PHILADELPHIA-Investments in greening and vacant land management can increase property values by an average of about 30%, according to a study by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School’s real estate department. The first phase of the study focused on the Kensington community, which has been involved in a vacant land management program coordinated and managed by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.

It found that tree plantings increased the value of property by 9%, adding, on average, a $3,400 premium to housing prices. Furthermore, there is a 64% rise in property values for neighbors of vacant lots that have been “cleaned and greened,” which amounts to an average increase of $24,000.

For the first time, a study utilized new technology, including the satellite Geographic Information System, spatial regression models, and econometrics, to measure the steady impact of greening, according to Susan M. Wachter, an author of the study and professor of real estate, finance and city planning at Wharton. “Philadelphia is at the forefront of using place-based policies to transform cities from decline to vibrant health,” she says.

J. Blaine Bonham, EVP of the state horticultural society, says, “We were always convinced that greening has a tremendously positive impact on communities. The success of our Philadelphia Green program has demonstrated this. The Wharton findings begin to validate the true impact in dollars and cents.”

Additional findings of the study relating to public safety, schools, and business corridor investment will be released in January. Meanwhile, the city has partnered with the horticultural society in a Green City Strategy as part of its ongoing Neighborhood Transformation Initiative.

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