December 9, 2014

Mayor Emanuel, Chicago Park District Announce Analysis That Shows Parks Are A Driver Of Economic Growth

Parks shown to increase property values of nearby homes by $900 million, create more than a billion dollars per year in additional economic impacts

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Park District today unveiled a new economic analysis that shows that parks and playgrounds are a driver of economic growth for the City of Chicago. The analysis concluded that Park District parks add at least $900 million to the value of residential properties located close to parks. Furthermore, major events, special assets and tourism in these parks drive an economic impact of between $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion for the City each year.

“Over the past three years, we’ve worked with the Park District to implement one of the most comprehensive strategies of any City in the nation to invest in our parks, playgrounds and recreational spaces,” said Mayor Emanuel. “These investments are helping to ensure that every neighborhood has an anchor that provides a better quality of life for residents, better recreational opportunities for its children, and as this analysis illustrates, more economically vibrant neighborhoods.”

The analysis found that residential properties located within two blocks of a park, or 43 percent of all residential properties in Chicago, experience an average of 1.5 percent higher property values – adding $900 million in value to these properties. Park District parks are classified by type and size, including mini park, magnet and Citywide. Mini parks (playgrounds or small playlots), which represent 25 percent of all parks, have the largest economic impact to property values within 0.15 miles of a park, increasing those property values by 2.8 percent on average.

“The findings of this analysis will enable us to make more informed decisions, such as long-term capital investments, programming changes, marketing strategies and business development opportunities,” said Park District General Superintendent and CEO Michael Kelly.

This analysis was developed with Civic Consulting Alliance, Global Economics Group and Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and examined each of the 585 Chicago Park District-owned parks, making it the most comprehensive study ever undertaken of a park system’s economic benefit. To determine economic impact, the parks’ relative impact on property values and the revenues generated by major events, special assets and tourism in parks were assessed.

Under Mayor Emanuel’s leadership, Chicago’s park system has drastically expanded with the addition of nearly 1,000 acres of new park land, 27 new turf field, 17 new parks, 11 new community facilities, 150 refurbished playgrounds and more than $500 million in capital investment from public and private sources. Earlier this year, the Park District won the 2014 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. This is the first time Chicago or any urban park district has received this prestigious award.


The Chicago Park District is the 2014 Gold Medal Award winner, recognized for excellence in park and recreation management across the nation. For more information about the Chicago Park District’s more than 8,200 acres of parkland, 585 parks, 26 miles of lakefront, 10 museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons, nearly 50 natural areas, thousands of special events, sports and entertaining programs, please visit or contact the Chicago Park District at 312.742.PLAY or 312.747.2001 (TTY). Want to share your talent? Volunteer in the parks by calling 312.742.PLAY.