Trails and greenways have a well established record of positively influencing community and economic development. J. Crompton reviewed 25 values; in the remaining 5, evidence was inconclusive. Park land and open space is likely to have a substantial impact on property values within 500 feet, extending to 2,000 feet for community parks. Studies in Colorado and Ohio found that properties adjacent to a local greenway and trail were valued 22 percent and 12 percent higher, respectively, than properties farther away from those trails.
Several North Carolina cities have seen economic growth for their greenway investment. An economic impact study of Charlotte’s Carolina Thread Trail, conducted in 2007, projected housing value increases of 4% across 305,000 housing units, translating to an increase of $17M in annual tax revenues, as well as additional tourism, spending and construction impacts. The study concluded that each $1 spent on trail development will produce an additional $10 in economic impact.
In addition to property values, Greenways also increase real estate absorption rates. In Apex, NC, the Shepherd’s Vineyard housing development added $5,000 to the price of 40 homes adjacent to the regional greenway, and these homes were the first to sell. Trails in downtown WWinter Garden, Fla., and Dunedin, Fla., are credited with helping drive up occupancy rates and revitalize the downtown areas.
Increased use and activity also has economic value. Multiple studies illustrate the benefits of recreational resources by assessing the monetary value of open space to local residents, as well as valuing the travel and time costs associated with park recreation, essentially valuing park usage. Furthermore, enhanced visitation can generate additional economic activity; Leadville, CO witnessed a 19% increase in sales tax revenues following the opening of its Mineral Bell Trail.
In addition to its economic benefits, there are other reasons to build the Greenway. It will be a powerful way to differentiate Greensboro, and provide a great amenity for residents, downtown workers and visitors to exercise and play. Given the experience of other communities with trails and greenways, it seems likely that the Downtown Greenway will also increase property values, be a draw for businesses and residents to downtown Greensboro, and potentially boost retail sales.