The Trust for Public Land published a report in 2009 that measured the value of urban parks to the communities they serve. The report identified seven measurable economic drivers of parks.
- property value
- direct use
- community cohesion
- clean water
- clean air
Not all of those factors are easily quantifiable with respect to Cooper Park, but property value, direct use and community cohesion can be measured. The following estimated economic impacts for Cooper Park are based on applying the formulas sited in the report when used in other cities of similar regional make up.
Property Value/Hedonic Impact
Over 30 studies have been done on the impact of urban parks on property values. Typically people are willing to pay more for a home that is near or overlooking a park due to the “hedonic value.” This means that the value of a property is affected by the home’s proximity to the park and the quality of the park itself. The report measures the value of a home within 500 feet of the park but states that the economic value of the park on property values has been measured at distances up to 2000 feet.
The Cooper Park neighborhood is generally understood to comprise of Cooper Place townhomes, Ice Avenue Lofts (aka Ice House), Cooper Lofts and the Litehouse townhomes on Canal Block. These are the residences that are adjacent to the park and all fall within 500 feet.
Parks that are poorly maintained or unattractive are marginally valuable and dangerous parks can reduce property values. Parkland adds 5% value to the assessed value of dwellings within 500 ft. Excellent parks add 15% to the value of a dwelling while problematic parks reduce the assessed value by 5%.
The values of the Cooper Park neighborhood have been negatively impacted in recent years due to the housing collapse and the vacancy rates of downtown Dayton office buildings. Quantifying that impact can be difficult due to the limited number of sales that have occurred in the neighborhood. Generally, the real estate values peaked for the neighborhood in 2005-2006. Based on research of home sales over the last four years
- Cooper Place has lost approximately $6.80 per square foot from 2007 to 2009 (2009 average: $67)
- Ice Avenue has lost approximately $21.00 per square foot from its peak in 2006 to 2009 (2009 average: $101)
- Cooper Lofts has lost the most from its peak in 2006 to 2009 with $38.47 per square foot (2009 average is $92.17 with only one sale on record since 2006.)
The quality of the park currently is likely adding minimal value to the adjacent properties in its current state. It is so under-whelming that most real estate listings do not even mention its proximity as an amenity and visitors to the area hardly even notice it, despite its large size.
Due to the currently depressed home values, at minimum developing the park will aid in the recovery of prices back to the peak price points of the Cooper Park neighborhood. Hopefully the park will become an amenity that directly increases the values of the homes. Since the neighborhood sits directly between the Riverscape expansion project and Cooper Park, the economic impact of having two urban parks within 1000 feet should be greater than the averaged 5% referenced in the study. In addition to helping the home owners, the increased tax base would help the city.
Several apartment complexes also would be positively affected by the Cooper Park revitalization:
- Jefferson Place Apartments: approximately 500 feet west of the park on Second Street
- The Cannery: approximately 1000 feet from the park, east on Third street.
- St. Clair Lofts & Lofts on St. Clair: approximately 1000 feet to the park, south on St. Clair.
The numbers for direct use of a park try to capture the value to the consumer. These numbers are pulled from the same report and are a good basis for Dayton area urban parks. To better quantify this we would need to determine in usage levels of Cooper Park throughout the year.
- Direct use: $1.91 average value per visit to the park (walking the dog, sitting on a bench, playing on the playground, etc.)
- $9.33 average value per use for programmed activities such as concerts, plays, festivals, gardening.
Social capital refers to the community cohesion economic development factor. This puts a dollar value to a volunteer’s hours devoted to park improvements, education and development. It also captures the donations and grants that are made to improve parks. Finally, it assesses the value of creating a neighborhood within a city by having a unifying goal and community driven programming. Hourly value of volunteerism for parks in the study was $18.17/hr. To determine the annual social capital figure for Cooper Park we will have to wait until next year when the volunteer hours contributed and fundraising campaign can be assessed.
A study done by the Wallace Foundation in 2004 discusses the broader value of programming in urban parks as a way to engage youth, provide entry level employment, improve residential health, and develop social capital. All of these things can be broader goals of the Cooper Park revitalization effort. The underlying point of all the studies was that urban parks are vital contributors to the achievement of wider urban policy objectives.