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Greener Cities: Expanding Parks Bring Change


By Dan Hounsell Grounds Management

As people move, businesses grow and change, and facilities evolve to meet differing demands, cities must constantly recreate themselves in response. One trend in urban planning is starting to have a major impact on the grounds management departments of major cities and counties nationwide.

Read: City parks and the impact of trees

Cities looking to boost their downtowns or to improve downtrodden neighborhoods are creating so-called highway cap parks on decks constructed over freeways that cut through the urban center. Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Denver and Dallas have deck parks underway. Atlanta, Houston, Minneapolis and Santa Monica, Calif., are among the cities considering similar projects, according to The Huffington Post.

In crowded cities, highway deck parks are a way to create new acreage and provide green space that can spur downtown development. Capping a highway to create a park also can reconnect urban neighborhoods sliced apart by the expressway building boom of the 1960s and ’70s.

Read: City parks and propane-powered equipment

Dallas broke ground recently on the highway project that will undergird its second deck park, to be built over Interstate 35 in the Oak Cliff neighborhood. In 2012, the city opened the 5-acre, $110 million Klyde Warren Park above a freeway that separates the downtown Dallas Arts District from the Uptown residential and retail neighborhood.

Dallas began building deck parks when local officials realized that its paucity of green space was hurting the city’s competitiveness with businesses, Abtahi said. Klyde Warren Park, now run by a foundation, includes a performance space, a children’s park, a restaurant and a dog run.

Property values around the park have shot up, bringing higher property tax revenue for the city. Office rents in nearby towers have risen by a third since the park opened. New development brought 7,000 more workers to downtown and 1,500 new apartments.

This Quick Read was submitted by Dan Hounsell — dan.hounsell@tradepressmedia.com — editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions, and chief editor of Facilitiesnet.com.

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