The Gentrification Effect of Urban Parks

New research finds that different types of parks correlate with different gentrification effects, adding to the complexity of urban change.

October 21, 2019, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Buffalo Bayou Park

CrackerClips Stock Media / Shutterstock

Richard Florida shares news of a new study by Alessandro Rigolon of the University of Utah and Jeremy Németh of the University of Colorado, which examines the nuances of gentrification in relation to parks and open space in urban areas.

The study is notable because it characterizes different kinds of parks to reveal nuances in gentrification effect. The study distinguished parks based on "size, overall quality, whether they are new, proximity to downtown, and whether or not they are linear “greenway parks,” longer than a mile, that include an active transportation component like bike lanes," explains Florida.

The findings support the claim that not all kinds of parks have the same kind of effect. Long linear parks, like the Beltline in Atlanta, cause the most significant effect.

"According to the study, being located within a half-mile of a new greenway park increases the odds that a neighborhood will gentrify by more than 200 percent (their actual estimates range from 222 to 236 percent). Five of seven new greenway parks in the study spurred significant gentrification in their surrounding neighborhoods, including New York’s High Line, Chicago’s 606 trail, and Houston’s Buffalo Bayou Park."

Parks located close to downtown also correlate to more gentrification, but several kinds of parks didn't show the same effect. The size of the park, for instance, does not correlate to gentrification effects.

The article includes more detail on the findings, the methodology of the study, and speculation about why some parks are more likely to be found near gentrifying neighborhoods are included in the source article.

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