Allentown’s Franklin Park and Land Rents

Is my message on parks and land values starting to get through? Greg Weitzel sounds like he gets it:

Greg Weitzel, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said rebuilding Franklin Park would increase surrounding property values, help the environment and provide a safe place for exercise.

“Parks and playgrounds bring the community together in ways that aren’t just play,” Weitzel said. “It’s getting people together to be better neighbors.”

It’s important to understand what’s really happening here. It’s not the *home* values that will increase, it’s the value of the land that the homes are sitting on. What’s increasing in value is the proximity to a nice park. The city creates some value by improving the park. Who gets it? If there’s no room to build any new housing around the park, then the value just accrues to the existing homeowners.

But if there’s some vacant land, the city’s park improvements are going to increase its value too. It’s pure rent. The policy implication of this should be that the city removes all density restrictions around its parks, so that taxpayers capture the increase in land rent as property tax revenue.

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