The Case for Open Space: The Return on Investment for Park Creation

The Case for Open Space: The Return on Investment for Park Creation

This research project analyzed the financial and health benefits related to private sector-supported park and open space development across 30 U.S. sites. The study focused on health and economic metrics in order to demonstrate the benefits of developer-supported open spaces. Findings concluded that developers can improve community health and wellness, boost economic development, and enhance a project’s financial success; developer-supported parks can enhance long-term real estate value; programming can strengthen the overall value and marketability of associated projects; and park creation can help secure community buy-in, public sector support, and zoning incentives. The project included analysis of 11 SWA-designed projects and found both health and financial benefits. These advantages existed in all development phases—planning, marketing, completion, and operations and maintenance. Methods included interviews with stakeholders, literature review, and web-based research. SWA co-led the project proposal and provided information and data to Urban Land Institute (ULI) researchers. This project was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and ULI. The project continues SWA’s research on post-occupancy assessment and health.


Elizabeth Shreeve, SWA
Chris Dunn, Cordis Certified Healthy and Dunn + Kiley
James Lima, James Lima Planning + Development
Matthew Norris, ULI
Reema Singh, ULI
Anya Domlesky and Emily Schlickman, XL Research and Innovation Lab at SWA
Kerri da Silva, SWA
Tom Balsley, SWA/Balsley
Nicole Giangregorio, SWA/Balsley
Fran Hegeler, SWA
Bill Tatham, SWA
Rachel MacCleery, ULI
Billy Grayson, ULI
Bridget Stesney, ULI
James A. Mulligan, ULI
Laura Glassman, Publications Professionals, LLC
Brandon Weil, ULI
Anne Morgan, ULI
Katteh Tongol Wong, PurpleCircle Design
Jes-Sy Ong, PurpleCircle Design
Craig Chapman, ULI


Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Urban Land Institute (ULI) Building Healthy Places Initiative
Urban Land Institute (ULI) Sustainable Development Council
Urban Land Institute (ULI) Center for Sustainability and Economic Performance
Robin Baldock, Friends of the Katy Trail
Rachel Banner, National Recreation and Parks Association
Jonathan Brinsden, Midway
Sharon Cohn, Solaris Redevelopment Co.
Britton Church, JLB Partners
Stanton Doyle, George Kaiser Family Foundation
Adam Fenton, BMC Investments
Leonard Greco, New York City Economic Development Corporation
Alec Grossman, BerlinRosen
Jeff Hoffman, BMC Investments
Ken Levit, George Kaiser Family Foundation
Charlie McCabe, Center for City Park Excellence, Trust for Public Land
Tony Paradowski, Superjacent
Sharon Roerty, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
George Ruther, town of Vail
Charlie Singer, East West Partners
Ann Taylor, Midway
Lauren Whitson, Friends of the Katy Trail
Shavone Williams, New York City Economic Development Corporation
Heather Wimberly, Guthrie Green
Ann Zoller, Strategy Design Partners LLC