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Boston’s Parks Among Best Nationwide and Generating Plenty of Green

With the weather improving, the parks of Boston are coming alive with people eating, meeting, or just relaxing.

While they may sometimes be taken for granted, Boston’s parks rank among the best nationwide, and actually have a significant impact on real estate across the city.

Boston’s park system ranked 9th out of the 100 most populated cities in the country, with a total ParkScore of 74, according to a study from The Trust for Public Land.

Boston_ParkScore_Results Image 10 percent sizeThe city scored strongly in terms of citywide access to public areas, as well as the percentage of the city parks make up. Less positive scores were given to the city’s median park size, as well as the facilities available.

At a granular level, the report found most areas in the city had easy public park access, with the biggest exceptions being the area in Allston/Brighton near Packard’s Corner, East Boston near Orient Heights, and parts of Mattapan.

The Boston Common has historically set the tone for making the Back Bay area desirable. But the biggest change in this regard in recent history has obviously been the demolition of the central artery and the development of the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

The new green space has had a major impact development downtown, according to David Campbell, an Executive Managing Director at Cushman and Wakefield. He feels the changes have helped make the city more vibrant and exciting, and also helped open up the city as a whole.

“When the central artery came down, it was like a barrier went away,” he said. “It not only allowed for safer and smoother pedestrian and vehicular movement on the surface roadways and sidewalks, but also created great, unimpeded sight lines between the North End and Rowes Wharf and the Seaport and Financial District and brought trees and grass to an area that once only had concrete and rusting metal supports.”

“There is little doubt its removal has helped pave the way for all of the residential, retail, and office developments that have either been completed or are now under construction in the area.”

While it’s difficult to measure the exact impact the Greenway has had on office rents in terms of dollars per square foot, Campbell added that it’s definitely a secondary factor in choosing a location, and has helped increase office demand from historically non-traditional Financial District industries such as high tech.

Outside of Boston, there have been multiple studies on the impact well-maintained parks can have on both residential and commercial real estate costs.

One of the most frequently cited is a study by Ernst & Young focused on the redevelopment of New York City’s Bryant Park. After an extensive rehabilitation of the area, asking commercial office rents increased from 115 to 225 percent, compared to jumps of 41 to 73 percent in the surrounding submarkets. Now, the park anchors new developments for both Bank of America and JP Morgan.

Similar success stories have been seen with Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, Millennium Park in Chicago, and Centennial Park in Atlanta, where well-maintained and popular parks have led to thriving neighborhoods.

So the next time you take a stroll through the Boston Common, grab a bench at Post Office Square, or kick back on the Greenway, know that the parks are much more than just a place to eat lunch.

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