Spaces for nature, whether it be in miniature or large scale, is integral to overall human well-being. This has been proven across many disciplines of the positive effects parks and green spaces have on the psycho-social aspect of an individual. But parks and spaces for nature are also proving to be successful and significant for cities as well. Regions and urban cores are working harder more than ever to make having nearby green space a reality for its residents. Why? Because having attractive public parks and green spaces can pay off financially, both in the short and long term.
Take the Highline Park in New York, for example. A reclaimed space that was originally a railroad track, is now home to one of the most famous parks in the United States. In 2011, it saw 3.7 million visitors—half of which were not local residents. Here’s the main driver: from 2003 – 2011, property values near the park increased 103 percent. Prior to the park’s implementation, nearby residential buildings were valued 8 percent below the overall median for Manhattan. This is a remarkable difference. Now I am not saying that every park should be a fabulous, world-renown destination just like The Highline. But the principle is there— to aim for a green space or park that gets people excited to visit and revisit, whether for recreational or social-cultural reasons.
Spaces for nature make cities great and even better neighborhoods. Not only because happy people make happy cities but because they can form a gravitational pull that attract other types of investments from the private (and public) sector that can benefit the neighborhood as a whole. Enjoyable parks provide a ‘staying’ power to local residents in and they also can have positive economic impacts on the city and surrounding neighborhood.