Greenways & trails: a “must-have” for home-buyers

MarketWatch has a recent article on the top ten “must-have” features that home buyers are looking for according to a recent survey.

The feature list includes nine home features (e.g. large kitchen) and one community amenity:

Community landscaping, with walking paths and playgrounds. Forget about golf courses, swimming pools and clubhouses. Buyers in large planned developments prefer hiking among lush greenery.

This is not surprising as trails have been among the most desired community amenities for years now.

Metromode ran a related article on greenspace preservation in Metro Detroit.

Norman Cox, president of The Greenway Collaborative, Inc., has consulted in the region for over 20 years, mostly on greenway, trail, open space, and non-motorized transportation planning. He’s worked with several communities and finds the environmental ethic ingrained in regional culture. “You’d be hard-pressed to find a recreation plan of a county or a significant-sized township or city that does not have an open space component,” he says. “They’re looking at things a lot more holistically, realizing that parks aren’t just points on a map, but how can they be part of a system that’s preserving a functioning natural system from water and wildlife standpoint as well as providing recreational resources.”

Community research consistently notes that residents, and would-be residents, want places to walk, bike, and safely move without having to use their automobile, Cox says. “If you are a community trying to be an attractive place to not only retain the businesses that are there but attract new businesses, it’s a good economic move to provide these resources. This is what people are looking for. Yes, there is a cost for developing and maintaining them but there is a good economic pay-back — as a matter of fact it’s almost a matter of survival these days.”

How do you create green space in a dense urban environment? You look for natural opportunities, such as an abandoned rail corridor, a riverside or waterfront, or other abandoned land. “Sometimes you have to be more creative,” says Cox. “We are big proponents of an urban greenway that utilizes the existing local street network. Most pedestrians and bicyclists have their secret ways to get from one place to another, using local roads, trails through schoolyards, and parks. We look at formalizing those.” Cox is currently working on the Clinton River Trail, which runs about 10-12 miles through five communities.

And speaking of Norm Cox and the Greenway Collaborative: They are part of a team (along with Smith JJR and the Active Transportation Alliance) to develop a plan which includes extending the RiverWalk east to the Conner Creek Greenway and beyond.

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