This report reviews the literature, including case studies, dealing with the economic benefits of creating parks, preserving working land, preserving land prone to flooding, conserving ecosystem benefits, and preventing sprawl development. Parks and preserved lands boost land values and property taxes, attract residents and businesses, encourage economic development, boost the economy of surrounding areas, save money over some types of development, preserve ecosystem services, and reduce health care costs. One example given in the paper is how New York used $1.2 billion to restore and protect natural land in New York City’s watersheds, which prevented the need to build a $6-$8 billion water filtration plant.
Headwaters Economics created this interactive web page to show how protected public lands such as national parks can play an important economic role for local communities. The web-based tool lists visits, non-local spending, and the number of jobs created in gateway communities for each of the National Park Service units. The greatest value of natural amenities and recreation opportunities often lies in the land’s ability to attract and retain people, entrepreneurs, their businesses, and the growing number of retirees who locate for quality of life reasons.
This study gives five key points on how city parks are a source of positive economic benefits and provides case studies for each. City parks positively affect real property values; increase municipal revenues; attract and retain affluent retirees; attract knowledge workers and companies; and attract homebuyers.
In 2007, Philadelphia’s park system provided the city with $23.3 million in increased tax revenue, $729 million in increased resident wealth, $16 million in savings of governmental expenditures and $1.15 billion in resident savings. This includes benefits from parks enhancing the value of nearby properties, tourist spending, decreased stormwater treatment costs, the value of recreation that occurred at parks, health benefits from exercise done in parks, the absorption of air pollutants by the city’s trees and shrubs, and community cohesion benefits.
An extensive analysis of New York City’s parks shows that strategic investment in revitalizing parks yields significant economic returns to the city, investors and neighboring communities. While not all park investments have generated economic returns, strategic planning, effective maintenance and community involvement can lead to successful park investments that create economic revitalization. One success case provided in this study is Bryant Park, which, after a complete overhaul in the 1980s, reopened and is now a major draw for both tourists and local residents, seeing 20,000 visitors each day. Between 1990-2002, asking rents for commercial office space near the park increased between 115% and 225% as compared to increases ranging from 41% to 73% in the surrounding submarkets.
This paper describes seven economic benefits of parks and provides a case study for each. Parks increase the property value of nearby properties; lead to increased sales tax revenue from spending by tourists who visit primarily because of a city’s parks; provide city residents with free or low cost recreation; provide residents with a multitude of ways to stay healthy; create stronger, safer and more successful neighborhoods; lower stormwater treatment costs; and reduce health care costs by absorbing air pollutants and reducing the impacts they have on residents’ cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
This paper focuses on the role mixed-income infill housing and a network of parks can play in increasing city density, increasing access to parks for residents of all income levels, and strengthening cities. Key findings include: States can promote or reward the construction of affordable housing through the offer of funding for parks; cities can integrate the planning and creation of affordable housing and parks; private developers can build compact developments that allow for walking, affordable housing, and parkland; and community development corporations can expand their work beyond housing to include parks.
City parks and open space improve our physical and psychological health, strengthen our communities, and make our cities and neighborhoods more attractive places to live and work. Numerous studies have shown the social, environmental, economic, and health benefits parks bring to a city and its people. For example, they attract tourists, serve as community signature pieces, offer a marketing tool for cities to attract businesses and conventions and host festivals, concerts and athletics events, as is the case in Minnesota’s Chain of Lakes park, which is the state’s second-biggest attraction.
This article reviews a sizable body of peer-reviewed and independent reports on the economic value of outdoor recreation facilities, open spaces and walkable community design. Open spaces such as parks and recreation areas can increase residential property values and property tax revenues for local governments; it is less expensive to provide roads, water and sewer services to homes in compact, walkable developments than it is to homes in large, suburban developments; and the parks and the open spaces and greenbelts offered by compact walkable neighborhoods create higher housing prices and marketing opportunities.
In 2008, Pennsylvania’s state parks hosted 33.6 million visitors who spent $738 million on their trips, which includes a $191.4 million impact from out-of-state visitors. The direct effects of this were $174.5 million in wage/salary income and 8,439 jobs and these jobs generated $354.6 million in secondary sales. This economic impact analysis of Pennsylvania’s state parks includes an overall economic analysis, a one-page fact sheet for each park and results of similar studies from other states.
In 2010, Pennsylvania’s state parks hosted 37.9 million visitors who spent $859 million on their trips, including $201 million in spending by out-of-state visitors. The direct effects of this were 9,435 part-time and full-time jobs; $227.2 million in wages, salaries and payroll benefits; and $360.6 million in value added benefits. This report includes both statewide and park specific analyses and a comparison the results of similar studies from other states.
Although visitor spending in surrounding communities is the most obvious economic impact of wilderness areas, the designation of wilderness areas also attracts new residents and businesses, creates a high number of jobs in recreation-based industries, increases the tax base and has long term benefits for industries such as commercial fisheries. The influx of new residents and businesses can also change a community’s culture, cause a housing shortage and increase crime congestion and crime.
A review of the now quite extensive economics literature on the value of open space, this study covers more than 60 articles published in the past 25 years that use the various methodologies. The analysis focuses primarily on the value of open space in and around urbanized areas, including parks, greenbelts, natural areas and wildlife habitats, wetlands, and farmland.
This white paper outlines the critical need for city parks, particularly in inner-city neighborhoods. It address the social, environmental, economic, health and community development benefits parks bring to a city and its residents.