August 04, 2015

Bloodworth: Greenways Increasing Residential Values

By:  Bill Dries
Memphis Daily News

The Memphis region’s existing 50 miles of greenways, paths and trails are responsible for some increase in property values, particularly residential property, says Rusty Bloodworth, vice president of Boyle Investment Co. and past chairman of the Urban Land Institute’s Memphis chapter.

And Bloodworth said that could increase as the trail system goes from linear to loop and more people can see a plan.

“Right now we’ve got the linear trail system and we see a little bit of an increase. But I think the more ridership for biking or walking on those trails, the higher that value becomes – particularly for a residential component,” he said on the WKNO-TV program “Behind the Headlines.” “The other side of it is the private sector can help on the implementation by contributing its wealth.”

Boyle contributed five miles’ worth of land along the Nonconnah Creek and the Wolf River to different conservancy groups with little thought that it would affect property values.

 “We did it early for conservation reason, and now we have a different view because we’ve got all of these trails,” Bloodworth said.

The program, hosted by Eric Barnes, publisher of The Daily News, can be seen on The Daily News Video page,

The system of existing trails and another 450 miles being planned over a 25-year period across four counties in three states, including in Memphis and Shelby County, are also bringing cooperation among local governments that are competing in other areas, namely economic development.

“If I build a trail in Hernando, it needs to eventually connect, and if there’s a trail in Southaven, it eventually needs to connect somewhere in Memphis,” said Chip Johnson, mayor of Hernando, Miss. “A dead-end trail does not do any good.”

With a Mid-South Regional Greenprint Sustainability Plan for the 25-year period, the current paths and trails now have a companion set of plans and maps for connecting what now exists with parts of the ambitious plan.

John Zeanah, the program manager for the city-county Office of Sustainability, said the overall plan is ambitious but should be viewed as a set of projects.

“Even though it’s 500 miles that comprise the network, it’s not necessarily one big, massive project,” Zeanah said. “It’s hundreds of small projects that we can just do piece by piece.”

Bloodworth credits the Shelby Farms Greenline as a tipping point for the effort so far because of its distance initially and its destination – Shelby Farms Park.

“I think the Greenline brought in an opportunity to get on a bike and go a fairly long distance and connect to something that was very precious – Shelby Farms, way deep into the Memphis community,” Bloodworth said. “You need really interesting places to go on that walk. When we can take these great dots that we’ve got in our region. … We start to connect these things in loops and we’ve got a vibrancy. We haven’t seen it yet. We’re right now just looking at linear connections, but we really don’t have a great loop system. The first time we get a real true loop, people will be all over it using it.”

Creating those loops becomes more difficult the further the desired land is from a flood plain.

“It’s fairly easy to take ground that is very flood-prone, which is what’s always the case adjoining rivers, and get people to think about giving that,” Bloodworth added. “It’s altogether a more difficult task to get people to give the connections between these river systems that create an overall grid or network or series of loops. Going over the ridges means you are going over very developable ground that has a higher value.”

 Meanwhile, Johnson consulted a local bicycling club on where his city should restripe roads for bike lanes in a relatively small project, and the bike lanes along an interstate underpass prompted a larger $600,000 grant for a coming 2-mile linear park in Hernando this coming spring.

He too has seen such amenities produce tangible results in economic development.

“Businesses now aren’t necessarily looking for tax incentives as much as they are looking for a place where they and their families want to live,” he said. “We can’t just hope we’re going to get a business that comes in and solves our whole tax problem and creates a great community. We first have to create that great community so that we have a place they want to live.”