 2018 - 2:11pm
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Courtesy of Therosia Reynolds
Therosia Reynolds is an artist from South Phoenix who was chosen to create artwork for the South Phoenix light rail extension.

The planned extension of the South Phoenix light rail has been at the center of the city budget debates as many small business owners along South Central Avenue have protested the expansion and its current design plans.

But Phoenix is not the first city to deal with the issues that arise when public transit comes to town, and Rosalie Ray has conducted some of the only research out there on what happens to small businesses who get stuck in the middle.

Ray is a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University in New York, and as part of her research, she looked at the construction of the Los Angeles red line, as well as at cities like Portland, Minneapolis and Seattle, which all have tracked business closures during construction of their light rail systems.

These businesses are supposed to be the beneficiaries of new revenue streams and customers, but they also have to weather months of construction and upheaval and the changes that come to their neighborhood afterward.

The Show spoke with Ray about her findings.

In the middle of all this debate sits South Phoenix native and artist, Therosia Reynolds. She was one of nearly a dozen metro Phoenix artists who was chosen to create art for one of the planned light rail stations going into the neighborhood in the next few years.

Her family has been in the neighborhood for generations, they were African-American sharecroppers there, and the art she has planned for her station would honor some of that history. But if you ask her about her reaction to the community’s current anger over the light rail, she says it makes her proud.

The Show also talked to her about why she wanted to get involved in the first place.

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