There are clear advantages for urban planners and real estate developers who build paths and trails.

Greenways are narrow corridors or strips of land that serve as paths or trails. They can be created on undeveloped land or repurposed from disused urban and industrial properties. Greenways promote conservation and provide versatile opportunities for fitness, recreation, and alternate transportation. Their positive impacts on communities have important implications not only for residents and advocates, but also for governments and real estate developers.

Aside from the advantages of greenways in regard to health, well-being, and aesthetics, these corridors also have economic benefits. Any review of the literature reveals many studies showing that greenways and parks have positive influences on property values. These effects reflect the willingness of people to pay for the presence of greenways, accessible trails, and similar amenities even if the properties are listed at high prices.

Urban greenways used for alternate commuting can shorten travel time while avoiding and mitigating pollution. The planting of trees and certain types of flora have financial benefit as well, reducing energy costs for cooling, cleaning, and pest control. The trees and plants present in urban parks also absorb stormwater runoff to alleviate flooding, while capturing carbon to combat climate change. Thoughtful landscaping also improves mental health, encourages people to exercise outdoors, increases use and visitation, and enhances the beauty of a property’s surroundings. The construction of greenways also creates jobs.

Quality of view affects property value, especially overlooking water, open green spaces, and attractive landscapes. Studies have shown that the positive effects depend on the distance from and type of open space. Parks, public land, and protected conservation areas have significant positive influences on property value. Meanwhile, developable open space does not have the same positive effect. In fact, people perceive proximity to greenways as having greater property value—while distance from an urban greenbelt (large tract of open space) or greenway (narrow corridor) can statistically have a negative impact on price as much as per every foot.

There is no shortage of articles and studies on this phenomenon. In 2002, the US National Associations of Realtors and Home Builders  (NAR) and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) surveyed 2,000 homebuyers whose second most important amenity was a path for biking or jogging, falling only behind highway access.

A study in 2004 entitled “Property Values, Recreation Values, and Urban Greenways” showed that some but not all greenways have significant positive effects on property values, while recreation benefits of trails exceed their costs. The authors went on to state that homes near popular trails and conservation corridors had substantially higher property values, but proximity to other multi-use trails didn’t have a significant effect.

A literature review from 2006, entitled “Property Value/Desirability Effects of Bike Paths Adjacent to Residential Areas” and prepared for the Delaware Center For Transportation and Department of Transportation, looked at numerous past studies on bicycle and pedestrian paths and found that majority concluded that trails either raise property values or have no effect. Greenways have either positive or neutral impacts on price, but they are never negative.

The review showed that residents near greenways consider that the trails improved the quality of life in their neighborhood and that they were good uses of open space. A large majority of neighbors were happy with the trails, including those who were originally opposed to their construction. Opponents against greenways usually believe property values will be adversely affected by security concerns, but there is not much evidence to back up this fear. The way to minimize crime on trails is to ensure safety, keep them maintained, and increase usage. After all, well-managed recreation facilities are better uses of abandoned or unused properties.

“Trails are the most desired community amenity that homeowners seek when buying a home,” stated the US National Association of Home Builders in 2008. In the US, proximity to similar facilities can raise property values by as much as $8,000 to $9,000. Governments, advocates, urban planners, and property developers should take these things into account for renovation and construction projects aiming to revitalize a community.

E-Sports International specializes in the design and construction of high-quality recreation, fitness, and sports facilities. Contact us for details on how we can help build and develop a beneficial green space to enhance your neighborhood.

Photo Credits:

Images are from ESF Center for the Urban Environment, The Trust for Public Land, Whittier Parks, Recreation, and Community Services, Wikimedia Commons, and PL Design.

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