Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

10-Minute Walk: Close to Home Parks Create Long-term Value

Written by Rachel Banner, Senior Program Manager at the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)

As we all know, parks are essential to a vibrant community and research shows that when people have a park within a 10-minute walk of home, they and their surrounding communities have improved physical, mental, social, environmental, and economic health. Yet, one third of people in the United States don’t have a park within a 10-minute walk of home and many more lack quality spaces to gather.

Additionally, we know that while Mayors support parks, they often fall short in delivering the dollars, plans, and/or policies to create and maintain great parks. That’s why last year, the National Recreation and Park Association, Urban Land Institute and, The Trust for Public Land, launched a nationwide movement to work with mayors, park and recreation professionals, private developers, and others to ensure there’s a great park within a 10-minute walk of every person, in every neighborhood, in every city across America.  Last week we celebrated the over 220 Mayors who have signed-on to support this vision in the first year of the campaign.

In addition, I had the opportunity to attend the Urban Land Institute’s Fall Meeting as a celebration of this partnership.  During the ULI meeting, parks and open space dominated many conversations from the developers, designers, finance, real estate professionals, and others in attendance and discussion ranged from park development and design to maintenance and programming. This included a newly released report by ULI called  The Case for Open Space: Why the real estate industry should invest in parks and open spaces.

In this report ULI provides several case studies that outline the following:

  1. Case 1: By investing in equitable access to parks and open space, developers can help improve community health and wellness, boost economic development, and enhance a project’s financial success.
  2. Case 2: Developer-supported parks and open spaces can help mitigate the impact of insufficient public resources for parks, thereby providing communities with access to open space while enhancing long-term real estate value.
  3. Case 3: Community-driven programming supported by the private sector can activate open spaces, foster social interaction, and strengthen the overall value and marketability of associated projects.
  4. Case 4: Creating or funding parks and open spaces can help developers secure community buy-in, public sector support, and valuable zoning incentives in communities where the incentives are available.

Additionally, during the conference, ULI discussed the 2018 Emerging Trends in Real Estate report. The report talks a lot about the growing demand for amenities in both office and residential development.  In the discussion about the report Owen Thomas, CEO of Boston Properties also remarked that while each year a new set of cities may be pegged for growth, we must look at how long those cities will remain “hot spots” and the places people stay long-term.

While including amenities within a building may initially attract owners or tenants, it is the amenities outside of the building open to all that will get them to stay. NRPA’s recent American’s Engagement with Parks Report demonstrates that the majority of the public sees parks and recreation as an important local government service and that they would support increased spending on these services. By partnering with parks and recreation, supporting mayors, and investing in public open spaces that make your community great, developers, real estate professionals, and home buyers will have a greater long-term investment in communities.

As a REALTOR®, you too can support the 10-Minute Walk Campaign and equitable access to high quality parks! Here are a few was to do so:

  • Encourage your Mayor to join the campaign and then advocate for increased financing, policies, and plans to build, renovate, and/or maintain great parks for all. Make the connection that equitable access to quality parks is essential to your business and the community.
  • Listen to the community and support their ideas and visions for great public spaces.
  • Promote parks and open space in your property listings, include it as an amenity.
  • Share the message about the multiple benefits of parks with your networks using the #10MinWalk


Community Outreach Programs

Housing Opportunity Grant
Housing Opportunity Grants support state and local REALTOR® Associations’ affordable housing activities. The goal of the program is to position REALTORS® as leaders in improving their communities by creating affordable housing

Smart Growth Grant
Smart growth is an approach to development that encourages a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development within existing neighborhoods, and community engagement. The Smart Growth Program offers state and local REALTOR® Associations to way to engage with government officials, community partners and the general public in planning and designing community’s future.

Planned diversity initiatives makes good business sense. REALTOR® Associations with well-planned diversity programs create a stronger sense of community, particularly in neighborhoods with high concentrations of foreign-born and minority residents who are moving up the socioeconomic ladder and are buying homes.

NAR Placemaking Resources

Placemaking Guide: A Guide to Transform a Public Space into a Community Place
REALTORS® and state and local association staff can learn the details of Placemaking, the kinds of projects placemaking entails, how to organize them, and where to go for assistance and resources.

Placemaking Webinar Series
Our Placemaking Webinar Series will provide more in depth information on the various types of Placemaking and how REALTORS® were involved in Placemaking activities in their communities.

Placemaking Grant
The Placemaking Grant funds the creation of new public spaces, like pocket parks, trails & gardens, in a community. The grant focuses on “lighter, cheaper, quicker” placemaking projects, which can be built under a year and cost less  than $200,000.

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