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How Cities Use Parks for Economic Development

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.

Key Points & Study Examples

  • Real property values are positively affected.
    • Example - Amherst, Massachusetts: Cluster housing with dedicated open space was found to appreciate at an annual rate of 22 percent, compared to a comparable conventional subdivision's ra te of 19.5 percent. This translated in 1989 dollars to a difference of $17,100.
  • Municipal revenues are increased.
    • Property Tax Benefits Example - Chattanooga: Improvements in Chattanooga resulted in an increase in annual combined city and county property tax revenues of $592,000 from 1988 to 1996, an increase of 99 percent.
    • Sales Tax Benefits Example - Oakland, California: The presence of the East Bay Regional Park District is estimated to stimulate about $254 million annually in park-related purchases, of which $74 million is spent in the local East Bay economy.
  • Affluent retirees are attracted and retained.
    • Retirees bring expendable income into their communities. If 100 retired households come to a community in a year, each with a retirement income of $40,000, their impact is similar to that of a new business spending $4 million annually in the community.
  • Knowledge workers and talent are attracted to live and work.
    • A survey of 1,200 high technology workers in 1998 by KPMG found that quality of life in a community increases the attractiveness of a job by 33 percent. Knowledge workers prefer places with a diverse range of outdoor recreational activities, from walking trails to rock climbing.
  • Homebuyers are attracted to purchase homes.
    • The National Association of Home Builders found that 65 percent of home shoppers surveyed felt that parks would seriously influence them to move to a community.