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An Investment That Pays
Green is Gold

Study after study has demonstrated that property values increase with their proximity to prime green space. As early as the 1850’s, Frederick Law Olmsted, America’s first landscape architect and pioneer of community planning, called this “the proximate principle.”

To read more about the positive impact of parks and recreation on property values and property tax revenues, check out these links:

By Paul Frisman, Principal Analyst
(OLR Research Report, May 24, 2006 2006-R-0344)

Summary: Most studies have found that preserving open space land increases the property value of nearby homes resulting in more property tax revenue to the town. The town also avoids costs associated with providing municipal services to a residential development that might otherwise be located on the site. One report notes that homebuyers are generally willing to pay more for property located close to parks and open space.

The Rivers, Trails and Greenways study states that the real estate industry found that 77. 7% of home buyers and shoppers rated natural open space as either “essential” or “very important” in planned communities. This study also notes that increases in property values depend upon the ability of developers and planners to provide access to the open space and the views it offers.

By Sarah Nicholls (Parks & Recreation, March, 2004)

Summary: In light of the declining condition of many state and local budget situations throughout the nation, the need for parks and recreation agencies to prove their worth in order to attain continued funding for their services and facilities is especially crucial.

Recent analyses suggest that open spaces may have substantial positive impacts on surrounding property values and hence, the property tax base, providing convincing arguments in favor of open space designation and preservation that can be backed up with actual, dollar impacts.

In some cases, the increase in property tax from housing in close proximity to green spaces may equal or even exceed the costs of maintaining them, representing a welcome net gain to a city's coffers.

In no case reviewed by this author to date has an open space been found to have a negative impact on surrounding property values.

Traditional urban parks have historically attracted the most attention in terms of their property value impacts. In Portland (Bolitzer & Netusil, 2000), 193 public parks ranging in size from 0.2 to 567.8 acres were, as a group, found to have a significant positive impact on the value of properties within a straight-line distance of 1,500 feet.

In Dallas (Miller, 2001), homes facing one of 14 parks were found to be worth 22 percent more than homes more than one half mile from such an amenity.

In Austin (Nicholls, 2002), three separate neighborhoods adjoining the Barton Creek Greenbelt were examined. In two of these neighborhoods, analysis showed that greenbelt adjacency represented between 6 percent and 12 percent of the value of all adjacent homes. The total increase in property value attributable to greenbelt adjacency in these two neighborhoods alone was estimated at $13.64 million, again representing a sizeable addition to the value of property on which taxes can be levied in the city.

Golf courses appear to have both the most consistent and most substantial positive impact on surrounding property values of any open space type. Early studies suggested that golf course frontage could result in a premium of 5 to 10 percent of value. More recent analyses support these figures, with findings of premiums ranging from 5 to 21 percent, depending on proximity.

By Crompton, John L. (The Journal of Leisure Research, First Quarter 2001)

Summary: Results of 25 of approximately 30 empirical studies show that a positive impact of 20% on property values abutting or fronting a passive park area is a reasonable starting point.


Benefits of Parks
1: The Economic Benefits of Land Conservation
Book: The Economic Benefits of Land Conservation presents quantitative and authoritative research on the economic benefits of land conservation. It brings together for the first time scientists, economists, and researchers from all sectors—academia, government, nonprofits, and industry—to summarize the best current studies, to present new original research, and to suggest areas for further inquiry into the economic benefits of land conservation. 54 pages. (2007)

2: The Health Benefits of Parks
The Health Benefits of Parks: How Parks Help Keep Americans and Their Communities Fit and Healthy draws from the latest research to outline ways in which parks support and promote healthy lifestyles, particularly in cities, where eighty percent of Americans live, work...and play! 24 pages. (2006)

3: Benefits of Parks White Paper
White Paper: As the nation's leading conservation group creating parks in and around cities, The Trust for Public Land has launched its Parks for People initiative in the belief that every American child should enjoy convenient access to a nearby park or playground. This white paper outlines how desperate the need is for city parks—especially in inner-city neighborhoods and describes the social, environmental, economic, and health benefits parks bring to a city and its people. (2005 reprint)

4: Economic Benefits of Parks and Open Space
Report: The Economic Benefits of Parks and Open Space: How Land Conservation Helps Communities Grow Smart and Protect the Bottom Line. Communities around the country are learning that open space conservation is not an expense but an investment that produces important economic benefits. TPL's entire report on the economic benefits of open space is available in portable document format (pdf) or in text format by chapter. 48 pages. (1999)

5: Healthy Communities/Healthy Economies
"Show me a healthy community with a healthy economy and I will show you a community that has its green infrastructure in order," said TPL's President Will Rogers in May, 1999, remarks before the National Town Meeting for a Sustainable America in Detroit. "Around our nation, communities are recognizing that land conservation is one place where healthy communities and healthy economies meet."

6: Bibliography: The Economic Benefits of Open Space
Compiled several years before TPL's Economic Benefits of Open Space report, this annotated bibliography contains over one hundred citations on the economic benefits of protecting open space. (1996)